Centering Prayer at Christ Church is a forty-minute Zoom group that meets twice weekly on Tuesday and Thursday mornings at 9:30. We open with a time of gentle relaxation and inspiration, often including soft music or chant, allowing ourselves to settle in and get comfortable for our “sit.” We then sit in silence for twenty minutes. We end with the Lord’s Prayer and a few moments to check back in with each other, sharing our intentions for the day or a cheery blessing.
What exactly is Centering Prayer?
What do we do during the twenty minutes that we sit without speaking? Are we meditating? Well, yes…and not quite. Centering Prayer is a very simple form of meditation in the Christian tradition.
Unlike other forms of meditation, it does not seek to focus the attention; does not use a mantra or follow the breath. Rather, Centering Prayer releases the objects of our attention. We call these thoughts, but they are anything passing through our busy minds: the rehashing of a recent argument, the day’s to-do list, a lovely memory, the neighbor’s noisy lawn mower, lyrics from a song, an itch on the nose, etc., etc. Our intention is all-important in this prayer. We “consent to the presence and action of God in our lives.”* We hand things over to God for these twenty minutes by means of a sacred word that we very gently and silently return to whenever a thought arises. Thoughts arise nearly constantly some days! But we look at the releasing and returning part as the true prayer. If we notice 10,000 thoughts, we have 10,000 opportunities to return to God, to paraphrase Fr. Thomas Keating, who popularized Centering Prayer. With each release, our bond with God grows stronger though to us it usually feels as though nothing much is “happening.”
Our Centering Prayer Zooms are relaxing and pleasant in and of themselves. They support our personal daily practice of the prayer. But the real benefits occur beyond our short time together.
Over time, this practice of letting go becomes a natural reflex as we gradually come to take the prayer with us into our daily lives. We begin to more and more easily release strong reactions to stress and external and internal conflicts. It becomes almost automatic to turn things over to God. The result is a growing sense of inner peace and steadiness, amidst changing and often difficult times. The ultimate consequence is a growing capacity for compassion — for self and others — and trust in the Sovereignty and Goodness of God.
If you would like to join us, please contact Michele at 610-763-4339 or call or email Christ Church office for the Zoom link.
*You can learn more about Centering Prayer by googling Thomas Keating.
Another excellent source for information on Centering Prayer is Cynthia Bourgeault.