Anxiety is inherently disconnecting. It disconnects us from our bodies. It disconnects us from Love.
Shame sees this opening made by the disconnection and likes to swoop in so the moment we realize we're disconnected we're also flooded with a sense of shame for allowing ourselves to be disconnected. We should love God better. We should know the Bible better. We should not feel these things.
When we stop feeding anxiety it stops growing. If we are connected to Love in all things, at all times, anxiety loses its authority because "perfect love casts out fear." So the invitation before us today is to notice when anxiety is the authoritative voice, notice when its running the show. Turn and face it. Notice how it feels in your body. Notice what things anxiety is holding hostage. And then choose to plug back into Love. Invite Jesus into that fear. Invite Jesus into the feeling. Welcome the presence of Love and choose to abide in it. Let the power of Love silence anxiety.
"If holding your ground is what you are called to most days, it helps to know your ground." - Kathleen Norris
"Resilience is born by grounding yourself in your own loveliness, hitting notes you thought were way out of your range." - Greg Boyle
One of the symptoms of anxiety is feeling stuck on a mental hamster wheel. You can't stop thinking.
Yoga is a really beneficial tool to alleviate anxiety. This is because yoga is inherently integrative and connective, countering the disconnecting efforts of anxiety. There are a couple aspects of yoga that are especially helpful: slowing down and balancing.
"I cannot get God by holding Him off at arm's length like a photography, but by leaning forward intently as one would respond to one's lover. Love so insatiable as the love of God can never be satisfied until we respond to the limit." - Frank Laubach
How do you know if the endless thoughts stand up in the presence of Christ? Talk TO Him about them. Not just yourself. And definitely don't engage with the worry.
"Instead of talking to yourself, form the habit of talking to Christ...No practice we have ever found has held the mind as much as this: making all thought a conversation with the Lord." - Brother Lawrence
John 14:27 (The Passion Translation - TPT)
“I leave the gift of peace with you—my peace. Not the kind of fragile peace given by the world, but my perfect peace. Don’t yield to fear or be troubled in your hearts—instead, be courageous!"
These are the same words God spoke to Moses and Joshua. Jesus is identifying himself as the Son of God. These aren’t just nice sentiments from Jesus, this declaration goes back centuries. Peace is our inheritance.
Phil. 4:6-8 (TPT)
"Don’t be pulled in different directions or worried about a thing. Be saturated in prayer throughout each day, offering your faith-filled requests before God with overflowing gratitude. Tell him every detail of your life, then God’s wonderful peace that transcends human understanding, will make the answers known to you through Jesus Christ. So keep your thoughts continually fixed on all that is authentic and real, honorable and admirable, beautiful and respectful, pure and holy, merciful and kind. And fasten your thoughts on every glorious work of God, praising him always."
**You will need two yoga blocks to support you through this prenatal flow.**
This mindful and dynamic flow targets all the pain points of pregnancy so you're left feeling stretched, strengthened, and soothed!
"All the buried seeds crack open in the dark the instant they surrender to a process they can't see." - Mark Nepo
The Lord had said to Abram, "Go from your country, your people and your father's household to the land I will show you." -Genesis 12:1 (NIV)
In repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength. -Isaiah 30:15 (NIV)
But when the Father sends the Spirit of Holiness, the One like me who sets you free, he will teach you all things in my name. And he will inspire you to remember every word that I've told you. -John 14:26 (TPT)
Download the Prayer of Examen by clicking this link here.
This beautiful guided prayer provides a way of noticing where God shows up in your day. We'll begin this practice with some gentle standing movements and then come to the mat for 3 restorative poses. Make sure to have a pillow and block (or a couple sturdy books) with you.
Matthew 14:14-21 (ESV)
When he went ashore he saw a great crowd, and he had compassion on them and healed their sick. Now when it was evening, the disciples came to him and said, “This is a desolate place, and the day is now over; send the crowds away to go into the villages and buy food for themselves.” But Jesus said, “They need not go away; you give them something to eat.” They said to him, “We have only five loaves here and two fish.” And he said, “Bring them here to me.” Then he ordered the crowds to sit down on the grass, and taking the five loaves and the two fish, he looked up to heaven and said a blessing. Then he broke the loaves and gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the crowds. And they all ate and were satisfied. And they took up twelve baskets full of the broken pieces left over. And those who ate were about five thousand men, besides women and children.
We are quick to put God in a box. We put him in the Sunday morning church God or an inspirational God. But in these verses we see Jesus wanting to challenge their ideas about who he is. He wants to show the crowd and the disciples that he cares about all of their needs, including their physical needs.
As we step on our mats, may we expect Him to move in miraculous ways. Let's choose to remain and trust that He will show up in ways we can't even imagine. All the while we'll be meditating on the boxes we are prone to put Jesus in and how He loves to blow open those boxes to show us how wide and deep His love is.
