PraXis Wellness Classes Return February 15

“Christ will exalt in my body” Phil. 1:20

PraXis movement, mindfulness and prayer sessions return to Brookside Community Church starting Feb 15. 

PraXis provides mind, body, spirit coaching at the intersection of evidence-based wellness and Christian spiritual practice. For over a year, Cornelius Swart and Jamie DeRuyter have led the  PraXis movement and mindfulness class at Brookside.  And now, we are very excited to be part of the Integrated Spirituality program

Classes will be held every first and third Wednesday, 6:45 pm to 7:45 pm, from Feb. 15 to May 18. 

Sessions include 30-40 minutes of light to moderate yoga-style movement, followed by 10-20 minutes of contemplative silence. Each night is wrapped in prayer and scripture readings.  We hope to add some new offerings to the class activities and schedule in the coming weeks. So look for updates. You can watch a short orientation from last year on YouTube.

There is more information about the program at PraXiswellness.center. See the schedule on Facebook. Or signup on EventBrite.

Classes are free. Donations and drop-ins are welcome. Reach out to info@praxiswellness.center

“Your Faith has made you well.” Luke 17:19

Breathwork techniques for stress reduction: PraXis class

But it is the spirit in a person, the breath of the Almighty, that gives them understanding.
–Job 32:8

This Wednesday our winter/spring series continues with 40 minutes of power yoga focused on the solar plexus followed by a series of breathwork exercises. These breathing exercises, especially when practiced after movement, help to reduce stress and improve your mindful silence. 

A new study conducted through university research centers in the United Kingdom and Spain found that breathwork was associated with lowering stress. The meta-analysis, or study of other studies, comprised 1325 results. The techniques increase parasympathetic activity (the rest and digest function) through the vagus nerve network. “Modifying breathing alters communication sent from the respiratory system, rapidly influencing brain regions regulating behaviour, thought and emotion.”

A separate study published on Cell Reports Medicine indicates that a daily 5-minute breathwork and mindfulness practice can significantly improves mood and reduces anxiety. This study found that breathwork (especially “cyclical sighing”) is more effective than mindfulness alone.

This week will mark our fourth class in our Lenten cycle. Each class going forward will include new wellness ideas such as tools for mindfulness, Christian fasting and perhaps even music. There is more about our class series is on our blog HERE.

Jamie and I look forward to seeing you.


PraXis Session
6:45 pm – 7:45 pm
Wednesday, March 15
Brookside Community Church
8 East Mainstreet

Sign up on EventBrite 
Details on our Blog
Watch a short orientation video  
Follow on Facebook

PraXis Session, Brookside Church 2.15.23: The Way of Wisdom

Peace Be With You!
We are delighted that a new season of PraXis will open this week right at the doorstep of Great Lent. This year we part of the Integrated Spirituality program at Brookside Community Church. So, if you are new to PraXis, please come at 6:30 pm for an orientation.

This week we will set out our intention on Wisdom, or knowledge of the Good and True that comes from God.* Think on what is good and true and from God in your life.

The class runs every first and third Wednesdays, Feb 15 – May 18, 6:45 pm to 7:45 pm. More details here.

Sign up on EventBrite, or see the full schedule on Facebook.

Schedule for the Night
6:30 pm Orientation for newbies [Or watch video here]
Intention for the session
6:40 pm Scripture Reading
6:45 pm Movement Flow
7:35 pm Lectio Divino and Prayerful Silence
7:50 Open eyes, intercessions, and announcements
8 pm Benediction and Depart
Q&A those who have questions

Bring: yoga mat, block or belt (if you normally use them), water help with poses, loose-fitting clothing. For meditation you may want to bring a cushion or a blanket or shawl if you tend to get cold.

Class is free, $20 suggested donation

These reading inform our session, you are welcome to read them in advance.

Revised Common Lectionary for 6th Sunday After Epiphany
Psalm 119:9-16
Proverbs 2:1-15
Matthew 19:1-12

Ancient Lectionary
1 John 3:21-4:6
Mark 14:43-15:1

*Westminster Dictionary of Theological Terms

VIDEO: Orientation to a PraXis Session

Here is a 2-minute guide on what to expect at a PraXis movement, mindfulness and prayer session. This short video takes you through all the elements of a 1-hour session.

