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

PraXis Week 5: The Light

Walking the Way, takes us into the light

[Zoom links at the bottom of this post]

WORKOUT OF THE PEOPLE


Epiclesis to the Holy Spirit

Introduction

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

What is visible of God is light: the power and purity that radiates from God’s presence.

In the Greek version of the Old Testament that Paul knew, the Greek word doxa is used for what we call glory. Doxa, differs slightly from the Hebrew word for glory, ka.vod, which means honor, abundances and splendor. The Greek means praise but also radiant light. [See StepBible].

So in the Greek Old Testament, when Isaiah sees the cherubim worshiping God in the celestial throne room, they cry out “Holy, Holy, Holy, is the Lord of hosts, The whole earth is full of His glory [light].” [Isaiah 6:3]

This them of glory and light runs deep in the New Testament. The light of God comes down to us on Earth through God’s Anointed One. “When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, ‘I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.’ [John 8-12]. And as Paul says, “For God, who said, ‘Light shall shine out of darkness,’ is the One who has shone in our hearts to give the Light of the knowledge of the glory [light] of God in the face of Christ.” [2 Corin. 4:6] Jesus mysteriously shared the essence, the light, of God, so that this light can be shared with those who follow the Way. This light reside in your heart and when we can keep the vessel our heart clean, this light can shine out to others.

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

Luke 11:34-35
Your eye is the lamp of your body. 
When your eyes are healthy,
your whole body also is full of light. 
But when they are unhealthy, 
your body also is full of darkness. 
See to it, then, that the light within you is not darkness.

Rise and go to your mat or prayer rug

Lectio Divina [more on lectio divina here]

Ephesians 5: 8-10
For at one time you were in darkness,
but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light
(for the fruit of light is found in all that is good and right and true)
and try to discern what is pleasing to the Lord.

Somatic prayer – [Sanctified yoga] 20 minutes

Flow
Tuesday and Wednesday Evening

4 Opening Set
Arms Raised
Forward Fold
Straight back, 1/2 rise
Forward Fold
Sweep up to raised arms
Hand to heart

Forward fold
Plank
Down Dog

4 Floor Series
Table
Child
Praise
Table
Cobra
Down Dog

Left foot forward lunge

3 Warrior I, 4 static breaths (left side)
Extended side angle stretch, 4 static breaths
Hand down on mat, left leg runner’s lunge

Stand up, turn to the long edge of the mat
3 Wide standing forward bends, 4 static breaths

3 Warrior I, 4 static breaths (right side)
Extended side-angle stretch, 4 static breaths (left side)
Hand down on mat, left leg runner’s lunge

Down Dog
Table
Turn onto back
Rest with knees up, feet on floor touching buttocks

4 Bridge series
Hug knees
Straighten legs up, arms out
Feet back to floor
Bridge

Turn over
3 Cobra
3 Seated Twist
Repose, 16 breaths of more

Thursday morning

3 Breathe into the heart, palms together at chest
2 Sun Salutations
Forward fold
Straight back, 1/2 rise
Plank
Down Dog
Left foot forward lunge

3 Warrior I, 4 static breaths (left side)
Extended side angle stretch, 4 static breaths
Hand down on mat, left leg runner’s lunge
Stand up, turn to the long edge of the mat
3 Wide standing forward bends, 4 static breaths
3 Warrior I, 4 static breaths (right side)
Extended side-angle stretch, 4 static breaths (left side)
Hand down on mat, left leg runner’s lunge

3 Floor series
Table
Child
Praise
Table
Cobra
Down Dog

3 Boat, 4 static breaths
3 Bridge, 4 static breaths

Shoulder stand
(variations- legs up the wall, legs straight up in the air)

3 Locust
Child
3 Seated Twists
Repose, 16 breaths or more

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

Matthew 5:14-16
You are the light of the world. 
A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. 
Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, 
but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house.  
In the same way, 
let your light shine before others, 
so that they may see your good works 
and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.

Benediction, if someone has one to offer

Depart to the table

Cleaning the Vessel of the Light: Plant-Based Detoxing

Group 2

Continue to expand the number of days in which you have an exclusively plant-based diet. See the detox recommendations below. Try to apply these tips gradually in the coming weeks.

Group 1

This week try to expand the number of days that you stick to the 16-hour fast, while expanding your plant-based diet to the entire week. This is a time in which, we are preparing ourselves for prepare for a 1, 2, or 3-day liquids only fast next week.

