Invoke Your Inner Wisdom (4:26 audio)
One of those teacher’s voices that echoes in my head, one I can hear clear as day as if she were sitting next to me every time I pull up the memory is the voice of Seane Corn speaking about prayer.
“If there is just one thing I have learned from yoga in all my years it is that prayer is always always always ALWAYS answered. It may not be answered in the timing you like, or with the message you want to hear, but Spirit answers every prayer ever uttered. Every single one.”
I have been praying in some form or another my entire life, from my childhood of Lutheran Sunday School, Bible School, and summer camp, to grown-up weekend retreats in shamanism, and everything in between. However, I didn’t fully understand the concept of prayer until I took it to my Yoga Wonderland home practice. Prior to my yoga practice, prayer for me was just floating thoughts or recitations in my head, or awkward talking to my dead ancestors. Yoga made prayer real for me because it involved not but an embodiment of those concepts in my muscles, bones, tissues, and especially my NERVES.
I have come to understand that spirituality is actually an activation and changing and alchemical transformation of the function of my nervous system. When I feel something, and feel it deeply, my body responds differently, activating all the cellular memories in my tissues, sending and receiving and growing messages through the complex neurological wiring of my brain and spinal cord. Any sensation, touch, smell, taste, sight, sound, and especially a combination of all of them can function to create a shift in my experience. When I become mindful and aware of these sensations and I control them through intention, yes PRAYER, I can manifest the reality I want in my body and therefore my experience.
As I said earlier, I must honor all my teachers as being a part of my and collection history of my experience. In addition, I must honor all my memories, all my feelings, every single experience of my life as the collective wisdom of my being. That includes the collective wisdom of every experience of all my ancestors as well.
My shaman work taught me that prayer is answered when it is spoken with the most feeling and emotion. In order for the ancestors to hear us, we must drum up the most emotion. When I applied this concept to my home practice, it made perfect sense.
Almost every spiritual tradition I have studied uses similar methods to invoke Spirit. They light candles, and or incense, or some other fragrant smelling form of fire. They use prayer beads, or rosaries, or malas. They repeat mantras, or chant scriptures, or speak prayers.
While spiritual traditions have rather elaborate means of activating and invoking spirit, what I do before practice is, like everything else in my practice, very simple. I light a candle and a stick of incense. I look up at the giant monstrosity of a portrait of my grandfather, and I say “Hi Grandpa. what’ve you got to tell me today?” Sometimes, instead of Grandpa, I talk to Grandma, or my great aunt. And on days I’m feeling particularly owly, I say GiggleBumps, which is the nickname my life partner uses for God. I like the smell and feel of smoke lingering in the air around me as it feels like whatever Spirit I called in is embracing me, and eventually absorbing into me through my skin.
And, if I’m fully honest, on the days I’m feeling rather desperate, or angry, or hurt, or lost, I allow myself to be just those things, and I yell. I emote. I sob. I scream. I bang my fists on my mat and I demand that they talk to me. And then I hear Seane Corn, “prayer is always always always answered.” I am always surprised, and not surprised. By the end of practice, every single time, I feel better. They (they being the collective wisdoms I have inside myself) answered my prayer in some way shape or form, if even to say, “yeah, this sucks, and you can handle it.”
What is your belief about prayer or invoking spirit? What works for you? Share your comments below.