Monday, November 24, 2014
Beyond Listening to God, a Relationship With Abba.
Thomas Keating, OCSO is one of the founders of Centering Prayer and Contemplative Outreach, a spiritual network that teaches Centering Prayer and provides a support system for those who practice it. He is the author of many books and recorded presentations on Contemplative Prayer. The practice of Centering Prayer, and the spiritual, historical and psychological basis of it, are described and elaborated in several of Thomas Keating’s works, including Open Mind, Open Heart and Invitation to Love
Centering Prayer and the 12-Steps.
A New Freedom
Effects of Centering Prayer
Whether you have been in recovery for a long time or are just beginning, you probably have experienced a lot of frustrated feelings that didn’t just go away when you got abstinent or sober...problems with relationships, work, anxiety, depression, or feelings of emptiness. These feelings are natural for us no matter what our addiction and the amount of time in recovery we have. But we don’t have to let them rule our lives. The 11th Step offers us a solution!
1. Choose a sacred word as the symbol of your intention to consent to God’s presence and action within.
The positive effects of the prayer are experienced in daily life and not necessarily during the prayer period itself. During this prayer, avoid analyzing the experience, or having expectations such as: continuously repeating the sacred word; having no thoughts; achieving a spiritual experience. It is important not to judge the success of your prayer period. The only thing you can do wrong in this prayer is to get up and leave. You may find yourself getting in touch with feelings of pain, lust, or fear, even remembering feelings or events you forgot about long ago. There is no way to change or repair the damage of a lifetime EASILY or QUICKLY.
Through the simple method of Centering Prayer we can improve our relationship with the Ultimate Power of life. This is true whether we call that power God, Allah, Mother, another name or no name.
4. At the end of the prayer period, remain in silence with eyes closed for a couple of minutes.
This type of prayer has been used over the centuries, but it is different from what we may think of as prayer. It is not the type of prayer we are used to, like praying for something we want. It is simply moving deep within ourselves, in silence, saying nothing, asking for nothing, just being and allowing our Higher Power to be with us.
1. The “sacred word” is sacred not because of its inherent meaning, but because of the meaning we give it as the expression of our intention and consent. Examples: Love, Let Go, Serenity, Peace, Silence, Faith, Trust, Gentle, etc.
Growth will happen when we practice Centering Prayer in the context of the 12 Steps.
For those who are working a recovery program, parallels can be found between the transformation that Centering Prayer brings and the process of growth facilitated as we work the 12 Steps.
2. “Sitting comfortably” means relatively comfortably so as not to encourage sleep during the time of prayer.
• Develops in us a nonjudgmental attitude of ourselves and others
2. Sitting comfortably and with eyes closed, settle briefly, and silently introduce the sacred word as the symbol of your consent to God’s presence and action within.
3. When engaged with your thoughts*, return ever-so-gently to the sacred word.
*thoughts include body sensations, feelings, images, and reflections
Everyone moves at his or her own pace in Centering Prayer. Just doing the prayer and opening our self to the presence of our Higher Power in silence will encourage you to keep going.
3. By “returning ever-so-gently to the sacred word” a minimum of effort is indicated. This is the only activity we initiate during the time of Centering Prayer.
• Emerging capacity to listen and serve others
• Enhances our ability to “Let Go and Let God”
• We grow in self knowledge which at times may be painful
• Nurtures our ability to live in the present moment and just for today