Detoxing

These tips for the Daniel Plan detox are based on the book The Daniel Plan: 40 days to a healthier life by Rick Warren, Daniel Amen, Mark Hyman.

In their book, they recommend detoxing to help with a longer fasting period.  They refer to fasting as being a mindful steward of the body to help inspire positive change in yourself to build a healthier community. In PraXis we talk about fasting as a tool for discernment. One way of doing this through diet is to mindfully focus on eating a plant-based diet. In doing so, we cut out foods that create toxicity in our body.  Because a whole foods-based diet removes sugary, fatty, chemical-laden, artificial, and inflammatory foods from the diet, they are sometimes called a detox or a cleanse

Here is a very simple break down with references of what to eat more of and a food list.  

What to eat:  
Real, fresh whole plant-based foods       
Create a menu plan

What to avoid:
Stimulants & sedatives:
alcohol, caffeine, etc. 
Processed/ fast food
(additives/ chemicals)
Artificial sweeteners
Sugar in any form
All dairy 
All gluten

HERE ARE SOME SUGGESTED MEALS

Recipe Links

Homemade açaí bowls

Butternut squash & broccoli salad

Raw Falafel Buddha Bowls

Sessions

ZOOM LINKS

Just a quick reminder of our new format. On Tuesday nights Jamie will model chair poses during our yoga practice. And on Thursday, we’ll have slightly more strength-based yoga aimed at energizing your Zoe [aliveness] in the morning!

Tuesday, 6:30 pm, EST – Includes chair yoga
This night will feature Jamie doing Chair Yoga for those with mobility challenges
Join Zoom Meeting
https://us02web.zoom.us/j/3130965380
Meeting ID: 313 096 5380

Wednesday, 6:30 pm, EST
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

PraXis Week 4: Love

The most consistent teaching in the New Testament

[Zoom links at the bottom of this post]

WORKOUT OF THE PEOPLE

Epiclesis to the Holy Spirit

Introduction

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

“Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God.  Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love.” 1 John 4:7

To walk the in the Way of Christ, is to judge not, to forgive, to pray for your enemy, to live simple, honest and just lives and “Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for whoever loves others has fulfilled the law.” Romans 13:8. For “By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.John 13:34-35

Anyone who wishes to read may raise their hand.

The Way of Love
1 Corinthians 13:1-13
If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels,
but have not love,
I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal.

And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains,
but have not love, I am nothing.

If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love,
I gain nothing.

Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth.
Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
Love never ends.

Rise and go to your mat or prayer rug

Lectio Divina [more on lectio divina here

“And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony.” Colossians 3:14 

Somatic prayer – [Sanctified yoga] 20 minutes

Flow
Tuesday and Wednesday Evening

4 Opening Set
Arms Raised
Forward Fold
Straight back, 1/2 rise
Forward Fold
Sweep up to raised arms
Hand to heart

Forward fold
Plank
Down Dog

4 Floor Series
Table
Child
Praise
Table
Cobra
Down Dog

Left foot forward lunge

3 Warrior I, 4 static breaths (left side)
Extended side angle stretch, 4 static breaths
Hand down on mat, left leg runner’s lunge

Stand up, turn to the long edge of the mat
3 Wide standing forward bends, 4 static breaths

3 Warrior I, 4 static breaths (right side)
Extended side-angle stretch, 4 static breaths (left side)
Hand down on mat, left leg runner’s lunge

Down Dog
Table
Turn onto back
Rest with knees up, feet on floor touching buttocks

4 Bridge series
Hug knees
Straighten legs up, arms out
Feet back to floor
Bridge

Turn over
3 Cobra
3 Seated Twist
Repose, 16 breaths of more

Thursday morning

3 Breathe into the heart, palms together at chest
2 Sun Salutations
Forward fold
Straight back, 1/2 rise
Plank
Down Dog
Left foot forward lunge

3 Warrior I, 4 static breaths (left side)
Extended side angle stretch, 4 static breaths
Hand down on mat, left leg runner’s lunge
Stand up, turn to the long edge of the mat
3 Wide standing forward bends, 4 static breaths
3 Warrior I, 4 static breaths (right side)
Extended side-angle stretch, 4 static breaths (left side)
Hand down on mat, left leg runner’s lunge

3 Floor series
Table
Child
Praise
Table
Cobra
Down Dog

3 Boat, 4 static breaths
3 Bridge, 4 static breaths

Shoulder stand
(variations- legs up the wall, legs straight up in the air)

3 Locust
Child
3 Seated Twists
Repose, 16 breaths or more

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

1 John 4:9-12
This is how God showed his love among us: 
He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. 
This is love: not that we loved God, 
but that he loved us and sent his Son as means of forgiving* our sins [debts]. 
Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. 
No one has ever seen God; 
but if we love one another, 
God lives in us and his love is made complete in us. 


