Contemplative Monk : Intentional Spirituality Transforms

My Story: On Meditation & Centering Prayer

 

 

 

 

For Lent this year, I tried out Centering Prayer.

Now, I’m a spiritual seeker. My whole life I’ve sought out wisdom, except for a 40-year layover in Evangelicalism. Its ‘outside in’ closed dualistic belief systems slowly suffocated my spirit. So, I was compelled into eastern practices: ie Tai Chi, meditation, and Yoga to detox. Now for those indoctrinated in sola scriptura, this might seem like heresy, but the fact is that most eastern spiritual practices are founded on what works, not on doctrine, belief systems, or who you worship. That was added later.

Meditation is a morally neutral spiritual practice native to all human beings, so have no fear, you can meditate and remain a Believer. It doesn’t change your belief system.

It’s also a comfort to know that in all forms of meditation, Christian, Buddhist, Sufi, or Secular, its the spirit the person brings to the practice that determines the spiritual direction you’ll go in.

Meditation is like a car that takes you from one state to another, but you’re the driver. You determine the direction your spiritual practice goes in.  

So for me, being well versed in Metta (Compassion Meditation), which works with the gamma waves of our brain, manifesting in happiness, creativity, and brilliant ideas, and in Vipassana, (Insight Meditation), which works with our feminine intuitive wisdom side, out of which secular Mindfulness comes, and finally in Mantra (Transcendental Meditation) which works with our masculine analytical side, I was astounded that within my own Christian tradition, there was a meditation form that encompassed aspects of all of these.

Centering Prayer

So for Lent this year, I tried out Centering Prayer, not expecting much, but I was astounded, moving immediately into non-dual awareness. I did not expect it.

Now, I’m a newcomer to Centering Prayer and not an expert, but I can say with full assurance that Centering Prayer stands as a bright light among all meditation forms. It can be a wonderful Christ-centered meditation prayer practice.

Wikipedia says: Centering Prayer is a popular method of meditation used by some Christians, placing a strong emphasis on interior silence. The modern Centering Prayer movement in Christianity can be traced to several books published by three Trappist monks of St. Joseph’s Abbey in Spencer, Massachusetts in the 1970s: Fr. William Meninger, Fr. M. Basil Pennington and Abbot Thomas Keating.[1] The name was taken from Thomas Merton‘s description of contemplative prayer (a much older and more traditional practice) as prayer that is “centered entirely on the presence of God.”.[2] In his book Contemplative Prayer, Merton writes ““Monastic prayer begins not so much with “considerations” as with a “return to the heart,” finding one’s deepest center, awakening the profound depths of our being”.

The creators of the Centering Prayer movement trace its roots to the contemplative prayer of the Desert Fathers of early Christian monasticism, to the Lectio Divina tradition of Benedictine monasticism, and to works like The Cloud of Unknowing and the writings of St. Teresa of Avila and St. John of the Cross. Advocates of Centering Prayer say it does not replace other prayer but encourages silence and deeper connection to God.[3] Also advocates of Centering Prayer say it helps people be more present and open to God.[4] Father Thomas Keating has promoted both Lectio Divina and Centering Prayer.[5]

In full confession mode, I was aware of Fr. Thomas Keating from his gatherings with Ken Wilber and Gempo Roshi. Though I thought he was a lightweight, I was wrong.

As I’m still in research mode, yet Centering Prayer is fast becoming my favorite spiritual practice.

I’m sure I’ve brought up more questions than I’ve answered as this is counterintuitive to most of what we’ve been taught as Christians.

Grace and Peace+

Bob

 

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