Scripture: Matthew 22: 34-38
When the Pharisees heard that he had silenced the Sadducees, they gathered together, and one of them, a lawyer, asked him a question to test him. “Teacher, which commandment in the law is the greatest” He said to him, ” ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind,’ This is the greatest and first commandment. And a second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.”
In this scripture, Jesus is quoting the great Old Testament scripture known as the Shema (which literally means ‘hear’ in Hebrew) from Deuteronomy 6:4-5 which says: “Hear, O Israel: The Lord is our God, the Lord alone. You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul and with all your might.” The command to love God is distinctive, in contrast to offering awe or fear in worship. Israel, and then through Jesus, Christians, are commanded to fully and wholeheartedly love God. Out of that love, Christians are then to love neighbor as self.
How do we fully love God, and then our neighbor, though? Easy answers might be to pray, to regularly worship, to study scripture (loving God) and then go out in our community and build relationships with our poor neighbors. These kind of answers already make me feel a little tired and guilty, because I missed my centering prayer sit this morning, so I’m not sure I loved God well (it was a rainy Monday morning and hard to get up!) My son also asked me not to use my annoyed voice with him as he diddled getting dressed for school. I also seemed to miss the mark on loving neighbor.
Yoga offers a helpful practice for those of us who do a fantastic job of feeling “not enough” when it comes to living into these commandments. It’s called meta yoga, or a lovingkindness meditation. This meditation invites us into the love of God and love of self, so that we then can love neighbor.
I’m going to do this practice, delineated below, now. Then, filled with the love of God, I will go forth and teach yoga to children at a title one school, who participate in my church’s literacy program. It will be full of crazy-fun energy. . . and quite possibly love of neighbor.
Loving Kindness Meditation
- Take a posture in sadasana, seated on the ground with ankles touching and knees out to the side
- Breathing in, be aware of connection between sitz bones. Sense the way your spinal column rises up through crown of head.
- Inhaling again, the shoulder blades rise. Exhale, palms down on thighs, attention to flow of breath.
- Attend to this present moment, to your pure sense of being in the love of God. Eyes close, feel your body present and relaxed. I am fully present, aware, and relaxing.
- Repeat these words slowly to yourself as you inhale, and on the exhale let the words inhabit your body:
- 1. May I be safe and loved.
- 2. May I be loving to God.
- 3. May I be loving to neighbor
4. May I be healed
- 5. May I be whole
- 6. May I know that all is well.