Depart and Retire to the table – 30 minutes

Cycle One- 16 hour fast, expand to two or more days this week

Cycle Two- expand the plant based diet to two or more days a week

Pecan Breakfast Bar:

Vegan Fried Rice

Tropical Mango Quinoa Bowl

ZOOM LINKS

Tuesday, 6:30 pm, EST
This night will feature Jamie doing Chair Yoga for those with mobility challenges
Join Zoom Meeting
https://us02web.zoom.us/j/3130965380
Meeting ID: 313 096 5380

Wednesday, 6:30 pm, ESTJoin Zoom Meeting
https://us02web.zoom.us/j/81453475523
Meeting ID: 814 5347 5523

Thursday 10 am, EST
Join Zoom Meeting
https://us02web.zoom.us/j/84163137582
Meeting ID: 841 6313 758

*see propritiation, atonement StepBible commentary

PraXis Challenge, Week 3: The Spirit vs The Flesh, and the 16-Hour Fast

Why, oh why did I that last cookie…ok, last box of cookies…

Welcome to the PraXis Wellness Challenge, Week 3: The Spirit vs The Flesh
[Zoom links at the bottom of this post]

Live by the Spirit, I say, and do not gratify the desires of the flesh. For what the flesh desires is opposed to the Spirit, and what the Spirit desires is opposed to the flesh; for these are opposed to each other, to prevent you from doing what you want. – Gal 5:16-17

As we said last week, the ancients saw the heart as the seat of our mind-body-spirit. And for the Apostle Paul the sarks, or “flesh” was “the seat of the Passions,” [Roman’s 8:1-3,5, Phil 3:3]. Here passion, is a term coming from Greek pathema, which means excessive reaction to what “befalls us.”  You might see the flesh as a kind of distracted, centerless source for the kind of bodily cravings that lead to addictions. The flesh is the opposite of the heart, the place where the Spirit dwells.

For this reason [the willpower of] the mind that is set on the [excesses of the] flesh is hostile to God; it does not submit to God’s [new] law [of being led by the Spirit]—indeed it cannot — Romans 8:7

Paul’s flesh vs spirit discourses are about inner conflict: a temptation to excess versus following the guidance of the Spirit. For Paul the guidance of the Spirit, is not about prescriptive religious rules, but about Christ’s new law of spiritual discernment (wisdom): the freedom to be lead directly by the Spirit. 

Fasting and discernment

Discerning what God wants for us often comes out of weighing our desires against scripture, the advice of our spiritual community, our experience, and by quieting oneself enough to hear the guidance of the Spirit that resides in our heart. Christians have often used fasting as a way to quiet the body and listen to the Spirit. Fasting also brings to the surface some of our bodily cravings that hide in our blind spots. In this way, fasting is a type of prayer, a type of silencing the flesh, that leads to hearing the Lord and helps us to bear the fruits of the Spirit [love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control – Gal. 5:22-23]

This week we begin the 16- hour fast. There is a lot of research out there about intermittent fasting. This blog from Harvard Health is an easy read.  

This week’s goal is to go all week without snacking between meals and or eating between the hours of 6 pm and 10 am. Layer that on top of your plant-based diet, and we’ll see what your results are in two weeks.

The Session

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

Anyone who wishes to read may raise their hand.

John 3:6-8
What is born of the flesh is flesh, 
and what is born of the Spirit is spirit.

Do not be astonished that I said to you, 
‘You must be born from above [born again].’ 

The wind blows where it chooses, 
and you hear the sound of it, 
but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. 
So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.

Rise and go to your mat or prayer rug

Lectio Divina [more on lectio divina here

Romans 8:24-26
..if we hope for what we do not see, 
we wait for it with patience.
Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness; 
for we do not know how to pray as we ought, 
but that very Spirit intercedes 
with sighs too deep for words.
  

