I strongly believe in prayer and the power of prayer. Especially when the mind is stressed from weathering the storms of life, prayer brings a strange calm. It not only soothes the mind but gives you an inner strength to fight the outer demons.
In India, prayer becomes part of life from early childhood. Every home has a small room or a corner set for prayer. Lighting the lamp in front of the deity is a daily ritual we are used to. As kids we see our grand parents and parents follow certain rituals and chant shlokas, mantras during the pooja or prayer. Our early impression of these rituals was they were performed to please God. But as I grew up I found new meaning in prayers.
During pooja, we chant the shloka or a mantra loudly because the syllables of these hymns are quite powerful. If chanted perfectly, they produce strong positive vibrations and the voice carried the vibrations around the house. The atmosphere at home is infused with positive energy and calmness. Even the devotional songs, bhajans, have the same influence. Not only the person who chants/sings, but also the listener is immensely benefitted.
How does prayer benefits us during stress? When we close our eyes and chant the prayers the positive vibrations act on the mind and the body. We are humbled before the great power we call God and we surrender to Him. This humility brings peace. The breathing during the chanting is deep and rhythmic. This calms the mind and the body, as we take in more Oxygen with each deep breath. As a result, the system scorched with stress, cools down. We feel a renewed energy flowing through us.
Prayers are answered, we say. When the mind is calm, it can function more efficiently. The thoughts are clear and in the right direction. This is when we see solutions to our problems. Answers come from deep within our mind.
Every person has an aura of his own. Experiments have shown that after the prayer the aura expands. Aura expands due to positive energy. When we exude positive energy we attract the right people who have solutions to our problems. There have been incidents when someone has totally given up hope and then pray, as a lost resort, with all their heart and soul, people out of nowhere pop up with solutions in hand. We call it a miracle. A miracle, I believe, is triggered from within. The thoughts during prayers are so strong that it has the capacity to pull in the right people and right solutions.
People who regularly pray, if we observe them, remain undeterred when going through a bad phase. They have a stronger, calmer mind. They have the strength to resolve problems, have immense patience. They also have the grit to accept the inevitable or what cannot be changed.
In India,we end our prayers with this Shanti Mantra, a chant for peace,
“Om sarveshaam swastir bhavatu
Sarveshaam shantir bhavatu
Sarveshaam poornam bhavatu
Sarveshaam mangalam bhavatu
Sarve bhavantu sukhinah
Sarve santu niraamayaah
Sarve bhadraani pashyantu
Maakaschit duhkha bhaag bhavet
Om Shanti Shanti Shantihi”
“Auspiciousness be unto all; peace be unto all;
fullness be unto all; prosperity be unto all.
May all be happy
May all be free from disabilities
May all look to the good of others
May none suffer from sorrow
Let there be peace, peace, peace, all around”
This mantra has a strong positive message asking for goodness and peace everywhere and to everyone. It seeks peace within and around. And where there is peace, there is no place for stress.