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PRAYER CENTER

Centering Prayer


Thanks to Marvin Gawryn for his article, "Centering-A Method of Divine Embrace" which was the stimulus for this prayer.

The method of "centering prayer" is the opening of our minds and hearts--our whole being--to God. This act goes beyond thoughts, words, or emotions. Centering can be a process of interior purification, leading (with our consent) to divine union. During the time of centering, we consent to God's presence and action within. At other times our attention moves outward to discover God's presence everywhere. The following description is from Thomas Keating's book, "Open Mind, Open Heart."

Centering Guidelines

I. Choose a sacred word as the symbol of your intention to consent to God's presence and action within.
II. Sitting comfortably with your eyes closed, settle briefly and silently introduce the sacred word as the symbol of your consent to God's presence and action within.
III. When you become aware of thoughts, return ever-so-gently to the sacred word.
IV. At the end of the Centering period, remain in silence with eyes closed for a couple of minutes.

I. Choose a sacred word as the symbol of your intention to consent to God's presence and action within.
  1. The sacred word expresses our intention to be in God's presence and to yield to the divine action.
  2. The sacred word can be chosen during a brief period of prayer asking the Spirit to inspire us with one that is especially suitable for us. Some examples: Father, Mother, Jesus, Love, Peace, Faith, Trust, Shalom.
  3. Having chosen a sacred word, we do not change it during the Centering period, for that would be to start thinking again.
  4. A simple inward gaze upon God may be more suitable for some persons than the sacred word. In this case, one consents to God's presence and action by turning inwardly toward God as if gazing upon him. The same guidelines apply to the sacred gaze as to the sacred word.
II. Sitting comfortably with your eyes closed, settle briefly and silently introduce the sacred word as the symbol of your consent to God's presence and action within.
  1. By sitting comfortably is meant relatively comfortably; not so comfortably that we encourage sleep, but sitting comfortably enough to avoid thinking about the discomfort of our bodies during this time of Centering. Whatever sitting position we choose, keep the back straight.
  2. If we fall asleep, we continue the Centering process for a few minutes upon awakening if we can spare the time.
  3. Centering in this way after a main meal may encourage drowsiness. It is better to wait at least an hour before Centering. Also Centering before sleep may disturb one's sleep pattern.
  4. We close our eyes to let go what is going on around and within us.
  5. We introduce the sacred word inwardly and as gently as laying a feather on a piece of absorbent cotton.
III. When you become aware of thoughts, return ever-so-gently to the sacred word.
  1. "thoughts" is an umbrella term for every perception including sense perceptions, feelings, images, memories, reflections, and commentaries.
  2. Thought are a normal part of Centering and occur often during the process.
  3. By "returning ever-so-gently to the sacred word," a minimum of effort is indicated. This is the only activity we initiate during the time of Centering. During the course of Centering, the sacred word may become vague or even disappear.
IV. At the end of the Centering period, remain in silence with eyes closed for a couple of minutes.
  1. The additional 2 or 3 minutes give the psyche time to readjust to the external senses and enable us to bring the atmosphere of silence into daily life.
Practical Points
  • The minimum time for centering is twenty minutes. Two periods are recommended each day, one first thing in the morning, and one in the afternoon or early evening.
  • The end of the Centering period can be indicated by a timer, providing it does not have an audible tick or loud sound when it goes off.
  • The principal effects of Centering are experienced in daily life, not in the period of Centering itself.
  • We may notice slight pains, itches, or twitches in various parts of the body or a generalized restlessness. We may also notice a heaviness or lightness in the extremities. This is usually a deep level of spiritual attentiveness. In either case, we pay no attention, or we allow the mind to rest briefly in the sensation, and then return to the sacred word
For more on Prayer read Paper 91:
The Evolution of Prayer, Page 994
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