In the last post, Rev. Michael Marsh shared a vivid experience when a meditative state of mind washed over him, and his prayer turned to a silent awareness of God’s presence. Some of us may have fallen into that type of meditative encounter with God without trying, which is what he did. However, there are several methods of meditation, both Christian and Buddhist, that we can learn and use on a daily basis. In this post, I am going to share how to engage in the form known as Centering Prayer.
Here’s the simple method:
Select a location where you will not be interrupted. Sit quietly & in a comfortable position.
Select a prayer word, preferably of one or two syllables at most. Some good examples are: Abba, Grace, Love, Oneness, Peace.
Set a timer to chime quietly when your time is up. It’s best to begin with short sessions, perhaps of 5 to 7 minutes.
Breathe in & out a few times, then shut your eyes. Say a brief prayer dedicating this time to God.
Allow your mind to rest and go quiet. Some people find it helpful, at first, to focus on how their breath feels as it enters and leaves their nostrils.
Repeat your prayer word. When you notice your mind is thinking, instead of quiet, repeat your word to yourself in a gentle tone, and let go of your thought.
Don’t resist or react to any thoughts you have during your session. Don’t beat yourself up for having lots of thoughts. This is normal, especially when you are just beginning to do centering prayer.
Session’s up. When your timer signals the end of your session, close with the Lord’s Prayer. You may also want to offer a simple prayer of gratitude in your own words.
That’s all there is to the basic method! As you might imagine, however, this deceptively simple method can yield rich results when practiced over time. Also, you can expect that, at first, your mind will be very, very busy with thoughts. Be gentle with yourself. In future posts I’ll have share some knowledge about normal struggles to expect when beginning a centering prayer practice.