Who Do I Pray For?

On the Mondays I teach yoga, I have a long drive to Arlington, Virginia. With about 60-75 minutes in traffic, sometimes more, I have made it my ritual to pray. I pray for people I know, people I don’t know, people that will come to class, and people suffering around the world. I take in the elements around me, the Potomac River, the trees dotting the shoreline, the birds, and the traffic, traffic lights and people rushing. Today as I prayed, it seemed that the prayers and feeling of prayer was never ending, streaming through as a geyser would, looking for a place to burst.

During these times of incredible hardship for many it is hard at times to think that somehow teaching yoga makes a difference much less saying a prayer. What if I was in Aleppo? What if it was my family fleeing? What if I had no home, and no food? The holidays on top of this…for many this is a hard time and hard times are relative. There is depression and despair in many places. Anger, blame and rage is being expressed against each other.

An interaction came to mind, a very angry enraged man yelling at a spiritual teacher. The teacher had posted, “do not succumb to despair”, we must offer prayer to those in need.” He responded, “prayer does not work, your teachings are an abject failure. If you really want to help send money to these charities’ that are directly helping those in dire need”.

It is hard to see that prayer really works. Prayer does not usually work if there is a personal or ego agenda. If it is not in alignment with what the soul cries out for, it will manifest in a distorted incomprehensible way.

A combination of prayer and action is needed really. Pray to be guided to what you need to be doing. And when the steps are not clear, it ALWAYS pays to be kind. Kind to others around you and kind in how you treat yourself in food, thought and self care. Very often just getting clear about your own self care can give you the next steps to move forward.

On my end, that geyser of love and care that was looking for a vehicle and place, found itself this evening: in my students and in my body. You see, it came to me that in all my prayers, I never included myself. I had to stop and pull over, allow for the tears of grief for all those who suffer make way for my own tears of suffering until the waters of life circulated through me and my heart filled to the brim with love again.

During this holiday season, may we fill to the brim with love, recognizing that we are not independent from others suffering, their suffering is our suffering. May our light, wellbeing and health be sustained so that we may help others…may all beings in this world be at peace, may all beings be happy.