Body spirituality is embodying the spiritual in the physical using posture, gestures, and other body responses to connect with our spirituality. It recognizes the body as the temple of the soul, encountering God through the senses, movements, and physicality of the body. It also honors God with our bodies, using the body as a vehicle of prayer, praise, worship, spiritual healing.
Suggestions for Practice
Experiment with prayer postures
Expand upon the traditional hands folded, head bowed position. What prayer do you feel like praying when you are:
- Seated with hands open and receptive in lap, facing straight ahead?
- Standing with hands open and in front of the body at waist level?
- Standing, hands open and held wide apart at about shoulder level?
- Standing, hands open and raised overhead, face tilted toward ceiling/sky?
- Kneeling with head bowed?
- Kneeling with hands/head in one of the positions described above?
- Lying on your back (on your bed, the floor, the grass)?
- Lying face down with hands outstretched (prostate)?
Begin and end your prayer with a sacred gesture that has meaning for you. Some examples are listed below:
- Bowing to God with palms together or open in receptive stance
- Embracing the One: create a circle with your arms, fingers pointing together but not touching (hold for 30 seconds) represents caring for all beings and life as sacred
- Empty cup:hands cupped in front of you as a vessel/cup that needs filling (hold 30-60 seconds) represents awareness of emptiness and need for God’s spirit to fill us.
Meditate with Body Imagery
Breathe God in with each breath. Receive and open to God as each breath expands lungs, enters bloodstream, flows to every cell in your body. You may want to pray with a phrase such as “Breathe on me, breath of God” or “Breathe in me, breath of God.”
Breathe God in as light and allowing the light to flow into and throughout the body. Imagine the light traveling to every cell, every old wound; every place in your body, mind, or spirit that needs healing.
Float in the ocean of God’s love and presence. Image a calm beautiful sea or a sea of golden light. Place your body in the sea (in a small boat if that is helpful to you) and sense God holding you, bathing you, supporting you as you let go of all tension, stress, pain, anxiety.
Do a gratitude meditation for the body as a whole or for a particular body part of system. Example: the heart as the faithful pump beating over 100,000 times each day, carrying life-giving oxygen and nutrients to every cell. Feel your pulse and notice the beating of the heart in your chest. The heart is a symbolic center of emotion and “soul.” Thank your heart for its quiet faithfulness. Thank God for the complexity and intelligence of the heart.
Pray the Chalice Prayer
Create a cup/chalice with your hands and hold it in front of you at heart level. Use the chalice as a symbolic vessel in which to raise concerns, people, petitions up to God. As you fill the chalice each time with a different category of needs, raise it overhead with your face tilted upward, then open your hands, spread arms out and down to sides as you release the people/concerns in the chalice to God. Examples of things to image inside the chalice:
- The earth: creatures of the lands and seas, forests, waters, air, wounds of pollution and depletion, peoples of the earth—see their faces, skin, eyes, poverty, joy, violence, goodness
- Loved ones: family, children, church community, friends (gifts, needs, struggles)
- Enemies: those from whom we feel separated
- Yourself: as you are in God’s sight, deepest needs, balance of your gifts and weaknesses, desires for healing and wholeness
Prayer phrase to say when opening the chalice to God: “We release them to you, God, to be loved and healed as only you can love and heal.”
Praying with Body and Soul by Jane Vennard