Where there is prayer, there is much of the Spirit; where there is much of the Spirit, there will be ever-increasing prayer.
– Andrew Murray
All I know is when I pray, coincidences happen; and when I don’t pray they don’t happen.
– Dan Hayes
-photo from Karin Henseler @ Pixabay.com
Accepting the Power of Prayer
Many readers of this blog, know me and my story. I tend to avoid religious themes and references to God ever since I distanced myself from my Roman Catholic birth religion and began to explore other spiritual traditions in my teens.
As I learned about other traditions, I concluded that my Catholic religion was not for me…but there were spiritual practices that transcended religious doctrine that I could relate to. It took me awhile to realize that my contemplative practices of meditation, walks in nature were all aspects of prayer. While I was no longer genuflecting and spending time on kneelers in a church pew, repenting my sins, I was finding a spiritual comfort and ease in reflection and acts of kindness. I also enjoyed rituals.
There are probably many reasons why the concept of a white, male God didn’t resonate with me. However, I felt a deep sense that all of life is an expression of the divine. Over the years, I learned to sit with my discomfort when well-meaning friends offered prayers to their God on my behalf. Healing wishes and thoughts seemed shallow. Prayers implied I still had many sins to confess before I could reap any benefit. I accepted meditations and reiki healings more readily than an offer of prayers.
When I received my thyroid cancer diagnosis in May, I felt adrift. I limited who I told about my condition. One person that I delayed telling was my Mom who was dealing with her own health issues and anxiety. My Mom is our family’s prayer leader. Her mother, (Nannie) and Mom – with whom I shared the first name of Mary, taught me from a young age, that Mother Mary would intercede on my behalf if I offered my prayers to her. (She could let her Son, Jesus, know I was worthy of prayer…he would then let God, his Dad know…or at least, that’s how my young mind translated this…)
When my husband, Pierce had serious complications post heart surgery, it was Mom’s prayers and those of her prayer community that brought me comfort. While my intellect, focused on the valiant efforts of an excellent medical team, the prayers and wishes from afar helped me navigate that uncertain time. I didn’t doubt his miraculous recovery was a combination of modern medicine and faith.
My decision not to tell my Mom about my cancer weighed heavily on me. Who would lead my prayer circle? Shortly after the Dalai Lama visited me in my dream (that story is told on my blog post and my last newsletter), I decided to share my diagnosis with a member of my meditation circle.
I first met Nischala Joy Devi in my 500 hour yoga teacher training a decade ago. I enjoyed her interpretations of yoga philosophy. Her approach resonated with me deeply. I continued to read her books and study with her over the years. During the pandemic, she created a virtual international meditation group. We meet monthly. When I received my first diagnosis of hyperparathyroidism in November 2021 (it was this diagnosis that led the surgeon to find the cancer), my attendance to mediation sessions dropped off. I felt badly for missing sessions as we had all made a commitment to participate fully. I just couldn’t maintain focus during longer zoom calls.
One of the meditation administrators reached out to me to inquire about my absences. I explained my situation. Nischala immediately reached out to me and told me of her intention to create a prayer circle. I agreed to have my name added to the list. This international group of meditators offers prayers to anyone in need. The coincidence of this group forming just as I was struggling with my health issue was an answer to my unspoken prayer.
I no longer respond with discomfort when someone offers prayers. I accept them in gratitude and faith that they are meant to be. I now even often prayers to others!
This is a rather long story for my second newsletter of this month. But trust me, it’s relevant to an upcoming class that I plan to resume in September.
One of the risks of my surgery last month was that I would permanently loose my voice. My throat had barely recovered from a parathyroid surgery in April. The July surgery would need to navigate scar tissue and inflammation in the same area near the vocal cords. I sloughed off the worry. “Maybe I will finally write that book,” I thought. Then, I suddenly felt sad that I may never be able to offer a Yoga Nidra practice again. During the pandemic, offering Yoga Nidra felt like my prayer for peace and ease to those who received it.
Last week, I offered my first post surgery Yoga Nidra practice to a class at Life with Cancer. It was very difficult and my voice was strained. I added more pauses, muted myself and drank water during the pauses. I could feel the difference in the sound of my voice.
After class, a regular student remained behind. “Take care of your throat. I hope it’s not Covid.” She said. I told her that it wasn’t Covid. I was recovering from thyroid cancer. “You’re one of us now!” She exclaimed. “I will send you prayers.”
The next day she sent me a lovely email. I responded with the hope that the sound of my voice didn’t detract from her experience. Her response back to me brought tears to my eyes and a sense that prayers had been heard:
You did fine. The others may even not noticed it. I have very fine hearing and I heard a difference. I felt you deeply. Your yoga nidra was very special yesterday. I could feel you were 100% involved with spirit and mind. You spoke from experience.
Rest and relax. The Spirit will protect you…
With these kind words to support me and the knowledge that the Spirit will protect, I plan to resume offering Monday night Yoga Nidra classes starting on Monday, September 12th at 7:30 pm (EDT). If you attended these session last Spring, you will automatically get a zoom link prior to the call. If you would like to be added to the class notices or learn more, please email me.
In the meantime, I’m sending prayers to all who could benefit from their power.
Bright blessings, Denyse