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.
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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 here.
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 and courses by Cynthia Bourgeault:
(Listen to The Heart of Centering Prayer for Free when you try Audible with a 30-day free trial.)
The Wisdom Jesus by Cynthia Bourgeault: Jesus first and foremost is a Wisdom teacher, grounded in the universal traditions of spiritual transformation, and the first teacher of non-dual consciousness the West had ever seen. Almost two thousand years ahead of his time, he stands in the lineage of the great Jewish prophets, the master “cardiologist” entrusted with implementing the promise made to the prophet Ezekiel: “I will take away your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.”
Centering Prayer by Cynthia Bourgeault: Centering Prayer is a simple, no-frills form of meditation in the Christian tradition. Since it was first developed by Christian contemplative monks in the 1970s, it has allowed tens of thousands of practitioners worldwide to “return home,” developing an authentically Christian meditation practice which not only delivers the healing and quieting of the mind typical of all meditation paths, but also reconnects directly to Christianity’s hidden treasury of mystical and transformational wisdom.
The Gospel of Thomas by Cynthia Bourgeault: This e-course, “The Gospel of Thomas with Cynthia Bourgeault,” is a complete “Thomas starter kit”: everything you need to know to get you up and running with this remarkable text, plus a generous sampling of its most important sayings, arranged thematically so that they speak to issues that contemporary spiritual seekers are actually dealing with.
A Simple Immediacy: Desert Wisdom for Advent by Cynthia Bourgeault: The Desert Fathers and Mothers of the fourth and fifth centuries are arguably the first Wisdom School in Christian history. At first in trickles and then in waves, they fled into the deserts of Egypt and Syria to escape the increasing imperialization of the Christian Church and to live in a simple immediacy with the Risen Christ. In the process, they generated an extraordinary body of practical teachings on the spiritual practices underlying this life of deeper awareness and mystical union.
SEEING WITH THE EYES OF THE HEART: Living the Wisdom of the Jesus Story
On Seeing with the Eyes of the Heart, Adya and Cynthia Bourgeault explore:
- How we can begin to embody this loving, heart-centered presence in even the most challenging moments of our daily lives
- Jesus as a wisdom figure from whom we can learn these heart lessons
- How the crucifixion, the resurrection, and other key events of Jesus’ life serve as a blueprint for awakening and deep surrender
- Everyday practices for keeping our hearts tender and awake even during challenges and trials
- Includes two guided heart-opening practice sessions led by Cynthia and Adya.
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