Monk in the World Guest Post: Centering Prayer

Allow me to share a past “Monk in the World Guest Post” I wrote for Abbey of the Arts.  Please visit  Abbey of the Arts to learn more about their wonderful work.

Centering Prayer

When I slow myself down I remember I am a divine being.  One way I slow myself down is through the practice of centering prayer.  I have practiced centering prayer since June 1, 2014.

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The recommended guidelines are twice per day, twenty minutes each time.  Previously, I dabbled with centering prayer.  For a few months, I practiced once per night.  Each session lasted no longer than ten minutes.  I knew this was not enough.  I knew God called me.  I knew God wanted me to experience more and more of Her Spirit.

On June 1, 2014, I decided to stop the experiments.  I decided to consent to the presence and action of God within.  I knew that the only way to do this was to follow the recommended guidelines.

​I now center first thing before I begin my day.  My second session is usually in the evening. Each time I center, I am refreshed.  I call this time “my sit with Jesus.”  My sacred word is a mental picture of Jesus from an icon.

As my thoughts wander or my emotions reflect about the past day or upcoming events, I ever so gently return to this mental image to bring me back to the purpose for centering.  I consent to the presence and action of God within.

I allow myself to enter the fourth stage of prayer that I read about in a recent blog article, Finding Your Inner Room by Irwin J. Boudreaux. The first three stages are:  One – We speak, God listens, Two – God Speaks, we listen, Three – No one speaks, both listen.

Centering Prayer is a practice which leads me into contemplative prayer or the fourth stage, No one speaks, no one listens.  I simply rest in God.  I let God act in me.  Do I know what God will do?  No, I do not.  My job is to simply rest and trust.  How God acts within me, will reveal itself in my non-silent actions throughout the day.

Sacred Symbol

Many times throughout the day, I ever so gently return to my sacred symbol when I find my thoughts and emotions distract me from what I need to do.  I re-center myself even during my non-centering portion of the day.  When I find myself become anxious, angry or frustrated, I mentally visualize my sacred symbol and bring myself back to the task at hand.

During Centering Prayer, I consent to the Divine so the big D and me, the little d, simply sit with each other.  We become united.  During my non silent parts of the day, I do the same.  My little d recognizes that I need to become one with the big D.  I mentally visualize my sacred symbol and allow myself to become united with God.  At that moment I can get back to the task at hand.  At that moment I partner with God to accomplish the tasks ahead.

Fruits of Centering Prayer

Since I began my centering prayer practice I have noticed a few new things about myself.  I am much calmer.  Yes, I still become anxious, nervous, frustrated and upset just like everyone else.  Yet, I notice that I am able to re-center myself much more quickly and resume whatever tasks are in front of me.  I no longer panic when I have an enormous list of tasks that need to get done in a short period of time.

For example, at work, I will have at least 20 or more items that need to get done.  I find that I am able to calmly review my list and one by one make my way through this list.  At the end of each day, I am always amazed by what I have accomplished.  I know the calmness and fluidity of this process is because of my centering prayer practice!  God and I partner throughout the day.

Centering prayer slows me down.  I bring this slowness into my daily life.   I am calm yet more productive.  I am calm and make wiser decisions.  Because I am calm and make wiser decisions, I am able to get more done.  It is a paradox.  When I work faster and harder I will get more done. I find this is not true.  When I work slowly but with a calm intensity, I am always more productive.

What fruits of centering prayer have you noticed?

Visit my Start Here Page to learn more about Centering Prayer.

Go Further:

Centering Prayer and Inner Awakening by Cynthia Bourgeault

The Heart of Centering Prayer: Nondual Christianity in Theory and Practice by Cynthia Bourgeault

Intimacy with God: An Introduction to Centering Prayer by Thomas Keating

Open Mind, Open Heart 20th Anniversary Edition by Thomas Keating

The Path of Centering Prayer by David Frenette

 

A Journey of Discernment with the teachings of Mary Margaret Funk and other contemplative voices by Contemplative Outreach, Mary Margaret Funk: This e-course explores the contemplative approach to discerning the small and large decisions in life, which comes from cultivating a life practice of unceasing prayer (whatever types of prayer that may encompass for you). Discernment means sorting our thoughts and following the impulse of grace given by the Holy Spirit. As Sr. Meg writes, “Since we are not our thoughts, we can observe them rising and follow the ones that are from God.” This is a way of coming more awake and discovering the spark of divinity burning in our hearts.

Poetry and Prayer from the Celtic Tradition by Carl McColman: The traditional Celtic people of Scotland, Ireland, and Wales wove prayers, blessings, poems, and songs into every aspect of their daily lives — using the power of language to blend a rich spirituality of presence and wisdom into the very fabric of their being. Many of these poetic invocations and charming poems were collected by folklorist Alexander Carmichael over 100 years ago and preserved in the book Carmina Gadelica — the “Charms of the Gaels.”

Celtic Spirituality At the Edge of Mystery by Carl McColman: Consider it a pilgrimage into one of the best examples of everyday spirituality. Celtic wisdom and poetry ​encourages us to recognize the holy all around us, honors and protects the sacred earth, gives inspiration to free our creative voice, and presents a holistic path that links the quest for holiness with ​an ​embodied​​ sense of Divine love.

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.

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