This month we started another cycle of FREE PraXis sessions at Brookside Community Church. Best to take advantage of this free class now as might start charging soon.

Every Tuesday, Oct 11-Dec 13
6:30 pm – 7:30 pm
Brookside Community Church

Join us on ZOOM
Zoomies, please arrive about 10 minutes early so I can bring you in from the waiting room.

More at

“A life of practice, not just right ideas,” PODcast Interview with Cornelius

This is a new podcast interview with about PraXis: Christian Wellness, spiritual athletes, the oneness of the body/soul, health as a process, and prayer as mental silence. Big thanks to Moses Rhys Pasimio for approaching us and asking Cornelius to participate in his series on mental health, addiction recovery and ancient Christian spirituality.

This is a long-form, in-depth discussion. It will lay out, in fairly easy to chew soundbites, the underlying theology behind PraXis and how fitness, diet, and mindfulness fit together in the tradition of Eastern Church known as askesis [mind, body, and spiritual striving].

Great work by brother Moses and his Outer Circle Inner Stillness podcast. Moses is a member of the parish that I was baptized into back in Portland, Ore. Jamie and I were married in this church and we both miss this community, our friends and all the kind and wise people in this parish who bring God to life in our midst.

~ Maranatha

The Holy Spirit: Who art everywhere and fillest all things

Treasury of blessings and Giver of life- come and abide in us…” (Trisagion)

“Suddenly, a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting.” Acts 2:2 NIV

The Spirit comes like a violent wind, that blows where it wills (John 3:8). But it also dwells in silent pauses that come to us amid the clamor of our stormy lives.  

Pentecost is always an invitation to meditate upon the nature of the Holy Spirit. In the ancient prayers of the Eastern Church, the Holy Spirit is prayed to directly and invoked thusly in the Epiclesis: “O Heavenly King, The Comforter, the Spirit of Truth, Who art everywhere and fillest all things: Treasury of blessings and Giver of life- come and abide in us…” (Trisagion). But what is the Holy Spirit, and what is the work of the Spirit in us? One view I recommend is that of Kyle Hughes, author of the book How the Spirit Became God. In his recent piece in the Anglican Compass, Hughes discusses the conflicting views of the Spirit as either a person or an impersonal “force.” He writes:

“Through the centuries, the experience of the Holy Spirit has been a central feature of the Christian life. While different traditions have at times emphasized different aspects of this experience, the church has always maintained that it is the Spirit who is the “giver of life,” who leads us into becoming ever more like Christ.

The Spirit, though, will not transform us into Christ’s likeness against our will… For the early Christians, cultivating this relationship meant intentionally engaging with spiritual disciplines such as silence and solitude, allowing ourselves to create spaces in which we can hear the still, small voice of the Spirit.”

Anglican Compass

Hughes goes on to say, “The mission for us, then, should we choose to accept it, is to learn to quiet our minds and be filled with the Spirit.”

I recommend taking a moment to read more of Hughes’s thoughts at Anglican Compass. But I also recommend coming to PraXis tomorrow, Wednesday at 6:30 pm, at St. Peter’s parish hall. There we hope to still the noise of the body and the mind as we sit in silence with the God who
dwells above us as the Father, 
among us as Christ, 
and within as the Holy Spirit.

I hope you can make it. 

~ Maranatha

Full Event details here.

2nd & 3rd Week of Lent Session

All set up for a session at Brookside Community Church. This session involved a lot of floor work, so a blanket and blocks were recommended for protection of knees and joints.

Here is the rundown for our last two Lenten PraXis session for the March 16 and 23 held at Brookside UCC in Mendham and St Peter’s Episcopal in Morristown. Participants were asked to bring a blanket to place under the knees. These session involve a lot of kneeling postures. One needs to be aware of balance in these poses as well.

Vespers preamble

Psalm 103: Bless the Lord, O my soul!

6:15 pm

Orientation for those who are early

Any injuries we should be aware of?


