This last gathering of the young adult small group, we talked about spiritual practices that involve your body. If you'd like to play along at home, here are some suggestions for ways to engage the Divine.
Exercise – not only is it good for your health, it’s good for your soul. When you engage in your favorite exercise, try incorporating a piece of scripture or concentrate on a sacred image. With exercise that requires a lot of concentration (i.e. punching) try to stay focused on your holy thought. With exercise where you can let your mind wander (i.e. yoga, walking) start with a sacred thought and just let that mind go. Try and pay attention to how your body feels, what it may be saying to you (not just “Ouch – no more” but maybe something a little deeper).
Fasting – There are lots of ways to fast. You can fast from food for a whole day (sunrise to sunset); you can choose to eat only certain foods for a set period of time; you can opt out of one type of food in particular (like chocolate – ahahah!!!).
You may also consider fasting from something else connected to the body – a negative body image. Have something you don’t like about your body, stop picking on yourself. Instead, try looking at whatever you don’t like through God’s eyes – you’re beautiful!
Moderation – you don’t always need to go to the extremes; pick something that maybe you don’t allow yourself anything of (carbs, salt, etc) and have a little. Pick something you overindulge in and take a step back.
Indulgence – We often think of spiritual practices of the body equaling denial and/or abuse of the body. God gave us this great creation and doesn’t want us to ignore it – the occasional indulgence is a good thing! Try getting a pedicure, a massage, take a bath – whatever you indulge in do so in thanksgiving to God for this body that can enjoy such indulgences.
Prayer Postures – You can pray any time and any place, standing up or sitting down. Sometimes, however, changing your physical stance can help to make the time sacredly set apart. Try praying while kneeling, laying down; however you normally pray, do something different with your body. Be intentional about it.
Dancing – And here’s where we may step outside our comfort zone. Put on some music, close the blinds if you need to, and just let your body move. You’re following in the great tradition of folks like Miriam and David. Move that body – let the Spirit move ya – and just enjoy the sensations. Open yourself up to what you feel as you move.