Centering Prayer Day 2

Last evening I nearly forgot to attempt Centering Prayer again. I was ready for bed and realized I needed to put this piece in before I went to sleep.  So, I sat up on my bed and tried to find that quiet center within me.  I did find it easier, since it was dark, to begin the travel away from my daytime material world and into a deeper awareness.

But, still plans and wonderings and scenarios kept flying into my mind.
In our group on Sunday I used the images of boats row boat bowslowing coming into view as a metaphor for how our thoughts trickle in to push into our quiet time. Well, my boats don’t gently nudge in, they are just, BAMMM!, there. I don’t get much warning. Before I realize it full blown scenarios are playing out in my mind.

I decided to use a word mantra to sort of focus my attention to get past random thoughts. And what came back to me was questions about why I chose that word. What was it about that concept that I wanted, that I feared, that I harbored anxiety about.

Ok, so a word mantra didn’t work to empty my mind.

Dang it, this is hard.  It sounds so simple, just empty your mind. Seek only the presence of God. Detach from what holds us – what holds our attention, our emotions,  our biases

This morning I’ve decided to read Nan Merrill’s version of Psalm 78:1-3 and let the ancient psalmist lull me into the presence of Holiness.

“Listen well, O peoples of the earth,

to inner promptings of the Spirit;

Let Silence enter your house that

you may hear!

For within your heart Love speaks: 

not with words of deceit,

But of spiritual truths to guide you

upon the paths of peace.

Centering Prayer Day 1

Centering Prayer is a method of silent prayer.

This past Sunday I began a pre-worship time of Centering Prayer at church.  I knew that I wanted it to be more experiential than a lecture or an informational Sunday School class.  I wanted to give people time to actually practice centering prayer together.

I also knew I needed to explain it a bit and prepare people to incrementally develop time of silence and stillness in order to practice this ancient and yet new again way of praying.

From the Contemplative Outreach website I began to pull together language to use in class. http://www.centeringprayer.com

Centering Prayer prepares us to receive a sacred gift.

In this prayer time we experience God’s presence, gentle as a butterfly, within us; closer than breathing; closer than thinking; closer than consciousness itself.

We detach from what holds us – what holds our attention, our emotions, our biases, so we can be open to God’s presence. “I sleep but my heart is awake.” (Song of Songs).

It is a visceral way to be in touch with the deeper yearning inside you. Cynthia Bourgeault (Centering Prayer and Inner Awakening, 130).

In centering prayer, the inner observer’s job is to connect your mind’s lofty ideals with your embodiment’s actions. (Bourgeault, 131).

This method of prayer is both a relationship with God and a discipline to foster that relationship.

“The actual work of centering prayer is consenting to God’s presence and letting go of the present moment and all its content.” Thomas Keating (Intimacy with God, 26).

In the quiet of centering prayer, the consent to return to a sacred word, or your breath, or a sound, is all the activity you need.

At this point in the group (ok, it was only two of us this first week) after getting to know each other a bit and butterfly outlinelearning a little about what Centering Prayer is, we took an outline of a butterfly to trace with our finger and then focus on the image to use as a signal, when our minds strayed, to come back to center.

We ended our time together agreeing to practice Centering Prayer for 10 minutes twice a day – morning and evening. We are not necessarily expecting to get to that blissful state in the first week :0) but we are intending to practice settling in and looking for the Sacred One inside us.

So, this morning, after my morning walk (thank you for no more snow), and some yoga to release my bound up muscles, I sat on my mat in search of a quiet mind.

It was illusive.  It’s really ridiculous how many thoughts come into my mind.  I admit I AM a creative person and it seems to be on all the time! Some people tell me I have too much going on inside my head. Whatever, it’s the way I’m made.

I felt like there were moments when I was on the edge of it and then I’d think “Oh yea! I’m getting it!”  Darn… I’m not supposed to judge or think. I’m to be aware, but not analytical. So, I didn’t get it – yet.

I resolved to say to my mat “To be continued”.sitting by water in the country