Maybe, like other members in WCCM you have an interest in embodiment?
In 2009 someone invited me to learn meditation at their local WCCM group. Peggy Jackson’s living room, in a sleepy village in Cumbria, became my “school”. Age 103, her bed is in that room now and she still keeps a daily silence. Her original group continues in her village in another home.
I remember turning up at Peggy’s front door. A newbie to contemplation. Astonishingly, it had not been part of my ministerial formation. On call, in rural parishes, personal praying was on the run, snatched, wordy and a source of my constant Presbyterian guilt. Spaces for silence in Church of Scotland worship were rare beyond the 2 minutes on Remembrance Sunday. As a chatty extrovert, silence was not something I found comfortable at all.
Inside Peggy’s home, I sat on her floor. A knee injury was preventing my daily running routine and it wasn’t possible to sit upright in a chair. At this time, my marriage was secretly in a slow motion break down.
Childhood trauma was surfacing. A physio said, “try Yoga”. A counsellor said “take time out”. Like Yoga; meditation was just another “thing” to try. However, on the Yoga mat I was learning to connect with my body for the first time. Truly listening to the bottled up physical, emotional and spiritual pain. Friday morning meditation at Peggy’s became a weekly “thing”. Body awareness, silent sitting, paying attention, mental focus, breath work became the deep well of Christ’s healing that I would soon practice daily.
All these years later, Marantha, “Come Lord”, continues to be my daily mantra in a silence that holds no fear. I have made more peace with my past. “I am my body, I am not my body”.
My work today is about pioneering an ecumenical ministry of Yoga and meditation integrated with Christian spirituality. I follow in the footsteps of Christine Pickering, founder of Maranatha Yoga. Creating practices to reducing the dualism between body and mind continues to be fulfilling and fascinating. Over the past 3 years and during the pandemic, I have met or spoken to other Christians teaching Yoga, as well as many others who are interested in body based practices and contemplation. Terry Doyle, Lucy Barnes, Chris Hurley are probably already known to you. I have practiced Yoga online with Giovanni Felicioni streaming from Bonnevaux. It is wonderful to be a member of WCCM with such a strong ethos of embodiment and embodied practitioners.
If you would like to make contact, for more information or signposting to body based teachers or to share your story, it would be lovely to hear from you:
Pauline Steenbergen (see the Contacts list)
Peace be with you