Welcoming prayer is, first and foremost, an embodied prayer that we practice at a sensory level. In this practice we try to resist the tendency to analyze our experience until we have entered a deep awareness and inner hospitality for our embodied emotions. The thoughts related to an emotion tends to lead us to fixate and casts the narrative in stone. Whereas, tending to the physical sensations, with our hearts attuned to the indwelling spirit, opens up space for emotional energy to shift and the spiritual journey to continue.
The practice begins by longing for God’s indwelling spirit to guide us. Movement begins to happen when we awaken to an emotion and ask for the heart to welcome it. Then our welcome is deepened through awareness of its roots. Reminding ourselves that, though most of the time we are unaware, all our feelings are rooted and grounded in body sensations. It takes time to discover, awaken and grow our capacity to care about our sensate experience. It helps to scan your body with your mind’s eye and ask, “Where, specifically, in my body am I feeling something… and what sensation am I feeling there?” As we become more aware of an emotion’s deep-rooted presence in our body, we ask for more capacity to welcome the experience, allowing it to be what it is and giving it more space in the heart. As we give it more loving space we feel its condensed energy beginning to spread out and dissipate into the space we have offered it. We join in this inner movement by offering a willingness to let it go, releasing and relaxing its energy. We allow its energy to seep into the ground of our being where it can be nurtured by the breadth and depth of God’s indwelling spirit.
With repeated practice and presence we begin to notice habitual patterns emerge from our reflex tendency to grasp for security, affection, control or escape. We also begin to notice how graspi ng often serves to separate us from God’s indwelling spirit. As we wake up to our habitual patterns we find more opportunity to be intentional, open and trusting in our contemplative walk with God’s spirit.