Christmas Pre-tox: how it works

Christmas pretox newEach day, you are asked to set aside at least 10-15 minutes each day. Make sure you have a quiet space where you will not be interrupted.  It would be worth setting aside a regular time each day if that is possible.  There are 5 steps and there really is no rocket science to this – it is very simple:

  1. A time of silence
  2. A reading from Luke’s gospel
  3. Reflection – on a question related to the reading
  4. A second time of silence
  5. Prayer/Focus for the day ahead
  1. A time of silence

I have found it helpful to use the timer on my watch or phone to keep track on how long I have been silent.  If you are not used to being silent, start with 1 minute. If you are more experienced, start with 2 or 3 minutes.  Feel free to add to this as you go along the journey so that after 8 readings you add to the time. For example:

Readings New to this sort of thing Intermediate Experienced
Days 1-7 1 min 3 mins 4 mins
Days 8-16 2 mins 4 mins 6 mins
Days 17-24 3 mins 5 mins 8 mins

The author and priest, Gerard Hughes, gives helpful advice about ‘being still’: (Cry of Wonder, 2014):

  • Sit with your feet flat on the ground, your back straight but not rigid, your body relaxed.
  • Concentrate your attention on what you can feel in your body (Don’t think, just focus your attention on what you can feel in your body)
  • If you feel an itch or a discomfort, hear noises or have interesting thoughts, acknowledge what is happening but return to your physical feelings
  • Once you are more relaxed – but do not be in any hurry – you might like to turn this exercise into more explicit prayer, repeating slowly to yourself, for example ‘In God I live and move and have my being’. This is a way of meeting God in awareness of our own body, in our own surroundings
  • It is good to begin prayer with a stillness exercise, however short. If you never move from on from stillness, you are still praying well. In Christian belief, it is God’s Spirit who prays in us. Through stillness we can become more aware of this truth and join ourselves more wholeheartedly with God.
  1. Reading
  • I have intentionally used contemporary versions of Luke’s gospel and have re-produced them on a separate sheet. I hope this helps readers encounter the text in a fresher way than using traditional translations.
  • Try to read slowly, reflectively and to come to the text with fresh eyes. What strikes you about what you are reading? What parts are moving or confusing? What do they say to you?
  1. Reflection
  • I have supplied a simple question at the end of each reading to provoke thinking which connects the reading to our lives today
  • You might find it helpful to have a notepad to jot down thoughts based on where your thinking takes you.
  1. Second time of silence
  • Repeat the same time of silence
  1. Prayer / time of Focus
  • Depending on what you are comfortable with, offer prayers to God about anything on your heart. This may be thoughts provoked by the reading, reflection and silence but may be about something you are grateful for or for your concerns about the day ahead.
  • If you are not comfortable with praying, then focus on the challenges for the day ahead and make some resolutions for how you want to be in light of what you have been thinking about.

An introduction and 24 daily readings for the Christmas Pretox can be downloaded here on a PDF format.

All the best and I hope you have a very Happy Christmas!

Jon Kuhrt, November 2015