Mindful prayer is not necessarily a religious activity, nor is it tied to any specific concept of God. Prayer is an outlet for expression, a communication with the world, the cosmos, that which is larger than you, and it allows you to identify feelings, thoughts, desires, dreams, disappointments, and successes. This “conversation with the Divine” is very cathartic and helps you to keep from bottling up your emotions and feelings.

Mindful prayer is also an excellent way of improving the mind-body connection and it helps to evoke a feeling of connectedness with other people and with the world. If you are interested in improving your IQ, then prayer may be just what you were looking for. Studies have proven that prayer will boost the brain neurotransmitter acetylcholine, resulting in improved intelligence. In addition to making you a “smarter” person, mindful prayer has also been shown to improve sleep, increase optimism, and elicit a feeling of having more than enough as opposed to not enough.

Meditation is another highly effective way to reduce stress and promote a healthy DHEA/cortisol balance. Using brain imaging, researchers have discovered that the simple act of meditation alters blood flow in the brain. When a person delves into a meditative state, blood flow is increased to the left prefrontal cortex. This is the part of the brain that is responsible for self-esteem, happiness, contentment, and peace.

According to Dr. Randy Knipping, B.Sc., MD, CCFP, and head of aviation and preventive medicine at the Cleveland Clinic Canada:
Meditation is the practice of developing understanding and acceptance of human nature through focused awareness of the mind and body. Meditation begins with drawing attention to the constant flow of thoughts, feelings, sensations, and experiences in a nondiscursive, nonanalytical, nonconceptual way. One simply watches, silently, observing passively everything that is, and simply accepting it as [it] is. There is no attempt to change, fix, transform, improve, develop, start, or
stop anything.

Dr. Knipping explains:

Many who are new to meditation ask what the purpose is of meditation if one doesn’t actually “do” anything at all. The simple answer is that we have been socialized from childhood to constantly “do something.” From the moment we  learn how to tie our shoes to the launch of a new business, it seems that we are  
being “successful” because we can measure success externally through well-tied 
shoes and profitable enterprises. But there is more to being human than being 
successful. What constitutes a good life is much about the relationships we have 
with ourselves and others. Loving kindness. Compassion. Equanimity. Peace. 
Meditation is about bringing balance back into your life. It is about breathing  
consciously, examining the flow of your life in real time, and not imposing upon 
the present moment that constant cacophony of action. Don’t just do something, 
sit there (breathe, accept).

Dr. Knipping believes that mindfulness is a conduit to important lifestyle changes. “From this ocean of mindfulness naturally comes eating consciously, paying attention to food in such a way that overeating becomes impossible. There comes a natural observation that physical training results in an immediate sense of uplifting, energy, and stress resilience. There is less ego and more heart. There is life, and awareness of our precious human life. It is a beautiful practice.”  Meditation is not hard work. You do not need to purchase any special equipment—not even candles are required! All you need is a quiet place where you can slow your mind and focus on your breathing. Like many things, at first meditating may seem a little awkward. After all, up to this point you may have thought this was something reserved for monks living high up in the mountains of Tibet! However, the importance of meditation is at an all-time high. With our fast-paced lives, high-stress demands, and inadequate nutrition placing huge stress on our bodies and minds, the practice of meditation has gone from something that we should do to something that we must do.

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