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Extra Grace Required - Our Blog

What's Your Name?

Encouraged by a friend last December, I joined an Interfaith group in St. Paul, MN. Our group began, prompted by the facilitator, with sharing our name and something about ourselves. I relaxed into familiar territory. Then the woman next to me introduced herself as Cynthia. My stomach clutched, my eyes widened and I tuned in: that name meant something to me. That name signaled trouble! Next it was my turn and I of course introduced myself as Cindy and we all chuckled at two very different people having the same, kind of, name. During the break Cynthia and I discussed our names. Cynthia preferred the more formal given name as she felt it held more mystery. I shared that the only mystery for me in the name Cynthia, was the mystery of what had I now done wrong? Cynthia was the name used whenever my mother needed to draw my attention to the error of my ways.

Names carry weight. Names are important especially when we are talking about God. One of the biblical narratives or sacred texts that we use to frame our breath prayer in Yogadevotion is from the story of God, Moses, and the burning bush (Exodus 3). In the story Moses finds himself unexpectedly in a holy place, on sacred ground in the presence of the Divine. He is being commissioned by God to save the people of Israel and he is coming up with a lot of reasons why he's not the right person. Finally, he asks which of all the gods in the world (as Moses understood it) is he speaking with and God responds with the name, “I AM who I AM.” I AM who I AM, both a mysterious and revealing name. If one digs a little deeper we will find that a better translation of this passage from the Hebrew is, “I will be who I will be.”

We use the breath prayer I AM throughout the book, Yogadevotion, Practicing in the Presence, in our Yogadevotion classes, and even in our social media outlets. Invoking I AM grounds us and affirms our connection to God. With this breath prayer, we can create sacred space wherever we are. We, like Moses, realize our true home is with God. Yoga at its essence is about using the breath to connect with God, to experience not only God’s healing presence but God’s revealing presence in our activities of daily living. I AM who I AM is mysterious and infinite. God naming God self as, I will be who I will be reveals the very nature of God that we connect with in the breath prayer. In this translation of God’s name we are reminded of God’s promises; I will be merciful, gracious and loving.

In our spiritual practice of living our faith and yoga, we breathe in the mystery of God, I AM who I AM. We breathe in the revelation of God, I will be who I will be merciful, gracious and loving. With these words we are welcomed into communion with God for the sake of relationship with God and each other...

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