“Like most beginners, I thought that the aim in Centering Prayer was to let go of thoughts so that God could “fill” me with his presence. One day I suddenly realized that the God story was the sideshow and the letting go was the main event. That was when the practice flipped for me, as I recognized that thoughts were not the obstacle; they were the raw material, as every opportunity to practice releasing that focal point for attention deepened the reservoir of “free attention” within me and strengthened the signal of the homing beacon of my heart.”
I read this wonderful quote in Cynthia Bourgeault’s newest book, The Heart of Centering Prayer: Nondual Christianity in Theory and Practice.
I too used to believe that I entered Centering Prayer to be filled with God. I now know that this is no longer true. I do not need to be filled with God. God never stopped being in me.
Cynthia reminds us, “Every heart is already a perfect holograph of the divine heart, carrying within itself full access to the information of the whole. But it does need to be purified, as Jesus himself observed.”
Centering prayer is a place I come from. Centering prayer teaches me who I am. I am unconditionally loved by the Divine! Centering prayer teaches me how to live. I live connected to the Divine within.
Centering prayer is a wonderful practice that teaches me how to live from this place of “free attention” as Cynthia mentions. Centering prayer is only a tool. It is a practice I use to let go of my thoughts, emotions, and even physical sensations and open to God who resides in my heart.
God does not need to fill my heart. God has always been in my heart. Centering prayer is a daily practice that purifies me so I can learn to live from my heart.
I arise from my sits in a new operation mode. I operate from my heart. My heart sees differently. It is open to life without judgmental filters. This means I better enjoy all things because I do not immediately judge them as good or bad. I let them be. I see with wider lenses. I can take in and enjoy the Whole field. That is exciting! I do not want to miss out on what God’s world provides.
I learn to make wiser decisions. I am more open to all solutions that are in front of me. I am not as quick to rate them as poor or excellent. I see them all and then make a better informed decision. Sometimes the best decision is to remain open and wait. Centering prayer teaches me that God is patient and I too must sometimes be patient.
God is compassionate and empathetic. When I operate from my heart I too become more compassionate and empathetic. I need to practice centering prayer twice per day. To sit in silence is an act of love. It teaches me to how to love God, love others and even love myself. I need the balance of all three. They make me whole!
I am very much work in progress! That is why I return to my Centering Prayer practice each day. It keeps me connected to the Heart that resides within my heart. This inner journey will best prepare me for my outer journey.
How does your practice help prepare you for your outer journey?
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Cynthia Bourgeault, The Heart of Centering Prayer: Nondual Christianity in Theory and Practice
Cynthia Bourgeault, Centering Prayer and Inner Awakening
David Frenette, The Path of Centering Prayer
Thomas Keating, Open Mind, Open Heart 20th Anniversary Edition
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I am currently taking on clients for Centering Prayer One on One Coaching sessions. I am happy to setup weekly, bi-weekly or monthly sessions with you over the phone or skype to help you go deeper into your centering prayer practice and integrate it into your daily life. Contact me for more information. The first session is 1/2 off.
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Our friends at Contemplative Light are offering Contemplative Practices. This course examines in-depth traditional practices of the Christian mystics, including: The Examen, Centering Prayer, Lectio Divina, The Jesus Prayer and Christian Meditation.
Contemplative Perspectives: Frameworks for the Divine: With the historic practice of The Jesus Prayer as a jumping off point, we explore the experiential aspects of the Purgation/Illumination/Union path of Christian Mysticism.
I am currently reading The Wisdom Jesus: Transforming Heart and Mind – a New Perspective on Christ and His Message by Cynthia Bourgeault and Contemplative Living: An Invitation to a Deepening Journey by .
The Way of the Wisdom Jesus: Going Beyond the Mind to the Heart of His Teaching – If you put aside what you think you know about Jesus and approach the Gospels as though for the first time, something remarkable happens: Jesus emerges as a teacher of the transformation of consciousness. In this online course, Episcopal priest, teacher, and retreat and conference leader Cynthia Bourgeault serves as a masterful guide to Jesus’s vision and to the traditional contemplative practices you can use to experience the heart of his teaching for yourself. Based upon her book The Wisdom Jesus.
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. It is based on his book Simply Jesus. Enjoy an article I wrote about one of the lectures on the Beatitudes.
This course is a short course based on Prof. N.T. Wright’s latest book, Simply Good News. Tom Wright will guide you through the chapters of his book through videos that suggest what some of the main points are. You will instantly get into the heart of the idea of ‘good news’ as it was understood by the 1st Century writers of the New Testament. You will be brought into their world in order to make more sense of what ‘good news’ means in our world.
Try Audible and Get Two Free Audiobooks – This is a great way to listen to books with your cell phone while you drive, walk or relax at home. I frequently listen in my car during my commute to and from work. I’m a proud affiliate.
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.
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.
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.)