I hope Mother’s Day was a peaceful day for each of you and you found ways to connect with those you love, taking time to remember those who share or shared their mothering energy with us in ways that grow, challenge and change us through their generosity. It’s rich to lean into the power of creation! Thanks to all who give and love and serve and shepherd new people and new things into life. To keep our energy renewed and our spirits nurtured, here are a few tools and ideas to engage as we enter another week swimming in deep water:
Simple and Straightforward, with a Twist
Last week we discussed the centering practice of “box breathing” as well as the similar use of an eight-count breath to calm the nervous system and focus quickly. If you missed that email, you can read it in full here, but here are the basics for review:
For Box Breathing:
-Breathe in for four counts
-Hold breath in for four counts
-Breathe out for four counts
-Keep lungs empty for four counts
For an Eight Count Breath:
-Breathe in to a count of eight
-Breath out to a count of eight
Using our breath seems so important right now, it felt appropriate to focus on this practice for a second week as we build our toolbox during trying times. Here’s the twist: Consider praying a mantra on your breath cycle. A friend of mine in crisis asked me to pray this mantra for her: “Healthy Family Back Together.” With my Southern drawl, I realized when I say the words, it’s a perfect eight count (if my accent were more refined, it would be nine, but luckily it’s not). It’s been a joy to pray these words with the breath cycle, sharing my hopes for her with God while I center and calm my breath and my body. What’s your mantra this week? I had fun experimenting with ideas. Here are some I kicked around to alternate with prayers for my friend:
– Every Day is Full of Wonder
– Hope and Joy are New Each Morning
– Watching Love Grow Around Me
It was fun to sit with it for a while, thinking about what I want to practice and cultivate more of in my life, and then cram that into a Haiku-ish meter. But once you get the phrase down in a rhythm, you have a perfect eight count breath companion, and can use it with both the box breath and/or eight count breathing.
Something we can do together, apart:
Last Tuesday, there was a real sense of our collective grief during our connection time, and so we took some time to listen and learn from one another about personal rituals around grief that have fed our souls in the past. This ritual was contributed by Carolyn Albert Donovan at Peace Lutheran:
Ritual of Embodied Comfort:
We crave comfort and care in this time of physical separation from many people we love (which is, of course, also always part of our reality, as we become separated by distance and death in all chapters of life). We experience our whole lives as embodied creatures…so the comfort we need is also a bodily need…not only an emotional or intellectual one. (I am grateful to the community builder with Peace Lutheran, Fatima Mann, for being a teacher about how deeply important our embodied life is…how wise our bodies are…and how much they carry for us…and how we can also care for them.)
One ritual that found me during a time of physical separation in my own life was how to share a moment of embodied comfort across a wide distance. During a video chat or a phone call, we learned to pause and ask each other…”I want you to close your eyes and breathe deeply for ten seconds and feel me hugging you right now.” And we would both pause together and feel that long-distance embrace. It continues to amaze how real that feeling of receiving physical touch can be. Our bodies can help care for us…even in these physically separated times. They have wisdom we hardly know.
I would commend to you this practice…and also urge you to only do it with the consent of the person with whom you want to share an embrace. Ask rather than tell. Also, you may be craving an embrace from someone who doesn’t share this earthly existence anymore. Trusting in the mystery of the communion of saints and ancestors across time and space…ask them, too…and offer and receive the embrace that you need. Or if you don’t know who to ask right now…know that our God chose an embodied life…one capable of offering and receiving embraces…and ask God…and trust and feel how you are held in endless love.
Peace and Comfort be with you,
Thank you Carolyn and Fatima and the whole Peace Lutheran Family!
A little something to keep our hearts and brains engaged on the journey:
This week’s verse: “I thank my God every time I remember you. In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy” (Philippians 1:3-4)
This week’s poem: This Rilke poem startled me with it’s beauty and frankness when I heard Joanna Macy read it during an interview with Krista Tippett last year. You can read the poem here, or for a Mother’s Day treat, listen to Joanna Macy read it to you.
Peace and grace,