I am excited to share with you my review of Centering Prayer and Inner Awakening by Cynthia Bourgeault.
Modern day mystic, Episcopal priest, writer, and internationally known retreat leader, Cynthia Bourgeault divides her time between solitude at her seaside hermitage in Maine, and a demanding schedule traveling globally to teach and spread the recovery of the Christian contemplative and Wisdom path.
She has been a long-time advocate of the meditative practice of Centering Prayer and has worked closely with fellow teachers and colleagues including Thomas Keating, Bruno Barnhart, and Richard Rohr. Cynthia has actively participated in numerous inter-spiritual dialogues and events with luminaries and leaders such as A.H. Almaas, Kabir Helminski, Swami Atmarupananda, and Rami Shapiro.
Learn more about Cynthia at The Contemplative Society
This was the first book on Centering Prayer that I read as I began this transforming practice in June of 2014. I recently took a peek back into this wonderful book and wish to share with you six key points.
“As we move toward center, our own being and the divine being become more and more mysteriously interwoven.”
This is what happens when we sit in silence and open to the presence of God. We become one with God. We let God pray in us. We arise from our sits ready to act on the prayers God prayed in us. When we take our second sit, we begin this beautiful cycle again: sit in silence, God prays in us, arise from our sit, act on God’s prayers in us.
See In The Dark
“In fact, you could say that learning to shift to seeing with your spiritual awareness is a lot like learning to see in the dark.”
Centering prayer is a silent sit in faith. We let go of all thoughts, emotions and physical sensations and open to God. We trust God. We don’t know what will happen. We sit and we trust that God’s inner actions are best. We learn to see in the dark.
Place We Come From
“But as the practice becomes more and more established in you so that this inner sanctuary begins to flow out into your life, it becomes more and more a place you come from.”
After each morning sit I am ready for the day! I am calm and energized. I am excited for what the day will bring. I seem to know what tasks that God wishes for me to accomplish today.
My second sit is usually in mid afternoon. My second sit refills my reservoir. It helps me to refocus and finish my day.
I need both sits!
Die To Self
“Dying to self means being willing to let go of what I want (or think I want) in order to create space for God to direct, lead, and guide me into a truer way of being.”
This is what we do during our silent sits. When we let go we create this most important space. My best actions spawn when I die to self during my silent sit.
“Paul sees that self-emptying is the touchstone, the core reality underlying every moment of Jesus’ human journey. Self-emptying is what first brings him into human form, and self-emptying is what leads him out, returning him to the realm of dominion and glory.”
When we sit in silence we experience the death, passion and resurrection of Jesus. It is a beautiful mystery that happens each time we sit with Jesus. To be honest, I am not completely sure what this means but as my silent sits continue more and more of this mystery is revealed to me.
“But the promise contemplative prayer makes is that if you show up, things will start to change.”
The fruits of Centering Prayer are unique to the practitioner. We do not enter Centering Prayer for these fruits. They are freely given to us by a most gracious God. I have noticed I am more calm and confident. I slow down and listen to others. I am filled with energy and excited to live my life.
I encourage you to check out Centering Prayer and Inner Awakening. I also reviewed her newest book, The Heart of Centering Prayer: Nondual Christianity in Theory and Practice. I hope you enjoy my review.
Books by Cynthia Bourgeault:
(Listen to The Heart of Centering Prayer for Free when you try Audible with a 30-day free trial.)
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.)
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Orthodox Crafts: Prayer ropes are used to help Eastern Orthodox Christians say the Jesus Prayer (more on Jesus Prayer, here). In Russian they are called “chotki”, while in Greek they are called “komboskini”. Our wool prayer ropes are hand made from Cashmira black pure wool, counting from 33, 100 to even 300 knots. We consider that it’s very important not to step aside from the traditional method of prayer rope tying, as well as keeping their look and feel as close as possible to the old, Orthodox monastic models. We tie these prayer ropes in the same manner our desert fathers used to tye them. Without a doubt, the true value of our handcrafts stands in the fact that we strive to create authentic, traditional products.
Enjoy my video: How I Use My Prayer Rope
Feel free to peruse my Resource Page, I frequently update it.
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 rate is $50 – $75 per hour. The first session is 1/2 off.
I am currently reading Moving from Stress to Joy by Nicholas Amato.
The Power of the Jesus Prayer: Learn a method practiced by Christian mystics for centuries to consent to the action and presence of God within.
Contemplative Practices: 5 Ways of Consenting to the Divine: 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.
Contemplative Perspectives: Frameworks for the Divine: For anyone who craves to deepen their contemplative process and more fully embody and integrate the the higher stages of the mystical path, Contemplative Perspectives offers an opportunity to travel through the various states of awakening and understand the territory. 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.
The Divine Transformation: Essentials of Christian Mysticism: This is a combined course of both Contemplative Practices and Contempative Perspectives.
Christian Prayer Methods: Prayer is a core Christian practice, but for many, this means “saying prayers” or asking God for various favors. In this course, we will review a variety of methods of prayer that have been used for centuries in Christianity. Whether you’re a beginner who is just learning how to pray, or a more mature Christian who has been at it awhile, this course will offer specific guidance, encouragement and support for practicing several time-tested methods of prayer.
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.
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.)