Prayer & Meditation

Bedtime “Prayers”

  • Whether you’re “religious” or not, consider spending the last few minutes before sleep in a positive frame of mind, thinking about what you would love to have in your life, thinking about questions you’d love to have answers to, sending love to people — praying, in a way. This small bit of preparation will help you make a good entrance into your dreamworld and is good practice for a happy afterlife.

Forms of Prayer

  • “Prayer can be a form of religious practice, may be either individual or communal and take place in public or in private. It may involve the use of words, song or complete silence. When language is used, prayer may take the form of a hymn, incantation, formal creedal statement, or a spontaneous utterance in the praying person. There are different forms of prayer such as petitionary prayer, prayers of supplication, thanksgiving, and praise. Prayer may be directed towards a deity, spirit, deceased person, or lofty idea, for the purpose of worshipping, requesting guidance, requesting assistance, confessing transgressions (sins) or to express one’s thoughts and emotions. Thus, people pray for many reasons such as personal benefit, asking for divine grace, spiritual connection, or for the sake of others.”

Prayer Now and in the Afterlife

  • Rupert Sheldrake suggests, “If we’re used to praying regularly, then in our dreams or in our after-death life, we may be able to go on praying, and that would enable us to contact a spiritual realm beyond the more limited realm we’re confined to in this post-mortem dream state.”
  • He suggests that praying to saints or deities while you’re alive may actually get their attention and develop a good relationship for after you’re dead.
  • It doesn’t matter if these saints or deities are “real”, as long as people believe in them. They will exist in the dreamworld.

Binaural Beats: A Meditative Gateway to Altered States of Consciousness, by Polly Anne Rice

  • “Binaural beats are a variation of brainwave entrainment, creating an oscillation effect between the frequencies flowing into each ear and the frequency resonated in the brain. The oscillation effect is what happens when ringing a tuning fork and placing it next to another tuning fork at rest; if the tuning forks play the same note, or vibrate on the same frequency, the tuning fork at rest will begin to ring.
  • “Two different frequencies stream into the ears of an individual, preferably wearing headphones, creating a binaural beat within the brain. By introducing one frequency in one ear, and another in the opposite ear, the hemispheres of the brain are obliged to interact and communicate with one another to hear the binaural beat, causing hemisphere synchronicity. Evidence has implicated both the superior olivary nucleus in the brainstem and the inferior colliculus as the area(s) where the binaural beat is created and heard within the brain.
  • “Effects of Binaural Beats: Hemisphere synchronicity has profound implications! This special type of synchronicity is rare and is reported by Dr. Thompson (2007) to be associated with the light bulb moment, instances of epic inspiration and creativity, and high states of meditation or joy.
  • “Certain binaural beats can be used to create a sustained synchronistic state, creating profound changes in consciousness and brainwave configurations.
  • “The physiology and psychophysiology of human beings is affected beyond the scope of hemisphere synchronicity though! Several studies have reported reductions in anxiety, dopamine, insulin-like growth factor-1, stress, and sleep requirements, as well as increases in learning ability, creativity, higher states of consciousness, lucid dreaming, astral projection, and more.
  • “…Some people also experience hypnagogia states, which are states of consciousness between waking and sleeping, often referred to as threshold consciousness. During these states, people may experience visual or auditory phenomenon such as seeing colors, shapes, and patterns, or hearing snippets of conversations, various sounds, and voices….
  • “My all-time favorite binaural beat video on YouTube can be accessed here (this is an example of a Reiki music track with imbedded binaural tracks).
  • “It is very important for you to be aware of how to use [binaural music tracks] as well. You should sit or lie down when listening to binaural tracks, allowing yourself to relax and melt into the track. Minor benefits can be gained when passively listening to binaural tracks when doing activities like reading a book, emailing, or anything that isn’t strenuous. However, it can be extremely dangerous to listen to binaural beats when driving or in situations where it is important for you to be present in your environment.
  • “My favorite time to use them is right before going to sleep. Depending on the track I want to listen to that night, I’ll lie down anywhere between 15 minutes to an hour before the time I actually want to go to sleep. I’ve found using headphones is significantly more effective and comfortable for me than using speakers or ear buds.”

