Each year of life brings opportunities to start fresh and do things better. Here are 3 simple bhakti practices that are worth considering – EAT, PRAY, LOVE. They are so simple that we might miss them, yet so profound that we would be foolish to do so. . . .
We eat all the time, so the first resolution is to offer everything to Krishna before we eat. This not only brings conscious awareness of the source of our food, it also helps us be grateful that we have something to eat (so much hunger in the world). More than that, the offering makes the food karma-free otherwise, as the Gita tells us, we ‘verily eat only sin’ (BG 3.11). Most importantly, the offering turns the food into prasadam which means mercy, grace, or blessings. It becomes spiritual food which purifies the senses and moves us forward on the spiritual path.
A simple way to offer is to chant the Hare Krishna mantra 3 times with our hands folded before the food we are about to eat. If you are out in public, you can recite the mantra quietly or in the mind. Krishna also says in the Gita – If one offers Me with love and devotion a fruit, flower, leave, or water, I will accept it (Bg. 9:26) So stick with vegetarian offerings.
Prayer is wonderful exercise. Make a resolution to recite a prayer at least once a day. Prayer is a conversation, a way to strengthen our relationship with Krishna. There are many forms of prayer but the best one remains the prayer for service – What can I do for You? How can I serve You? What is the best thing I can do with my life for You?
When we are in trouble it’s easier to pray, but then we tend to give it up easily too. One of my favorite jokes – The person is late and can’t find a parking place. Oh, Lord please help me find a place. They turn the corner and find a spot. O, never mind Lord…I found one!
Make your prayer a little deeper. It takes some quiet time, some speaking as well as listening. Pray to pray.
Love, like everything else in this world, needs attention to grow. One must find love, nourish love, express love, and receive love. In relationship with Krishna a good place to start is find things you love about Him – perhaps it’s a picture, a place, a song, a sweet. The culture that surrounds Krishna is active, busy, full of life and variety – there is something to love for everyone.
Learning to love everything in life, even the pain, is as easy as it is difficult. It can be done when you are in love with Krishna – for that internal relationship is our individual right, our individual exchange, and the love that we are all hankering for.
Slow down to love in 2013. It’s a resolution that will change your life forever.
The author of this post, Ananda Vrindavan dasi, is the Community President of New Hastinapura Dhama in Potomac, MD.