Somatic prayer – [Sanctified yoga] 20 minutes

Flow

3 Breathe into the heart, palms together at chest
4 Sun Salutations
Forward fold
Straight back, 1/2 rise
Plank
Up Dog
Down Dog
Left foot forward lunge

3 Warrior II, 4 static breaths (left side)
Hands on hips, change feet
3 Warrior II, 4 static breaths (right side)
Hands on hips, change feet
3 Extended side-angle stretch, 4 static breaths (left side)
Hands on hips, change feet
3 Extended side-angle stretch, 4 static breaths (right side)

Mountain, 4 static breathes, hands at heart
Forward fold
Plank
Lower down to mat

3 Locust pose
3 Cobra, 4 static breathes
Down Dog

3 Floor series
Table
Child
Praise
Table
Down Dog

Plank, low down to the floor, and turn over to the back
3 Fish pose
3 Bridge pose, 4 static breaths

Repose or relaxation pose, 16 breaths or more

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

Psalm 28: 7-9
Praise be to the Lord,
for he has heard my cry for mercy.
The Lord is my strength and my shield;
my heart trusts in him, and he helps me.
My heart leaps for joy,
and with my song I praise him.
The Lord is the strength of his people,
a fortress of salvation for his anointed one.
Save your people and bless your inheritance;
be their shepherd and carry them forever.

Depart and Retire to the table – 30 minutes

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

Wednesday, 6:30 pm, ESTJoin Zoom Meeting
https://us02web.zoom.us/j/81453475523
Meeting ID: 814 5347 5523

Thursday 10 am, EST
Join Zoom Meeting
https://us02web.zoom.us/j/84163137582
Meeting ID: 841 6313 7582

PraXis Challenge, Week 2: The Heart

Important Note: This Thursday’s session has been moved to Friday. The following week we will return to our usual schedule.

Welcome to the PraXis Wellness Challenge, Week 2. This week’s theme is the heart.

To the ancients, the heart was the center of our physical, emotional, and spiritual being. Intuition (knowing without thinking) occurred in the heart, not the brain. It drove the thoughts of the mind just as it drives the blood that powers the body. The heart was also the primary organ of spiritual perception. But like the physical heart that can suffer from fatty foods, the heart of the soul could get sick and clogged with toxic feelings, thoughts, and spirits. 

So, “Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life.” – Proverbs 4:23

The Session

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

Anyone who wishes to read may raise their hand.

Ephesians 1:17-21      
17 I pray that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, 
the Father of glory, 
may give you a spirit of wisdom and revelation as you come to know him, 
18 so that, 
with the eyes of your heart enlightened, 
you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, 
what are the riches of his glorious inheritance among the saints, 
19 and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power for us who believe, according to the working of his great power.
20 God put this power to work in Christ when he raised him from the dead 
and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places
21 far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, 
and above every name that is named, 
not only in this age 
but also in the age to come.

Rise and go to your mat or prayer rug

Lectio Divina [more on lectio divina here]

Ezekiel 36:26
I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.

Somatic prayer – [Sanctified yoga] 20 minutes

Flow

3 Breathe into the heart, palms together at chest
4 Sun Salutations

Mountain, 4 breaths
3 Triangle, 4 static breaths
Mountain
Forward fold
Straight back, 1/2 rise
Plank
Up Dog
Down Dog
Left foot forward lunge

3 Warrior I, 4 static breaths
Plank
Up Dog
Down Dog
Right foot lunge into Warrior I
3 Warrior I, 4 static breaths

Plank
Up Dog
Down Dog
Table
Child, 4 static breaths
3 Cat/Cow
Down Dog
Plank

Lower down to the floor, chest down
3 Cobra, 4 static breaths

Turn to right side, then onto back
3 Boat pose, 4 static breaths
3 upward plant, 4 static breaths
3 Bridge series
hug knees
Legs extended straight up
hug knees
bridge

Repose, relaxation pose, 12 or more breaths

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

Psalm 51 1:15
Create in me a clean heart
A Psalm of David, when the prophet Nathan came to him,
after David had lain with Bathsheba.

