What do we need, in order to come out of our shell? To feel secure? To feel that we are competent at what we do? I remember being struck by actress Jodie Foster’s response in an interview after she won a best actor Oscar. She said, “I thought it was a fluke. I thought everybody would find out and they would take the Oscar back. They’d come to my house, knocking on the door, ‘Excuse me; we meant to give that to someone else. That was going to Meryl Streep’.”
If acclaimed actresses feel this way, small wonder that many others struggle with this mind-set. No matter how you frame it, Imposter Syndrome holds you back from fully stepping out into the world. From taking risks. From showing who you really are. From telling your story from the heart. From staying in touch with your core values and forming genuine connections with people who share those values.
Photo credit: Photo by Ahmed Sobah on Unsplash
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.
Photo by Michael D Beckwith on Unsplash
Over at his blog, Rev. Michael Marsh writes about a moment when his prayer ‘went still.’ He felt he had no words. The way he describes it, it was a very tender feeling, but also alive with the presence of the Holy. In fact, ‘Still prayer’ or ‘the prayer of quiet’ are other names for Christian meditation. His short post (below) conveys the peace which can come from this form of prayer.
Prayer begins when the words end
Psalm 62:1. “For God alone my soul in silence waits; from him comes my salvation.”
Michael+ writes: One Sunday, years ago, I knelt to pray before the liturgy began, as was my usual practice. I always had something to tell or ask God. This day, however, Continue reading “The Prayer of Silence”
Many critics of our diagnostic manuals complain that our DSM focuses on pathology but is not underpinned by any definition of psychological health. While the diagnostic manuals are necessary, I heartily agree with the critics on this point. When we are suffering with psychological ‘symptoms,’ (e.g. -depression, agitation, etc) of course we want relief. But most of us, deep down, want more for our lives
Continue reading “What is mental health, anyway?”