As you begin a new year, consider soul-focused movement that honors your body. Moving meditations are an excellent opportunity to be reminded that, "For in him we live and move and have our being." (Acts 17:28, NRSV)
Christian meditation invites us to gaze deeply on God. We slow down, listen and choose to be present with God, our Creator, through reflective and contemplative prayer techniques for times of meditation and holy listening. The Latin word for meditation, meditārī, has a range of meanings including to reflect on, to study and to practice. While often defined as moments of quiet or stillness, meditation can also become a moving practice.
Walking: Walking is exercise that is accessible to most healthy bodies. I have had seasons of health crisis where walking just a few feet around my home was soul-focused movement worth celebrating. Walk with intention as each foot connects to the earth, offering prayers of thanks and focusing on God.
Running: Pounding your feet on the pavement may not at first appeal to your body. Yet, for those who discover the rhythm of linking breath and movement at a pace that increases their heart rate and blood flow, as it does in running, give thanks for the mind-clearing fluidity that running offers as time well spent with God.
Yoga: This ancient practice comes in many styles, and while yoga is not a religion, it is a mind-body discipline. Yoga is an excellent invitation for a moving meditation practice. Roll out your mat, select a prayer or verse, and breathe into each posture as you spend time with God.
|"The soul is the greening life force of the flesh, for the body grows and prospers through her, just as the earth becomes fruitful when it is moistened. The soul humidifies the body so it does not dry out, just like the rain which soaks into the earth." -St. Hildegard of Bingen|
Each of these activities – walking, running and yoga (as well as many other forms of exercise) – can be spiritually transforming practices as you move with the intention of connecting with your Creator.
Is it OK to move and meditate? Adele Ahlberg Calhoun explains in the Spiritual Disciplines Handbook that "simple physical exercises like stretching, sitting comfortably and breathing deeply can help us pay attention, listen deeply and even curb our distractibility. These exercises are not an end in themselves. They simply seek to put body, mind and spirit on the same page so we can better pay attention to God and treasure what he reveals."
Nourish your body and soul in the new year by exploring life-giving movement in this season. Discover what works for you. Try not to compare your movement with anyone else's. Simply listen as you "live and move" in the body God gave you.
Whitney Simpson is a spiritual director and master yoga instructor with Holy Yoga Ministries. She received certification in Spiritual Formation from Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary. A life-long student, Whitney enjoys the great outdoors with her family, has a passion for creativity, and savors writing and reading over a good cup of tea. She has experienced multiple physical health crises and is passionate about exploring the mind, body, spirit connection. You can connect with her at www.exploringpeace.com or on most social media sites at @WhitRSimpson.