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Accepting the Invitation to Slow Down

Laura Csellek






Pastor Laura Csellak
Easton, Pennsylvania
January 2012

The information contained in your “Slow Down” piece was clear, inviting and nonjudgmental. It also reinforced some of my spiritual practices while challenging me in others.

I focused on centering prayer (your Spiritual Practice #1) during my sabbatical last year. At that time, I was frustrated because it was uncomfortable (almost painful) to pray this way for more than a few minutes at a time. Later I thought to combine centering prayer with some basic yoga positions (your Spiritual Practice #2). Now I am blessed with regular periods of 10 to 20 minutes of this centering prayer coupled with body movement.

I often rush through the day, trying to care for everyone and get through my to-do list, all the while thinking about the next thing I need to do. This causes stress that can isolate me from the creative relationships and blessings God desires for me. I am learning to alter this by combining silence for prayer with simple yoga exercises done in our family room or my study at church.

I sit in my desk chair and cross my left ankle over my right thigh. Then I lean over my crossed legs so that my head hangs down toward my left shin. My goal is to lean down level with or below my heart, for research shows this position calms the nervous system. But I don’t force it. I hold this position for five slow deep breaths, and then switch legs and repeat. In this position, I am more open to whatever words or images God brings to me.

After slowing down like this, I feel better able to see things in perspective. Some of the tasks I thought were important to complete that day don’t seem quite so urgent now. A new idea or contact may have bubbled to the surface. Sometimes I’m even less critical of myself and others (and that is truly a blessing!). An added benefit of this yoga position is that opening my hips relaxes my back and allows me to walk through my day more calmly, and deep breathing is key to lowering blood pressure and stress. (Prayer with this yoga pose especially helps on manic Mondays and as income tax deadline looms!)

Reading your description of Spiritual Practice #3 on handwork has inspired me to re-look at cross-stitching. I enjoyed doing this over 20 years ago before our children were born. Now I see it having the potential to slow me down and be renewed by this “repetitive, reflexive work” with my hands. Interesting enough, your brochure arrived about the same time I decided, at the spur of the moment, to give myself a manicure instead of going to a salon. I was surprised to find that the intricate use of manicure tools took away anxious thoughts and feelings, and left me calmer as I returned to tasks and challenges. All this from a person who has often been described as “the ever-ready bunny,” “the little drill sergeant,” and some other descriptions best left unsaid.

Thank you for such a timely and relevant invitation. Prayers as you move and pray.

email Share your Wellness Voice at livewell@porticobenefits.org

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