New Year…

I like to give homework at my classes…usually it’s something small but powerful; perhaps choose a position we’d done and focus on that for the week, perhaps consider something that came up during prayer. But for the New Year I have a longer bit of homework for you. I’ve given this before. I hope you’ll consider adding it in!

I would like to have you do this every single day.

PRAY

MOVE

WRITE

Do this every single morning, first thing.  If you cannot do this first thing then look at your schedule. What do you need to sacrifice to make this happen?  Consider making that sacrifice for one month.

Prayer, obviously is first. It can be as long or as short as you would like. In any case, focus your prayer NOT on petition but on PRAISE.  Let your prayers be words of worship for the One who made you. Assume that He knows your needs and desires for this short time in the morning and rise with words of joy and gratitude.

Move, any way possible…stretch, DoxaSoma, walk, workout….whatever fits you.

Write, write it all down. Write as much or as little as you feel led but write something every day, even if it is one word.

You might question my putting movement in between prayer and writing…doesn’t writing follow better after prayer?

Nope.

I want to see you get into your body, not take it outside of your prayer life and your emotional life. It walks with you in prayer, it breathes with you in emotional matters. Let’s try placing movement between heart and head and see where it takes us.

Ready? Go.

Flintstone car…

doxafit 2013

So much of what we do in life depends on how much effort we put into it. I tell people all the time that DoxaSoma has been a sort of “Flintstone car” for me. If I’ve got my feet on the road, pumping my knees, pounding my feet, then it moves forward.

My vision for DoxaSoma has always been to develop a “practice” more than a “program.” I wanted to make sure that I was paying attention to how people might use this way of movement in their everyday life, how they might make the shift from physical goals into spiritual connection.

After having developed this practice for the last 14 years I can see now how it has edged into the world, slowly, with care and gentleness and I’m pleased. It’s rough, though, I admit, because I’m always thinking I could be doing more, writing more, posting more, advertising more. But it is a kind of arrogance to think that everything depends on my own actions. DoxaSoma is not quite a “Flintstone car” as much as it’s a thing of beauty I’ve crafted and then released into the world. In truth, I have no way of knowing just how it’s touched the lives of people far beyond myself. My best hope is that DoxaSoma and DoxaFit have in some way contributed to the goodness, beauty and truth evident in the lives of those who have encountered it.

I thank you all for your continued interest and prayer and support of the ongoing development of this practice. I will continue to craft these small vessel of beauty and wellness going forward, focusing on the needs of the Christian who is in search of wholeness and healing, worship and hope. I welcome your comments and suggestions on what you’d like to see next in terms of workshops or classes, daily devotions, online presence and interaction.

In closing, the apostle Paul says here every single thing that comes to mind so I will simply offer his words today:

I thank my God every time I remember you. In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.

It is right for me to feel this way about all of you, since I have you in my heart and, whether I am in chains or defending and confirming the gospel, all of you share in God’s grace with me. God can testify how I long for all of you with the affection of Christ Jesus.

And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ—to the glory and praise of God.

-Philippians 1:3-11

I pray health, success and peace for all of us in the coming year!

-Angela

prayer and practice…

DoxaSoma is the integration of prayer and movement.

 

That’s the short explanation, the elevator pitch, the tag line. I developed DoxaSoma about 10 years ago in Chicago because I wanted a program like it and because I couldn’t find anything at the time to satisfy that desire. I needed it, my body needed it. I was just beginning to understand the real and true connection between our bodies and our spirit lives and I wanted the connection to include my faith life…and so, I developed a practice to embody this.

 

The practice of DoxaSoma has it’s roots in the physical concepts of flexibility and strength training and the spiritual leanings of the desert Fathers, contemplative prayer, Lectio Divina.

 

The word, DoxaSoma is a combination of two Greek words, “doxa” meaning praise or honor and “soma” which means “body.”  The words together describe a way of being rather than merely a way of moving, a thing we “do.”  DoxaSoma is a practice, both spiritual and physical.  What we do with the movement has a prayer component and the way we pray has a connection to our breathing, it all flows together.

 

A typical class finds us starting with prayer and breathing, drawing parallels as we draw breath. We move into a time of deep stretching and follow that with a series of positions meant to increase strength and flexibility followed by “doxa” in which we link those position together for fluid movement.  The class ends with cool down…. listening, breathing and finding the connection between our what we “do” and who we are becoming as people of God.

 

The best word to use when describing DoxaSoma is “practice” and it’s a word I don’t believe we give a great deal of thought these days.

 

Consider for a moment this- what do you practice in your daily life?

Think through your day and make a mental list of what you practice-

An instrument, a discipline, a way of thinking or being?

