“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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Contemplative Light Course – Contemplative Practice: 5 Spiritual Exercises To Get Closer To God. Learn methods practiced by Christian mystics for centuries to consent to the action and presence of God within, including Centering Prayer, The Examen, Lectio Divina, Christian Meditation, and the Jesus Prayer.
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I just finished Presence and Process: A Path Toward Transformative Faith and Inclusive Community by Daniel P. Coleman and Intimacy with God: An Introduction To Centering Prayer by Thomas Keating. I am currently reading The Bible Makes Sense by Walter Brueggemann.
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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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