“… meeting the sacred in an entirely different way … standing powerfully erect in near Superman pose – feet firmly on the ground, legs slightly apart, shoulders back, chest open to the sky, core strong, head up and alert, hat off so that the down-pouring energy of the One can fully enter your body … now, pray.”
This is something that can change your life quickly in incredibly powerful positive ways. Full embodiment of the Lakota prayer stance feels to me like it can re-write of much of our DNA patterns, our bodies, our inherited cultural blocks, and belief systems that tell us we have been cast out of nature and the heart of God. The transformation can happen quickly, in the blink of an eye. And it is something that, when practiced regularly, can create a new normal in our lives.
The change looks like this –
A group of beautiful young people stood in a prayer circle at Standing Rock: each in deep prayer; heads bowed, hands folded, contrite and humble, grateful to be included in the sacred ceremony, wanting to be deeply respectful. When you think about it, this is the way most ‘Westerners’ are taught to be in many situations – certainly in church, but also before authority figures, in schools, and in many connections with others. It is a perfect example of how many of us unconsciously or consciously think of ourselves in relation to something other, something greater, or something more powerful. When we enter any kind of ‘temple’ or uncertain situation, we often cast our eyes, and thus the power of our presence, down.
But that day a Lakota Elder came around the prayer circle to correct the posture of these young people and with it their entire thinking about themselves and their connection to each other and God. He asked them to meet the sacred in an entirely different way. In fact, this same lesson was repeated over and over every day in ceremonies throughout the camp. The Elders were constantly teaching us that when we enter into prayer, and truly come before the Great Mother, that we stand in the full power of our Presence as Sacred Beings on earth – as proud living embodiments of the Divine. The Lakota asked us to never bow, but to stand powerfully erect in near superman pose – legs slightly apart, shoulders back, chest open to the sky, strong core, head up and alert, hat off so that the down-pouring energy of the One can fully enter our bodies. They taught that in preparation for prayer, we say proudly and powerfully to the world, ‘Here I am, a living embodiment of the One Spirit. I am whole and full and alive and aware. I am a powerful representative of the One. All things are my relatives. I am one with the Great Spirit.”
And standing this way, in our full power, we begin to pray.
It seems simple. For many of us, it is not. To indigenous peoples across the planet it is clear. To most of the cultures still connected to the planet, we do not come as beggars before the throne of a deity. We do not come as one who has been cast out by nature. We do not come as something ‘less-than’ or ‘broken’ or ‘shame-filled’ or ‘sinful.’ We do not beg a distant ‘God’ to hear our pleas. Adam and Eve were never cast out of the Garden of Eden. Every indigenous nation on earth knows this. They know that we are one with the Whole, that each thing in the Whole is related to everything else in the whole, and that everyone is part of the great circle. I once lived with the Turkana tribe in East Africa, and one day as I was explaining the scientific concept of symbiosis, they told me that I was a “very stupid white woman” because I did not know that “everything has a job and is doing it so that everything else can do its job.” A concise explanation of their absolute and innate interconnection in all things. Humbling. They were right. My ‘educated’ mind had been taught to compartmentalize and judge and weigh and analyze, but not to Be or See the Real. This is the same exact lesson that the Lakota are teaching. Live near the earth and she teaches you this same lesson no matter where you are on the planet.
We of the ‘advanced’ and ‘educated’ cultures have been systematically taught the opposite in more ways than we can count. We have been taught to fear, to quake before God and Country and an uncertain future. We have been taught that we are superior in some ways and not enough in others … that we must earn the grade, the approval, the degree, the promotion, the title. We are taught that someone else has power to judge us, marry us or define us because of their title or office or level of income. We can get lost in this web of confusion and begin to feel entitled to judge others as we gain titles and money and power. This cultural imbalance creates a teeter-totter sort of trap where people push others around who have ‘less’ while at the same time being trapped and controlled by those ‘above’ them. Culture teaches us how to think and feel. As children we learn to conform – or face abandonment or punishment. We stepped away from our wholeness because it was demanded of us. Now we reclaim it. Just look at the world. It needs us to Be Whole. We are at an important stage of our evolution.
We choose to unlearn this disenfranchisement from One-ness and stand up in the beauty of our connection to each other and the whole. We can know this intellectually – write lots of articles and blog posts and tell each other “Oh, yeah, I already know that.” But I challenge you to try this form of prayer and see what happens. Because your wise body will know immediately that this is different. Your mind may rebel and not know what to do. Your emotional body may feel off or odd or as if you are doing something ‘wrong.’ You may feel that you will be cast out because you are truly powerful. You may feel that you will get lost in the ocean of Wholeness you encounter. You may feel that this would not be ok in Church. You may get into this stance of power and then find you have no idea how to connect with Spirit from that place. It will be a new experience all around, I guarantee.
Prayer does not just happen when we are on our knees or our meditation bench. More truthfully it is expressed in the way meet every breath, every thought, every moment. Unfortunately we generally live and thus ‘pray’ in terms of archaic cultural norms. The undercurrent of this thinking is so subtle and powerful we don’t even know it is there – but the pull is strong to go along with the current of current thinking and behavior.
So, give it a try if you’d like. Stand like Superman, stand like Superwoman, and pray. Connect with the Divine. Open your heart. Ask for help. Release your fears. Do whatever arises, but do the experiment. It is utterly fascinating. It is utterly liberating. You have to move into acceptance of your Presence in a whole new way in order to accomplish this form of prayer. You cannot hide. You cannot pretend. It is an amazing experience in that it reveals all sorts of things hiding in the psyche. It is a magnificent way to learn how to embody more fully. It is frankly terrifying.
I thought I knew how to pray! Now I choose to return to the most basic thing that has been known by every indigenous person on the planet for countless thousands of years. I’m re-learning that my body is already superbly okay and part of Nature. I don’t have to ‘earn’ okay-ness by some form of groveling or other alteration of my embodiment.
While it may not appear obvious, this form of prayer creates greater capacity for non-violent presence in the world. You can experience yourself as a strongly centered, supremely-aware, spiritual version of superman/superwoman – a true embodiment of Pure Essence. It is powerful to stand in your full strength and pray without in any way excluding yourself from the whole or begging forgiveness for your presence. It is a whole new perspective for so many of us. From this place, you cannot treat anything or anyone else as an object to be controlled or suppressed or hurt, because you are no longer an excluded object. There is only Oneness. Like most true spiritual practices, I’m convinced that this can take a person straight to enlightened heart-mind.
By the way, I find that once your body knows this form of prayer, it can be done sitting, lying down, driving the car, in conversation – in other words, all the time. However, I find the standing prayer to be the most effective. It may only take a moment, but it will instantly reveal Connection and Essence. It is a lovely, simple tool for us as we shift our self- and group-perception from being unworthy of Grace to standing in our True Presence as Grace itself.