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Center for Action and Contemplation
Embodied Knowing
Embodied Knowing

Embodied Wisdom: Weekly Summary

Saturday, August 13, 2022

Deep knowing and presence do not happen with our thinking minds. To truly know something, our whole being must be open, awake, and present. —Richard Rohr

When Christianity is in any way anti-body, it is not authentic Christianity. The incarnation tells us that body and spirit must fully operate and be respected as one.
—Richard Rohr

Ours is a God who sneezed and rubbed His eyes when He was sleepy. Ours is a God who knew longing, heartbreak, excitement, frustration—the full range of what it means to be human. A God who knows what it means to live in a body. —Kate Bowler

The soul is not simply within the body, hidden somewhere within its recesses. The truth is rather the converse. Your body is in the soul, and the soul suffuses you completely.
—John O’Donohue

The chasm between the spiritual and the physical is no greater than that between a thought and a word. They cannot be disconnected. And it is difficult to tell where one ends and the other begins, perhaps because there is no such place. —Cole Arthur Riley

In terms of the spiritual journey, trying to find faith with the intellectual center is something like trying to play a violin with a saw: it’s simply the wrong tool for the job. This is one reason why all religious traditions have universally insisted that religious life cannot be done with the mind alone; that is the biggest single impediment to spiritual becoming. —Cynthia Bourgeault

Dancing with the Breath

Spiritual guide and author Christine Valters Paintner has found spiritual healing by moving her body regularly with gentle yoga and dance. In this practice, she invites us to meditate with our bodies to music: 

Your invitation is to enter into movement through the breath. Put on a piece of flute music, which is music of the breath. . . .

I invite you to integrate softening, stability, and statio [1] into this movement. Begin with several long, slow breaths. Play the flute music, but don’t start moving right away. Pause first, practicing this monastic statio, aware that you are on the threshold between stillness and moving.

As you feel the impulse to move arising in your body, follow it. It may be as simple as raising your arms on the inhale and lowering them on the exhale. Let the movement be very slow and mindful so that you remain present to the experience. Let this be a time of exploring the vow of stability by staying fully with yourself; whenever your attention drifts, simply bring it back to this moment. Feel free to pause whenever you need to.

Notice places in your body that feel tight with tension, and bring your breath there. Perhaps make some slow circles to open the space there.

After several minutes of moving meditation, staying present to yourself, and listening as well as you can to your body’s impulses and following them, pause again. Notice the energy moving through your body and any shifts from when you first began.

Reflection Questions

  • Where are you breathing only as much as necessary and calling it fully living?
  • How is the breath calling you into deeper intimacy with your body and the divine presence that sustains you?
  • How does the breath invite you into a journey of yielding to grace?
  • Check in with yourself: How are you doing? Are you being gentle with yourself? If not, can you return ever so gently to the place of witnessing, tending, and discovering?

Experience a version of this practice through video and sound.


[1] Statio is a monastic practice of taking a brief pause between one activity, movement, or space and another.

Christine Valters Paintner, The Wisdom of the Body: A Contemplative Journey to Wholeness for Women (Notre Dame, IN: Sorin Books, 2017), 49–50.

Explore Further. . .

Image credit: Kazuo Ota, Untitled (detail), 2020, photograph, Unsplash. Nick Moore, Untitled (detail), 2018, photograph, Richmond, Unsplash. Jordan Whitt, Cataloochee river (detail), 2016, Cataloochee, photograph, Unsplash. Jenna Keiper & Leslye Colvin, 2022, triptych art, United States. Click here to enlarge image.

This week’s images appear in a form inspired by early Christian/Catholic triptych art: a threefold form that tells a unified story. 

Image inspiration: There is knowledge in our muscles and bones. When our body encounters the world, a door into deeper understanding can be opened.

Prayer for our community:

God, Lord of all creation, lover of life and of everything, please help us to love in our very small way what You love infinitely and everywhere. We thank You that we can offer just this one prayer and that will be more than enough,  because in reality every thing and every one is connected, and nothing stands alone. To pray for one part is really to pray for the whole, and so we do. Help us each day to stand for love, for healing, for the good, for the diverse unity of the Body of Christ and all creation, because we know this is what You desire: as Jesus prayed, that all may be one. We offer our prayer together with all the holy names of God, we offer our prayer together with Christ, our Lord, Amen.

Listen to the prayer.


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Radical Resilience

We live in a world on fire. This year the Daily Meditations will explore contemplation as a way to build Radical Resilience so we can stand in solidarity with the world without burning up or burning out. The path ahead may be challenging, but we can walk it together.

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Our theme this year is Radical Resilience. How do we tend our inner flame so we can stand in solidarity with the world without burning up or out? Meditations are emailed every day of the week, including the Weekly Summary on Saturday. Each week builds on previous topics, but you can join at any time.
In a world of fault lines and fractures, how do we expand our sense of self to include love, healing, and forgiveness—not just for ourselves or those like us, but for all? This monthly email features wisdom and stories from the emerging Christian contemplative movement. Join spiritual seekers from around the world and discover your place in the Great Story Line connecting us all in the One Great Life. Conspirare. Breathe with us.