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Mind, Body, Heart: Weekly Summary

Mind, Body, Heart

Sunday, February 16–Friday, February 22, 2020

Wisdom is not the result of mental effort. It cannot be gained through intellectual study. Even life experiences do not make us wise if we don’t process them humbly and consciously. (Sunday)

Wisdom is a way of knowing that goes beyond one’s mind, one’s rational understanding, and embraces the whole of a person: mind, heart, and body. These three centers must all be working, and working in harmony, as the first prerequisite to the Wisdom way of knowing. —Cynthia Bourgeault (Monday)

If we over-use the intellectual center, then our work lies in bringing the emotional and moving centers fully online and integrating them. —Cynthia Bourgeault (Tuesday)

Those who can keep all three spaces open at the same time will know The Presence that connects everything to everything. (Wednesday)

While we see anger and violence in the streets of our country, the real battlefield is inside our bodies. If we are to survive as a country it is inside our bodies where this conflict will need to be resolved. —Resmaa Menakem (Thursday)

Love is luring us forward, because love is what we already are at our core, and we are naturally drawn to the fullness of our own being. (Friday)

Practice: Prayer of the Heart  

For those of us who were taught that prayer is primarily saying the “right” words in the “right” way, it can be difficult to open up our whole selves to God, but author and spiritual director Teresa A. Blythe offers a wonderful practice that integrates mind, body, and heart.  

Deep within each of us is a prayer phrase longing to be expressed, what some have named the Prayer of the Heart. It consists of two simple phrases—one said on inhalation and one said on exhalation. Early Christians used to pray, “Come, Lord Jesus,” in this fashion. That was their deep longing, for Jesus to return and be among them in physical reality. We will spend time in this exercise finding those prayers that are as close to us as our very breath. The beauty of this prayer is the way it stays with us all day, all week, or even for a lifetime if we allow it.

The Exercise 

  • Begin seated in a comfortable position. Make sure your body weight is distributed in such a way that you feel stable. Take about five deep, slow breaths and allow the tension of the day to flow out with each exhalation. After five deliberate breaths, turn your attention away from counting and allow your breath to find its natural pace.
  • What is your deepest and truest longing for life with God at this moment? If you find that your longing feels “tacky” or too worldly, try suspending judgment and instead looking at what’s at the base of that desire. When you check in with your deepest and truest self, what is it that you seek from God?
  • Give that longing a short phrase. For example, if your deep desire is inner freedom, then your phrase would be “freedom” or “inner freedom.” Make sure that your phrase is not too long.
  • What is your favorite name for God? How do you image the Creator? Choose whatever name seems to fit best for you. Some examples include: Jesus, Wisdom, Father, Mother, or Mystery. Be as creative as you want to be. But again, keep the name rather short.
  • Combine your name for God with your longing. For example, if my phrase is “freedom” and the name I choose for God is Christ, my prayer of the heart might be “Freedom, in Christ.” Spend a few moments coming up with your two-part prayer
  • Begin to say—either aloud or silently—your phrase. You may inhale on the name of God and exhale on the desire or vice versa. Spend several minutes breathing this prayer. Make it your own. Allow God to inhabit this prayer.
  • After several minutes of repeating this prayer, sink into contemplative silence. Allow the love of God to fill you and surround you.
  • If you want to be sure to remember this phrase to pray it throughout the day, write it down. You might want to place it on the back of a business card and put it in your wallet or pocket. Place it on a sticky note next to your computer, or on the door of your refrigerator.

Reference:
Teresa A. Blythe, 50 Ways to Pray: Practices from Many Traditions and Times (Abingdon Press: 2006), 36-38.

For Further Study:
The Art of Prayer: An Orthodox Anthology, compiled by Igumen Chariton of Valamo, ed. Timothy Ware (Faber and Faber: 1997, ©1966)

Cynthia Bourgeault, The Wisdom Way of Knowing: Reclaiming an Ancient Tradition to Awaken the Heart (Jossey-Bass: 2003)

Introductory Wisdom School with Cynthia Bourgeault (Center for Action and Contemplation: 2019), online course

James Finley, Turning to the Mystics (Center for Action and Contemplation: 2020), podcast

Thomas Keating, Open Mind, Open Heart,  20th anniversary ed. (Bloomsbury: 2006)

Resmaa Menakem, My Grandmother’s Hands: Racialized Trauma and the Pathway to Mending Our Hearts and Bodies (Central Recovery Press: 2017)

Richard Rohr, Another Name for Every Thing, season 3 (Center for Action and Contemplation: 2020), podcast

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

Richard Rohr,  Just This (CAC Publishing: 2017)

Image credit: Saint Serapius (detail), Francisco de Zurbarán, 1628, Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art, Hartford, Connecticut.
Inspiration for this week’s banner image: A Wisdom way of knowing . . . requires the whole of one’s being and is ultimately attained only through the yielding of one’s whole being into the intimacy of knowing and being known. . . . It doesn’t happen apart from complete vulnerability and self-giving. But the divine Lover is absolutely real, and for those willing to bear the wounds of intimacy, the knowledge of that underlying coherence—“in which all things hold together”—is both possible and inevitable. —Cynthia Bourgeault
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