Dear monks, artists and pilgrims,
During this Jubilee year of sabbatical we are revisiting our Monk Manifesto by moving slowly through the Monk in the World retreat materials together every Sunday. This is our eighth and final principle that we will explore for the next six weeks.
Principle 8. I commit to being a dancing monk, cultivating creative joy and letting my body and “heart overflow with the inexpressible delights of love.” *quote is from the Prologue of the Rule of Benedict.
Then the prophet Miriam, Aaron’s sister, took a tambourine in her hand; and all the women went out after her with tambourines and with dancing. —Exodus 15:20
David danced before God with all his might. —2 Samuel 6:14
Praise God with tambourine and dance. —Psalm 150:4
The Lord plays and diverts Himself in the garden of His creation, and if we could let go of our own obsession with what we think is the meaning of it all, we might be able to hear His call and follow Him in His mysterious, cosmic dance.
For the world and time are the dance of the Lord in emptiness. The silence of the spheres is the music of a wedding feast. . . Indeed we are in the midst of it, and it is in the midst of us, for it beats in our very blood, whether we want it to or not.
Yet the fact remains that we are invited to forget ourselves on purpose, cast our awful solemnity to the winds and join in the general dance. —Thomas Merton
I invite you into a movement practice. Allow yourself just 5-10 minutes this day to pause and listen and savor what arises.
- Begin with a full minute of slow and deep breathing. Let your breath bring your awareness down into your body. When thoughts come up, just let them go and return to your breath. Hold this 8th principle gently in your heart and imagination: I commit to being a dancing monk, cultivating creative joy and letting my body and “heart overflow with the inexpressible delights of love,” planting a seed as you prepare to step into the dance. You don’t need to think this through or figure it out, just notice what arises.
- Play a piece of music on the website(here is a suggested song) and let your body move in response, without needing to guide the movements. Listen to how your body wants to move through space in response to your breath. Remember that this is a prayer, an act of deep listening. Pause at any time and rest in stillness again. Sit with waiting for the impulse to move and see what arises.
- After the music has finished, sit for another minute in silence, connecting again to your breath. Just notice your energy and any images rising up.
- Is there a word, phrase, or image that could express what you encountered in this time?
- If you have time, spend another five minutes journaling in a free-writing form, just to give some space for what you are discovering.
- To extend this practice, sit longer in the silence before and after and feel free to play the song through a second time. Often repetition brings a new depth.
With great and growing love,
Christine Valters Paintner, PhD, REACE
P.S. If you missed Christine’s three poems published in the online journal Impspired you can read those here.
Photo created by AlemCoksa for free use on Pixabay