Cleansing of the Temple and Other Body-Work

Soulwork Toward Sunday: self-guided retreat
Lent 3(B) “the inner temple”

Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, which you have from God?  – 1 Corinthians 6:19

For the first time in my adult life, I’m not in chronic pain.

I can’t explain why I’m not in pain. I do know, however, that pain warps your world, your viewpoint, your relationships, your sense of self.  Not being in pain is like waking up in an unfamiliar but beautiful open field.

detail, The Expulsion of the Money Changers, Giotto

Last fall I decided to concentrate not on work, or community, or good works, or even earning money. Sapped of strength, I was desperate after a year and a half of debilitating gut issues, and decided to try to pay attention to my body. Other than the website, and only one retreat, I suspended projects, writing and speaking engagements.

I’ll spare you the list of expensive out-of-provider doctors and alternate therapies. What helps me most is massage, meditation, and yoga.

I’m not a lover of exercise. I live in my head. (If your body is in pain, how else do you manage?) But yoga began so gently, and the teachers made the practice interesting – explaining how muscles work, how certain poses stimulate, say, the nervous system, or lymph system. I began noticing a change right away and so I’ve kept at it, improving week by week. Not that I love to go… I’d still rather be in my head, but I do feel better. I’m utterly amazed how lithe I am already. And strong. Well, stronger.

The body is the Temple of the Holy Spirit, Saint Paul says. I keep forgetting.

Not long ago I began having terrible experiences of overwhelming sadness and sometimes despair during my yoga practice. As these feelings come up, I attribute them to healing, and let them go.

I called my daughter Grace who has a long time yoga practice. “You carry old emotions and traumas in your body,” she told me. I’m not a lover of emotions either, but I suppose I’ve stored all kinds of horrors in places atrophied by my sedentary and purposefully un-integrated lifestyle.

This den of thieves is experiencing a shake up. Somebody’s overthrowing tables and freeing the doves. I am so grateful.

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