Pelvic floor muscles support us now and support the growth of new life. They provide the structure to some of the most vulnerable and intimate places in our body. It's easy to overlook them because they don't influence dress sizes and can't be compared to the women on Instagram. However, pelvic floor dysfunction can have major consequences for your health and wellbeing!
It's so easy to ignore the things we cant see, underestimate their power, or push it off because it's vague and unmeasurable. How often do we do that in our faith?
Let this be an invitation to allow the Lord into the vulnerable and most intimate places of your life.
So this is my challenge to you, stay connected with the sensations in your body. Move with great love and care. Choose presence over productivity. Pelvic floor work is a subtle breath-focused work that demands awareness.
This entire practice takes place seated or reclined, so it is the perfect companion to the end of a long day or those moments you just need to be still, soft, and open with yourself and the Lord. Throughout this practice, we meditate on one specific aspect of love – physical touch.
God put on skin and became a human being – that we know and celebrate yearly at Christmas. But that God-Human, like all humans, required physical touch in order to survive and thrive. It didn't stop there though. The healing power of physical touch became part of His ministry, a way to deliver healing body + heart + mind. Jesus never became too holy or too mature to touch others or allow others to touch him.
It brings me to tears to think of the moment Jesus shared with his fearful disciples three days after his crucifixion. He was alive, miraculously, and in the room with them where they were hiding. Despite seeing Jesus and hearing Jesus, Thomas still could not believe that Jesus was alive. So Jesus invited Thomas to touch him, to run his fingers along the holes in his hands and the hole in his side. He invited Thomas to touch his woundedness and be healed of his disbelief.
And so that's the inspiration for this short slow practice – the recognition that physical touch is a powerful communicator of intimacy. Touch can heal disbelief, fear, anxiety, and all the hidden places shattered by the ugliness that impacts our lives.
We spend this whole practice seated or reclined on the floor with one hand making contact with our body at all times. Like I said, it's different, but it's pretty holy and healing.
Psalm 17:8 (TPT)
Protect me from harm;
keep an eye on me like you would a child
reflected in the twinkling of your eye.
Yes, hide me within the shelter of your embrace,
under your outstretched wings.
Jeremiah 31:3 (NLT)
Long ago the Lord said to Israel: "I have loved you, my people, with an everlasting love. With unfailing love I have drawn you to myself."
This Intention Setting practice is perfect for a new year or a new season to reconnect with the heart of God and cast vision over this newness. This practice is designed to help cultivate gratitude and attentiveness to the presence of God.
We'll be using the #Lookatyou2017 worksheet as a guide for this reflection time so you can follow this link to print it out or just copy it over to your journal.
First Journaling Break: Remember Where You've Been and What God Has Done
The theme for this practice comes from Psalm 37:4, "Delight yourself in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart."
What the Holy Spirit says to us through this Psalm is not, "Delight in me and I'll give you what you want," but, "As you delight in me I will shape the desires of your heart so you can go after them knowing fully that they are coming from Me." Isn't this beautiful? We don't need to be afraid of our desires, but can bring them into His presence right now.
The #Lookatyou2017 worksheet was birthed a couple years ago right around the New Year when the Holy Spirit was saying to me, "Caroline, look at you! Look at all you've done this year and who you've become!" In response, all I could say to God was, "Father, look at you! Look at all You have done this year!" This space is where we are going to cultivate our gratitude and delight in the character of God and His Kingdom.
Psalm 100:4 (ESV)
"Enter His gates with Thanksgiving."
As you reflect on the last year, think of the growth you experienced. Like a tree, INWARD growth is the roots underneath the soil. You never see the roots, but they contribute greatly to the strength of the tree. This is all the hearth growth, the wrestling, the fervent prayers, the change of attitudes or beliefs. UPWARD growth is any traditional milestone, so take this time to celebrate a new job you may have obtained this last year or celebrate you moving to a new city, etc. OUTWARD growth is like the leaves and branches of a tree that provide shade and covering for the people around you. How has your life expanded and how have lived outside of yourself this last year (money/time/talent given away, new relationships built, etc.)?
Second Journaling Break: God, What Do You Desire for Me This Season/Year?
We turn back to the worksheet to dream ahead to the next year or season and all the growth we desire.
In conversation with the Holy Spirit, write down the INWARD growth you desire this coming year, the UPWARD growth you desire, and the OUTWARD growth you desire to see this next season. Don't get caught up in the overwhelming thoughts about what you can or can't do in response, but instead partner with God in this moment, in His desires for you.
Acts 5:38-39 (ESV)
"So in the present case I tell you, keep away from these men and let them alone, for if this plan or this undertaking is of man, it will fail; but if it is of God, you will not be able to overthrow them. You might even be found opposing God!”
1 John 5:4 (ESV)
"For everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world."
Here are some additional questions to journal through during or after this practice:
What do I need to say yes to?
What do I need to say no to?
How will I attend to this personally?
How will I steward this with my family? My community?
How will I steward this in the work I'm doing?
How will I steward this with my time and energy?