Human Bodies: Week 2 Summary

Human Bodies: Week 2

Summary: Sunday, April 8-Friday, April 13, 2018

For Jesus, there is no animosity between body and soul. In fact, this is the heart of Jesus’ healing message and of incarnation itself. (Sunday)

If you can’t honor the Divine Indwelling—the presence of the Holy Spirit—within yourself, how could you see it in anybody else? All awareness, enlightenment, aliveness, and transformation begins with recognizing that your own eternal DNA is divine and unearned; only then are you ready to see it everywhere else too. (Monday)

Twice a year we pause the Daily Meditations to ask for your support. If you’ve been impacted by these messages, please help the Center for Action and Contemplation continue sharing these teachings with our growing online community! (Tuesday)

My body is what connects me to all of these other people. Wearing my skin is not a solitary practice but one that brings me into communion with all these other embodied souls. —Barbara Brown Taylor (Wednesday)

If we are all made in God’s image, if we are all the Body of Christ, then treating black and brown bodies with love and respect is the only way for our country, our communities, and our Christianity to be whole. (Thursday)

Your body is not an isolated, separate entity. We are our truest selves only in community—with our ancestors (carrying their stories and DNA), our natural environment, and our neighbors. (Friday)

 

Practice: Breathing

I can hear my brother crying—”I can’t breathe”
Now I’m in the struggle singing—”I can’t leave.”
—Luke Nephew [1]

Barbara Holmes writes:

Breath is the sustainer of life and also the vehicle for entry into the contemplative center. We take deep breaths to still our thoughts, center our being and connect to a wisdom that permeates the universe. We breathe together individually and communally to invoke the spiritual strength to withstand and resist injustice. Yet, it is the denial of breath that inspires the contemplative aspects of the [Black Lives Matter Movement’s] activism. One of the most poignant battle cries of the BLMM is “I can’t breathe.”

Those were the last words of Eric Garner, a forty-three-year-old father who was arrested for selling loose cigarettes on Staten Island, New York. The officers put him in a chokehold and wrestled him to the ground while he gasped eleven times, “I can’t breathe.” Garner suffered compression injuries to the neck and chest and was pronounced dead at the hospital. . . .

When people ask, “What’s contemplative about the BLMM?” I ask them to listen to the anthems. It is as if the crisis of dying black men and women is too devastating to address with speech and sermon. Instead, the BLMM sings what it cannot say: if one of us can’t breathe, then none of us can breathe. [2]

I invite you to try a practice of mindful breathing, connecting with this vital and universal life force. Sit in a comfortable, upright position and place one hand on your stomach, the other hand on your heart. Close your eyes if you wish.

As you breathe through your nose, simply observe how your body moves naturally, without you even thinking about it. Notice your belly rising and falling.

After a few moments, hold your breath for a count of five before exhaling through your mouth. Continue inhaling deeply through your nose, holding your breath for five counts, and breathing out through your mouth for several minutes. This can help release tension and anxiety.

Finally, relax into your natural rhythm of breathing and rest in gratitude for the wisdom of your body and the collective human body that all breathes the same air.

References:
[1] Luke Nephew of the Peace Poets, December 11, 2014. The song was written by Luke Nephew and was first sung during a direct action linked with #ThisStopsToday (a response to the non-indictment in the Eric Garner case) where the entrance of the Manhattan Bridge was blocked with coffins.

Barbara A. Holmes, Joy Unspeakable: Contemplative Practices of the Black Church, second edition (Fortress Press: 2017), 149-150.

For Further Study:
Barbara Brown Taylor, An Altar in the World: A Geography of Faith (HarperOne: 2010)

Barbara A. Holmes, Joy Unspeakable: Contemplative Practices of the Black Church, second edition (Fortress Press: 2017)

Richard Rohr, Immortal Diamond: The Search for Our True Self (Jossey-Bass: 2013)

Image credit: The Thankful Poor (detail), Henry Ossawa Tanner, 1894. Private collection.
Inspiration for this week’s banner image: If we are all made in God’s image, if we are all the Body of Christ, then treating black and brown bodies with love and respect is the only way for our country, our communities, and our Christianity to be whole. —Richard Rohr

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