As a mental health advocate, I have always believed in the value of meditation and other mind-body techniques. I feel they can do wonders for our minds by shutting down the internal "chatter" and bringing us to a lovely state of peace.
Having said that, I am ashamed to admit that I never really looked into the power of prayer. I was raised Catholic but quit attending church as soon as I could. I never found the connection that others raved about. To me God was out there but too far away for me to truly grab onto.
And yet, many of my friends continued to tell me about their prayers and how much they helped. I did a bit of research and there is some scientific evidence to support their claims. It would appear that folks who pray tend to live longer, have richer social lives, have less worry and stress, and are better able to relax than those who do not pray. In the hospital, those who pray tend to have less pain, less complications, and are sent home sooner. Wow!
Whether or not you believe in a higher power, there is something very soothing about the repetition of prayer. It is similar to the mantras that many folks use when meditating. I also liked the fact that you could take your overwhelming problems and hand them over to someone else (God). What a wonderful feeling that must be, even if it's only for a short time! I decided to give it a try.
They say you gravitate back to your childhood and that was true for me. I decided to attend mass at the Catholic church where I do volunteer work. So far I have been there about 5 times. What I have learned is that it is a peaceful way to spend an hour. The sermons have more meaning to me as an adult and I enjoy the aesthetics of the building. I must admit, I also enjoy the people watching! The kids, in particular, always make me smile.
Have I found that true connection to God? Not really. Am I able to turn all my problems over with ease? Not yet. But I'm still hopeful. Meditation takes years of practice and I can only assume it is the same with prayer. The bottom line is finding peace and meaning in your life. Amen!
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