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Immaculate Heart of Mary's Hermitage

Bodily Exercises
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This evening, instead of talking about the Resurrection, we are going to try, as far as possible, to become aware of it.
 
There will be three moments. Becoming aware (1) of our human and corporeal being, here and now; (2) of the mortality of our being; (3) of our being that is risen in Christ.
            
       First of all five minutes to recollect ourselves.

1. Now, stand up, feet slightly apart, arms dangling. Close your eyes. Allow the global sensation of your body to come, standing there, straight (not stiffly), poised flexibly on the axis of the vertebral column, itself sitting slightly on the pelvis.

  Sway slightly to the right and to the left in order to feel the central axis better.

  Take three complete breaths. Your whole attention follows the movement of the lungs and of the air. When exhaling, let the weight of your body flow downwards. Then allow the feeling of your head to come, of your shoulders, your right arm, your left arm, your right hand, your left hand, your back, your pelvis, your right leg, your left leg, of the right ventral movement of your breathing, of the movement of your thorax, your mouth, your forehead, your eyes-of your global body.

   Your consciousness is directly present in your bodily 'being-there' (do not imagine, or think, but feel that being-there), sway slightly on your feet, nearly imperceptibly, to maintain your suppleness. Feel the contact of your feet with the ground. You are a tree rooted in the earth, drawing its substance from the earth. Feel the sap rise through your feet, your legs, your spine, up to your head.
 
  Allow the sensation of contact with your surroundings to come: the wind that caresses your face, the heat of the sun (if we are outside), the sounds that fall upon your ears. For a moment, open your eyes, welcome the light and what is before your eyes without looking for anything in detail.  Then, close your eyes again.
 
  Feel your body globally, and the movement of your breathing. You are, your are  there, your are alive, rooted in the earth, conscious of the life you receive at every moment.
 
                        A  few minutes of silence.
 
2.  Now, you are going to stretch out on the bare ground, on your back, your feet slightly apart, turned out, your arms stretched out along your body.
 
  Abandon the weight of your body to the ground that supports it. Feel it pressed against the ground, as if it were going to enter into it. Take three full breaths. When exhaling let everything flow down.
 
  Allow the feeling of your head to come, of your forehead, your mouth, the nape of your neck, your shoulders, your right shoulder, your left shoulder, your right arm, your left arm, your right hand, your left hand, your right shoulder blade, then your left,  the right side of you torso, the left, your right buttock, your left buttock, your right calf, your left calf, your right heel, your left heel, your whole right leg, your whole left leg, then the ventral movement of your breathing, the movement of your lower thorax, then your upper thorax, the air that passes through your nostrils.
  Let the global sensation of your body come, stretched out there on the ground, and of the movement of your breathing.
 
                      A few moments for this awareness.

  You are, you are there, you are mortal. This life that is given to you in the regular movement of your breathing will be withdrawn one day.
  Let the sensation of that mortality, which is the essential dimension of your being, come. Feel the vulnerability of that faint breath, of your heart that beats, of your sentient body next to the hard ground.  
  
   Let the consciousness of all there is of death in you come: our fears, our anguish, our intimate wounds, our flaws, our lies, our shame, our broken dreams, our secret pains, our defects, our sins, our guilt, the hardness of our heart that does not know how to love, the feeling of our death, the feeling of the ephemeral character of everything created that surrounds us, of our relationship with others, of nature, of matter itself.
 
  Welcome that whole shadow element in ourselves; it is also us, a part of our truth, here and now, stretched out on the ground, on the earth from which we have come, to which we will return.
A few minutes silence (at least five) in order to become aware of all this.
3. Now, you are going to 'return', and gently you get up and sit down,  either on bare ground or on something, in a circle, around this candle which I am going to light.
 
  Let us look at the flame, quite simply, in silence, for a few moments. A flame that feeds on the substance of the wax and consumes it. A flame that is, however, of a different nature from the wax. Spirit.
 
  Close your eyes for a moment, and try to interiorise this flame; repeat, opening and closing your eyes as often as necessary, until you see this flame interiorly, within your body, in your heart, shedding light, warmth and life there.  
    The Holy Spirit has been poured out into our heart, the prodigious gift of the divine life, a life which, in its flame, consumes our mortality and weakness. It melts our heart of stone in order to transform it into a heart of flesh, a heart poor of self  which has the radical power to love.
    Let us enter into the luminous space in the depths of our heart, where the spirit is, inexhaustible source of a life always new, of an absolutely new reality. Let us welcome that life, let us allow it to spread from the center out into the periphery of our corporeal being and of our actions.
 
  That life is divine life, the life of Christ, communicated by the Spirit, making us enter into that movement of love and knowledge towards the Father which is our being as sons. The ebb and flow of life, the rhythm of all creation, image of the vital rhythm of the Blessed Trinity, absolute gratuitousness of Love.

    Let us surrender to that flame without the fear the  wax of our mortal being. Let us have total confidence in him is in us. Let us abandon ourselves, body and soul, to the movement of that life, which itself, is eternal. Let us allow ourselves to be invaded by the gratuitousness of his joy, here and now.

                                   A Time of Silence.

From Advent to Pentecost
Carthusian Novive Conferences
1999
Page 154-157

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