Reclaiming the feminine practice of prayer
The Divine feminine is within us and all around us, in the tantric traditions she is seen as the divine manifested in form; into life force energy and all that life force energy pours itself into.
Whilst her masculine counterpart, Shiva, is un-manifested divine consciousness, the Divine feminine is manifested in the world. She is revealed and expressed in our bodies, our breath ,the natural world and in the endless dance of birth, life, growth and death.
To connect with Shiva we ‘go beyond’ the physical and emotional realms to the underlying truth beyond form. But if we want to connect to the Divine feminine, we can find her on her dance floor, which is this world we live in that we can perceive with our senses. She is doing her dance through the medium of your body, your desires, your pain, your life path…..
The act of prayer is the act of calling her in to dance her dance freely within you!
For the last few weeks I have been back in the crazy, amazing mother India, by the banks of the sacred river, the mother Ganga. Everyday thousands of people come to bathe in her waters and meditate, chant and pray.
And you can feel the effects of this; there is a tangible presence and power in this river that I attribute to the fact that so many people have consciously poured their love and devotion into her, on a daily basis, for literally thousands of years.
Where ever i live in the world my daily prayer at a natural water source is the highlight of my day. I
approach all water as the water goddess herself I come to her with deep respect, sometimes I bring a flower offering, sometimes I light a candle and send a prayer down the river, but what is most important is that I approach her consciously, I take my time, give thanks, say a prayer, I use the time to connect to myself, to the river, with the essence of life.
I find that this renews and rejuvenates me on so many levels. Like a living goddess in the form of purifying water taking off all the layers of dirt and confusion to reveal what is shining and pure within.
There are different ways that we can approach ‘the sacred’; as if it is outside of us or inside of us. Ultimately the intention is to use the external manifestations of life as a bridge to experience our own nature on a more profound level.
To experience this we have to step away from our logical rational standpoint and enter into a more subtle way of relating. It is an opportunity to let go of our preconceptions and become present to the fullness and sacredness of life within us and around us right now.
When we approach anything with a genuine desire to connect. It can facilitate an opening to that which is so much more immense and precious than what we know.
Prayer takes us to a state of deep receptivity and radical openness that allows us to put our armour down
and actually feel our deep connection to all of life, we can use prayer to open a door for a deep exchange to take place through.
Personally I had to ‘reclaim’ the practice of prayer, I had to make it a personal process that made sense to me, I have embraced prayer for its incredible capacity to transform my confusion into contentment and my sense of helplessness into deep trust.
I find that spontaneous prayer colours my life and helps me to channel the energy of emotions and ride the waves of intensity with more of a sense of support and connection. If it all feels a bit too much, I ask for guidance, yet I do not expect a clear answer, somehow in the simplicity of asking for help, with no attachment to the outcome, so much is given already.
So many of us have been scarred by religious conditioning that involved relating to God, The Divine, as something outside of ourselves, often as a masculine figure who judges us.
But prayer can be sooo much yummier than that. It is up to us to make our prayer potent and personal and deeply heart felt.
Prayer can be a fast and simple process for getting out of our heads, into our hearts and into connection with life.
Whether we are approaching a power place in nature, a lover, a teacher, or the little shrine we may have created in our bedroom, it is all about ‘the how’.
At my workshops I always begin a meditative prayer with an invitation to let go of tension though movement/ breath/ sound so that we feel more available, more present, more open.
When we pray, whatever form it takes (it could be though dance, yoga asana, singing etc) our whole body should become an expression of the prayer.
More than anything, prayer involves every single part of us being present for the process, from this space of presence, with the innocence of the child, and the respectful attention of a lover, whatever we do will be an expression of devotion and in the process we open ourselves to that which is bigger than our personal little selves.
And interestingly you do not necessarily need to be absolutely clear what you are praying to, if it doesn’t feel right to you to pray to direct your prayers outwards, then direct them inwards to that part of yourself that is extremely wise and loving and knows what is best for you.
You can pray in a power spot in nature, by a big tree, by a river or stream. It can be beautiful to come with an offering of some kind( flowers, incense, some sweets) but all you really need is good intentions, to take some time to connect, to allow words to arise naturally.
If you are troubled you can ask to be guided. Use words that resonate with you, which speak to you. I always end by sending out a prayer for all beings everywhere- for example; May all beings live in peace.
Prayer should be simple, it is about the feeling and not the words.
For many women it is just so much easier to relate to an image of a loving mother than a masculine image. It can be very healing and nurturing, especially for those who have experienced religious thought and practices as restrictive, suppressive and unempowering.
Try it, see what feels right to you, notice how you feel before and after, be creative, joyful, innocent and genuine and you might be surprised with what you find.
Why reclaim the practice of prayer? Simply, because it works! Enjoy it! Let it to be a gateway to your own personal, and totally unique, relationship with The Divine- and your deep self.