A new resource integrating moves from Yoga, Tai Chi, and Chi Gong with Christian Spirituality
"My God, I pray better to you by breathing. I pray better to you by walking than by talking." -Thomas Merton (Dialogues with Silence)
A few years ago I wrote a book called Naked Spirituality. I tried to write a book on the spiritual life that I wish someone could have given me thirty or forty years ago.
In it, I tried to strip away superficial layers to get to twelve essential practices or postures of the heart. The book has been warmly received, and I continue to hear about churches, classes, retreat centers, spiritual directors, and others who are finding it a helpful resource. (Readers have been sharing their own creative resources in response to the book here.)
Shortly after the book came out, I had a conversation with my friends Bob and Suzanne Jackson. Suzanne is a widely-respected opera singer and yoga instructor. She has worked with notables like Placido Domingo, helping them use yoga and related disciplines to improve their art.
Suzanne and I started talking about Naked Spirituality and how the twelve simple words in the book could be fused with movement to help people move from "wordy prayer" towards simple prayer ... body prayer ... and wordless prayer.
We started dreaming up a series of videos that would help people integrate body movement and deepening heart-postures of prayer. We found a gorgeous location and started working on a script that help both people who had read the book and people who hadn't. We set aside several days to video me introducing the postures of the heart while Suzanne presents the bodily movement.
We called the videos Twelve Simple Words.
You could ...
1. Use the videos to accompany the Naked Spirituality book in your book club or study group
2. Begin your home group with ten minutes of movement each week
3. Explore them with your youth group
4. Introduce children to movement as a way of prayer and inner composure
5. Make these movements a part of your daily practice each morning or evening.
6. Introduce simple body prayer on a retreat or even in a worship service
7. Use as a short family devotional time
8. Introduce them at your local yoga studio as a way of integrating movement and prayer
Christians have always used their bodies in prayer - sitting quietly, standing, kneeling, raising hands, even lying prostrate. It's exciting now to see a greater integration of more thoughtful bodily movement with contemplative Christian spirituality, especially creating an atmosphere that is hospitable to people from a wide variety of religious or nonreligious backgrounds. We hope you'll find Twelve Simple Words to be meaningful in your own life - and a resource to share with others.