Returning from vacation is never easy. It's been especially hard for me this week. I've been emotionally chaotic and physically stagnant; the worst of combinations in my book. Sure, it's also brought about some blessed conversations and insights, but I can't help thinking, if only I'd taken the time to center and listen, I could have kept the "a-ha's" and skipped the drama. 

Hence, my offering to you today is what I offered myself this morning: Centering Prayer. LEARN, LISTEN, LOVE...


Paraphrased from "The Method of Centering Prayer" by Thomas Keating

We may think of prayer as thoughts or feelings expressed in words. But this is only one expression. Contemplative Prayer - of which Centering Prayer is a method - is opening the mind and heart - our whole being - to God, the Ultimate Mystery, beyond thoughts, words, and emotions. Through grace we open our awareness to God whom we know by faith is within us, closer than breathing, closer than thinking, closer than choosing - closer than consciousness itself. 

Centering Prayer Guidelines:

1. During a brief period of silent listening to the Spirit, choose a sacred word or short phrase as the symbol of your intention to consent to God's presence and action within. (Instead of a sacred word, you may notice your breath, or a candle or other centering image.)  

2. Sitting comfortably and with your eyes closed, settle briefly and silently introduce the sacred word.

3. When engaged with your thoughts**, return ever-so-gently to the sacred word. Sometimes it helps to watch your thoughts float by as if leaves on a stream or clouds in the sky.  

4. At the end of the prayer period, remain in silence with eyes closed for a couple of minutes. Intend to bring this atmosphere of silence - of centeredness and listening - into everyday life.  

**"Thoughts" is an umbrella term for every perception, including body sensations, sense perceptions, feelings, images, memories, plans, reflections, concepts, commentaries and spiritual experiences.

What's stirring in you? What questions remain? Ask them. And, learn more here. Keep learning and listening...

All methods that lead to contemplation are more or less aimed at bypassing the thinking process. The reason is that our thinking process tends to reinforce our addictive process - our frenzy to ‘get something’ from the outer world to fuel our compulsions or to mask our pain. If we can just rest on a regular basis for twenty to thirty minutes without thinking, we begin to see that we are not our thoughts. Most people suffer because they think that they are their thoughts and if their thoughts are upsetting, distressing, or evil, they are stuck with them. If they just stopped thinking for a while every day as a discipline, they would begin to see that they do not have to be dominated by their thoughts.... As interior freedom develops, we become like people at a lousy movie who know that they can get up and leave anytime. We also know that we are free to stay. This is the difference between a spiritual practice that is working and one that has not yet begun. In a process that has not begun, we continue to allow ourselves to be dominated by other people, circumstances, and the inner dynamics that were set in place in early childhood and over which we did not have control. As we begin to practice, we know that we have to own these dynamics in order to move beyond them, become our true selves, and manifest all the creative possibilities that God has given us. As this realization grows in us, we begin to act from our center. The chief effect of Centering Prayer is to live from our center.
— Thomas Keating, Intimacy With God

What do you hear? What is stirring in you? Keep listening...


Of course, this week, I suggest loving yourself, God and others through giving Centering Prayer a try. Or, recommitting to a meditation method that works for you. Either way, carve out 20 minutes in the next 24 hours and see what comes. Namaste.**

**I love this definition of namaste: "I honor the place within you in which the entire universe dwells. I honor the place within you, which is of Love, of Truth, of Light and of Peace. When you are in that place within you and I am in that place within me, WE ARE ONE."