I am excited to interview Keith Kristich. Keith is a commissioned teacher of Centering Prayer through Contemplative Outreach, trained with the Shalem Institute in leading contemplative prayer groups and retreats and is a certified Enneagram teacher through the Conscious Living Center.
Keith enjoys to walk alongside those who wish to nourish and deepen their spiritual life and wellbeing through contemplative prayer, meditation, and personality study. This allows him to journey with people in leading retreats, regular contemplative practice groups, and in one-on-one coaching settings, both in person and online.
His ultimate aim is to help people slow down and reconnect with their deepest and truest self.
Now on to the interview!
How do you pray?
Centering Prayer has been my daily practice going on the last ten years and is both the most spiritual thing I do in my day as well as the most practical. I practice Centering as a way of sinking down below the ordinary chaos of mind and emotion, learning how to rest in God as the very ground of my being.
How do you define Contemplative Prayer?
I see Contemplative Prayer as a slow turning towards God as the deepest aspect of our identity. Contemplation is about opening to God as the center and Source of our being, ultimately learning to rest in God as “being” itself.
In this sense, contemplative prayer is a return to the naked simplicity of our own inner being, knowing that our being is born out of the greater Ground of Being we call God.
At its core, contemplation is a transcendence of the mental conceptions we hold about God, and a sinking into the spiritual heart where God isn’t known as an idea or belief, but as a direct experience within us.
What is the enneagram and how can it help us?
Many are familiar with the Enneagram as a “personality typing system.” But even more fundamentally, the Enneagram is a tool for transformation highlighting how our personality or ego has stepped in and overshadowed our True Self. If we live only as our personality, we view the world not as-it-is but as our psychological filter says it is.
Practically, the Enneagram highlights 9 unique personalities based on 9 intrinsic motivations like the need to be perfect, successful, unique, at peace, powerful, and more. These deep motivations are often unconscious and drive our mental and emotional life, bleeding into how we act in everyday life.
Knowing your personality type (and unconscious motivations) allows us to witness our ego-in-action, allowing us to become free of our often unconscious, mental and emotional patterns.
Tell us a little bit about your coaching and group work you offer?
In one-on-one settings, I offer a unique blend of traditional spiritual direction and Enneagram coaching. Being a certified Enneagram teacher allows me to weave personality psychology with the traditional practice of prayerful listening done in spiritual direction. Working one-on-one is one of my favorite settings!
I also run online Spiritual Formation Groups. For those interested in working with the Enneagram as a tool for transformation, I offer 12 week “Contemplative Enneagram Groups” which are all about integrating the insights from the Enneagram with the Wisdom born of the contemplative tradition and practice within a community context.
Pairing the Enneagram with contemplative prayer and Centering Prayer results in accelerated personal transformation. The Enneagram gives us a powerful framework and vocabulary to understand our personal psychological structure & personal hang-ups and contemplative practices help us to step outside of the structures of the “Psychological Self.”
Weaving these two tools together is a powerful way of seeing ourselves as-we-are so that we can wake up and make more conscious choices in everyday life.
Tell us a little bit about your new course, Closer Than Breath. How can people learn more about it?
I am very excited to share about Closer Than Breath! This is a 6-week, self-paced meditation course founded on the experiencing God as closer than the air we breathe. Closer Than Breath teaches Centering Prayer from an interfaith perspective, allowing space to weave some classic Buddhist teachings on meditation with the prayerful Christian contemplatives that Centering Prayer emerges from.
As a course, it’s offered with video and written content, and being self-paced, allows people to work through things at their own pace in bite-sized chunks.
It’s designed for both those brand new to meditation and for the old school Centering Pray-er’s. This means if you’ve been practicing for a while, I’m certain you’ll find your practice deepened by going through this course and, if you’re new to meditation or Centering, this will put you on a path of having a regular, committed practice.
You can download the free 4 page guide Closer Than Breath to get a taste of the material as well as stay up to date about when the course launches again in September 2020. See closerthanbreath.com
What is the best way to learn more about you and the work you do?
Keith, thanks for taking the time for this interview and for the great work you do!