Moving Our Way Towards Healing, Justice, and Hope: Somatic Spiritual Formation

“This project will experiment with somatic practices in worship, prayer groups, and pastoral ministry to empower young adults to fully embody healing, justice, and hope. ”

Team Members/Contributors

Erica Y. Liu Elsdon Pres House (Presbyterian Student Center Foundation) Contact Me

About this pastoral study project

Sung to the children’s lullaby, “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star”:

"Lockdown, lockdown lock the door. Turn the lights off say no more. Go behind the desk and hide. Wait until it's safe inside. Lockdown lockdown it's all done, now it's time to have some fun.” –Posted in Kindergarten Classroom

At the same time that young adults today grew up learning to tie their shoelaces, they were being trained in active shooter drills to hide behind furniture and play dead. By the time they come to a university campus, many of them have marched on streets protesting their local police shooting of a black person, anti-LGBTQ policy, or assault on people who have uteruses. Unsurprisingly, they are full of anxiety and despair, their bodies unable to metabolize the constant threat and trauma fed to them by a never-ending news cycle fueled by violence upon violence.

Spiritual formation in churches often emphasizes words and can become a disembodied experience (i.e., say or believe the right thing without much attention given to how bodies are impacted). In this project I will study somatic practitioners in order to synthesize somatic spiritual practices for people to tap into their body’s wisdom as they move their way towards healing, justice, and hope, cultivating a more embodied faith. I will explore this in four specific ways:

1. Communal Worship: I will explore how communal movement liturgies in worship can open avenues for people to grow in their understanding of God’s grace and justice.

2. Prayer Group: Using martial arts training and philosophy, I will create a framework for a prayer group whose practice is through movement.

3. Embodied Justice: I will facilitate somatic abolition (an embodied, antiracist practice) groups to engage antiracism learning.

4. Pastoral Ministry: I will explore how somatic practices can be used in pastoral care and leadership development.