The Path Of Centering Prayer: Book Review

I am excited to share my review of The Path of Centering Prayer:  Deepening Your Experience Of God by David Frenette. I have read this book numerous times. Each read has helped me to go deeper into my centering prayer journey. (David also has a wonderful companion audio that I continue to listen to on my commute to and from work: Centering Prayer Meditations.)

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David is an author, a contemplative coach, contemplative spiritual director and spiritual writer. He co-created and co-led a contemplative retreat community for 10 years, has an MA in transpersonal counseling psychology, has been an adjunct faculty member at Naropa University, a founding member of Integral Spirituality, a trustee of Contemplative Outreach, and a teacher at leading retreat centers across the country.

Learn more about David at DavidFrenette.com.

“This book looks at ways to deepen your centering prayer practice in order to help orient you to receive the gift of contemplation.”

Book Structure

The Path of Centering Prayer is nicely divided into two parts:

Part I – Deepening Your Centering Prayer Practice

Part II – Contemplative Attitudes

Let me share my five takeaways from this wonderful book.

The Sacred Word

“The sacred word is often a more natural way of practicing centering prayer for auditory learners.”

“The sacred breath is often a more helpful symbol for kinesthetic learners.”

“The sacred glance is often a more helpful symbol for visual learners.”

Everyone seems to learn in a different manner. I started my practice with the use of a sacred word. While I read a Richard Rohr meditation, I came across a beautiful Jesus icon. I began to use this interior image as my sacred word and have continued to do so to this day. I center with my eyes closed.

My sixteen year old daughter practices centering prayer with me. She is fearful that she will fall asleep so I taught her the sacred glance. With her eyes open, she stares at a spot three to five feet in front of her during our silent sits.

I encourage you to find the appropriate sacred symbol as your intention to open to the presence and action of God.

Purification

“The most important thing that is purified in contemplation is your sense of being separate from God.”

I sit with Jesus. When I arise from my sit, I do not leave Jesus. I like to think that I sit with Jesus so I can walk with Jesus in my everyday life. I am never separate from God. Jesus is my constant companion and partner.

Gentleness

“Gentleness is necessary for the deepening of centering prayer.”

“Let contemplation come effortlessly to you, as a continual gift out of the gifting nature of God.”

“Contemplation is effortless in the same way that the falling of snow is effortless.”

“In contemplative practice, you gradually find that you are drawn into letting your effort burn away, letting it evaporate in the radiant light of God’s gentleness.”

“The presence of God is continually acting in you, but very gently.”

“How does it look when the contemplative attitudes of gentleness and effortlessness begin to surface in life?”

God is a gentle and loving presence. God is very patient. God’s patience is evident by the amount of time that transpired between the birth of the universe, the creation of the earth and finally the Incarnation of God in human form:  Jesus.

I can take this same gentle, effortless and patient attitude from my silent sit and use it in my everyday life: work, home and in the community. It is a paradox. I seem to be much more productive when I act in an effortless, gentle and patient manner.

This effortless, gentle and patient disposition is a wonderful gift of contemplative prayer!

Let Go

“Letting go is at the heart of centering prayer.”

“As centering prayer deepens, letting go yields to letting be—being in God’s Being.”

“The contemplative attitudes of letting go and letting be open you to God’s nature, which is love.”

“Letting go and letting be in life mean letting God become the source of every moment, every relationship, and every activity.”

“You learn to float in God in prayer in order to swim with God in life.”

During centering prayer I move from letting go to letting be. I allow myself to rest in God’s presence. I trust that all I need at this very minute is to be held and engulfed by the loving arms of God who is Love.

I can take this same attitude with me into my non silent times of the day. If I am anxious or worried, I will take a silent pause, let go and rest in God’s Being. When I am stuck on a problem at work, I will pause, let the problem go, and rest for a minute in God’s Love.

As David mentions, we learn to float in God in prayer in order to swim with God in life. Our silent sits serve as valuable practices for our daily life encounters. My silent sits teach me how to live each day!

Embrace Your Emotions

“By resisting emotions, you also resist the transforming action of God.”

“Embracing is an active contemplative attitude that helps you shift into a deep perspective of faith.”

“Feelings are a gift, a part of human experience to be embraced.”

“In other words, one of the best ways of letting go of an emotion is simply to feel it.”

I remember my first sit after my father passed away. As I began my prayer time, I sobbed and allowed myself to grieve. I utilized my sacred icon to open to the presence and action of God within. I continued to cry, let go, and open to the presence and action of God within over and over and over again. Finally I rested in God who is Love and transcends my emotions.

Next Steps

“Let one of these attitudes stay with you, as a gift that you take back with you into your practice, to guide you more deeply into contemplative relationship with God. The greatest gift on the contemplative path is God. May you realize your life in God’s dance. May you embrace and be embraced by your own true partner.”

“The contemplative path brings you first from seeing God as a thought of yours to the experience that God is beyond thoughts, then to the greater mystery of realizing yourself as a thought in the mind, being, and emergent life of God.”

Pick one or two of the contemplative attitudes mentioned in Part II of this book and allow it to move from your prayer time and penetrate your everyday life.

As you deepen your centering prayer practice your life and God’s life will be more and more intertwined!

I will continue to come back to this powerful book.  I encourage you to read The Path of Centering Prayer.

Go Further

Try Audible and Get Two Free Audiobookshttp://ir-na.amazon-adsystem.com/e/ir?t=richswebsi-20&l=pf4&o=1 – This is a great way to listen to books with your cell phone while you drive, walk or relax at home.  I frequently listen in my car during my commute to and from work.  I’m a proud affiliate. I highly recommend David Frenette’s, Centering Prayer Meditations: Effortless Contemplation to Deepen Your Experience of GodYou can get it for free with a 30 day free trial.

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

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

Thomas Keating, Manifesting God

 

Practicing the Presence of God by Pamela Begeman, Mary Ann Brussat, Gail Fitzpatrick-Hopler, David Frenette: We live in a world of complexity, fragmentation, noise, and haste. We sometimes find ourselves overwhelmed by the sheer quantity of tasks, appointments, and commitments facing us. How can we experience God in the midst of the busyness, responsibilities, and activities of our daily lives? By practice. By living more in the present moment. By practicing the presence of God in the present moment.

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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.

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Drawing from the wisdom of monastic life, modern psychology and best practices in personal productivity, the Monk Manual provides a daily system that will help you find clarity, purpose, wisdom, and peace in the moments that make up your life.

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