Yoga, centering prayer, and the Eucharist

I tried out a centering prayer video on YouTube this week – it reminded me a lot of:

  1. Meditation
  2. Shivasana (corpse pose) at the end of yoga
  3. Going into “The Quiet” before each session of an undergrad class I took. That one was awkward, at the time. Our instructor, Father Roger Kasprick, OSB, would have us sit quietly in a circle and think nice things about each other. I don’t know that we ever really put the experience into words, but looking back I could see that that kind of segue into class changed the energy and my state of mind.

So, for centering prayer I laid on the rug in my office (corpse pose) and focused on my breathing, and when my mind wandered, I came back to the phrase I had set in the beginning: Take Me As I Am (meditation). It was supposed to be less than 4 syllables, but I did it my way.

In this stillness, I thought nice things about the people in the room (Just me, but still in the spirit of The Quiet) and asked God to Take Me As I Am. I am working on disrupting my habit of trying to change myself. This helped.

This homily excerpt from Father Clay speaks to the idea of coming to the Eucharist just as we are. I celebrate that idea, that we don’t have to check all the obedience and purity boxes to show up for communion. It is there for us no matter what.

Come as you are

To have inclusiveness and compassion for everyone is the job we’ve been given, the mission. That’s where Eucharist comes in. First of all, the reason we are gathered here right now is to celebrate the good news. We are loved. Love loves us, cares about us, and cherishes us. That’s a reason to celebrate, isn’t it? It means that we are never alone. If everybody leaves us, which would be horrible, we are still not alone. When we sin, we are still not alone. When things are tragic for us, we are still not alone. But it’s hard for us to know this at the deepest level.

We cannot let go of our discrimination and egocentric urges by our own power. When I was younger, I tried to be really good. It didn’t work. It just doesn’t work. …

Willpower is good, but it alone cannot change us inside. That’s what Eucharist is for. When we come to Eucharist right now, this is what it means to me: that I come as I am, honestly, with my sins, my virtues, my pride, all kinds of junk, and surrender it all to this Great Love so it can change me inside. That is where true change comes from.

The Love in us wants to grow and expand, this Love that is God, but Love always respects freedom. So we can block it, and we block it when we don’t surrender to it and let the Love work. Fortunately our part is just to surrender. The Love is so great that it will do the rest.

So, when you come to Eucharist, come just as you are. No pretenses like, Oh, I am really good, or Oh, I am really bad. Just say, Maybe I do some good stuff. I do some bad stuff. I discriminate. I am mean. I try to control people and make everybody do what I want them to do.  Just come to Eucharist, recognize these tendencies, acknowledge them, surrender them, and say, I need help.

This is what Eucharist is for – to feed us, to celebrate this Love that is God. Eucharist offers us the nourishment and strength to change our lives. As we change deep inside, gradually that affects other people. We are in the process of what is called “great evangelization.” Sometimes technology is helpful, but spreading the good news mostly happens by the way we live. Nothing else really does it.

From the homily “Eucharist” in Awesome Love by Father John Clay, ©2013

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