The Tibetan Buddhist and Spiritualist Views of After-Death States: Spiritual Travel and the Second Bardo

  • “It is here where some experience and training in spiritual travel and out-of-body experience may be of greatest help. It may first help the individual maintain a state of detachment. The spiritual traveler who has experienced the inner world during life can take the whirlwind nature of inner world following death with more calm and detachment. Those who have read examples of the kinds of states encountered in spiritual travel [on the author’s website] will understand that some experimentation and discovery in the inner worlds may prepare the soul for many of the dynamics of the states it may encounter after death. The similarity of certain aspects of the near-death experience (a temporary bardo state) and elements of spiritual travel experience (the ‘tunnel’ experience for example) show some common qualities between certain spiritual travel states and these bardo states.
  • “The soul experienced in spiritual travel is less likely to be disoriented by this inner torrent of psychic experience. To put it another way, while the spiritual traveler or yogi swims through the ocean of consciousness, the inexperienced soul may feel more like it is drowning in that ocean. But as with a drowning person, the most important thing is to have a direction in which to swim to safety. The point of orientation or goal for the person in the second bardo may be a deity, a mantra, a prayer, a heaven, a guide, or some similar spiritual goal but the spiritual traveler must be able to focus and move towards that goal using meditative techniques learned and practiced during their former life in the physical world. This is the active approach of the spiritual traveler.
  • “The second advantage is that the spiritual traveler has entered the waters of consciousness consciously on many occasions and is practiced at directing his or her experience in the inner worlds.
  • “The greatest problems of the soul in the second bardo are negative emotions like guilt and fear (which results from a lack of familiarity with the inner worlds), and lack of conscious control over its own experience. Fear is particularly harmful because it fragments the self, making concentration on one thing difficult or impossible, and this can lead to confusion and loss of conscious control.
  • “The soul in the second bardo is many times caught in a dream state sometimes unaware that it has died, and incapable of taking action to raise its state of consciousness to a threshold level of awareness where it can direct its attention towards spiritual states.
  • “This is one of the reasons it is important to do a regular spiritual practice during life. Doing meditation or prayer every day establishes a pattern of spiritual activity. It then becomes automatic and the habit of seeking after the divine reality continues during the after-death state where it can have powerful results. A daily spiritual practice differs from other more common spiritual practices such as going to church or temple because it is done more often than once or twice a week. Meditation therefore establishes a stronger habit pattern in the individual and is a valuable addition to group-oriented spiritual activities such as attending church.
  • “Regular meditation can also be more powerful because it is usually a less passive activity than church since it fully involves the individual in the meditative process rather than making a spectator out of him or her.
  • “What the soul in the second bardo needs to do is ‘wake up’, as in a lucid dream, and begin a meditation or mental exercise that draws it towards a desired stable and more conscious state of awareness where it can have some control and continue to evolve spiritually. The opposite of conscious control is a dream-like state where the individual experiences only the results of his or her previous actions, and mechanically moves from thought to thought based on thinking patterns developed during life.
  • “Waking up within a dream is one of the activities the spiritual traveler practices when he or she leaves the body to travel the inner planes. Beyond this, the traveler is also always practicing and perfecting the art of directing his or her attention towards some desired state. Some Buddhist teachers claim that experience in the second bardo is completely determined by karma and deny that conscious control of experience is possible in this state. However it is the contention of the author that experience with meditation and actual spiritual travel experience during life can both be helpful in rising above the semi-conscious state characteristic of the second bardo, and moving into a more conscious and desirable state following physical death.
  • “For those who practiced a devotional tradition in life, some will semi-consciously repeat a religious or a meditative ritual asking gods or intercessors to draw them out of the second bardo world. We see an example of an attempt to create such a ritual in the Catholic rosary, where Mary as intercessor is requested to ‘Pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death….’
  • “This phrase is from the Hail Mary Prayer. One effect of the repetition of this prayer fifty times in the rosary is that such a prayer for help and intercession may become an automatic process, which will repeat itself in the bardo.
  • “For those fortunate enough to be more conscious in these bardo states, a petition to a god, guru, guide, saint, or intercessor can be made in hopes that the individual will be lifted or guided out of the bardo worlds by one of those entities. But here again, the call must be concentrated and the ability to ignore the surrounding chaos somewhat developed. When such grace is given, it is a form of salvation where the individual is saved from the discomfort and confusion of the “outer darkness” of the bardo by a powerful entity — usually one that individuals formed a bond with in their former life. To use the swimming analogy, here the individual calls out to a lifeguard in hopes of being rescued from the turbulent waters of the bardo state. This is the more passive approach of the devotee.
  • “We should also note that souls in this bardo are thought to be very sensitive to the thoughts and attitudes of those they knew during life. The Tibetans therefore put great effort into doing chanting, reading of sacred texts, and other religious rituals to help the dying soul on its journey in the afterlife. Praying for the peace and happiness of the dying person therefore has great value and provides a benefit to both the living and the dead. This process of sending good wishes to those who have recently died can create a positive spiritual atmosphere which can orient and bring peace to the person in the bardo realm, and can also counter some of the sorrow and upset that accompanies the loss of a loved one.”

