The world is sometimes a confusing place. When faced with life's complex problems, a contemplative practice of prayer and meditation can help you discover how to be in the world, and find the right approach to whatever situation you are in. Your contemplative practice can help you find some composure when life feels rocky.
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Each of us tends to approach our spiritual life in a different way, and to use a different part of our nervous system when praying. If you tend to solve life's problems analytically, you might have a mental approach to your spiritual life. If you tend to rely on your emotions for decision making, perhaps you also approach God with your heart. If you base your decisions on gut instincts, chances are you relate to God through these instincts as well. How do you pray? With your head, your heart, or your gut? Regardless of the method you use there are pros & cons.
Mental ApproachIf you pray with your head, that can help you analyze your situation objectively. The head can also help you with non-attachment, giving you distance and perspective from the things in your life that trigger your emotions and instincts. Some people find freedom in this approach when they feel confused and mired in emotions.
To meditate with awareness in the head, start with the breath. Turn your attention to your breath and become quiet. Sit erect with the chin slightly tucked. Feel the spaciousness of the breath. Imagine you are watching yourself from above, which is a technique called witness consciousness. Imagine your life is a movie. Then, watch the movie. As you observe your thoughts, gradually your mind will become quiet and still as well.
Heart ApproachPraying with your heart builds meaning in your life, and strengthen the bonds of love and family. When you pray with your heart, it reaffirms the unique affection you have for God, a particular person, or place. Whereas the mind is universal, the heart is uniquely attached to the people present in your life. The heart lies at the center of your being, and integrates the insights of your mind with the context of your life.
To pray with your heart, turn the attention of your heart towards God. Take a moment to experience God's love and mercy for you. Then, take a moment to adore God in return. As you experience His mercy and awaken your adoration of your Creator, you will experience many emotions that well up in your chest. Offer these emotions tenderly as a sign of your humility before God. In humility, you will learn how to love more deeply.
Gut ApproachIf you pray with your gut, you will awaken your ability to nurture yourself and others. Just as a plant needs to be watered, the people around you need your care, attention, and protection. You also need to nurture yourself. The gut helps you, your family, and community feel secure and nurtured. To pray with your gut, contemplate generosity for your loved ones, your community, and yourself. How can you be a more charitable person?
Praying With Your Whole BodyAs you deepen your contemplative practice, you come to realize that you must pray with your whole body. The Catholic Catechism states, "We must pray with our whole being to give all power possible to our supplication (3:1:2702)." When you pray with your whole being, you recognize the vastness of the world around you. You realize you have only your faith and God's grace to navigate your way and your world. Instead of trying to solve life's problems on your own, you learn to listen and to trust something greater than yourself. Then this awareness becomes a source of peace in your life.
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About the AuthorJohn Immel, the founder of Joyful Belly, teaches people how to have a healthy diet and lifestyle with Ayurveda. His approach to Ayurveda exudes a certain ease, which many find enjoyable and insightful. John also directs Joyful Belly's School of Ayurveda , which specializes in digestive tract pathology & Ayurvedic nutrition. John and his wife Natalie recently published Explore Your Hunger: A Guide to Hunger, Appetite & Food.
John's interest in Ayurveda and digestive tract pathology was inspired by a complex digestive disorder acquired from years of international travel, including his public service work in South Asia. John's commitment to the detailed study of digestive disorders reflects his zeal to get down to the roots of the problem. His hope and belief in the capacity of each & every client to improve their quality of life is nothing short of a personal passion. John's creativity in the kitchen and delight in cooking for others comes from his family oriented upbringing. In addition to his certification in Ayurveda, John holds a bachelor's degree in mathematics from Harvard University.
John enjoys sharing Ayurveda within the context of his Catholic roots, and finds Ayurveda gives him an opportunity to participate in the healing mission of the Church. Jesus expressed God's love by feeding and healing the sick. That kindness is the fundamental ministry of Ayurveda as well.
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John, Beautiful areticle explaining the source of dnyan yoga, bhakti yoga and karma yoga. I will add raj yoga as foundation for all these since preparing the body to reach higher states of experience is necessary. That will bring us back to the consumption of right type of food to keep the mind alert for meditation , heart healthy for handling higher emotions and strong body to serve others. Thanks John, your articles are very contemplative and helps me start the day right. I look forward to your news letter every couple of weeks. They are rally inspirational. Thanks again. Raj Nabar
Interesting discussion on the holistic dynamics that can happen naturally when praying. Although I can remember using each of these models of prayer at various times depending on the need, I never thought of it when praying. I did notice in critical situations my whole being was activated and that that made a big difference. Will be interesting to observe what happens in the future with this new awareness. Thank you for the article.
Grateful to see prayer and meditation included as an intergral part of the whole journey of self care.
What I find interesting is that when I am "praying" about a business decision I do that with my head; when I'm "praying" about a family/friend it is from the heart and when about which direction it is the gut. This helps me to see how I can bring the business decision into a more heart-centered or gut instinct type of prayer. Thank you.