What about Grace? Mercy? Forgiveness? Patience? Kindness?

Pretty much anything worth doing requires practice whether it is physical or spiritual.  Practice is a way for us to gain skill and understanding in our disciplines.  Practice makes us strong.  It requires sacrifice. It requires commitment.

 

DoxaSoma is a practice in which we make room for Holy Spirit just as we make room for the air we breathe into our lungs.  It is a way to become more connected to God’s presence just as we connect to Him when we pray.

 

The practice of DoxaSoma is the integration of our prayer lives with our bodily selves.  We align our movements to embody the Word of God.  We practice this integration.  We breathe the word, the prayer, the moment and in so doing, we make one more step toward becoming whole.

the constant and eternal yes…

In the last few years I have had the honor to walk alongside friends who are suffering and I have been graced with traveling partners myself through suffering, through doubt and fear, through the strangling effects of the unknown, the now and the not yet.

Each time I have been the “walk alongside” friend I find myself making the familiar offer of “let me know if there is anything I can do.” And each time, every single time, I mean it sincerely. The trouble is that in that moment very few people actually have a “do” for which they could ask. The “do” comes later, in the strangest times, in the middle of the night, in the middle of the work or school day, in the middle of the family dinner. They are things it is hard to ask of acquaintances or social media friends-trips to the doctor, watch the kids, clean the house, bring some groceries. I have determined that when I ask if there is anything I can “do” nine times out of ten it surfaces that all I can really do, as a homeschooling parent of 4 whose husband travels a great deal, is to pray.
And so I do.

I realize that not everyone subscribes to my faith narrative so rarely do I offer to pray for someone if they do not ask or if I do not know their faith choice. I will pray for you anyway but I won’t mention it. I pray because it is so often, all I can do. I will pray healing, I will pray peace, patience, companionship and comfort. But I will pray most sincerely for the constant and eternal “yes.”

We lose track of the “yes” in everyday life. We get stuck in the eventual “no” because we’re inclined toward excess. We drink too much coffee, we eat too much sugar, we have too much couch time and so we say “No.”  As parents we have to protect our children so we limit their television, we limit their game time, we limit their sweets consumption. I say “No” far more than I say “yes” at home. “No” isn’t’ a bad thing in this context. We have to limit ourselves where unhealthy things are concerned. We have to have limits. But lately I’ve been thinking that all that “no” only has impact if we live with an underlying stream of “yes.” “Yes” is the affirmation in the limitation, “yes” is the water underground, “yes” is where we’re headed no matter where we’ve been. “Yes” is constant and eternal. If I lose track of the “yes” then every struggle has no refrain. And this brings me to the Psalms. I find the constant and eternal “yes” in the Psalms, especially this one:

Psalm 136

1Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good.
His love endures forever.
2Give thanks to the God of gods.
His love endures forever.
3Give thanks to the Lord of lords:
His love endures forever.

4to him who alone does great wonders,
His love endures forever.

5who by his understanding made the heavens,
His love endures forever.

6who spread out the earth upon the waters,
His love endures forever.

7who made the great lights—
His love endures forever.

8the sun to govern the day,
His love endures forever.

9the moon and stars to govern the night;
His love endures forever.

10to him who struck down the firstborn of Egypt
His love endures forever.

11and brought Israel out from among them
His love endures forever.

12with a mighty hand and outstretched arm;
His love endures forever.

13to him who divided the Red Seaa asunder
His love endures forever.

14and brought Israel through the midst of it,
His love endures forever.

15but swept Pharaoh and his army into the Red Sea;
His love endures forever.

16to him who led his people through the desert,
His love endures forever.

17who struck down great kings,
His love endures forever.

18and killed mighty kings—
His love endures forever.

19Sihon king of the Amorites
His love endures forever.

20and Og king of Bashan—
His love endures forever.

21and gave their land as an inheritance,
His love endures forever.

22an inheritance to his servant Israel;
His love endures forever.

23to the One who remembered us in our low estate
His love endures forever.

24and freed us from our enemies,
His love endures forever.

25and who gives food to every creature.
His love endures forever.

26Give thanks to the God of heaven.
His love endures forever.

In the Psalms I find doubt and fear coupled with peace and patience, struggle and worry paired with trust and grace. The writer believes in this underlying current of “yes,” in the great “I AM.” The writer of this piece knows that no matter how difficult things are, will be, have been, that yes, “His love endures forever.”  The constant and eternal “yes” for me, as a Believer, is this….and more. For all of us there is a moment by moment representation of this “yes” in our lives if we are able to move past struggle long enough to welcome it. When I pray for someone in a hard situation I pray healing, yes…and patience, yes…and touch and soft embraces and sweet words, yes yes yes…I pray for a delicious meal, yes and deep breathing, amazing clouds caught in just the right moment, yes…and I pray daydreams about better days and night dreams about flying, yes and yes. I pray for laughing and cheesy movies and long hours of eyes open and deep gratitude, yes… yes… yes…always, the constant and eternal yes.

