Midweek Blog: Too Deep for Words

Yesterday Joel sent out a collection of Election Day prayers, and I’ve seen many other such offerings floating around.  Each one, in its own way, contained words that were beautiful, challenging, comforting, prophetic, and pastoral, and I am grateful for them.  

And yet, as I write this on Wednesday while we are still in the midst of anxious waiting, I find myself yearning for something different, something that gets me out of the swirling mess of my mind and more intentionally grounded in the body.  The last hours, days, weeks, and beyond have been filled with words, numbers and an endless buffet of noise to choose from, regardless of where your tastes lie.  

So rather than adding to the noise, I’d like to offer a guided meditation-prayer that will hopefully allow each of us to get in touch with the “prayers too deep for words” that we all carry in our bodies.  (Note: a highly embodied practice such as this may not be appropriate for everyone, so please adapt in any way that may be helpful to you.)    

  1. First, find a comfortable position.  Feel your connection to the ground beneath you.  Take a few minutes to settle.  As you do, keep your eyes open and observe your surroundings.  Notice the sights, smells, sounds, and any feelings that stand out to you.

  2. Once you feel comfortable, turn your awareness to your breath.  Breathe in to the count of 4, then exhale to the same steady count of 4.  Feel the breath move all the way to your core as your stomach moves in and out.  Notice the brief moment between the top and bottom of each breath.  Try adding 1 count to your inhales and exhales.  See how expansive you can make the breath within your entire body.  Eventually settle into a regular pattern, allowing the count to become more natural.

  3. Close your eyes and do a slow scan of your entire body starting from the top of your head and moving all the way to your feet.  Notice any tightness, soreness, stiffness, etc.  (If closing your eyes is not helpful to you, keep them open and focus on one point out in front of you.)

  4. With eyes closed, ask yourself, “How does my body experience fear?”  Does it manifest as tightness?  An ache?  Nausea?  Consider what images accompany those feelings of fear.  Once you have an idea of where fear shows up in your body, imagine that you can send your breath to those parts.  Spend however much time you need breathing deeply and steadily into those areas.  

  5. Now ask yourself, “How does my body experience hope?”  Is there a lightness in your chest?  A release of your shoulders, or maybe a strengthening and straightening in the spine?  What images come to mind when you experience hope?  Once again breathe deeply and steadily into those areas, spending as much time as you need.

  6. Rescan your body from top to bottom, noticing any differences from before.  

  7. Return your breathing to normal and blink your eyes open.  Before moving on, offer any spoken or mental prayers that put words to the fears and hopes you may have discovered living in your body.