Not my will, but thy will.
I’m a long-time Alanon member, finding in that 12-step program a spiritual recipe that allows me to stay in healthy relationship with an alcoholic loved-one. Step 11 in particular has been critical to the maintenance of my own serenity.
Step 11. Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God as we understood Him, praying only for knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry that out.
To put Step 11 into practice I experimented with various meditation and contemplative techniques that I had learned in church, in my yoga classes, and through my own investigation – particularly in Zen meditation. I found that while attention-focused meditation practices made me feel more peaceful, clear-thinking and alert, in other words, “10% happier”, I was missing the deeper connection with God for which I was praying and hoping. I was still having trouble discerning God's will from my will.
To experience a deep connection to God is the whole point of Patanjali's eight limb yoga path for spiritual growth, and it is in the seventh limb, dhyana, that I have found one of the most profound intersections of my Christian faith and yoga. Dhyana is typically taught as meditation, but it is much more than that: dhyana is the release of our ego-centric self to uncover our essential nature held deep in ancient memory: that we are beloved children of God. Read More
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Not my will, but thy will.
It has been said that prayer is talking to God, while meditation is listening for God. In faith-based yoga we practice listening to our bodies, as a first step towards sacred listening. Supine poses are wonderful positions from which to listen. In our book's practice of Listening to our Internal Teacher, the Soul we show the practice embodied in Legs Up the Wall pose. Supine pigeon (sometimes called Figure 4) is another lovely pose to considering adding to this practice, as it helps prepare the body for seated meditation.
Pose Focus: Supine Pigeon
Begin on your back with knees bent, feet flat on the floor. Bending one knee, bring your ankle to rest on the opposite thigh, with the foot flexed to align your knee. Modify the pose as you need to for safety and comfort. If it feels good on your body, deepen the pose by lifting the anchoring foot, off of the mat. Hold the pose for at least 5 full, slow breaths. Return to the starting position with knees bent, both feet on the mat, and compare the amount of space that you now feel in each hip. Repeat the pose on the opposite side and when you finish, return again to the starting position and pause. Compare the sensations on both sides of your pelvis. Listen to what your body tells you. Read More