1 Have mercy on me, O God,
according to your steadfast love;
according to your abundant mercy
blot out my transgressions.
2 Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity,
and cleanse me from my sin.
3 For I know my transgressions,
and my sin is ever before me.
4 Against you, you alone, have I sinned,
and done what is evil in your sight,
so that you are justified in your sentence
and blameless when you pass judgment.
5 Indeed, I was born guilty,
a sinner when my mother conceived me.
6 You desire truth in the inward being;
therefore teach me wisdom in my secret heart.
7 Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean;
wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.
8 Let me hear joy and gladness;
let the bones that you have crushed rejoice.
9 Hide your face from my sins,
and blot out all my iniquities.
10 Create in me a clean heart, O God,
and put a new and right spirit within me.
11 Do not cast me away from your presence,
and do not take your holy spirit from me.
12 Restore to me the joy of your salvation,
and sustain in me a willing spirit.
13 Then I will teach transgressors your ways,
and sinners will return to you.
14 Deliver me from bloodshed, O God,
O God of my salvation,
and my tongue will sing aloud of your deliverance.
15 O Lord, open my lips,
and my mouth will declare your praise.

Depart and Retire to the table – 30 minutes

Diet Challenge: Week 2 – expand the plant-based diet
Try to expand your plant-based to at least two or three days this week. Meal suggestions below.

Chia Brown Rice Coconut Bowl RECIPE
Kale Salad RECIPE 
Spring Roll Noodle Bowl RECIPE
Roasted Chickpeas RECIPE

Here is a link to the Mayo Clinic and a podcast below about plant-based diets and a healthy heart.


Session Links

Tuesday, Sept 28, 6:30 pm EST
Join Zoom Meeting
https://us02web.zoom.us/j/3130965380

Wednesday, Sept 29, 6:30 pm EST
Join Zoom Meeting
https://us02web.zoom.us/j/81453475523

Friday, Oct 1, 10 am EST
Join Zoom Meeting
https://us02web.zoom.us/j/86781690382?pwd=d2cxQmRHQTZjOXFoNWZETWhWczRVdz09

PraXis Challenge, Week 1: Creation

You are a new creation in Christ. Now, drop and give me 20!

Week 1 [Zoom links to this week’s session are at the bottom of the post]

Welcome to the start of our 8-week, wellness challenge.

Theme: (New) Creation

You are a new creation in Christ [2 Corin. 5:17]. For it is God’s image that you were made, and it is God’s likeness that we aspire (John of Damascus). It is impossible to be perfect, but it is to the Christ-like that we reach. For those who were baptized into Christ, put on Christ [Gal. 3:27]. 

As we begin this challenge, how do you, today, this week, and in this season of your life see yourself as a new creation. What parts of you do you wish to make new through the grace of God and participation in Christ? 

Breathe deep the good of the Earth and this gift of life — the Spirit in your lungs. Look around you at what is good and God-like in this creation. Give thanks to the Lord, and let us begin.

Need More Info:
Video orientation on the Details of the Challenge
Video introduction to the Challenge

The Session

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

Anyone who wishes to read may raise their hand.

Psalm 33:6-22

6 By the word of the Lord the heavens were made,
    and all their host by the breath of his mouth.
7 He gathered the waters of the sea as in a bottle;
    he put the deeps in storehouses.
8 Let all the earth fear the Lord;
    let all the inhabitants of the world stand in awe of him.
9 For he spoke, and it came to be;
    he commanded, and it stood firm.
10 The Lord brings the counsel of the nations to nothing;
    he frustrates the plans of the peoples.
11 The counsel of the Lord stands forever,
    the thoughts of his heart to all generations.

Stand, come to you mat or prayer rug

Lectio Divina- read four times.

2 Corinthians 5:17
Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come.

Somatic Prayer (Sanctified Yoga)- 20 minutes 

Flow
3 Breathes into the heart, palms together at chest
4 Sun Salutations
Mountain Pose, Hands to Heart- 3 breaths
3 Chair pose – 4 static breaths

Forward fold
Raise up to flat back
Plank
Up Dog
Down Dog
Left foot lunge into Warrior I

3 Warrior I, 4 static breaths
Plank
Up Dog
Down Dog
Right foot lunge into Warrior I
3 Warrior I, 4 static breaths

Plank
Up Dog
Down Dog
Step forward into Mountain, 4 static breaths, hands at heart

Step back into Down Dog
Plank
3 Locust
3 Cobra, 4 static breaths

Turn over, turn to right side, sit up
3 Seated Twist, 4 static breaths
Sit back, extend onto the matt

3 Boat pose
3 Bridge, 4 static, breaths
Repose or relaxation pose, 12 or more breaths

Come to seated position

Noetic Prayer (Centering prayer, mindfulness, etc) – 20 Minutes

Bell rings– you have one more minute to center yourself

Eyes open. A few moments of silence together. If you are called by the Spirit you may.

