On Sunday, Sangha came full circle by closing our 7+ months of wholy happy hour in the same way that we opened our practice last fall — exploring the lessons of beginning anew as we shift from one season to the next.
Whether we experience this transition as tumultuous, glorious, or equal parts of both, we recognized that our changing selves require some fresh contents in our “medicine bags” to support who we are becoming on this stretch of the path.
So I returned to the query I put forth during our spring series on justice, liberation + healing and encouraged us to discern “What is your prayer, practice or process?” of releasing what no longer serves us and for calling in sacred strategies that honor who we are growing into.
For me, it’s a continuous process of self-reflection in which I root into my practice of the 4 Foundations of Mindfulness to assess what is arising, enduring, changing, releasing in body, heart and mind. One poignant question that popped up in my meditation — what are my unmet needs physically, mentally, spiritually, creatively? — was a reminder of how crucial it is for me to take long walks three to four times a week to brighten and declutter my mind. Along with the benefits of movement, the silence, solitude, and moments of stillness I enjoy when I spread out a blanket to lay out in the sun or read (as in the photo below) help me catch up with myself to discern clear decision-making and sort out the tangle of creative ideas.
In the Satipatthana Sutta (and similarly in the eight limbs of yoga), honoring and tending to the body precedes emotions and mental formations. In these and other spiritual practices and healing modalities, the body is the gateway to illuminating, transforming and reconciling the other aspects of our being (feelings, thoughts, perceptions, beliefs, attitudes). Of course, it’s not a fixed sequence but an interdependent relationship so whatever is most compelling, what shows up first or makes itself known most powerfully, may be the access point for looking deeply at how it is impacting each domain.
So I come back to my body. Once established in the full awareness of sensations, I am able to renew the process of seeing clearly and responding skillfully to what needs tending. Grounded and aligned, I can embody the prayer that this transition and new season are calling in.
“Part of being more authentic means being willing to be seen as we pray and live in a spirit that seeks inspiration though is humanly imperfect…
Remember that prayer is a process that changes the pray-er.”
~ Jennie Isbell + J. Brent Bill, Finding God In The Verbs