“When you pray, go to your inner room, close the door,…
(Matthew 6: 6).
Last week I provided a summary of Centering Prayer. I mentioned the four steps of Centering Prayer. Today I will discuss Step 1.
Select a sacred word as the symbol of your intent to open yourself to God’s presence and action within.
It is best to keep it simple. Choose a word with one to three syllables. You might select: Jesus, love, ocean or peace for example. When I first began to practice centering prayer I used the word “Jesus”. I also recall that I used the words “love” and “let go”.
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Some people choose an interior image rather than a word. I receive the Richard Rohr daily meditations. On a past meditation I noticed a Jesus icon. I began to use this image as an interior sacred image to use during my practice. To this day, I continue to use this sacred interior image.
Amos Smith uses the sacred glance. When my fifteen year old daughter sits with me, she does too. The sacred glance is performed with the eyes open. You simply stare at a spot three to five feet in the distance as a way to bring your self back to the Presence.
Lastly, some people use the sacred breath method. They return again and again to their breath as a means to bring them back to the purpose of their sit: to open to the presence and action of God within.
Cynthia Bourgeault reminds us, “A sacred word merely serves as a placeholder for your intention.”
David Frennete mentions, “the sacred word is sacred because it expresses your intention to consent to God’s presence and action.”
I also like what David Frenette says, “You gradually become a sacred word yourself, silently spoken by God to the world around you.“
It is best to use the same sacred method during your silent sit. If you find that you want to change it, that is fine, use your new sacred method for your next sit. As I mentioned, I remember that I used three different words before I settled on the sacred image. I will continue to let the Spirit nudge me.
I am a visual person. That is probably why I gravitated to a sacred image. If you are an auditory learner you might do better with a sacred word. If you are a kinesthetic learner, the sacred breath might work best too.
Next week I will discuss Step 2:
Sit comfortably, close your eyes and internally repeat the sacred word slowly and silently.
I hope you will continue to join me over the next three weeks.
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I just finished Presence and Process: A Path Toward Transformative Faith and Inclusive Community by Daniel P. Coleman and The Soul of a Pilgrim: Eight Practices for the Journey Within by Christine Valters Paintner. I am currently reading Intimacy with God: An Introduction To Centering Prayer by Thomas Keating.
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David Frenette’s book The Path of Centering Prayer reenergized the Centering Prayer tradition with its fresh insights and teachings. Centering Prayer Meditations: Effortless Contemplation to Deepen Your Experience of God is a wonderful companion audio program created to be equally rewarding as a stand-alone guide – gives listeners an immersive resource to learn contemplative prayer, step by step and in the moment. With clarity and compassionate presence, Frenette explains the essential principles of this contemplative practice for both new and seasoned practitioners.
I use a Prayer Rope after each Centering Prayer Sit.
Centering Prayer is a silent prayer practice that can move you toward a profound relationship with the Spirit of God within. It is a way of praying that opens the door to the Divine Indwelling—the ground of our being. With Centering Prayer, Father Thomas Keating and his colleagues Gail Fitzpatrick-Hopler and Father Carl Arico present the first online course in this method for deepening your intimacy with God and ultimately consenting to the presence and action of the Divine in all aspects of your life.
The early Christians, teaches the Reverend Cynthia Bourgeault, were afire with the spirit of Jesus, inspired fully by his teaching of a total transformation of consciousness. How do we reclaim that fire today? On Encountering the Wisdom Jesus, this brilliant author and dynamic Episcopalian priest presents her first full-length audio course about rediscovering the Master of Wisdom. Twelve immersive sessions cover: the parables as wisdom tools; Jesus’s teachings about kenosis (or self-emptying: a path as radical today as it was 2,000 years ago); Jesus as tantric master; Centering Prayer, an approach to meditation as Jesus lived it, and much more. (Based upon her book, The Wisdom Jesus.)
Since the time of the Desert Fathers in the third century, Finley begins, Christian mystics have practiced meditation as a way of opening to the direct presence of God in daily life. Legendary seekers such as Saint John of the Cross, Saint Teresa of Avila, and Meister Eckhart explored how meditation can lead us beyond the closed horizon of the ego, to an interior and holy refuge that is always available to us. On Christian Meditation, James Finley offers a gentle introduction to this all-transforming way of life, and the ever-deepening realization of oneness with Christ it leads us to. (Based upon his book, Christian Meditation.)
Check out my review of Christian Prayer Methods by Dr. Philip St. Romain.
Prepare to be immersed in the 1st Century A.D. context of the life, work, teachings, and actions of Jesus. Check out Simply Jesus by N. T. Wright. Enjoy an article I wrote about one of the lectures on the Beatitudes.
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