Pick Up Your Mat meditationIn this style of meditation, which comes to us from St. Ignatius’ Spiritual Exercises, you are meant to create a space for encountering God through your imagination.

Find a quiet space to pray. Read each line slowly and pause to consider the questions, your responses, and your feelings. It may even be helpful to close your eyes between each section to better allow for imaginative freedom. If your imagination leads away from the meditation, follow it; God speaks to you.

Click play to start listening.

Begin by imagining yourself lying flat on your back. As you open your eyes, you begin to realize that you are being lowered down into a room full of people. Despite this, you are not concerned about them; you know that Jesus is nearby. You seek to move your limbs, but realize you cannot – you are paralyzed, only able to move your head and neck.

What does this state feel like? What is it like to only be able to move your head? What sensations do you feel in your body, if any? Do you feel trapped? Frustrated? Strange?

As you get closer to the ground, you turn your head and are struck by Jesus’ eyes. They pierce your own as he seems to look deep into your soul. What does it feel looking at him? What do you notice about his face? Do you sense his love? His power? Perhaps his joy?

Jesus gazes at you for a moment as you lie on your mat on the ground and then leans down towards you. He lovingly whispers to you, “Why are you here? What do you seek? How can I heal you?”

How do you answer? Do you seek healing? Care? Maybe just a simple encounter with this man that you have heard so much about?

As you look back into your past you realize that your paralytic state is not because of a physical ailment. Rather, you have been paralyzed by something else. It is the experiences of pain from your past that keeps you immobile. It is paralyzation from within.

Knowing this, Jesus asks, “What keeps you from moving? From loving fully?”

You take stock of your own history and find there past pains. You find the places that you have been hurt. You remember the scars on your heart that keep you from engaging with the present world.  Take some time illustrating these stories for Jesus.

How do you describe these experiences to Jesus? Is it painful to retell these memories? Freeing? Maybe you tell them with tears streaming down your face. Perhaps with a smile. How does it feel to relate these pains from your past?

What does Jesus’ face communicate as you tell these stories? How does Jesus react? Speak as long as you need, Jesus could spend all day with you.

As you continue your conversation with Jesus, what words does Jesus offer to you? How does Jesus communicate his love for you? Do you find healing in his response? Care? Peace?

Throughout the interaction, you notice that your body begins to feel lighter and looser. You feel a light growing inside you that hadn’t noticed before.

As you finish your conversation, Jesus says, “Now, I invite you to pick up your mat and return home!”

At first you are astounded, thinking, “But I am paralyzed! I cannot just walk!” However, as you scan your body, you realize that you do in fact have some mobility in your extremities. You wiggle your toes and your fingers. You realize that you can control your hands and feet, your legs and arms, and all the rest. Painfully, slowly, you lift your torso into a sitting position. You are as astounded as everyone around you! You can move again!

As you realize that it was in fact your past experiences keeping you from moving, how does it feel to gain mobility once more? How does it feel to find healing in Jesus? How would you describe this experience of Jesus?

As you pick up your mat, still feeling amazed, where do you plan to go? How will you come to describe this experience? What does it mean for you to go home? In what ways do you still seek healing in Jesus, despite this wonderful encounter? How will you seek that healing?

Now that you have found this healing and new freedom, how can you discern your path forward more freely? How can you now love others more freely? As you walk out into the sunlight, what do you take with you from this experience?

After a few days, come back to this meditation. Consider again what God may have been trying to communicate with you. Consider how God is trying to interact with you through your own imagination.

Listen to some other Ignatian meditations here. Or learn more about imaginative prayer.

Music by Kevin MacLeod