In the Divine Liturgy of St Johns Chrysostom, we are told lay aside all earthly cares, as we prepare to encounter God in the flesh and blood of the Messiah

It is not easy to lay aside one’s Earthly or fleshly care, as we’ve said before. But Paul tells us this is what is needed in order to be present to the Spirit of the Messiah that dwell within us. Lent is such a time. It is a time for the imitation of Christ as we enter mysteriously into the story of the Gospels. It’s time for the challenge of letting go—letting go of distractions, attachments, habits and compulsions, as we strive in our askesis and prepare for the Feast of the Resurrection

What Earthly care do you lay aside for Great Lent? What part of your past are you letting go of, rejecting, or laying to rest? What things lay ahead that you must avoid, decline or ignore, in order to live a more like the Messiah.

Philippians 3: 7b-15a [Targum paraphrase by Cornelius Swart]
Paul states to the Church in Philippi

For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, 
in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him,[a] 
not having [good standing with God]1 that comes from the law, 
but that which comes through faith in the Messiah, 
[approval]2 from God that depends on faith–
that I may know him [Christ] and the power of his resurrection, 
and may share his sufferings, 
becoming like him in his death, that,
by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead.
Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, 
but I press on to [grasp this perfection]3
because [The Anointed]Jesus has [grasped ahold of me]5
[Brothers and sisters]6, I do not consider that I have made it [on my own]7. But one thing I do [know]8: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead
I press on toward the goal 
for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. 
Let those of us who are mature think this way…


Sitting comfortably
Neck roll
Shoulder Roll
Arms out wrist twist
3 dynamic- Arms up, grab right wrist and lean left, reverse

Up – inhale
Down- exhale
Back -inhale
Forward- exhale

3 dynamic- Cat- cow
3 dynamic- Tiger Pose, back leg up, left then right (Vyaghrasana)
3 dynamic- Balancing Tabletop Pose- left arm and right leg extended, reverse (Bharmanasana)

Table, Down Dog, Step left foot forward and right knee down to Low Warrior I Series (Ardha Vibabhadrasana I)

3 dynamic — Arms to knee then above the head
3 dynamic — Arms behind the back- lean forward
3 static — Leg forward, bend forward, arms behind the back
3 dynamic — Half circle pose, extend leg to the side, lengthen over the opposite side, arm down to the ground (Ardha mansalasana)

Table -Down Dog-Walk to Forward Fold

Raise to arms overhead 
3 dynamic , 3 static– Wide legged Forward Fold
3 dynamic, 3 static– Goddess or Horse Stance (Utkatakonasana)

Legs together
3 dynamic — Chair 
3 dynamic –to Revolved chair pose, (Parivrita utkatasana)

Forward fold – Plank- Down Dog
3 dynamic- Three-Legged dog

Spin to sit
3 dynamic – Bridge
3 static – One-legged Bridge
3 dynamic — Hug legs
1 static each side, Belly Twist, Jathara Parivartanasana A 
3 static — Happy Baby

Resting pose 12 breathes

Return the mind to the breath

Turn music off

Lectio Divina [paraphrase]- Read, Reflect, Respond and Rest

Not that I …. am already perfect, 
but I press on to [grasp perfection]3
because [The Anointed]Jesus has [taken grasp of me]5
…. forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead
I press on toward the goal 
for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. 

Rest in silence

Return the mind to the breath, then the body working up from the feet

Reread Philippians 3: 7b-15a

Sit up, silence or quiet sharing

Prayers offered up to others

Benediction and depart


Psalm 104 – O Lord My God, You are Very Great


Philippians 3: 7b-15a – Variations derived from The Step Bible Translation
[a] the mutual in-dwelling of God and humans. See post here.
1&2 dikaiosumē – state of being in proper relationship with God
3 &5 katalambanō- to grasp, attain, understand, realize, 5, take hold of, seize, overtake
4. christos- anointed, appointed*, one rubbed with oil to indicate their appointment to a high purpose
6. adelfos, brother but often inclusive of gender, referring to brothers and sisters in the plural
7. emautou, myself, my own, of my own accord
8. implied**
*appointed-anointed simile is my editorializing
** my editorializing

Cornelius presents The Great Fast at the Living Interfaith Sanctuary

You can eat bread. Be thankful we’ll let you get away with that!

