PraXis Week 6: The “Mind”

To the ancient mystics the mind was not just about thinking, but also about a wordless and imageless spiritual awarenes.

[News about our in-person sessions with Zoom below]

WORKOUT OF THE PEOPLE

Epiclesis to the Holy Spirit

Introduction

Intro, reflect on the theme, offer a prayer or intention. – 5 minutes

And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.” [Romans 12:2]

Greek words for knowing, frame of mind, understanding, and even the heart will show up in scripture simply as “mind.” In Romans and Ephesians, the word mind is actually the Greek word nous. For ancients mystics like St. Basil the Great, this word meant mind but also “attention”*. It is the highest faculty of human nature with which on “sees and comprehends God.”**

For the Eastern Church, a hard heart dulls the nous, while stillness, prayer, love and self-discipline are “the four-horse chariot bearing the nous to heaven.”***  Watchful prayer (nepsis) steers the attention away from the unhealthy, and literally focuses the nous into the heart. Once there it brings metanoia, literally after-thought, or what we call a change of mind, or change of heart: repentance. 

So, in fasting the nous awakens to our unchecked physical cravings, what Paul called “the flesh.” In contemplative prayer the nous awakens to the comings and goings of the mind. Yoga does this too. And in this way we prepare ourself for an encounter with God.

“For to set the mind**** on the [cravings of] flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace.”  [Romans, 8:6]

First Prayer
Anyone who wishes to read may raise their hand.

Ephesians 4:17-24
Now this I say and testify in the Lord that you must no longer walk as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their minds. 
They are darkened in their understanding, and alienated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, 
due to their hardness of heart. 
They have become callous and have given themselves up to sensuality, greedy to practice every kind of impurity. 
But that is not the way you learned Christ!
assuming that you have heard about him and were taught in him, as the truth is in Jesus, to put off your old self, 
which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, 
and to put on the new self, 
created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.

Rise and go to your mat or prayer rug

Lectio Divina [more on lectio divina here]
1 Cor 14:15
I will pray with my spirit, but I will pray with my mind also; I will sing praise with my spirit, but I will sing with my mind also.

Somatic prayer – [Sanctified yoga] 20 minutes

Come back to our seats

Noetic prayer – [Centering prayer] 20 minutes, [more on centering prayer here]

Bell rings

Open eyes: Shared silence 1 minute

Thanksgiving

Philippians 4:4-9
[The author states]
Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. 
Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. 
The Lord is at hand; 
do not be anxious about anything but in everything by prayer and supplication 
with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. 
And the peace of God which surpasses all understanding, 
will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Finally, brothers [and sisters], whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable,
if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. 
What you have learned and perceived and heard and seen in me—
practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.


Fasting For Those in Week 4
Try the 16-hour fast. See the details and link at the bottom of this post.

Fasting For Those in Week 6
One day total fast

If you’re up for it, the 24 hour fast is your next challenge. Don’t worry, you can’t fail because it’s just an experiment. Think about yourself as the scientist. Take notes of your journey and see what you uncover. Here are 7 tips to help you prepare for your endeavor.

1) Work up to it. Start with a 16 hour fast. If you tried this, you already learned the majority of the time fasting is spent sleeping. Start after your last meal and break the fast with a late breakfast. Viola! There you have a 16 hour fast.

2) Eat a more substantial meal around 4-5 pm before starting your 24 hour fast. We also recommend eating vegan or vegetarian the week prior to a long fast to help prepare your system.

3) Use sleep to your advantage. As you’ve noted from the 16 hour fast, it’s a lot easier to not eat when you’re sleeping. Also, sometimes napping helps if you’re running low on energy. Be gentle to yourself.

4) Drink lots of fluids. We can’t say it enough how important water is to your body. This is especially true when you’re fasting. Your body has an opportunity to flush your system and drinking plenty of fluids helps with this process.

5) Stay busy. This could be in action through helping others or meditation, prayer, journaling about your journey or what you’re learning about yourself and your relationship with food. You will have a new lot of free time when you would normally be eating food. Remember the benefits of fasting.

6) Listen to your body. It’s telling you things all the time and during the 24 hour fast, it may be especially loud. Be gentle and stay positive. If you have a headache, it may be due to your body flushing out toxins. If you have trouble with blood sugar levels, this fast may not be for you. Remember it’s just an experiment and you can stop at any time.

7) After the 24 hour fast, ease in to eating. Try out some fruits and vegetables then ease your way in to eating a bigger meal.

Best of luck to you on your experiment with the 24 hour fast. Here’s information on the Master Cleanse if you wish to try it. It basically consists of drinking lemon juice, cayenne pepper, and maple syrup throughout the day. The detoxification prior to the fast is completed with laxative tea.

SESSIONS

We are LIVE and IN-PERSON this Wednesday at Brookside Community Church. At last!

This week we are very excited to be live and in-person, as well as on Zoom, at Brookside Community Church in Mendham, NJ. If you wish to attend in-person, please arrive a good 10 minutes before we begin. Masks are required. Please reach out at info4praxiswellness@gmail.com to get the latest update on if food will be provided or whether you should bring your own.

Note, if you wish to have chair yoga available, let us know a day or two ahead of time at info4praxiswellness@gmail.com and we can accommodate you.

Tuesday, 6:30 pm, EST
Join Zoom Meeting
https://us02web.zoom.us/j/3130965380
Meeting ID: 313 096 5380

Wednesday, 6:30 pm, EST – In person and on Zoom.
Join Zoom Meeting
https://us02web.zoom.us/j/81453475523
Meeting ID: 814 5347 5523

Thursday 10 am, EST – Fitness oriented wake-up practice
Join Zoom Meeting
https://us02web.zoom.us/j/84163137582
Meeting ID: 841 6313 758


*Letters 2, FC Vol. 13, p 7, Orthodox Psychotherapy, Hierotheos,  p 138
** Philokalia, 4, p 181f, Orthodox Psychotherapy, Heirotheos, p 1120
*** St Thalassios, Philokalia, 2, p 308, Orthodox Psychotherapy, Heirotheos, p 135
**** Here the word for mind is not nous, but froneō, meaning frame of mind or aspiration

Published by Cornelius Swart

Masters Candidate, Vancouver School of Theology

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