Who Do You Pray To?

It’s funny how the act of teaching can unexpectedly become the ultimate teacher. This past week, I experienced an influx in the amount of yoga classes I teach. I’ve been subbing for other yogis like a madman. In this process, I have had tremendous amounts of exposure to the lessons I preach. It’s as if my words echo off the walls  and whisper themselves into my ears. I am certainly learning a lot from all this teaching.

One of the most repetitive lessons I have been taught is the concept of self-prayer. Usually, prayer falls into two categories: culturally stigmatized or a form of pleading. These two categories are dependent upon one clause: the idea that who or what we pray to is outside of ourselves. In the former category, prayer is discriminated against because who actually believes a man separate from us in the sky is listening to everyone’s thoughts? In the latter view, we focus on the exterior power of another (be it Jesus, Buddha, Krishna or the all-mighty dollar) to give to us what we think we cannot give to ourselves. In both situations, fallacy is observed and prayer is focused outward.

"No servant can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other."(L16:13) The Self or "God"

Jet backwards two weeks. I was in a yoga teacher’s training focused on conscious communication. Among the many invaluable lessons learned, the one that seems to have stuck the most is the lesson of conscious self-communication. Many times a day we often talk to ourselves. Voices in our heads repeat, reflect, judge, battle and vie for our conscious attention. This inner dialogue is a form of self-communication. And like this self-dialogue, prayer is one of those voices.

Although prayer may be thought of as a more conscious and intentional mental narrative, it is certainly not free from the sliding gradient of unconscious thought. On the lower end, the awareness of prayer is basically exhibiting a pleading/begging posture towards an exterior power. This is like trying to get a full stomach by watching the Food Network channel. It is idealistic at best, but utterly ineffective. Instead of refracting your desires off an unknowable entity, try asking your Self.

Mmmmm. Delicious!

This concept of prayer is a method of conscious communication. It implies that we are God. We are the universe, the physical embodiment creation, stemming from one common source. In this light, we can see that all our prayers, blessings, questions and concerns are capable of being answered with nothing more than our conscious attention.

This transition inward has been a great lesson for me. It has shown me the extent of my patience and will, as many times my belief in this method of prayer has been tested. I often do not see immediate results and begin to doubt my power as the great answerer of prayers. However, when I continue to know beyond faith that I am capable, my questions are answered. I surrender my prayer to the fear of realizing my ultimate power.

There are many psychological and spiritual barriers to making this an easy-as-pie process because we have been conditioned to believe that we are inept and incapable, leaving us at the will of an entity that exists outside of ourselves. The leverage point in this equation is the realization that we are the omnipresent being, the source of creation. Once this old paradigm is expanded, the true extent of the Self can be realized. The key to this is persistance, understanding and the ability to listen.

Listening is the beginning of prayer. ~Mother Teresa

I use a simple technique that was given by Yogi Bhajan. When monitoring your mood and finding yourself in an undesirable place, ask yourself to raise your spirits. Simply say: “I do not like the state I am in. (Insert your name), will you elevate my consciousness.” Now when you say this, you must direct it at your highest self. Recognize that there are other voices that do no represent you highest state of consciousness and avoid speaking to them. Instead, focus on that person who you are when you are happiest, most conscious. Through listening, the proper voice will be heard. This is how you will lift yourself.

So often we beg and plead with the ideas we place outside of ourselves. We send out wasted energy into the ethers hoping that it will return. Disappointment and challenge face those who are not impeccable in the traditional forms of exterior prayer. In these times of spiritual redefinition, old structures of practice are no longer as effective as they once were (although for some—like my Lola [grandmother]—external prayer continues to work). As our minds change, so do the ways we perceive the world, God, and ourselves.

So if prayer has served you fruitlessly, stop sending out a letter to an unknown address and instead try sending one to yourself. Better yet, write an email. The turn around on your prayers will be instantaneous.

Stamped, sealed and self-addressed.

A new, favorite quote of mine from Yogi Bhajan:

“Blessed are those who bless themselves.”

It is time to quit thinking you are incapable, limited and separate from the energy of the universe. Omnipotence is your birthright, and you are as powerful as you will let yourself be. Release that which does not serve this purpose. Recognize this and you will become limitless. Turn off the TV, get into the kitchen and start cooking.

