Caring for Body and Soul is the name of the women’s group that has grown out of the Serenity and Health programs. I want to share some details about this group in the hope that you may start a similar group with your friends, neighbors or co-workers. Everything I say here is equally applicable to a men’s group, couple’s group or mixed group.
The mission of Caring for Body and Soul is to provide a time and place for women who wish to travel with other women on their shared journey to serenity, health, and God. We decided to meet twice monthly at 6:30-7:30AM, choosing a morning time to help us avoid the inevitable conflicts that come with an evening time. We meet in the church library—I know of other similar groups that meet in coffee shops.
The session starts with prayer:
Dear Lord, when there are two or more gathered in your name, so too are you present. We welcome you. We pray that our hearts are filled with your guiding love and example. Through each other may we learn and understand your message, as we meet this morning in prayer and reflection. Amen. (1)
Next is a brief teaching and discussion, led by a volunteer participant on a rotating basis. Topics will cover a broad range including anything dealing with health of body, mind and spirit. Examples might be trust, stress and stress reduction, resilience, surrendering to God, prayer, eating and exercise habits, mindfulness, setting goals, neuroplasticity, (2) and listening. The teaching may involve a scripture meditation or other reading from books, etc., and is meant to serve as an invitation to further individual study and reflection.
We celebrate the midpoint of each session by a brief period of Centering Prayer. This is a specific type of receptive, meditative prayer with long roots in Christianity. It is included to introduce participants to this beautiful quiet prayer that is so different from our usual prayer. Centering prayer is not based on words, thoughts, or feelings. To learn more check out the books written by Father Thomas Keating that are listed under Resources. There is an ocean of depth to Centering Prayer, and this program just touches the surface. Maybe this type of prayer is just what you need if God seems remote to you or if you find your mind constantly whirling with grievances or regrets from the past, anxieties about the future, and day to day stress.
Next on the schedule is a check in by each participant with this suggested content:
Recent spiritual high, such as a grace, insight, or special gratitude
A spiritual challenge
We end with a prayer:
Thank you, dear Lord, for the opportunity to share, reflect, and grow. We pray that this experience will sustain us in a spiritual and mindful way throughout the entire day. We ask this through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen. (3)
Prayerfully consider whether you and your friend(s) or acquaintances are being called to join together in some fashion similar to Caring for Body and Soul.
Go to Contemplative Outreach and open the link for Centering Prayer that is located on the left side. You will find a description of the practice that I think will be helpful for you. Read the four steps. If you have any interest at all, just try the practice even if for just a few minutes.
You might be able to join a preexisting group, as many churches have established groups of varying types. Or, if you cannot locate a suitable group, you can start one on your own, even with one or two friends. Let me know if you have any questions or comments.
God bless you all.
“For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.” Matt 18:20
(1) Written by Peg O’Brien, group member
(2) Neuroplasticity is the ability of the brain to change and reorganize in response to an experience, thereby facilitating the performance of that specific activity in the future
(3) Written by Peg O’Brien, group member