[Video of the presentation, and the full interfaith service below. My presentation starts at minute 33. There is also a lovely Ukrainian version of the Jesus Prayer at minute 27.]

Hello PraXicisers!

Join me online on Saturday, March 5, at 10 am Pacific, 1 pm EST as a speechify about my spiritual journey, Orthodox spiritually and the meaning of Great Lent, for the Living Interfaith Sanctuary, in Vancouver BC. The LIS is a great interfaith church run by a Buddhist and dear friend Cathy Merchant. We both graduate from VST this spring. The group has guest speakers from all sorts of backgrounds and this week it will be me and my background that will be…speaking (uh?).

Here is a preview of what I might talk about [I never know what will come out of my mouth. It’s exciting].

What is the meaning of Great Lent?

Well, I don’t know. But I can tell you a few things that the Eastern Church tradition has maintained. Great Lent has been, for over a thousand years, the most intense period of training for new Christians, the catechumenate, before the initiation of baptism at the end of Holy Week. But more broadly, this is a time of purification, introspection, and preparation for the Feast of Feast, the Feast of the Resurrection of the Lord. It is a time of silent prayer, intense church services (sometimes daily), and yes, fasting.

Before a feast can come, there must be a fast. Before resurrection, a death. Before a promise can be fulfilled, there is preparation. So, we prepare by going gradually deeper and deeper into our spiritual practice. How do we do this? By “laying aside all earthly cares.”** We lay aside distractions, rich foods, and vain pursuits, just for a while, to focus more on God.

As we say in PraXis a lot, this is asceticism. Some would say this word means self-denial. But the word comes from askesis — training or striving. We get the word athlete from askesis as well. For many Christians, Great Lent is the only time of year when they encounter the practice of Christian spiritual striving. But asceticism is an almost daily part of Orthodox spiritual life.

More importantly, Great Lent is about pushing the body, mind, and spirit to that place where the narrative world of Good News of Christ intersects with the objective world of our own sensory experience. This intense striving for a moment when the story of God breaks into the story of our own personal experience is what asceticism is often about. And in Great Lent profound spiritual insight, experiences, and intimacy with God may also be afforded to you, in grace.

By the way, this is also a great time to set an intention for your Praxis– a fitness, mindfulness or fasting goal. As we begin Great Lent, plan out where do you want to be, six weeks from now in your fitness or prayer life. Take the PraXis ten-week challenge if you like.

The point is, set a goal and prepare. Prepare for when we celebrate the raising up of Christ out of Earth. For the essence of God has come to dwell among us, first in the flesh and now in the Spirit.

Isaiah 61:1-3a
The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me,
because the Lord has anointed me;
he has sent me to bring good news to the oppressed,
to bind up the broken-hearted,
to proclaim liberty to the captives,
and release to the prisoners;
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor,
and the day of [repayment]* from our God;
to comfort all who mourn;
to provide for those who mourn in Zion—
to give them a garland instead of ashes,
the oil of gladness instead of mourning,
the mantle of praise instead of a faint spirit.


Living Interfaith Sanctuary
The Zoom link to the service is also on the homepage.
Zoom Link: HERE
Meeting ID: 851 9409 1775
10 am, Pacific, 1 pm EST
Past Sermons and Lectures are here on their YouTube Channel

** Cherubic Hymn, Divine Liturgy [Work of the People] of St John Chrysostom
* antapodosis is the Greek translation of (vengeance) in the LXX version of Isaiah, often means repayment and reward, not vengeance per se. The historical Jesus and his students (disciples) would have known the LXX, not the Hebrew text.

Ash Wednesday and PraXis on 3/2/22

This Wednesday is Ash Wednesday for the West and marks the beginning of Great Lent. The ritual harkens back as far as the 9th Century and is popular among both Roman Catholics and increasingly among Protestants.

The Catholic Courier states the spreading of ashes on one’s forehead is a ritualized theme found in the Hebrew Bible, in which sackcloth and ashes often represent “humility and mortality and suffering and penance over sin.”

