Intro: áskesis and mind, body and spiritual striving

We look back to the ancient Christian practice of asceticism for inspiration. Asceticism and athleticism both come from the same Greek word for training.

All athletes are disciplined in their training. They do it to win a prize that will fade away, but we do it for an eternal prize.1 Cornin. 9:25


We draw our inspiration from the ancient Christian tradition of asceticism. Asceticism is practiced by spiritual people all around the world and practice typically involves things like fasting (special diets), and forms of meditation (what Christians call contemplation). Christian monks, nuns, and Eastern Church Christians still practice asceticism today. Asceticism is largely misunderstood in the West. Some people see it as a form of self-punishment. There are extreme forms of it to be sure, but the oldest Christian traditions used modest asceticism as a way of turning attention away from our bodily and mental fixations and towards God.  Asceticism and mysticism tend to go hand and hand. And while many people are familiar with Yoga and Buddhism as a form of mysticism, these traditions also for of asceticism.

The PraXis approach is not about punishing oneself. It is about bringing the mind and body back into one’s prayer life. Here we challenging ourselves to:

  • incorporate fitness, diet and mindfulness practices into our prayer life
  • evoke the spiritual practices of the earliest church
  • turn our attention to God

Asceticism and athleticism come from the same Greek word áskesis, which means to strive. Athleticism is a striving for the body and asceticism is a striving for the spirit. Both require a series of self-imposed challenges in order to build strength. The spiritual striving tradition in ancient Christianity comes from, in part, from passages like 1 Cornin. 9:25 (above).

The earliest church battled over how much asceticism was too much. Some early Christian communities, like those in Asia Minor, were chastised by the Church for being too ascetic. Starting with Anthony the Great and the Desert Father and Mothers, early ascetic communities gradually turned into the monks, nuns, and hermits of today.
These often mystical Christians, were motivated by a desire to live as closely as possible as they could to the life of Jesus. This required celibacy, fasting, and like Jesus’s time of prayer in the wilderness (Luke 5:16), plenty of silence. Over time, the silence of the desert grew into prayer practices that allowed one to cultivated mental silence wherever that person happened to be.

In the earliest Church, fasting and some level of asceticism was expected of all Christians. Today, Orthodox Christians still practice varying levels of fasting, and asceticism. But much of this ancient ascetical/mystical way of people is unknown to most Christians around the world.

In PraXis, we are doing physical and spiritual áskesis. But we are not training to be monks or nuns, or Olympic athletes. We are practicing to build up healthy daily habits that nourish the mind, body and spirit. Moderation is key.


Learn most about Christian Diet AKA fasting.
Learn about contemplation or Christian Mindfulness.
Christian exercise?

Centering Prayer Group Reactivates

Be still and know that I am God, Psalm 46:10. It’s harder than you think. But no pain, no gain.

The PraXis Centering Prayer Group is back in action after a long slumber. The group will now meet on Zoom (as we all do these days), every Wednesday at 6 pm, Pacific Standard Time. Details on this week’s sit HERE.

Those who practice or who want to learn Centering Prayer, or Christian Meditation
or other forms of contemplative prayer are welcome. This group may expand to cover other topics like fitness and diet as part of our wellness project called PraXis. Contemplation or any form of self-reflective prayer, such as certain Psalms, scripture readings, or practices like Lectio Divina, or the Examen, help deepen our relationship with God, while also helping us to observer our own thoughts and actions in life. In this way, we can feel where we are walking with God, and when and where we have fallen off the path. “Test yourselves to see if you are in the faith; examine yourselves! Or do you not recognize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you.” [2 Corinth. 13:5]

There are no denominational requirements or restrictions with this group. Open and welcoming. Practitioners are encouraged to attend church and have the support of their pastor, priest or spiritual director.

Prayer will last approximately 20 minutes. There will be a short orientation at the beginning. Then there will be time for a short discussion afterwards.

Go to this link for a PDF download on the basics of Centering Prayer.

Partner with the PraXis wellness experiment

The average person need 20-40 minutes of daily exercise to reduce their rate of heart disease. Exercise makes us more resilient to anxiety, depression and other emotional and mental disorders

PraXis began as a theological field education project produced in cooperation with the Vancouver School of Theology at the University of British Columbia, BC, Canada.

We seek sponsoring parishes and parachurch organizations who wish to explore the idea of incorporating evidence-base wellness and Christian spiritual practices. PraXis is a conversation about approaching spiritual practice and our bodily health in an integrated way. Partners often just get inspired by the ideas and then chose to engage or work with us to design a program that meets the needs, and best embodies the spirit of their community. Some possibilities:

Partners often promote the program via email list, integration into sermons and announcements and other church outreach

Contact us.