Wednesday, March 21, 2012

A Prayer of Union: Anthony DeMello on "Body Awareness"



Bombay born Jesuit priest and psychotherapist Anthony De mello is a kindred spirit hidden only a generation away from me, all this time. He is a man after my own profession, both being a trained psychotherapist, influenced and informed by the teachings and trainings of his home country, India, he makes cross-cultural dialogue of faith a seamless exercise. I was able to see a video of him, at this past week’s contemplative prayer group (the one I participate in, not facilitate) which focused on “peace”.

He depicted an exercise, what is called a “body scan” in yoga and mindfulness practices, as “a prayer of union.” This simple recognition, for me, was a permission to enliven a practice I do daily, and teach to clients regularly, into not only a conduit to prayer, but with intention, the prayer itself. Given that this past week my spiritual capacity to focus on the practice of centering prayer in my centering prayer group seemed impossible as my body spasmed with pain, the simple permission and this wisdom of Fr. De mello opened my prayer life immensely in a single drop.

Body awareness as a “prayer of union” is a beautiful teaching. One that I will carry with me on the days I lack the mental capacity for more intensive prayer exercise and something I will carry with me each time I teach this practice to others. The value of it increased exponentially with one phrase.

Step by step, let whatever happens happen. Real change will come when it is brought about, not by your ego, but by reality. Awareness releases reality to change you” Anthony De mello, ”Assorted Landmines”

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