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Centering Prayer Leads to Centered Living

By Edited Nov 13, 2013 1 4

An early meditational, devotional Christian practice has been revived to a current practice now called Centering Prayer. Three monks from St. Joseph Abbey in Spencer, Massachusetts headed the revival. Thomas Keating, Wm. Meninger, and Basil Pennington are credited with the modern emergence of the practice.

The great thing about it is that it presents as a contemplative prayer or meditation available to anyone of any faith. There are numerous types of prayer, and this one is really a healing prayer. Its benefits far outweigh any detractors. A great spiritual development and growth takes place while practicing a relationship with God. The higher perception and reception to God within gradually helps overcome any fears of silence, or other contemplation biases that detract from practicing.

To practice centering prayer these 4 simple guidelines will do:

  1. Choose a sacred word.
  2. Sit comfortably, back straight with eyes closed.
  3. When your thoughts engage, return to your sacred word, gently.
  4. At the end of the prayer time, stay in silence with eyes shut for a few minutes.
There is an intention to accept or consent to God's presence and action within. That is the symbol of the sacred word. Noticing your breathing instead of choosing a sacred word is also acceptable. Whichever you choose to use, don't change it because then thoughts would enter. When they do, then return to the sacred word. This takes little effort and allows for a letting go of thoughts, images, feelings, plans, memories, whatever is taking place. You are resting in God. An easy way to remember these things are the 4 R's of thought:
  1. Resist no thoughts.
  2. Retain no thoughts.
  3. React emotionally to no thoughts.
  4. Return to the sacred word, gently.
I began practicing in 2004, and have definitely noticed a deeper friendship with God. I trust the inspiration of my daily conscious contact in centering prayer. There has been a shift to more self-less than selfish, and a divine communication that reminds me we are all connected. Usually I "sit" daily for 30 minutes. I would like to practice twice a day for 30 minutes, and am beginning to start that in smaller time increments the second sit. Meanwhile my living has become more centered living.

St. Benedicts Monastery in Old Snowmass, CO is where I have been fortunate enough to attend a s
Monastery Retreat House
ilent retreat (10 day). Fr. Thomas Keating, one of the founders of Contemplative Outreach, lives there and I have heard him lecture, and visit people on retreat to share about centering prayer. He is a wonderful teacher and has written many books about centering prayer. One of my favorites is Open Mind Open Heart: The Contemplative Dimension of the Gospel
, definitely an enjoyable, easy to contemplate book. You can find more retreat centers that offer centering prayer by reading the contemplative outreach website.

This meditation has enhanced my life and continues to amaze me because I definitely notice a difference in my day when I don't practice. I tend to be calmer in my head which heals any craziness going on in there when I do practice. This is a beginning, I look forward to the unknown adventure ahead.



Feb 17, 2010 12:13am
an amazing article... thanks...
Feb 17, 2010 4:13pm
You are welcome. Sharing about what I know is what I like to do.
Mar 14, 2011 9:36pm
I have been practicing this for over two years. I had no idea that someone made it a concept. I was led to it in my own prayer time, and it just grew into meditation. Also, another part of my meditation is a time of declaring the Natures of God's Character. I focus on them, and meditate on the power of who He is. My walk has flourished in ways I couldn't explain. Great article. Blessings to the writer.
Mar 15, 2011 2:45pm
Blessings to you too. Thank you for sharing about your declarations. Why don't you write an article about the Natures...I'd love to know more.
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