Prayer as a Practice of Spiritual Alchemy: Why and How to Create Moments of Ritual Mindfulness

The saying of prayers before the performance of a certain rites is a recurrent practice through varied religions, be it before the taking an animal’s life, before a meal, when giving dues to the dead, the dawn of the day, the birth of a child, or saying blessings before the beginning of a season. The context is myriad but the form is the same: words and actions are tied together in aspiration for a specific sentiments actualization.

While the rationale for some such religious actions may be based on a conceived need to appease or please a deity, it’s important that those that are more scientifically minded not conceive of themselves as superior without seeing the deeper truth underlying such acts of “magic”. Thinking responsibility, and thus examining and testing our presuppositions, we learn that the vocalizer and the experiencer of those vibrations are in fact actively practicing manufacturing upon the plasticity that is their mind and body.

In a manner similar to that of a camera, that upon which our consciousness reflects gives form to our thoughts. This, combined with other elements, determines how it is that our psyche is constructed and thus how we view the world. Just as changing one’s environment, purposive social interaction for positive transformation and actively re-educating oneself are three manners in which to accelerate positive self-transformation cognitively, so too is prayer.

Establishing certain times during the day to remind ourselves of the manifold possibilities held within our True Nature’s potency can be a powerful practice on the path towards self-liberation. Doing so during the many moments in which we normally take care of our body – such as when we feed it or just before we go to sleep – or act in a ritualistic manner are especially powerful due to their daily recurrence.

One such daily action ripe for prayer is bathing or showering. When doing so we are literally removing secretions and things that have attached to us that we do not want: a fittingly poetic moment to own with intention if ever there was one! An example of a short prayer that one could repeat in such a situation is as follows:

As I wash my body I also clean my spirit and mind
And return to the state of essence purified
The best of the day stays while the rest leaves
Exiting through the trunk and extremities

Writing your own prayers based upon your self-proclaimed values is a wonderfully creative method of expanding your spiritual practice. While it need not conform to any structure or stricture other than that which you think is appropriate, making some reference to the acts that you are performing at the moment will increase it’s resonance.

If you want, following this opening prayer, you can also allow yourself to alight upon specific examples of non-alignment with your values you perceived or experienced through the day. After you’ve noticed their emergence, you should forgive yourself for the false thinking that allowed it to emerge and restate your intentions and commitment to being clear of heart and mind in your future actions.