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Meditative Prayer Can Be Helpful During Difficult Times

This post was written by Anna
on December 31, 2013 | Comments (3)

Readers, please enjoy this guest blog post by Keith Park, Ph.D., author of the new Serenity Solution.

Keith Park

Life can sometimes throw curve balls. Challenges such as accidents, illness, or loss may occur for little or no reason. How we approach these events determines in large part how we will successfully cope with them.

Prayer is one way we may address our concerns. Through quiet reflection, we may bring our troubles to God—a larger Divine intelligence or Source—and unburden ourselves.

The most common form of prayer is the petition or intention prayer. Through this type of prayer, we typically seek a specific outcome, usually the resolution of a difficulty (e.g. “Heal me God”). Unburdening ourselves in this way can bring great relief.

However, there is a risk of overusing this type of prayer to the point that we are so busy petitioning our thoughts that we don’t hear God’s thoughts. We filter out this larger awareness with a single-minded focus.

The key, then, is to find a balance between petitioning our desires and receiving God’s wisdom. One way is to start each Divine communication with a meditative or contemplative prayer. Through meditative or contemplative prayer, we may temporarily relax focus on what we want long enough to receive God’s input.

In doing so, we may hear wisdom that provides us not only peace and comfort, but also an avenue or direction that we had not considered. In effect, we get beyond conscious awareness to discover a broader, background awareness that knows much more about our true needs. From here, we then may co-create with God’s assistance.

The need to be still and listen to greater insight became very real for me leading up to and after my dad’s death last year from pancreatic cancer. As one would expect this was a difficult time for me; and so, I turned within for strength and comfort.

At first, I petitioned for what we all petition for under such circumstances: for my dad not to suffer and for more time to say goodbye. However, it was soon that I started realizing the more I petitioned for assistance the more I started feeling angry and suffering periods of disrupted sleep and stomach distress.

The psychologist in me recognized that I was not handling this loss adequately. But then, I thought, who really copes well at the loss of a loved one? Still, I began practicing what I preach to my clients and started observing my thoughts and reactions as well as going within through prayer—this time, though, not to ask, but to listen.

Letting go and just listening wasn’t easy at first. I had to acknowledge that maybe I didn’t have all the answers and that maybe there were things I needed to hear. However, as soon as I did, and became more receptive to a greater awareness and new insight emerged.

It wasn’t until I shifted my thinking and saw this time as an opportunity to connect with my dad’s spirit that I was able to accept the waning of his physical self, which I hope provided an avenue for spiritual growth for the two of us.

This new insight gave me a step forward. From here, I continued to pray for insight and kept an eye on my emotional-physical reactions, particularly on my stomach reactions, which provided a clue to when I was focusing on limiting thoughts. When I found myself doing so I remembered to refocus on making a deeper connection with my dad.

In time, I noticed a little more peace, better sleep, less anger, and some closure with my dad. I share this personal story in hopes that it might help you in similar moments of grief. What helps you during difficult times?

Our thanks to Keith for his guest post! For more from Keith Park, read his article “3 Simple Steps to Awaken the Divine.”

Reader Comments

Written By tamara
on January 6th, 2014 @ 7:03 am

Thank you for sharing. I will remember this in times of difficulty. It is often hard to stop and listen for the voices of wisdom, but I find slowing down and being mindful creates a space for this.

Written By Shawn Tassone, MD
on January 8th, 2014 @ 2:17 pm

I have long been a proponent of intercessory prayer for healing and there are many studies that show this type of prayr has positive effects on patients. I would like to interject Centering Prayer instead of Contemplative Prayer as you mention above. Contemplative prayer is that point where you are in the presence of God and his/her thoughts because of the emptiness you have created with Centering Prayer or what you call emptying your mind. Without this type of emptiness we cannot find the real reason that prayer works.

Written By Keith
on January 9th, 2014 @ 7:45 am

Thank you for opening a dialogue regarding this issue. It is an important one, and one that is close to my heart. Since labels may at times have different meanings to different people based on their cultural-religious background, they often fall short of fully expressing the underlying processes or experiences they are chosen to explain. Unfortunately, the word “contemplative” is one such label, as is “centering.”

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