Thanksgiving

Psalm 145:10-21

10 All your works shall give thanks to you, O Lord,
    and all your faithful shall bless you.
11 They shall speak of the glory of your kingdom,
    and tell of your power,
12 to make known to all people your mighty deeds,
    and the glorious splendor of your kingdom.
13 Your kingdom is an everlasting kingdom,
    and your dominion endures throughout all generations.
The Lord is faithful in all his words,
    and gracious in all his deeds.
14 The Lord upholds all who are falling,
    and raises up all who are bowed down.
15 The eyes of all look to you,
    and you give them their food in due season.
16 You open your hand,
    satisfying the desire of every living thing.
17 The Lord is just in all his ways,
    and kind in all his doings.
18 The Lord is near to all who call on him,
    to all who call on him in truth.
19 He fulfills the desire of all who fear him;
    he also hears their cry, and saves them.
20 The Lord watches over all who love him,
    but all the wicked he will destroy.
21 My mouth will speak the praise of the Lord,
    and all flesh will bless his holy name forever and ever.

Depart and Retire to the table – 30 minutes

Diet Challenge Week 1–  go one day or more this week with only plant-based meals. This means, no meat (fish is ok if you must), no dairy (eggs if you must), low carbs, sugar, no soy products or heavily processed foods.

Here are some ideas or come up with your own.

Some suggestions for your first plan-based day

Links to the sessions

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

Wednesday, 6:30 pm, ESTJoin Zoom Meeting
https://us02web.zoom.us/j/81453475523
Meeting ID: 814 5347 5523

Thursday 10 am, EST
Join Zoom Meeting
https://us02web.zoom.us/j/84163137582
Meeting ID: 841 6313 7582

A Challenge for Better Sleep

I want to be a sleep cat

“I will both lie down and sleep in peace;
    for you alone, O Lord, make me lie down in safety.”

– Psalm 4:8

Our friends over at RuahSpace are offering a cool free prayer and Christian Yoga series aimed at improving your sleep.

Pastor Phil Vestal is a regular guest on our PODcast and in our weekly sessions. His Christ-Centered yoga and spiritual practices ministry have been an inspiration to me and PraXis project. Basically, Pastor Phil convinced me that it’s OK for Christians to do yoga (or at least, it’s OK for THIS Christian.) Now I’m even taking a yoga instructor training.

This new program he is offering is free on YouTube, but it also has a component on his membership-based website. The challenge runs Sept 13-19. It only takes a few minutes before bed. (It ends just as our own wellness change begins, conveniently 🙂

Jamie and I get pretty rough sleep. I recently even went to a Pulmonologist to see if I had sleep apnea. He gave me a very uncomfortable wiggly mask to wear on my forehead and over my nose all night. We just an a Zoom conference this week. “The good news is,” he said. “You don’t have sleep apnea. The bad news is, if you don’t have sleep apnea, there isn’t much I can do for you.”

We are now looking at isolating more subtle elements, such a MORE exercise, regular sleep times, lowering caffeine. The usual. We all know that exercise can be critical for better sleep.

Phil sites a US Department of Health survey that indicates that people who practice yoga get better sleep. If you follow this blog that’s not going to be a big surprise. What will be interesting to see if Christ-centered yoga and prayer practice specifically designed for sleep can help even more.

Consider signing up. Jamie and I will be doing it. We’ll certainly let you know how it goes.

Take the PraXis Wellness Challenge

Sept 21 — Nov 11- cycle one
Oct 5 – Nov 24 – cycle two

Tuesday and Wednesday 6:30 pm, and Thursday at 10am, on Zoom and in-person. Sessions are approximately 1 hour, 15 minutes. SIGN UP HERE.

Jamie and I are looking for volunteers to take the PraXis Christian Wellness challenge, and we’d love your help!

PraXis is a graduate project of Vancouver School of Theology, at the University of British Columbia, Canada. PraXis involves physical fitness, mental health exercises and diet. More at PraXisWellness.Center.

