This blog relates to my Breath of New Life Yoga Series happening in Columbus, OH on Tuesdays at 10 a.m. through June 11, 2019. Register Now.
I’ve observed that people — especially those within the church, but also in our wider culture — spend a lot of time preparing for the celebration of Easter. People in the church focus on practices of prayer, fasting and giving during Lent, the 40 days beginning with Ash Wednesday that lead up to Holy Week and final Easter. Outside the church people spend late winter and early spring preparing for big celebrations that might include more secular celebrations of Easter, Graduations, Retirements, etc. Of course, there are a lot of things to do to prepare for these celebrations of significant milestones. But then we get to the milestone and forget that it not only signifies the end of something, but the beginning of something new. We then relax, kick back and believe that the new thing is going to be easy. But, new things are never easy. Just ask any new parent.
In the Christian calendar, the Easter season is actually 50 days long — longer than the 40 days of Lent that lead up to Easter. Maybe that’s a hint that we need as much or more time to live into a miraculous new thing as we do preparing for its birth. Spring can be a time in which we now live into the new thing — preparing for a new school or job that begins following a graduation; choosing what next when the options seem endless in retirement; or simply noticing, paying attention to the new growth in our lives and the changes that they demand. We can spend some intentional time leaning into the nervousness, excitement, or even fear that may accompany new birth and growth.
I chose to do a yoga series during this time of year for just this reason — so that in the midst of all the celebrations, you might take the time to slow down and make space to acknowledge the growth and ease yourself into the change happening in your life.
To prepare for this six-week yoga series, I read through the four different stories about Jesus’ resurrection in the Bible. I paid attention to the words or phrases that named emotions or strong reactions the disciples had Jesus’ miraculous resurrection. I found six of those feelings/reactions to be most common: Fear, Denial, Confusion, Doubt, Amazement and Joy.
The week in my series, I’m focusing on denial.
Jesus’ disciples spend quite a bit of time denying that Jesus is alive: “Later he appeared to the eleven themselves as they were sitting at the table; and he upbraided them for their lack of faith and stubbornness, because they had not believed those who saw him after he had risen.” (Mark 16: 14, NRSV)
I know we’d like to think that any of us would have done better than the disciples, but likely not. We would have had the same difficulty believing the ridiculous reports of Jesus’ sudden resurrection after witnessing his horrible death.
In our own lives, however, denial is not always as simple as refusing to believe that something is true. Denial when change is happening in our lives comes in a lot of forms — I’m too busy for that; that can’t be right; no I didn’t see that; no I’m not the right person for that.
This week, I invite you to recognize new growth happening in your life and notice where denial of it might be happening.
Here’s a simple practice you can do to work with denial (about 10 minutes):
1.) Make a comfortable seat in a chair, seated on the floor or reclining meditation posture.
2.) Watch your breath for a minute or two. Then, ask silently to yourself:What new thing is trying to get born in my life? Spend another two minutes breathing into the question. Notice what thoughts, emotions or sensations arises in your mind, body and spirit.
3.) Notice if there’s any ways that you are denying this new thing. What emotions or sensations arise when denial comes. (2-3 minutes)
4.) Practice Mountain Breath. (5 minutes)
Inhale arms up, interlace fingers above your head with your index finger remaining pointed toward the ceiling, your thumbs crossed one over the other. Complete the inhale with the fingers pointed upwards. Exhale and slowly swim the arms down to the sides bringing the hands to the top of your thighs. Press hands down on your thighs. Rest arms on the top of your leg just above the knees. Take two complete natural rounds of breath. Repeat this rhythm of breath 5-6 times or until the practice feels complete to you.