The Miraculous & Disgusting Apple Cider Vinegar

Thanks to a group of my very healthenlightened friends, I have been on an apple cider vinegar routine.  Just typing those words make me cringe.  For any who have attempted this feat, you must already know the horror of the flavor, stench and bite this absolutely amazing drink carries.  For all its hassle, apple cider vinegar is a modern day panacea.  If you can stomach the punch, you’ll be greatly rewarded with a plethora of health benefits.  I find the classic saying—No pain, no gain—very pertinent.

Apple Cider Vinegar (ACV from now on) is an ancient healing remedy.  I was first introduced to it by my father, who I swore was crazy for even buying the stuff.  It turns out, health gurus from as early as 3000 BC were downing this ‘delightful’ drink.  We are able to confirm ACV usage back in ancient Egypt.  It was used as a healing remedy in Babylonia (Egypt) and travelled out of the Fertile Crescent towards ancient Greece and the Roman Empire where enlightened thinkers such as Hippocrates (400BC) and Julius Caesar (100BC) used it for its cleansing properties.  As it reached further out, it headed towards Japan, where samurais used it for strength.  It is recorded that in biblical times it was considered as one of the world’s first antiseptics. In more recent times, it was used during the Middle Ages in Paris as a body deodorant and healing tonic.  Christopher Columbus and his crew drank it to prevent scurvy.  And according to Bragg, it was even used in the US Civil war to prevent disease amongst soldiers.

In the wrong hands, ACV could ultimately lead to the annihilation of millions!

It’s obvious many people across many culture and timespans understood the benefits of ACV.  But that still leaves us with a few questions.  First, what is it?

ACV is made from crushed apples that are allowed to mature naturally in wooden barrels (obviously today methods may vary).  Wood was the container of choice as it boosts fermentation.  ACV carries a rich brown color and the stuff you want to drink has a “mother” floating in it.  The mother is a cob-web like structure that will hang around the bottom of the container.  This is an ESSENTIAL part of choosing the correct ACV. It indicates that the brew is raw and alive, which means it has not been pasteurized.  Once it is pasteurized, just like any other living food, many nutrients and enzymes are destroyed.  The mother is essentially a large mass of enzymes stuck together.

Next on my list: Homemade Apple Cider Vinegar

Now, the second question usually goes like this: What does ACV really do?  There is a ton of undocumented heresay about the healing properties of ACV, but what has actually been shown to work scientifically?

To this I answer in two parts. One: stop thinking so scientifically. There are many areas of existence that science is still incapable of measuring and just because science can’t see something does not mean it doesn’t exist. And because I know that’s not going to cut it for many people, two: There is a TON of science behind ACV.

In 2007, a study published in “Diabetes Care” found that those with type two diabetes who took 2 tbsp. of ACV before bedtime showed favorable changes in blood sugar levels the next morning.  In 2009, a Bioscience, Biotechnology, and Biochemistry study found obese people who consumed ACV daily for 12 weeks showed significant decrease in body weight.  It is also scientifically understood that ACV restores alkalinity in the body (an important factor as our acidic diets invite favorable conditions for disease).

Some less scientifically studied, but widely proven ACV benefits are healing dandruff, reducing acne and supporting regularity in digestion.

If Johnny Appleseed knew about the healing power he was spreading...

So the third question: How do you drink it?

Well, this is an ongoing pursuit for me, but I started out with just 2 tbsp of ACV in 1/2 C of water with the juice of one lemon. This was slightly less painful than just taking a pure shot (which is highly not recommended as it can lead to enamel loss and possibly burning sensitive tissues in the throat).  Next, I tried 2 tbps ACV and a cup of apple juice.  This drink tasted much better.  However, I don’t know about you, but I love my apple juice and I’d rather not waste it masking the flavor of ACV.  So this led me to my current option, which is the best I have found so far.

I take 1 0z. ACV squeeze 1/4 ruby red grapefruit, 1/2 orange (can be a blood orange, tangerine, or regular orange), and 1/2 lime (depending on size maybe 1/4).  I mix this all together and get about 3 oz. of liquids and chug it down.  It still leaves a nasty after taste, but I’m working on it.

If it only tasted like how this picture looks...

Personally, I will attest to the energetic properties of ACV.  Not only do I take it every morning to get up and go, but it sustains me through the morning hours.  What actually inspired me to write this very detailed post on ACV was the shot I just took of it.  You can feel energy right away and the heat in your stomach and digestive system is very apparent.  Give it a try and let me know in the comments what you think.  Also if you have a secret recipe PLEASE let me know.  I’m dying to find the best one so that I can make my mornings a little more pleasant =)