The Spiritual Body

Elul Day 7

Tomorrow morning I will be accompanying a friend to the mikvah (ritual bath) and guiding her through this spiritual preparation for her wedding on Sunday. DSC00318 As I was writing up the ritual itself, I was thinking about how easily one can forget about the body until or unless we get a wake-up call of some sort, either through aging or illness or disability or some other change in our physical being. The mikvah is one of the most interesting Jewish practices that is specifically focused on the connection between our bodies and spirituality, and in the last few decades people have begun to use it for innovative and contemporary spiritual practice (in addition to its traditional use by observant Jews). 

We don't have to wait until a special occasion (like getting married) to bring our conscious attention to our bodies.  

I wrote previously about holding emotional energy in my sternum and sending breath directly there with conscious intention. Mindfulness-based stress reduction includes a practice called the body scan, in which all parts of the body are "scanned" for areas of tension and discomfort.  This is done by imagining that you are breathing into the different body parts, starting with the left foot and moving all the way up through the body.

Part of my Elul practice includes setting aside quiet time to breathe and listen to my body. Where might I be holding tension and where do I feel a sense of peace?  

Some questions for reflection:

What healing and replenishment might your body want and need right now?

What are you holding in your body that is no longer serving you?

What is your body saying to you right now?

Taking some time to sit quietly every day I can meet annoying, difficult and painful thoughts, feelings and emotions with love, comfort and honor. Sitting in an upright dignified posture, I can grow my capacity to allow sadness, joy, sickness, health, abundance and loss to be part of the rich texture of life. I invite my self to include everything so that nothing is rejected. 

–Wendy Palmer, from Conscious Embodiment newsletter