Prayer plays an important role in many people's lives, and studies have shown it to have an effect on our health. Dr. Oz and his wife, Lisa, talk to Father Richard Rohr, a Franciscan priest and author, about the healing power of contemplative prayer.
In his writing, Father Rohr says that during the first 40 years of life, it's appropriate to rely on religion to show you a path. In the second half of life, you're charting some of those waters without a rule book in hand. "Once you do the task in the first half of life, you have the appropriate ego structure, and the irony is, you don't need it anymore," he says. His argument with most managed religion is that it keeps the follower doing the tasks for the first half of life over and over again, getting caught in tribal thinking, and preventing enlightenment.
According to Father Rohr, we need to rethink our method of prayer. By making prayer functional and practical, we put the ego in charge. He believes that instead, prayer should be a transformation of consciousness. "Saying prayers is what's taken over in the West, but being a prayer is abiding with the inner presence, what we would call the divine Holy Spirit," he says.
Finding time for prayer doesn't have to be difficult. Father Rohr says his daily contemplative practice is simply letting go of all thoughts. "Whatever obsessive thought, compulsive thought, negative or paranoid thought or feeling—whatever comes, try to gently let go of it." He says that it can be hard to do, because you have to let go of all the things that you think you are. "We think we are our thoughts, we think we are our feelings," he says. "Once you see [these] ways of thinking, it clears out. You move to a deeper level beyond your thinking—that's the experience of conscious union."
Printed from Oprah.com on Saturday, December 7, 2013