I pray this.

reasons…

There is a lot of talk about the “reason for the season” this time of year. That’s understandable. We’ve lost SO much around this season.  We’ve lost a lot of ground, a lot of earth, a lot of compassion and love and rest.

Today, though…let’s regain something.  It’s not what you think. I’m going to ask you to start with love…as I often ask…in this case, though, I’m going to ask that you start with your own self, your own body, your own commitment to the One who made you.

We cannot reach out until we reach in and up…find God in the making of you. How wonderful to have a Creator who loves and cares for you. How wonderful is that?  How amazing and miraculous that He would come to us in human form?  It is not enough to say that He became of us…when in fact, He began us, He did not merely put on a human body when Jesus came, as one would put on an article of clothing. A body does not come from a machine…it is GROWN.

So, you see…what Jesus did so long ago was to accept the body, grow into it, grow with it, nourish it, embrace it.  In becoming flesh, Jesus models for us the value of the flesh, the reason we exist as we do NOW.  Our bodies do not move us FURTHER from God…not on their own.  Our choices do that. When we treat our bodies as if they are evil, bad, wrong…what do we say about God as creator, Jesus as brother, Spirit as resident?

This season, start there. Start with the body given to you. The body that was grown inside your mother, the body was made to be yours, made to become you. Don’t give into the temptation to push it aside, embrace that body today, as one more connection made between you and the Creator…that connection made manifest in the coming of the Christ child.

one thing…

My life is overstuffed…loads of bills, people, correspondence and laundry to attend each day. The list never seems to get shorter.  I don’t think I’m alone in this.

These are the days when I start to think that I’d make an excellent hermit or monk.  If I could pair everything down (not the family, mind you…just the “stuff” they comes with ’em) I think it could all be do-able.  There are at least three things working against me to becoming a monk the first being the fact that I’m a woman, the second that I’m married and the third that I am the parent of small children…so I resign myself to the fantasy that “there” is better than “here.”

I don’t have to tell you that this is false, do I? I don’t have to convince you that the grass isn’t greener or that what I don’t have is better or that any one beauty product or pill will improve what ails me.  I do have to convince myself of it…in the moment…when things are at the pinnacle of crazy around my house.

The only way I can do that is to keep telling myself over and over to focus on one thing at a time and to remember a wise statement I hear in my head all the time.  Comparison is the enemy of joy.  I find, in my worst moments that I am reacting NOT to what’s going on around me but rather, what I perceive to be the reality of everyone else…that my neighbor parents her children without yelling…that my friend thinks ahead and organizes her life…that the barrista has more fun that I do…ack…it’s giving me stress even typing about it.

So, my commitment this Advent season is simple: Be present, where I am right now. Do one thing at a time and resist the temptation to compare myself to those around me.  That’s my focus this season.

faithful…

I have prayed, quite fervently at times, over the last 20 years for God to send me a mentor.  I have the list of her qualities well considered in my brain.  Intelligent, mother with grown children, wise, faith filled, direct, honest, kind…the list is quite a bit longer than this but you get the picture.

Over the years many really amazing women have crossed my path and each time I’ve considered asking for their mentoring.  I know this is something I need.  Each time, though I seem to find some reason they are not “the person” and I move on.

Recently I met a woman who is amazing, like so many amazing women in my life.  This time, though, I did not hesitate, I just asked for her help.  When I composed the letter asking for her mentoring it suddenly occurred to me, God has been faithful…I have not.

It’s like that old joke about the man drowning in the ocean who prays for God to save him.  A helicopter comes and the man says, “no, God will save me.” A boat comes by and he says, “No, God will save me.”  Then he drowns.  When he meets God in heaven he says, “God, why didn’t you save me?” and God says, “What? I sent a helicopter and a boat!”

God has sent a remarkable number of women to me.  It is I who have rejected His hand picked mentors for me.  I recognize this now as arrogance.  It was not until I was writing the words to ask for help from this mentor that I realized that.  I confessed this to her immediately.  It is humbling.  I’ve been struggling along for so many years, dragging my old baggage behind me on a dusty road.  Each person along the road who has offered to help me carry that bag has been a mentor and a fellow traveller.  I see that now.  I hope that I will not forget that soon.

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