Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Being A Monk in the World

*I did not write the list at the end of this post.  See Copyright for authorship.

In this pursuit of being a monk in the world, of re-birth, resurrection, I have been urged to be aware of my body and what it needs and just go with it for a season.  So yesterday, when I suddenly got sleepy at 10:00, I took a nap.  I woke after about 30 minutes, refreshed and relaxed.  I thought wow, I should've done this a long time ago.  But being raised by parents who had been through The Great Depression, sleeping during the day is tantamount to being the laziest slug on the earth, not deserving of the provision gained from those who worked from sun-up to sun-down, and there is some merit in that thinking.  Of course that all changed once retirement arrived....should have before then, bless them.  But I just felt this was right and the rest of the day went well, I did stay up a little later, but not terribly.

So this morning I got up with my husband and me and the pup were out the door by 5:45 for our morning walk.  Well, by the time we got back and had breakfast, I was sleepy again and went with it...and woke over an hour later!  I woke up from what felt like deep sleep, forced myself to get up because this was ridiculous, i'd never get to sleep tonight! I woke up not refreshed, but feeling drugged, i'm still trying to shake it.

So there's a lesson here, yes, trust your body and listen to its needs, but like most things in a fallen world, the body is flesh and wants what it wants.  I would be well to remember all things in moderation.  I think next time i'll set the alarm.  There is something in our natures, or at least in mine, that if something is good, I want more and I want it a lot.  That is obvious by my weight struggles, but it carries over to most things for me.  I used to smoke, like over 30 years ago, up to 2 packs a day when I quit.  And why did I quit?  Not for health reasons, but because I had my tonsils out and had to for 3 weeks.  The Lord helped me to know that if I had quit for 3 weeks, just don't start again, so I didn't.  But I liked smoking, resulting in a 2-pack a day habit.  If we are with friends laughing and having a good time, I want to see them again the next day...and the get the picture.

So while I do believe in this season of listening to my body and its needs, I also believe the Lord would have me exercise self-control and tend to the tasks of the day as well.  This dance we do with life, if out of balance to the extreme, becomes something ugly and self-centered, but when in balance with Him, is beautiful and benefits others as well as myself.
All that said, there was much said that I just loved in the "instructions."  Here ya go:

  1. Make a commitment to move slowly through the world, resisting the demand for speed and productivity that is tearing our bodies apart and wearing them down to exhaustion.
  2. Reject compulsive "busyness" as a badge of pride and see it for what it is—a way of staying asleep to your own deep longings and those of the world around you.
  3. Pause regularly. Breathe deeply. Reject multitasking. Savor one thing in this moment right now. Discover a portal into joy and delight in your body through fragrance, texture, shimmering light, song, or sweetness.
  4. Let yourself experience grief for the vulnerabilities of your body. Be exquisitely tender with yourself and all of the aches and pains and limitations of embodied life. Make a space within to welcome in the sorrow of difficult memories.
  5. Any time you begin to hear the old voices of judgment rise up about your body—whether self-consciousness or criticism or denial—pause and breathe. Then stand firm against those voices, as the desert elders counseled us to do, and tell them you will not offer them sanctuary anymore.
  6. Play some music you love, and dance. Be present to the body's desires in response. Perhaps just a finger tapping at first. Then slowly let the impulse travel up your arm and across your chest, taking root in your heart, so that your dance might emerge from this place. Even just imagining yourself dancing can bring you alive.
  7. Roll around on the grass, the way dogs do with abandon. Release worries about getting muddy or cold or looking foolish. The body isn't concerned with keeping things neat and tidy. Don't hold yourself back.
  8. Every day, at least once, say thank you for the gift of being alive. Every day, at least once, remember the One who crafted you and exclaimed, "That is so very good."
  9. Allow a day to follow the rhythms of your body. Notice when you are tired, and sleep.  When you are hungry, eat. When your energy feels stagnant, go for a long walk. In truth, it often takes several days to sink into this kind of attunement, but begin to consider how you might invite this awareness into your daily life.
  10. Be present to the earth-body, which is the matrix of our own being. The earth offers herself so generously for nourishment. Remember that earth-cherishing is intimately connected to cherishing your own embodied being.
What does it mean for us to not just say we believe in a resurrected life, but to truly practice resurrection?
Do you experience the Holy Week to Easter movement from death into life in an embodied way?
Do you breathe in the gift of the Spirit? What will your practices of resurrected life be?
Copyright © 2014 Abbey of the Arts, All rights reserved.

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