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

Meditations of the Heart (Thurman) Section 2 Day 7

We must be aware of the kids in our lives because they may seem oblivious to us but, they’re actually paying attention. And, they imitate us, often to our horror because the things that come out of the mouths and minds we can recognize as too true to the source.

So, be a good person. Be a kind person. Be an encouraging person. Show them how to be smart with their wits and judgements, generous with their mercy and patience, liberal with the grace and forgiveness.

We provide them with tools of various kinds. But, if we regard them as nuisances, or irritations or THINGS as we busy ourselves in our own pursuits, they will know we do not love and that our religion is not attractive nor of value.

Train up the child in the way that he and she should go; and when they are old, they will not stray from it.  Proverbs 22:6.

Don’t let them see you doing this: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w1lTUkVLFJ4

Meditations of the Heart (Thurman) Day 25

Rev. Thurman writes, “God is making room in my heart for compassion: the awareness that where my life begins, your’s begins; the awareness that the sensitiveness to your needs cannot be separated from the sensitiveness to my needs; the awareness that the joys of my heart are never mine alone- nor are my sorrows.”

globe interconnected linesWe are inextricably related for even when we are not directly connected, we are even so, woven, membrane by membrane into a web of life that includes not only humans, but all living things: animals and their survival or extinction; water sources that are plentiful and safe; forests that flourish or are stripped; income from jobs or welfare; justice or injustice.

We may want our lives to not be intertwined because it’s easier; but it is not richer that way.

Meditations of the Heart (Thurman) Day 5

I was struck by Thurman’s line that “All events in life take place, somehow, within the divine context.”

Some people attribute everything to God and abandon any responsibility for the occurrence or for the correction of it or the healing from it. Yet, as Thurman goes one to say, we want to “fix responsibility”.  If we can pin down whom to blame, he says, then we can attack and uproot ills.  It assumes there is a “structure of moral integrity that undergirds all of life”.  The things that happen in life are a part of some kind of rationale. (23)

And yet, when we can’t make sense of things that happen (it’s usually bad things we try to figure out the genesis of) we finally relinquish the search for logical explanation.  We can live with this unresolved puzzle, perhaps maintaining an anger or a depression as a result of the event.  Or, as Thurman suggests, we can try to “understand God’s understanding.” That’s a pretty tall order.  Short of that, and perhaps comforting to some, we can “rest in the assurance of God’s Presence with us and in life” going on about us.

I know some folks, rather agnostic, who can not attribute our living to God. I certainly have, on occasional days, trouble with the whole God-package as relayed by the churches and the religion I’ve known.  However, I am also able to remember, and even live anew somedays, in a space I ascribe to God’s Presence. I find it mostly on my yoga mat when my body and my mind align with breath to seek an internal awareness of the Divine.  With that exercise, I yoke myself to the Holy One and try to see the world from that point of view.  And I recall Psalm 139 that says we are fearfully and wonderfully made.

I Feel Your Presence With Me (A reimaging of Psalm 139)

Mystical Creator, you formed me in the ancient days of love and harmony.
I faintly remember, in the lining of my soul, the tranquility that hovered there.

In the days of now, the days of rising and of not remedying yesterday’s sin,
The days of ignoring and denying my loose tongue and hurtful thoughts,
You know exactly where I am, when I sit and when I stand.

You know when I move forward for justice and when I stall with indifference.
You surround me with my better self, just beyond my own vision; but I feel it- that better self.
I
t is your presence with me that I feel and hear making its way through today’s noise to arouse my soul.

Where can I go from your presence since you formed me and have been with me since ancient days?
If I could run as a leopard, I couldn’t flee from your Spirit.
If I could shift and swing as a monkey I couldn’t out maneuver your grace.
If I slid into a pit of deep despair as dark as any otter’s den, even there you would reach in.

I hear your voice, the echo just beyond my hearing.
I see my better self, just beyond my own embodied image.
E
ven when I try to run and hide from you, I know you as “home”.

Thank you for calling me your own.
Draw me forward out of the ancient mystery into today’s obedience. 

soul a dancin'

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