Like boats or debris floating along the surface of a river, our thoughts and feelings must be resting on something. This something is the inner stream of consciousness, which is our participation in God’s being.
– Thomas Keating
We constantly think thoughts. We daydream. We dream while we sleep. Though we often do not remember.
We attach ourselves to our thoughts and emotions. We are proud of our accomplishments. We are excited when the home team wins. We are frustrated when things do not go our way. We are annoyed when the car in front of us drives five miles per hour below the speed limit. We allow the community or our places of work to define who we are and how we should act.
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I recently re-read Open Mind, Open Heart by Thomas Keating. I was struck by the above quote.
Do all of my thoughts and emotions really rest on something else? Is this something else the participation in God’s being?
During centering prayer my thoughts do not stop. My sacred icon opens me to the presence and action of the Divine within. When I ever so gently return to my sacred icon, I let my thoughts and emotions go. I am not attached to my thoughts.
I notice that the space between my thoughts increases during centering prayer. I know it increases because I set a timer when I practice centering prayer. Time seems to fly and the closing bell rings to let me know my centering time has come to an end. I explain it as I enter the space between my thoughts.
The space between my thoughts is the inner stream of consciousness, which is my participation in God’s being. It must be a safe place. I do not need to think. I feel no emotions. I just am. I do not know what happens in this space. I emerge from this space calm, peaceful, energized, ready to continue my day.
I also notice that during the non-silent parts of the day when I find my thoughts and emotions race I am able to let them go. I am able to detach from them. I watch them and see what they tell me. I remind myself that they are not me. If I am nervous, worried, sad or lonely I remind myself that they are not who I am.
Each day I return to my centering prayer practice so I can rest in God. When I rest in God, I best learn how to participate in God’s being. I do not really learn. I open to God. God seems to do all of the work. I emerge from each sit refreshed. I am ready to face the tasks ahead of me.
Centering prayer is a practice that I will continue. Centering prayer teaches me how to participate in God’s being. Centering prayer teaches me how to be the person God wants me to be.
Also by Thomas Keating
Wisdom for Living: The Parables of Jesus by Thomas Keating, Contemplative Outreach: When rightly understood, the parables help us to see how extraordinary a wisdom teacher Jesus really was, and how revolutionary, in the best sense of the word, was the content of what he taught and to which he bore witness by his life and death.
Centering Prayer as a Way of Life by Contemplative Outreach, Pamela Begeman, Mary Anne Best, Julie Saad: In this, the third offering of this year’s trilogy on Centering Prayer, we will explore how the practice of Centering Prayer evolves into a surrendered life of inner peace and equanimity despite the busy and often tumultuous circumstances of daily life in the 21st century. As the inner room begins to expand its walls beyond the twice-daily practice of Centering Prayer, the Spirit takes over our life more and more, and we begin to accept ourselves just as we are, God as God is, and all reality as it is. From this disposition of true humility, enlarged under the influence of God’s grace, we live in the Kingdom of God here and now, which is a state of consciousness ever-attentive to the presence of God in the midst of ordinary life.
Centering Prayer as Practice and Process by Contemplative Outreach, Pamela Begeman, Mary Anne Best, Julie Saad: If you are new to Centering Prayer or wishing to renew your practice, this retreat will assist you with deepening your relationship with God. We will focus on teaching and practicing the method of Centering Prayer; review its place in the Christian tradition, its conceptual background, and psychological process; and share insights into establishing Centering Prayer as a way of life.
Lean In, Lighten Up and Let Go Practices for a Deeper Commitment to the Contemplative Life by Contemplative Outreach, Mary Dwyer: This retreat encourages a life of prayer and practice, both “on the chair” and in daily life. It will support you in making a deeper commitment to your relationship with God, and strengthen your ability to live the contemplative life through dedication to prayer and practice, all within the normal routines of everyday life.
Sounds True has titles by teachers and authors such as Thomas Keating, Cynthia Bourgeault, James Finley, Richard Rohr, David Frenette, Parker Palmer ,Eckhart Tolle , Michael Singer , Jon Kabat-Zinn , Marianne Williamson to name a few.
Contemplative Light offers courses on contemplative practices (Christian Meditation, Centering Prayer, The Examen, Lectio Divina, The Jesus Prayer), the Christian mystics (ancient and current) and spiritual writing. Peruse their wonderful offerings.
Prayer-Bracelet: Authentic Orthodox prayer ropes and bracelets are handmade by monks in the Orthodox monastaries reciting a prayer for every knot they tie. Peruse their prayer ropes and bracelets that are all handmade, provided by several orthodox churches around the globe.