A practice for honoring the body

Paying attention to your breathing is one of the simplest ways of getting in touch with your existence as a body. Settle into a comfortable position, either in a chair or on the floor and pay attention to your breathing. Notice if your breathing is shallow, and take time to breathe deeply. Allow your breathing to release any tension you are holding in your back, your shoulders, or your arms. Adjust your body for greater comfort and allow yourself to relax into your chair or cushion as a physical expression of your trust in God.

Gently turn your attention to your body and invited God to speak to you through your body. First, just notice how you feel about life in your body. Are you embarrassed about it? Do you enjoy it? What happens inside you when you consider the idea of honoring your body or meeting God in your body?

What is the condition of your body these days? Have you been caring for it consistently – eating right, sleeping enough, exercising, attending to medical issues and concerns – or have you been ignoring it or even abusing it in some way? Sit with your awareness and talk to God about it. Listen for God’s response.

  • Is there anything your body is trying to tell you? Any place of tension or discomfort that you have been ignoring? Any medical issue that requires attention? Any feeling of dis-ease that is vaguely unsettling and seems to persist? Listen to see if there is anything you have been keeping outside your awareness and let it come fully into your awareness in God’s presence.
  • Is there any way your body wants to pray right now? Any way you could express yourself to God physically? God ahead, follow your body’s lead and pray with your body and soul.
  • In your solitude times, begin with a few minutes of breathing and settling into your body. Notice if any of your spiritual practices might have some connection with the physical activities that you enjoy. Notice how you experience God’s presence through a greater appreciation for life in your body.

(Adapted from Sacred Rhythms by Ruth Haley Barton)