Activity 5: Body Prayer
Activity time: 10 minutes
Materials for Activity
- Optional: A copy of Singing the Living Tradition, the Unitarian Universalist hymnbook
- Optional: CD with a version of the song, "Spirit of Life"
Preparation for Activity
- Review "Spirit of Life," Hymn #123 in Singing the Living Tradition. If you plan to sing or teach the song, make sure you know the tune. The Unitarian Universalist Association's online bookstore offers several CDs with versions of "Spirit of Life."
- With your co-leader, create a series of simple body movements to accompany the song, "Spirit of Life." For example, "Spirit of Life, come unto me" could be arms outstretched and then crossed on the chest.
- Optional: If you will have time, plan to create the body movements with the group.
- Optional: If the group has not learned the song, "Spirit of Life," arrange to play a recording of the song while you teach the body movements to (or create body movements with) the group.
Description of Activity
Step away from the altar to introduce the idea of a body prayer. Tell the children that when people approach an altar, they often pray or meditate. Ask the group whether they have ever seen or heard anyone pray or mediate. Allow a few descriptions, if children offer some.
Affirm that there are many different ways to pray or meditate. You may say:
Some people might sing when they pray; other people might say some words quietly to themselves. Some people might sit very still and not say anything at all. All kinds of praying and meditation are ways for people to feel connected with something besides themselves. When people come to an altar or other special place to pray or meditate, they feel connected to whatever the altar is about.
If the group has learned the song, "Spirit of Life," Hymn 123 in Singing the Living Tradition, remind them of the lines that refer to "roots" and "wings." We can find our "roots" in the connection we feel to our ancestors and use our "wings" to take us into the future as the next generation of Unitarian Universalists. Invite the group to sing it with you.
Explain that we are going to meditate by moving our bodies. This can also be called a body prayer. Arrange the children in a circle around the altar/centering table where all can see you and all have room to move without bumping into one another.
Sing the song, lead the group in singing the song, or play a recording of the song while you teach or create the body movements. Teach the group the movements you and your co-leader have chosen to accompany the song, or, you may choose instead to lead the group to invent their own movements.
After performing the movements with the words, practice them without the words, in silence. This is now your body prayer.
Lead the children in doing the body prayer a few times. Then, extinguish the chalice and invite the children to take their stones back to the labyrinth.
Suggest that when children are feeling a little down or bored or tired, they might repeat the body prayer they learned. Maybe it will help them remember how important they are to their faith home and the people they see here when they come. It might make them feel better. They could do a body prayer in the morning when they wake up to greet the day. Or, they could do it at night in appreciation for the experiences that day has brought. Invite the children to teach it to their families, if they enjoyed it.