The following series of movements of the body are based on ancient Christian prayer postures. Each phrase of the prayer is accompanied by a particular posture. From an attitude of containment, the postures move upward, downward, and outward, returning again to one of containment, completing a circle.
These postures may be taken standing, or sitting on a cushion or a chair. Move through them several times, learning the postures thoroughly before praying within them.
Maintain an awareness of the whole body in each posture and be especially attentive as you follow the movement between one posture and the next.
Arrive at a posture and allow the phrase of the prayer associated with it to arise. Speak it aloud, and sense the vibration of the sound as it resonates. Remain in the posture for the space of a breath or two before continuing. Prepare before moving, and accompany the movement to the next posture with a sensed awareness of the body.
Begin by gathering your attention in stillness and quiet for a few moments.
1 Hands straight down if standing, or resting on thighs if seated, head straight.
2 Our Father who art in heaven
Arms fold over chest, right arm over left, fingers touching shoulders, as head bows down.
3 Hallowed be Thy name
Moving together, head comes up as elbows lift. When elbows arrive slightly above shoulder level, the lower arms unfold, palms outward.
4 Thy kingdom come
Head remains up, palms rotate toward each other and elbows lower to shoulder height as arms open slightly wider than shoulder width and palms relax upward (as though holding a large ball). Fingers are diagonally forward.
5 Thy will be done
Head bows down
6 On earth as it is in heavenArms come down to rest on thighs if seated, straight down if standing, as head comes up to straight.
7 Give us this day our daily bread
Upper arms against body lightly, elbows at right angles, palms up, fingers slightly relaxed.
8 And forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors
Arms straight out to the side, palms down.
9 And lead us not into temptation
Palms turn upward and elbows release slightly as head bows.
10 But deliver us from evil
Arms fold over chest, right arm over left, fingers touching shoulders (posture 2).
Hands come straight down if standing, or sown to rest on thighs if seated, as head comes up straight.
Remain a few moments when the sequence ends, sensing the breathing and the body as a whole. Dwell alertly within the atmosphere of the prayer. Recognize when your attention begins to weaken, and intentionally finish your period of prayer before becoming lost in daydreaming.
Allow the body to be relaxed and open during the sequence. Be especially attentive to the shoulders, making sure they remain down and do not become hunched and tense as the arms raise or extend.
If you wish, repeat the prayer sequence a second time.
Excerpted from my book, The Prayer of Fire: Experiencing the Lord’s Prayer. Available at http://www.lorrainekisly.com