“A minimalist asks, “What am I holding on to?”
A soul minimalist asks, “What has a hold on me?”
Those were some of Emily P. Freeman’s opening words in her latest podcast episode, The Next Right Thing; A Soul Minimalist’s Guide to Christmas.
A soul minimalist, as I understand the term, is someone who is intentional about paying attention to their inner life. A soul minimalist notices and tends to the clutter in their own soul that distracts from the things in their outter life that they value most.
For example, a soul minimalist may desire to place a high priority on inner peace. So, they may ask themselves, “what in my life is distracting me from pursuing or being at peace?”
Each quarter, Emily releases a new Soul Minimalist Guide on her podcast to help her listeners prepare for the new season ahead. Her latest episode, as mentioned earlier, is ‘A Soul Minimalist’s Guide to Christmas’. Her goal with this episode is to ask her listeners to pay attention to what’s going on on the inside, so they can be present to what’s going on on the outside this Christmas season.
Emily’s first step in her Soul Minimalist’s Guide to Christmas was to name your holiday posture. She explained this first step as, “a direction you set your face toward, not a target that you have to meet… A holiday posture for you might be choosing a word, a phrase, or a vibe, and setting your intention toward it, using that as a filter for decisions you make through the month of December.”
I understood it as more of a heart posture; a quiet truth – a small knowing from within – that will keep you grounded all throughout the holiday season.
Choosing My Holiday Posture
As I finished the episode, looking at my freshly taken notes scribbled out onto the pages of my journal, I contemplated what I wanted my holiday posture to be. I thought of all the things in my life that I value; my faith, my family, my marriage, and my writing, to name a few.
I then decided that this Christmas season, I want to posture my heart toward a state of quiet grace.
I want to slow down, let go of all that feels heavy and awkward in my life right now, and let God be God. I decided that my holiday posture would take the shape of the phrase, ‘be still and know’, as Psalm 46:10 encourages me to do,
“He says, “Be still, and know that I am God.”
Be Still & Know
Be still and know that God is God and I am not.
It’s a beckoning, an invitation, from Christ to let go and let God. It’s an invitation to lay down my burdens and worries at His feet and receive the gift of His love-wrapped peace.
To be still and know is to trust that I am held, all while beholding the hands that hold me.
To be still and know is to surrender control, fear, worry, and the unknown to the One Who sits enthroned.
To be still and know is to surrender and trust so that I can be present to God and those He puts in my path.
To be still and know is to be carried by the grace in which I have been washed clean.
There are 5 steps total in Emily’s A Soul Minimalist’s Guide to Christmas. To hear about all of the steps, check out The Next Right Thing podcast, episode 204. The last and final step though is to plan your presence.
“Ask yourself”, Emily instructs, “What would be inner-life-giving for me this season? What is one action I can take on the outside to help me experience and embody my holiday posture on the inside? And I want to keep this one really simple. You can choose many things, but I would encourage you to just choose one.”
She shared that this might be as simple as lighting a candle on your desk, taking a daily walk, or engaging in morning prayer. For me, in order to remain present to the holiday posture I want to be grounded to this Christmas season, I decided to craft a breath prayer.
An Introduction to Breath Prayer
Breath prayer is an ancient, spiritual practice, said to first appear in the 3rd century A.D. and used by many of the early churches. It involves choosing a short phrase or Scripture and syncing it to the rhythm of your own breath.
Here’s a quick step-by-step guide to breath prayer if you’d like to dig a little deeper:
- Name What You Need: What is it that you are needing the most from God in this season? Is it rest? Peace? Joy? Hope? Take time to contemplate what your greatest need from the Lord is, give it a name and hold it close.
- Choose a Name for God: How do you normally address the Lord in prayer? Do you use, Father God? Jesus? Lord? Holy Spirit? Identify a name for God that feels natural to you in prayer.
- Pair What You Need with Your Name for God: One of the simplest ways to practice breath prayer is to take the name you’ve chosen for God and pair it with what you are needing most from Him. Here are a few examples that may get you started, Abba Father, I long for your peace. Father God, I belong to you. Jesus, I ask for your patience.
- Choose a Scripture: You can also choose a Scripture to practice breath prayer! I particularly love using Scripture because it’s a great way to stay rooted in the Word of God and memorize short verses.
After you’ve chosen your phrase or Scripture, you silently sync the first half of the prayer on the inhale of your breath and sync the second half of the prayer with your exhale.
My Holiday Breath Prayer
After a little research and some thoughtful prayer, I settled on a Scripture from 2 Corinthians 12:9 for my breath prayer, “Each time He said, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses so that the power of Christ can work through me.” (NLT)
I then adapted my breath prayer to say,
“Your grace, Lord – is all I need.”
For me, when it came to remaining grounded to my holiday posture this year of ‘be still and know’, I wanted to choose a breath prayer based on a Scripture that had to do with grace. This breath prayer will be a reminder to me, when life starts to feel heavy or I get overwhelmed this Christmas season, that grace carries me, always.
And because God’s grace carries me, I can be still and know.
I can be present to my family and friends and those I love most because I can rest knowing that I am covered in a head-to-toe kind of grace.
And most importantly, I can be present to the presence of God Who is constantly lingering and moving, tucking Himself sacredly into the folds of each moment of my life.
May Grace Carry You, Too
Friend, I would encourage you to give episode 204 of The Next Right Thing podcast a listen, so you, too, can be intentional in choosing a holiday heart posture for yourself. And as you listen and reflect within, I pray you find peace in the midst of all that tends to feel rushed and hurried each Christmas season.
I pray you can slow down, quiet your soul, and declutter the things in your inner and outer life that are no longer serving you right now. But most of all, I pray that as you take time to pay attention to what your soul is craving, you find that the grace of God is strong enough to carry you through, too.