When people are struggling in life, they often turn to prayer and meditation to help them to deal with those problems. People who believe in God often pray to their maker, while those who have other theistic views might choose to meditate to bring them spiritual guidance. Some people choose to do both.
Regardless of whether you believe someone is listening to your prayer or whether you’re simply meditating for the purpose of your own personal focus and peace of mind, I believe that prayer and meditation can actually help. Here’s how.
First, meditation and focused prayer have health benefits. These practices raise our tolerance of common aches and pains. These practices thicken the prefrontal cortex, strengthening our mental acuity. It lowers the risk of heart disease, lowers blood pressure, and strengthens the immune system. Those things all result in less productivity lost and lower health care expenses.
Most importantly, meditation and focused prayer can reduce stress. The amygdala is the part of our brains that is directly altered by stress and thickens when we’re feeling continuous stress. Prayer and meditation have been shown to reduce the thickness of the amygdala.
Second, meditation and focused prayer provides us with an opportunity to mentally focus on what we need to change in our lives. Regardless of whether we’re focused on financial success or any other aspect of our life, both prayer and meditation give us a chance to mentally focus on those things.
Most of the well-established practices for focused prayer and meditation revolve around focusing deeply on the topic at hand. Sure, you can “meditate” by closing your eyes for a minute or you can “pray” by thoughtlessly reciting an old memorized item, but neither one really helps on a deep level.
Third, the mental focus provided by focused prayer and meditation carries over into the rest of your life. The thing that you focus on during your meditation and prayer silently becomes more important in your life and you tend to make better decisions in those areas, consciously or otherwise.
If you do it for a week or two, you’ll start slowly noticing a real permanent shift in your mindset in the areas you were focusing on. Keep going with it and you’ll see the benefits spreading throughout your life.
I’ve witnessed this phenomenon countless times in my own life. Time spent meditating or praying on something causes me to subtly make better decisions in that area in my life. Those better decisions lead to better results. Those better results essentially appear as a positive outcome to that prayer or meditation.
How to Meditate or Pray in a Focused Way
For me, there is little functional difference between prayer and meditation. Both simply revolve around focusing on some specific aspect of your life, usually in the form of some central word or phrase or short poem, but it can be other things. The biggest difference between the two comes from whether you are calling out to a higher power, which is really up to you.
When I do this, I usually decide in advance that I want to focus on something specific. I usually try to find some aspect of my life that I wish I was doing better than I currently am. Maybe I want to be a better parent. Maybe I want to make better financial decisions. Maybe I want to improve my financial shape. Maybe I want to be a better husband. Maybe I want to get in better physical shape. Maybe I want to be a better friend.
Whatever the focus, I think of a way to describe the change I want to see in myself. Sometimes, it’s a simple sentence. At other times, it might be longer – a paragraph or two in length. Sometimes I’ll write these things myself; at other times, I’ll find pre-written ones; at still other times, I’ll do them completely off the top of my head.
Then, I spend some time quietly focusing on that phrase or sentence or paragraph that I’ve chosen. I close my eyes, attempt to relax, and run through the text in my head, usually a word or a phrase at a time. I focus on the word and phrase, repeating it and turning it over in my mind and think about what it really means to me and how I’m thankful for what I have and what improvements I want to implement regarding that piece. I’ll go through the text, then repeat back through it a time or two, usually up to about fifteen minutes or so.
That’s it! I get up and go about the rest of my day, usually feeling calmer and happier.
For those of you who would like an example of a meditation (one that doesn’t call out to a higher power) and a prayer (one that does) for personal finance success, here they are. I’ve chosen a short and long version of each one.
A Short Meditation for Financial Success and Prosperity
This is a short meditation I wrote myself. Focus on each key word – choose, moderation, discipline, spirituality, and abundance.
I choose to live a life of moderation, discipline, and spirituality. My life is prosperous, and moderation, discipline, and spirituality will lead me to greater abundance.
A Longer Meditation for Financial Success and Prosperity
This is a modified version of this found at MindBodyGreen.
It is in giving that we receive. As we sow abundantly, we reap abundantly.
My life is blessed with so much abundance, so much prosperity, so much success.
As I give and share generously and abundantly, my life is blessed with great prosperity. I am so blessed with this tremendous prosperity.
I choose to live a life of moderation, discipline and spirituality.
I am healthy and very happy. I am enjoying every moment of my life.
May every person, every being be blessed with good health, happiness, prosperity and spirituality.
With thanks and in full faith. So be it.
A Short Prayer for Financial Success and Prosperity
This is a short prayer I wrote myself. Recite it slowly in your mind or aloud, as you feel is appropriate.
Dear God, thank you so much for the abundance I already have. Help me to be free of anxiety and stress and to have the awareness I need to make better money decisions. Amen.
A Longer Prayer for Financial Success and Prosperity
This is a modified version of found at BeliefNet.
I ask that you remove my worries, anxieties, and fears about money, and replace them with faith.
I ask you to help me understand my purpose in life and to act on that purpose with courage and strength. I know that prosperity will come, in part, by doing work I love. Please help me use my skills and knowledge to be of service in the world.
I ask you for the strength I need to make difficult financial choices, to change my daily money decisions, and to get rid of my debts and build for my future.
I ask you to help me release all negative thoughts about money, and know that prosperity is my true state.
I know and trust that my debts will be paid and money will flow into my life. I have only to look to nature to see proof of the abundance you provide.
I commit to being grateful for all that I now have in my life.
Thank you, God.
My perspective, having used both prayer and meditation in my life, is that they often have a similar effect on the mind and body. I usually feel far more relaxed after prayer or meditation, for example, and my stress level usually falls quite a bit. I usually find that I follow prayer and meditation with better decisions in the short term.
More than that, when this practice is a part of my life on a regular basis, a calmer state of mind and somewhat better decisions seem to come utterly naturally. I firmly believe that a regular practice of meditation or prayer (depending on your spiritual beliefs or preferred practice) can do a lot to improve your mindset that can really help your financial state.
I personally attribute this practice as playing a major role in my ability to turn my spending habits around, which led directly to our family’s financial turnaround. This practice went a long way toward convincing me that I didn’t really need a lot of the stuff I was spending my money on, as it forced me to really consider what I was doing and what the long-term cost is.
This practice is a daily part of my life today. A day isn’t complete if I don’t spend some time focusing directly on a challenging part of my life and seek help to change them. I hope that it can play a similarly powerful role in your life, too.