People have been praying since they've been breathing. It's an ancient practice that benefits us in our bodies, our minds, and our spirits. Prayer doesn't only happen when we're sitting quietly with our hands crossed, there are numerous ways to pray. In fact, when I learned that I prayed best when I was moving my body, amazing things happened with my soul and my spirit. However, there are specific values and merits to what we call centering prayer or meditation. Centering prayer/meditation begins with sitting in silence and clearing your mind, as best as you can, thoughts are going to come in when you're meditating or praying, but you don't get caught up in that. When a thought comes to mind, acknowledge it, and let it pass on through.
When we pray or meditate for 10 minutes a day, it is going to change our life in huge ways. In fact, it's going to have some profound effects on our bodies. We are connected physically, mentally, emotionally, spiritually, and enacting something in one realm of that affects all the others. If we do something in our physical bodies, it's going to affect us mentally, emotionally, spiritually. And if we do something spiritually is going to affect us in those other ways as well. We are accustomed to thinking of these as separate entities, but they are all manifestations of us. In other words, they are one and the same.
Here are 6 of the many benefits we can experience:
The prefrontal cortex, which is the part of our brain that's in the front contains a lot of gray matter. That's the part of our brain that handles many higher-level thinking skills, like analytical processing and executive decision-making. That's the part of our brain we want running things most of the time. So when we do a practice of prayer and meditation for 10 minutes every day, it thickens the gray matter in that part of our brains. Age and increased levels of stress can cause that gray matter to be thin and we lose some of it. But prayer/meditation for 10 minutes a day can make it thicker, thus increasing our capacity for higher-level processes.
Taking the time to breathe deeply and intentionally fills our bodies with oxygen, allowing blood to pump to all of our cells. This is good for us, and we can feel it. Breathing deeply is felt in our souls and manifests as calm and peace. This is why we instinctually take a deep breath in the midst of a highly-charged situation. The benefits of inner peace are numerous!
We have different cultures, different backgrounds, different religions, different viewpoints, and different races & ethnic origins. But really, we're all the same. We all want joy in our lives, we want to be happy, have the sense of safety, and be able to care for those we love. If we have children, we want to care for our children, and raise them well. All of this transcends the differences that we find among us. Praying and meditating for 10 minutes every day, can increase our levels of empathy and compassion for others. A big part of this is letting go of the negative voices and the self talk. And I will tell you that when you start to meditate, or do centering prayer, especially if you're new at doing this, you're going to have a lot of the negative voices come into your thoughts. Develop a habit of replacing and reframing them. Replace a negative thought with a positive one. For instance, if you get a thought, "I'm not good enough to do this," recognize that you had that thought and then change that thought to, I have accomplished a lot in my life and I can continue to accomplish more. Change that thought from a negative into a positive. And over time, you're going to start feeling lighter, like a weight has been lifted from your shoulders, and you're gonna become a lot less critical of the people around you. Interestingly, those who work as physical trainers tell me time and time again, without fail, that people who come to them and want to lose weight, they need to talk, they need to deal with the inner stuff and once they do, that's when the weight comes off. Developing empathy and compassion in and for ourselves spills out to other people.
There is a link between our stress levels and our digestive problems. If you're tired of all the that comes along with poor digestion, then think about adding 10 minutes of prayer and meditation to your life. The gut is what some people are calling it the 'second brain' because it has billions of neurons. It's a significant player in our nervous system. Therefore, when we're stressed out to the first organ that's going to feel it is our is our gut. I think you probably realize this already, when you have fear or anxiety or stress, you feel it in your gut. The sense of peace and calm that comes with 10 minutes of centering prayer and meditation is going to help with that. After a couple of weeks or so you're gonna notice that your digestion will improve. It aligns our energies and allows the biome to regain its beneficial bacteria.
When we regularly experience inner peace and calm, our moods will improve and we will be happier. Peace and calm feel better than anger and frustration. It's possible to be more positive and to achieve more inner peace and become a happier person. Our brains can be trained just like the muscles in our bodies can be trained. With intentional action, we can train our brains to be more positive and to be happier. All it takes is action, and the commitment to carry through on that action. 10 minutes. 10 minutes of a day in centering prayer or meditation. 10 minutes of being still and emptying our minds, focusing on your breath or on God. 10 minutes.
Did you realize that on a normal day, on a good day, our body enters into fight or flight three times? On an average good day, a human being will have a fight or flight response three times throughout the day. That adds stress on the body, which affects our gut biome and thins the gray matter in our brains (this happens because resources are allocated to our brain stem, which controls the fight/flight response). Having a prayer/meditation practice of 10 minutes every day will restore and replenish that loss. It will train our brains to be healthier, and more positive. And it will strengthen our immune system. Where does our immune system live? It lives in our gut. A healthier gut = a healthier immune system. It's incredible how everything is so connected. Our immune system is always working quietly in the background, sending out little ninjas to fight off external invaders that would threaten our health. When we have a stress response, that suppresses the ability of our immune system to do that, and keeps it from doing its job well. So the good news is that we can boost we can boost our immune system.
Ten minutes, each day, of centering prayer and meditation has profound effects on our mood, on our physical health, on our mental health, and on our general experience of life. Ten minutes a day praying and meditating costs nothing and it has profound effects on all aspects our health and well-being. Start praying. Start meditating. If you want some insights on prayer, here's a moment of shameless self promotion: I happened to have written a book about prayer. Click here and check out the book. It's called Teach us to pray.
Your Partner In Spiritual Health,
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Hi, my name is Melissa Ebken, and I'm so glad you found your way here.
I am at home in the difficult spaces of peoples’ lives, willing to listen and to support those who work to grow themselves. I am a trained coach and have consulted with churches in conflict. Not your stereotypical minister, I embrace the Gospel with joy and laughter as I seek to help those around me grow in faith and understanding, always striving to leave people better than they came. An agent of wholeness, I create a safe space for people, especially those who have been marginalized, where they can understand how ridiculously loved and valued they are by God/Higher Power/Spirit, and to experience the difference that makes in life.
I started the Pursuing Uncomfortable Podcast to share the stories of people who have faced life's most difficult challenges, to inspire you to lean into and overcome your own. It's helpful to know that you're not alone in your struggles and to see how others have navigated similar circumstances. You can listen to it here.
Here's what I can do for and with you.