Volunteers participate in PraXis sessions over an 8-week period. Participation can be as much as daily (on your own), or as little as a one session a week. Sessions occur over Zoom and on-sight in the Morristown NJ area, either at Frog Hill estate or partner locations to be determined. Volunteers take an entrance and exit survey based on the Princeton UMatter Wellness Self-Assessment. The data is kept confidential and will inform the efficacy of the practice and an organizational plan and report I will complete by Dec. 2021.

Our ultimate goal is to make PraXis a program that we can share with communities, churches and parachurch organizations.

PaXis Sessions

Sessions are approximately 1 hour and 14 minutes, will be offered weekly at 6:30 pm, Tuesday and Wednesday, and 10 am Thursday. All times are Eastern Standard. Even if you can’t make the classes, if you can participate in our own time and check-in every two weeks you can qualify.

Begins Sept 21, ends Nov 11.

Opening Prayer of Praise to God
Reading with Psalter, Canonical Scripture (we use NSRV)

Somatic prayer is a combination of light fitness and prayer readings

Somatic Prayer or embodied practice
(20 – 30 Minutes)

 Athletes exercise self-control in all things; they do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable one” 1 Corin. 9:25

This is light exercise- a combination of Pilates, calisthenics, and sanctified yoga in conjunction with scripture or hymn readings. See Demo HERE.

Noetic Prayer, or mental prayer
(20 minutes)

“keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life” -Prov 4:23

This is a combination of silent prayers and contemplative traditions that have some aspect of evidence-based mindfulness, Lectio Divina, Centering Prayer, Christian Meditation or other silent prayer traditions like the Jesus Prayer. See Demo HERE.

Thanksgiving, Meal and sharing

“See, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree with seed in its fruit; you shall have them for food.’” – Gen. 1:29 

“I had eaten no rich food, no meat or wine had entered my mouth, and I had not anointed myself at all, for the full three weeks.” – Daniel 10:3

A plant-based meal is provided in the likeness of Christian-fasting. Here people have time to discuss their practice and commune with one another and learn about nutrition, recipes and the Christian fasting tradition.

Farewell and depart

We’ll discuss the practice, support volunteers in their participation, discuss the philosophy and the science behind the practices. 

An open invitation
The program is nondenominational, open and welcoming. Christian affiliation is not required, but it is the sole spiritual context for the practice.

If you would like to participate or learn, please fill out this short confidential form and we’ll get back to you. Or if you are ready to jump in, fill out this form!

“What about demons?”– Getting into the weeds of Christian Mindfulness and Prayer with Psychologist Irene Kraegel

On this PraXis PODcast: Irene Kraegel, clinical psychologist and Christian mindfulness instructor

Irene Kraegel is a clinical psychologist and Christian mindfulness instructor. She is the author of the book, Christian Mindfulness: Cultivating a life of intentionality, openness and faith.

In her book, she states, “As we live through a season of pandemic illness, racial injustice, and national unrest- if there was ever a time that we need clear-eyed awareness, self-care tools, and effective action, this is it.”

Watch/Listen to the podcast. PraXis YouTube Channel

She defines Christian Mindfulness as the practice of:

  • Drawing us closer to God
  • Calming out uncomfortable emotions
  • And strengthening us through the challenges of this season

On this episode of the PraXis podcast, I sit down with Irene and we get into the weeds about how mindfulness works as well as:

  • How it is similar to Christian contemplation practices like Centering Prayer?
  • What are the specific clinical benefits of mindful practices?
  • What the challenges for Christians who attempt these practices?
  • And what about demons?

We explore all this and more in this in depth interview.

EP 8: Demons in your head, Christian Mindfulness, and Prayer with psychologist Irene Kraegel PraXis: Christian Wellness

