Centering Prayer Tip: Flex Your Sit

Adjust the times and frequencies of your silent sits so they better balance with the ebbs and flows of your life.

A few months ago work had become very challenging.  My previous centering prayer schedule was two sits, twenty minutes each.  The first sit was as soon as I awoke in the morning.

The second sit was in the mid to late afternoon.  If at work, I would leave my desk at two or three in the afternoon and head to my car.  Sit in the driver’s seat.  Roll down the window.  Sit for twenty minutes and then return to my work desk.  

I decided to adjust my centering prayer schedule because work had become more challenging and very overwhelming.  I needed God and I to better partner to get me through this busy time.

Here is where flexibility with my sit came into play.

I still sat first thing in the morning after I awake.  This sit became thirteen minutes.

I also sat two more times in the work day.  Instead of one, twenty minute afternoon sit, I sat twice, thirteen minutes each time.  My first sit was before lunch.  My second sit was between three and four in the afternoon.

I discovered that I needed two afternoon sits.  My reservoir seemed to empty quicker.  This meant I needed less time in between my previous sit, hence the need for a third sit.

Work has recently calmed down and I have switched back to two sits per day.  I missed my longer twenty minute sit that was first thing in the morning.

I have learned to trust the nudges and prompts of the Spirit.  I will remain open to the Spirit and readjust my sit schedule based upon the Spirit’s prompts.

My challenge to you is to do the same.  Listen to the Spirit and adjust your sits when you are nudged to do so.

Go Further:

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

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

Thomas Keating, Manifesting God

David Frenette, The Path of Centering Prayer


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2 thoughts on “Centering Prayer Tip: Flex Your Sit”

  1. Hi Rick – great thoughts on flexibility.

    Another possibility is even briefer pauses during the day, if a second longer sit seems too much.

    I’ve found, when I’m feeling overwhelmed by work or projects, that a tighter structure can be helpful, otherwise I spend much if not most of the 2nd sitting period getting settled.

    Something like this:

    Say you want to set aside 8 minutes in the middle of the day. You know you’re going to be experiencing after-lunch fatigue or low energy, or your energy is going to be frazzled and your mind is likely to be crunching numbers or dwelling on your to-do list in some way.

    1. Physical movement. When pausing during the day, I almost always need to get up and move in some way before settling down to prayer. For me, that could mean swinging a kettlebell or bouncing on a mini-trampoline if I’m working at home, or going outside for a 1 minute fast walk if it’s possible to take a break at work. Or it could mean doing some Qigong swings (dozens of great examples on youtube) or going to the Mayo Clinic site for a great stretch routine (or yoga journal for a quick relaxing set of stretches, or just do 2 sun salutations).

    2. Breathing. 4 rounds of ocean breathing (also lots on youtube), or spinal breathing (also on youtube), or best of all, slow qigong movements with ocean breathing and music (videos on our site for this – – raise your arms as you breathing in, lower as you breathe out, using ocean breathing)

    3. Pre-arranged words. Endless possibilities – a passage from the Gospels, a psalm, something from Julian of Norwich, or other non_Christian traditions if that is best for you, or whatever.

    The movement can take 1 minute, 4 rounds of breathing another minute, and readings 1 or 2 minutes. After 3-4 minutes, now you’re ready to practice letting go. Eyes closed, sacred word (or sacred image or sacred breath) and then, letting go, consenting to God’s presence and action, letting go, letting go, letting go, letting go, letting go….

    after 8 minutes, ready to resume, energized, attuned, re-centered, ready to open to Divine inspiration……

    (multiply the time and you have a potential structure for any length sit – 8 minutes of preparation – movement, breathing, reading, and 12 minutes of sitting – or longer!)

    1. Don – terrific suggestions! I like numbers 1 and 3! Let me know if you ever want to write a guest post on my site. Thanks again!

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