BODY PRAYER

An exercise for bathing a part of one's body in the Light / Spirit / Ocean of Love

(Note: I will use the language of "God" as it is very comfortable for me, but please translate my words into whatever works well for you - e.g. Light, Spirit, Jesus, Lord, Ground of Life, Great Heart. - Peter)

Setting: You can do this body prayer anywhere, anytime.  The ideal is a quiet place where nothing else is "happening", but I've entered into it riding on a crowded train.  So you can be anywhere as long as you're not "engaged" with what's happening other than sensory awareness (open ears, smell, touch).  It can be done alone or with others (e.g. during a meeting for healing).  I do it mainly in bed at night when I'm having trouble sleeping.

Body Position:  The two "classic" receptive positions are:

  • Seated in a comfortable but straight backed chair with hands loosely at your side and feet flat on the floor or
  • Supine (is this word related to "supplication?) on a firm bed or floor with hands at your side. 

Eyes closed - or half-open and somewhat out of focus if you're used to meditating that way.  I find it useful to remove the hand brace that I wear at night for carpal tunnel syndrome before doing this.

1. Ground yourself.  Feel the chair/bed/floor holding your body.  Feel your connection to the earth.  You may want to gently notice any sensory experiences around you (e.g. sounds, smells, temperature).

2. Breathe.  Take some quiet, moderately deep breaths.

3. Relax / let go.  Go through whatever process will help you to let go of physical and emotional tension.  Some people find it helpful to progressively tense parts of their body and then let them go beginning with their feet and moving upwards to their face.  Try to postpone/set aside worries/task concerns.

4. Place yourself in God's hands.  Open yourself to God's care for you.  Offer yourself into that Love.

5. Choose a part of your body to focus on.  Do a gentle physical inventory.  Notice your body without judgment.  Where are you in pain, tense, carrying or storing burdens? Is there a limb or organ that is experiencing some sort of distress or disease process that you wish to offer up to God?  There may be many places but choose one to focus on for now.

6. Place this part of your body into God's hands.  Imagine this part of you being held, caressed, cared for, cherished. Try to open this limb or organ or these cells to being completely infused by God's love.  Try to let the pain or tension go.  If it's comfortable, you may wish to put a hand on this part of your body. You can say things to yourself such as "I offer my elbow to you, Lord" as you breathe.

7. Don't "push".  There are no agendas here.  Try not to be attached to what "needs" to happen, such as "Please free me from this pain", "Please take away this illness" or "Relax already!" You may well be longing for some kind of healing or freedom, but the point is to experience God being with you rather than trying to make something happen by this activity. Open yourself to love without expectation.

Next steps:  Notice gently what's happening or has happened in you as you do this, but try not to evaluate how well it went. It's better to just be with whatever happened.  You can move on to other parts of your body if it feels right.

Prayer for Another:  You can also do this same exercise focusing on a part of someone else's body.  This can happen if you are physically with them or not.  If you are with them you can either touch them or not.  If I'm not touching the person I'm offering into God's hands but I'm in the room with her/him, I find it helpful to open my hands and direct them towards her/him.

- Peter Blood-Patterson, QPCC Conference, 2006

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Quote that speaks to me

Death Cannot Kill What Never Dies

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They that love beyond the world cannot be separated by it.  
Death cannot kill what never dies.  
Nor can spirits ever be divided that love and live in the same Divine Principle; the Root and Record of their friendship.
If absence be not death, neither is theirs.  
Death is but crossing the world, as friends do the seas; they live in one another still.  
For they must needs be present, that love and live in that which is omnipresent.
In this Divine Glass, they see face to face; and their converse is free, as well as pure.
This is the comfort of friends, that though they may be said to die, yet their friendship and society are, in the best sense, ever present, because immortal.
 - William Penn, More Fruits of Solitude, 1702.

Note: This passage was quoted by J.K.Rowling as the epigraph of her novel, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

Braithwaite on Outreach

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Men & Women with a Message of Power

It is as a "religion of life" that Quakerism will be presented in the future and is being presented now.

Its distinguishing note will be its resolve to bring all this human life of ours under the transforming power of spiritual life.  It will stand out against all divisions and compartments that separate the sacred from the secular, the sanctuary from the outward world of nature, the sacrament from the days' common work, the clergy from the laity. 

It will tell of a Christian experience that makes all life sacred and all days holy, all nature a sanctuary, all work a sacrament, and gives to every man and woman in the body fit place and service.  Its concern will be to multiply men and women who will have a message of power because they are themselves the children of light.  It will claim the whole of man's life, and the whole of life, individual, social, national international, for the dominion of the will of God.

William C. Braithwaite and Henry T. Hodgkin, The Message and Mission of Quakerism (Philadelphia, Winston, 1912), 25-26.

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