Great Lent begins next Sunday in the West and the following week in the East. This means fasting: one of our favorite things to talk about (and one of your least favorite things to practice, I bet.). Next week I’ll dedicate a big post next week to fasting and Great Lent. But for this week it is enough to say– now is the time to prepare for the Feast of Feasts. This is a time of purification, of introspection, and a setting aside of the “all Earthly cares,” as we enter a season of great closeness to God, in Christ.

This Wednesday’s PraXis will follow a lovely Αsh Wednesday offering at the sanctuary at Brookside Community Church. The sanctuary will be open between 3:00 pm and 6:30 pm, including several interactive stations that invite participants to center and reflect. Each station will have a tactile focus (such as clay, oil, water, paper) a reading, a reflection, and an action for you to take.

Here is one example:

Matthew 18:6-7

‘If any of you put a stumbling block before one of these little ones who believe in me, it would be better for you if a great millstone were fastened around your neck and you were drowned in the depth of the sea. Woe to the world because of stumbling blocks!”

Occasions for stumbling are bound to come, but woe to the one by whom the stumbling block comes!

Jesus recognizes that along our journey, we are bound to stumble – living faithfully is hard. However, he also says that there is a difference between stumbling, and causing someone else to stumble. We are meant to help one another on our faith journeys, to be a companion on the road, to encourage and support.

Take a marker and write on the rock – what makes you stumble on your faith journey? What obstacles block your way or make it difficult to follow Jesus?

Pastors Nicolette Siragusa and Betsy Broome will be available to offer ashes to anyone who would like to receive them. We think this is a lovely offering and a perfect way to prepare yourself for the PraXis session that will follow, 6:30 pm to 7:30 pm in the parish hall across in the next room.

As always, our sessions will include some prayers, light yoga-style fitness and centering prayer. We’ll be in the sanctuary shortly before PraXis begins, and we’d love to see you there.

Our current season of PraXis run through July. We have a free session offered each Wednesday.

PraXis Sessions

1st and 3rd Wednesday, 6:30 pm, session, 6:15 pm, orientation
Brookside Community Church, Mendham
8 East Main, St., Mendham, NJ 07926

2nd and 4th Wednesday, 6:30 pm, session, 6:15 pm, orientation
St. Peter’s Episcopal, Parish Hall
70 Maple Ave, Morristown, NJ 07960
[It’s inside the courtyard behind the main church building]

PraXis returns to Wednesday nights with two in-person locations

Limber up little angels, PraXis is back at it.

Good news for those in the Morristown, NJ area: Jamie and I ware holding PraXis sessions every Wednesday at 6:30 pm EST, from Feb 2nd till the end of July. Sessions will last one hour and include scripture, somatic (sanctified yoga), and silent prayer (Centering Prayer).

I am also very excited to announce a new church partner, St. Peter’s Episcopal Church. St. Peter’s is a wonderful community in the center of Morristown. I tried to partner with St Peter’s AND Brookside during the Capstone phase of PraXis. But I couldn’t get the timing to work out. So, I’m pleased to now offer the program to a second parish.

Sessions will be every 1st and 3rd Wednesday at Brookside Community Church, our usual location. And every 2nd and 4th Wednesday at St. Peter’s Parish Hall.

The sessions will be similar to those we did during the 8-week challenge. For the time being, sessions will not include communal meals. We won’t have any themes or little sermons like we did during the challenge. And the sessions will not be on Zoom. We might reconsider Zoom if there is a significant interest. Also, if our partner churches feel that they want to include meals, that might change that too.

Sessions are free, and drop-ins are welcome. If you are not thoroughly versed in yoga-style calisthenics or Centering Prayer, please come early at 6:15 pm, and I’ll go over the basics.

Masks are required. Also, please bring a mat, loose-fitting clothing, water, something to keep you warm during the seated portions, and a block or firm pillow to sit on.

Email with questions, info4praxiswellness@gmail.com

PraXis Sessions

1st and 3rd Wednesday, 6:30 pm, session, 6:15 pm, orientation
Brookside Community Church, Mendham
8 East Main, St., Mendham, NJ 07926

2nd and 4th Wednesday, 6:30 pm, session, 6:15 pm, orientation
St. Peter’s Episcopal, Parish Hall
70 Maple Ave, Morristown, NJ 07960
[It’s inside the courtyard behind the main church building]