Today I’m reflecting on the ways I experienced embodied prayer at the 3 residences of the Pacific Jubilee SoulGuiding program. Each morning, we gathered in silence to wake-up with qigong, dancing the 5 rhythms (from Gabriel Roth’s work) and bibliodrama. After breakfast, we continued to wake-up with singing and Gurdjieff movements. How does moving our bodies connect us more deeply with ourselves, each other and the Holy One? I’d like to share a painting next. This is from a series I did in 2009, long before I knew anything about embodied prayer.
To strive, to seek, to find by Julie Elliot Oil on panel 7 in x 5 in
I’m interpreting my painting in a new way now. What I learned and experienced in Pacific Jubilee is quite obvious but important. I live in a body. I connect with the Divine in a particular way through my body; a way that isn’t accessible with my mind. Also, there are things I cannot know except through the intelligence of my body or “moving centre”. Next, I share an excerpt from Lois Huey-Heck’s book Going Beyond Words – Ten Practices for Spiritual Unfolding. Lois is one of the program leadership team for Pacific Jubilee and she’s a remarkable teacher, writer, artist and inspiration for anyone who’s blessed to know her.At our first session, my then-new spiritual director Carol asked about my spiritual practice. I told her that my very best time for practice is early morning – before my monkey mind gets too revved up. My favourite practice, I told her, is embodied prayer. Embodied prayer can be mindful gestures, yoga, qigong, dance, or complex sacred movements. When my prayers are expressed in and through my body I am more fully in the present moment, less distracted, and more whole. Carol asked why the movement is so important to me. I explained that I pray and meditate better when I remember that I live in a body, and when all of me is awake and present. Carol persisted, “What makes the dancing a spiritual practice and not just exercise?” Such a good question! “It’s the quality of presence,” I answered. “It’s about my intention to be present to the moment itself, to my own body and the experience, and thereby to be as fully present to the Beloved as possible … I choose to breathe and centre and come back to the here and now. It’s a practice in and of itself, and I watch my attention (as best I can) not only in focused times of spiritual practice but also during spiritual accompaniment, soulfriending, and “casual” conversation, and while working, leading a group, painting, writing, driving …”
I live in my body. I am present. Now is the time. Here is the place. This is the work of the Pacific Jubilee Program.