Monday, December 7, 2020

Another Tool for the Spiritual Toolbox: Welcoming Practice

Finally, beloved, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is pleasing, whatever is commendable, if there is anyything worthy of praise, think about these things.  -- Philippians 4:8

The world's circumstances are enough to knock most any of us out of our comfort zones.  When we fall into stressful situations, its not uncommon for brains to fabricate stories that can exaggerate woe.  So called negative emotions can also be called depleting emotions because they tend to zap us of our energy.  But the negative energy causes ripple effects on physical health such as decreased muscle mass, increased brain cell death, impaired mental function, disturbed sleep, impaired memory, accelerated aging, decreased performance, and fatigue. Stories we tell ourselves in stressful times frequently don't bear any resemblance to truth or reality. Regrounding ourselves starts by letting go of what takes over our thinking along with the stresses that trigger it.

Cynthia Bourgeault introduces us to the Welcoming Practice that facilitates this process.  The welcoming practice involves 3 steps.

First Step:

Become attuned to how and what you're feeling and locate in your body where you are feeling those emotions in your body.  Emotions find a home in various places in our body.  Oftentimes the aches, pains, diseases we carry are related to the emotions those places hold.  So, whether you are experiencing pain, illness, or negative emotions focus on relating them and being conscious of the connections.  Name the feeling/pain.

Second Step:

Welcome the feeling/pain.  Simply say to yourself, "Welcome ___________."  In the blank use the name you came up with in step 1.  Gather it in and welcome it, afterall, you have been holding it for a fair amount of time and whether you want it or not, it has been a tenant with you for awhile.   Welcoming changes the internal relationship with that feeling and our perception of it. Spend the longest time on this step.

Third Step:

Say to yourself: "I let go of ____________."  Use same name you've found in steps 1 & 2.

A helpful closing litany may be:

  • I let go of my desire for security and survival.
  • I let go of my desire for power and control. 
  • I let go of my desire for esteem and affection.
  • I let go of my desire to change the situation.  (With letting go, the "fix" will present itself.)  

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