Sometimes we feel something but cannot make sense of it. If the feeling is especially negative, we may even try to deny or repress it. If we ignore our feelings over and over, our bodies will eventually give up. We may burn out, get sick, lash out on those we love or fall further away from God. Our bodies will not forget our feelings that we either deny or repress.
The theology of the body teaches us that we need to love and take care of our body. Jesus’ incarnation unites the physical and the spiritual, and it is through this unification that the body becomes our partner and collaborator with our soul. God teaches us that our body is a temple of the Holy Spirit (1 Cor 6:19-29) and encourages us to stop hiding from how we feel. We also read that God is not afraid either to express strong emotion either (Isaiah 54:12; Hosea 11:8-9; Gen 6:6).
“Trust in him at all times, you people; pour out your hearts to him, for God is our refuge.”– Psalm 62:8
Welcoming Prayer is centering exercise on our feelings. You can use welcoming prayer to cultivate surrender to our deeper self, help identify where the feeling is coming from, what it may be trying to tell you and invite Jesus into your experience so that you know that you are not alone. Just as Jesus’ incarnation unites the physical and the spiritual, the welcoming prayer takes your feelings and brings them closer to Jesus who is your ultimate spiritual director. The steps follow.
STEP 1: Identify the feeling. It could be any of the following.
… joy, turmoil, acceptance, peace, bitterness, resentful, defensive, angry, alienated, loving, hostility, longing, desire, distant, confident, helpless, embarrassed, cautious, fury, indignation, annoyed, frustrated, relieved, irritated, fearful, loved, hyper, confused, anxious …
STEP 2: Welcome the feeling.
Sit in silence for one minute and welcome its presence. Don’t over analyze or think. Say to it, “welcome frustration” or “welcome anxiety” and feel it. Feel it without judgement. By welcoming it in, you are developing an inner hospitality, unconditional presence and thanking your body to alerting you to a provoking situation.
STEP 3: Identify in your body where the feeling exists.
Sit in silence for one minute and become aware of where your feeling is within your body. Does the feeling have a shape or a colour? Is the feeling light or heavy? Where in your body is it causing a sensation – your torso, throat or next? Once you are aware of where it is in your body, let yourself stay there and feel it in your body.
STEP 4: Ask your feeling what it has to say.
Sit in silence for one minute and ask, what does this feeling have to say to you about what is going on? Where are you at? The feeling may review something hidden, or it might reveal a lie you have been believing or a need that you have, etc.
STEP 5: Invite Jesus to your space
Allow Jesus to come into this space and share this feeling with you. Does Jesus have something to say to you or to this feeling? Perhaps you have something to say to this feeling? There could be an understanding, an insight or comfort that Jesus wants to give. Even a simple, “it will be okay,” may be all the words you need to hear. Sit in silence for one minute as Jesus shares this feeling with you.
STEP 6: Release the feeling to Jesus
Sit in silence for one last minute and release this feeling to Jesus. Use whatever words come to mind. By releasing this feeling to Jesus does not mean you are denying it or that it won’t come back. For now, you have given it space and it will be loosened.