Irene Kraegel is a clinical psychologist and Christian mindfulness instructor. She is the author of the book, Christian Mindfulness: Cultivating a life of intentionality, openness and faith. In her book, she states, “As we live through a season of pandemic illness, racial injustice, and national unrest- if there was ever a time that we need clear-eyed awareness, self-care tools, and effective action, this is it.” She defines Christian Mindfulness as the practice of: Drawing us closer to God Calming out uncomfortable emotions Strengthening us through the challenges of this season On this episode of the PraXis podcast, I sit down with Irene and we get into the weeds about how mindfulness works as well as: How it is similar to Christian contemplation practices like Centering Prayer? What are the specific clinical benefits of mindful practices? What the challenges for Christians who attempt these practices? And what about demons? We explore all this and more in this in depth interview. JOIN THE PRAXIS GROUP VIA ZOOM, EACH WEDS. 6 PM, PST For more about Irene’s classes, speaking engagements and writings go to TheMindfulChristian. Her book The Mindful Christian is available on Amazon. PraXis explores the intersection of evidence-based wellness and Christian spiritual practice. Podcasts are recorded during our weekly Zoom session. Join us LIVE every Wed. 6 pm, PST More at PraXis Wellness 
  1. EP 8: Demons in your head, Christian Mindfulness, and Prayer with psychologist Irene Kraegel
  2. EP 7: Faith Journey from Astronomy to Chair Yoga
  3. EP 6: How the Church is Ignoring your Body
  4. EP 5.8: Introduction to Centering Prayer, 5 minutes of silence, with Father Nicholas Amato
  5. EP 5.5: 20-minute introduction to Centering Prayer: Father Nicholas Amato

JOIN THE PRAXIS GROUP VIA ZOOM, EACH WEDS. 6 PM, PST

For more about Irene’s classes, speaking engagements and writings go to TheMindfulChristian

Here book The Mindful Christian is available on Amazon.

PraXis explores the intersection of evidence-based wellness and Christian spiritual practice. Join us LIVE every Wed. 6 pm, PST

www.meetup.com/PraXis-Contemplative-Meditation-Group/ 

www.facebook.com/PraXisWellness 

praxiswellness.center/ 

Check out the Body Scan Meditation below

PODcast: The Church is Getting Wellness all Wrong

It’s an incarnated religion about an incarnated God. But there is much the Church offers for YOUR body.

Our three regular guests, Pastor Andru Morgan of Parkrose United Methodist, Pastor Phil Vestal of RuahSpace and Pastor Aaron Miller of University Hill Congregation discuss how the Church is getting the body wrong. The human body that is.

What is the Church missing out on when it abdicates the wellness space to secularism and the New Age? What are the social justice implication of “fitness?” How do you treat the F word (fat), in world where there is so much judgement and shame associated with weight-gain? The pastors dive into all these topics and more.

Or join us live each Thursday, on Zoom via MeetUp, at 6 pm PST/9 pm EST.
https://www.meetup.com/PraXis-Contemplative-Meditation-Group/

EP 8: Demons in your head, Christian Mindfulness, and Prayer with psychologist Irene Kraegel PraXis: Christian Wellness

Irene Kraegel is a clinical psychologist and Christian mindfulness instructor. She is the author of the book, Christian Mindfulness: Cultivating a life of intentionality, openness and faith. In her book, she states, “As we live through a season of pandemic illness, racial injustice, and national unrest- if there was ever a time that we need clear-eyed awareness, self-care tools, and effective action, this is it.” She defines Christian Mindfulness as the practice of: Drawing us closer to God Calming out uncomfortable emotions Strengthening us through the challenges of this season On this episode of the PraXis podcast, I sit down with Irene and we get into the weeds about how mindfulness works as well as: How it is similar to Christian contemplation practices like Centering Prayer? What are the specific clinical benefits of mindful practices? What the challenges for Christians who attempt these practices? And what about demons? We explore all this and more in this in depth interview. JOIN THE PRAXIS GROUP VIA ZOOM, EACH WEDS. 6 PM, PST For more about Irene’s classes, speaking engagements and writings go to TheMindfulChristian. Her book The Mindful Christian is available on Amazon. PraXis explores the intersection of evidence-based wellness and Christian spiritual practice. Podcasts are recorded during our weekly Zoom session. Join us LIVE every Wed. 6 pm, PST More at PraXis Wellness 
  1. EP 8: Demons in your head, Christian Mindfulness, and Prayer with psychologist Irene Kraegel
  2. EP 7: Faith Journey from Astronomy to Chair Yoga
  3. EP 6: How the Church is Ignoring your Body
  4. EP 5.8: Introduction to Centering Prayer, 5 minutes of silence, with Father Nicholas Amato
  5. EP 5.5: 20-minute introduction to Centering Prayer: Father Nicholas Amato

PraXis PODcast is now on Apple Podcasts.

More from PraXis
https://praxiswellness.center
https://www.facebook.com/PraXisWellness
https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCFPNdO3YxEhHee9qItKbZPA

Our friends
Pastor Andru Morgan
Parkrose United Methodist Church

Pastor Phil Vestal
RuahSpace

Pastor Aaron Miller
University Hill Congregation