Please note: Please look for the 2o-minute Sankalpa podcast included at the end of this post!
I’ve never been one for praying. To begin with, prayer wasn’t an important part of my family life growing up. Only at holidays, when grandparents sat with us at the table, did we pray before meals. Even then, it was a memorized, bland passage that awakened nothing in me.
Neither did we attend church regularly. The times we did (mostly at holidays) I’d sit with my family in a hard-backed pew as we bowed our heads and folded our hands obediently. I’d open my eyes, lift my head enough to peek around at frozen faces, frozen hands, frozen breath, until, finally, the pastor freed us from this forced piousness and I could feel the exhale of relief. Was I imagining that? At any rate, I still felt nothing. Except guilt about feeling nothing. So I tried praying for forgiveness for feeling nothing when praying. What a mess.
As I slid into the world of spirituality and studied, embraced and eventually experienced the Soul as a part of us that is non-material, never dies, living perhaps numerous human, and who knows what other kinds of lives, my distaste for prayer as I had been taught grew. But at least, this time I knew why: what could I possibly offer another whose Soul had so uniquely designed perfect opportunities and situations for growth and evolution that stretch beyond one life, one year, one day, one moment? A Soul whose “reasons,” (as far as a Soul needs to explain itself) far exceed the narrow parameters of good and bad, painful and comfortable, even life and death?
Who was I, I thought, to pray for my own momentary success or another’s miraculous recovery when I couldn’t possibly expect to understand the profound and magical trajectory of their life or my own from a lens outside of time and space? It seemed a huge overreach on the part of humans — to imagine the personal desires for oneself or others (and truth be told, even when we pray for others it’s often to stave off our own potential suffering) would be “answered” by an apparently bribable God who spends His time prioritizing and listening to our individual prayers wrapped up in the package of egoic desire: Men praying to win a football game. Parents praying so their child will get into the school they want. Countries praying for God to bless them, especially, over and above other countries. People asking God to help them personally win the chess game of life by manipulating others’ games.
I dismissed prayer like I ceased believing in Santa Claus. I couldn’t wrap my head around it. I couldn’t offer it sincerely. I stopped praying. More guilt.
Then I was introduced to Sankalpa. Sankalpa is not so much prayer as intention. Or to be more fair, it is not prayer as I understood it as much as it was something that spoke to my Soul as something real and powerful I could do and, more so, had an obligation to do. Sankalpa is built on the foundation of an energetic world, not a material one, a giving-and-receiving frame of mind, not an earning-and-deserving one, an inclusive, participatory view of the world, not a judgmental, conditional one. Under the umbrella of Sankalpa, like attracts like, karmic laws are in fine form and thoughts about our own worthiness and value carry extraordinary power in creating and recreating our outer experiences.
Unlike prayer, through Sankalpa we forge a partnership, not a subservient-ship with the Divine. We vow to do our part in the manifestation: imagine what’s possible beyond the limits we think we know, remain patient and diligent (Soul time is quite different than human time), awaken to possibilities outside the scope of our experiences to date, steadfastly remain in a place of gratitude, be ready to look at the gifts that are given —even in unsightly, unwelcome and untimely packages.
Sankalpa resonated with me. It resonated within me. For the first time, I felt something. I upgraded my idea of Prayer to one that felt more like Sankalpa. And my life has never been the same since.
With Sankalpa as my primary mode of interaction with the Universe, I became more aware of and responsible for what I thought, what I said, what I did. I felt empowered in my own life and connected to the Divine. I did not sit back in faith that my Sankalpa would be “answered” based on my goodness or virtue, rather as I raised my own energetic frequencies, as I believed that anything is possible, and as I let go of the minutias of how and when and left off attempts at Universal blackmail (“God, if you’ll give me this I promise I will do that other thing You want…”), the Universe would naturally reflect this shifting paradigm back. If I was aware enough to notice the open door, window, or keyhole, I could choose to shift my life. Sankalpa was so much more active, so much more connected, and for me, so much more powerful.
As the time drew near to embark on my journey to Myanmar, I suddenly heard within me an overwhelming desire to want to carry the prayers of others across the ocean and leave them to steep in this ancient, spiritual land. I knew this was my Soul’s desire. I agreed, and decided I would leave the prayers “Sankalpa style.” This meant that while I would not specifically ask for intervention in a Soul’s necessary path, I would instead connect energetically with the person(s) and with the Universe and raise our vibration together to allow new, greater possibilities a doorway of entry into their life. And through the now-open doorway could come awareness of choice, protection, guidance, love, clarity, peace or an opportunity to reclaim their inner power and wisdom.
This is what I believed I could do.
I offered, via Facebook and email, for friends and family to send me their prayers for loved ones or themselves, strangers or groups of people. Whether they were for healing, peace, safety or clarity, I hoped to have a bag stuffed with prayers. And I was not disappointed.
I wrote down the prayers in the exact words given to me on small slips of paper and carried them in an organza bag. I kept it with me at all times, listening in for the right time to leave the right prayer.
Once I felt settled and ready and safely on the other side of my harboring experience with a sprained foot, I shared my plan with my guides who offered to take pictures and guide me in their personal traditions regarding prayer. I felt honored.
While in Myanmar, a predominantly Buddhist country, I thought letting Buddha into the energetic intention couldn’t hurt. And so I spoke and left Sankalpas at his feet, in his hands, in his bowl, at his alter.
I offered prayers for children to the Buddha holding children,
I offered prayers for the safety of thousands to the ten-thousand Buddhas sitting peacefully and powerfully over the land.
I placed a prayer for my mom behind a beautiful goddess overseeing a garden and that night and the next, it rained and rained, and as it did, I imagined that prayer melting into the Earth herself. I offered a prayer for healing of my entire family to the Sea herself, imagining Her power, knowing she could multiply my intentions and then some.
I knelt down, I opened my awareness and connected at an energetic level with the person(s) in the prayer, including the person requesting the prayer. And I imagined Divine love and energy flowing to them, around them, inside them. My body expanded. My breathing calmed. I felt tingly, powerful, and interestingly, soothed. Imagine that, leaving prayers for others had the unplanned side-effect of making me feel good!
I am so grateful to all who trusted me to carry their deep and personal prayers. Please know that you and yours will be in my Sankalpas always and forever.
As a holiday gift this year, below is a twenty-minute podcast where I lead a Sankalpa for healing and peace into this world that so desperately needs it. Please find a little time to sit down, find the little “play” button and offer your prayer — Sankalpa style — into the world!