Prayer Can Benefit Health and Wellbeing

  • According to the University of Minnesota, “prayer is important in a healthcare context simply because it is used so widely. According to Dr. Wayne Jonas, ‘Surveys indicate that nearly 90% of patients with serious illness will engage in prayer for the alleviation of their suffering or disease.’ Among all forms of complementary medicine, prayer is the single most widely-practiced healing modality. According to research conducted by Dr. Christina Puchalski, Director of the George Washington Institute for Spirituality and Health, prayer is the second most common method of pain management (after oral pain medication), and the most common non-drug method of pain management.
  • “The following explanations have been offered as to how prayer helps improve health:
    • “The relaxation response — prayer elicits the relaxation response, which lowers blood pressure and other factors heightened by stress.
    • “Secondary control — prayer releases control to something greater than oneself, which can reduce the stress of needing to be in charge.
    • “The placebo response — prayer can enhance a person’s hopes and expectations, and that in turn can positively impact health.
    • “Healing presence — prayer can bring a sense of a spiritual or loving presence and alignment with God or an immersion into a universal unconscious.
    • “Positive feelings — prayer can elicit feelings of gratitude, compassion, forgiveness, and hope, all of which are associated with healing and wellness.
    • “Mind-body-spirit connection — when prayer uplifts or calms, it inhibits the release of cortisol and other hormones, thus reducing the negative impact of stress on the immune system and promoting healing.”

    Lucid Dreaming and Meditation

    • “Conscious awareness of imagery is vitally important during wakefulness, meditation, & dreaming. Visualization meditations, in which you are focusing not on a stark, quiet environment, but focusing on the breath while you use your imagination to envision a happy, pleasing place (a garden filled with vibrant flowers, a beach with the tide coming in, a childhood favorite place that you always think of nostalgically), improves your mental imagery. And when you improve your mental imagery (which is like a muscle – the more you use it, the stronger it becomes), the easier of a time you’ll have with dream recall and lucid dreaming.”

    How to Practice Meditation for Lucid Dreaming

    • [Scientific studies] “reveal direct links between meditation and lucid dreaming. Both practices involve higher states of awareness (up to the gamma band or 40 Hz) and help you to become more habitually focused, self aware and reflective. Both improve your dream recall, visualization skills and your ability to become lucid automatically, so that even a simple breathing meditation practiced daily will help you achieve profound relaxation and increase your chances of having lucid dreams.
  • “Breathing Meditation to Calm Your Mind:
  • “Choose a quiet place. You can cross your legs (like a traditional Buddha) or sit in a chair. The key is to keep your back straight to stop your mind from becoming sleepy.
  • “Allow your eyes to close naturally and focus on your breathing, without actually trying to control it. Breathe in and out through the nostrils and become aware of how the air feels as it enters and leaves your body.
  • “At first, your mind will be full of jumbled thoughts and it may feel like things are getting busier. In fact, you are increasing your self awareness and noticing how many thoughts you really have. Avoid the temptation of following your thoughts as they occur. Stay focused on your breath going in and out of your nose.
  • “If you realize your mind has wandered, bring it back. If you keep this up for 10-15 minutes, you will achieve a quiet state of mind. Your thoughts will be clear and lucid, like a calm lake that has not been disturbed for a long time. Remain in this state for as long as feels comfortable.”