In contemplative prayer we move beyond language to experience God as Mystery. We let go of our need to judge, defend, or evaluate, plugging into the mind of Christ which welcomes paradox and knows its true identity in God.
During contemplation we come to know that there is no separation between sacred and secular. All is one with Divine Reality.
Through contemplation we develop the capacity to “witness” our egoic motivations and bring this knowledge into our day-to-day actions, living with increased freedom and authenticity through this deep awareness of our self and God’s Self. Fr. Richard often says that contemplation is an exercise in failure.
Each time we pray, we come with “beginner’s mind,” true humility, an openness to not knowing. Even with our best intentions to remain present to Presence, our habitual patterns of thinking and feeling interrupt and distract. Yet it is the desire that matters, and through our failing we encounter God’s grace.
Contemplative prayer is a practice for a lifetime, never perfected yet always enough.
Two simple practices:
Fr. Richard teaches a simple exercise he learned from a rabbi friend, the YHWH prayer. The Jews did not speak God’s name, but breathed it. God’s name was the first and last word to pass their lips. Breathe naturally with mouth open, tongue and lips relaxed, inhaling Yah and exhaling weh.
For an explanation and guide to centering prayer, visit Contemplative Outreach’s website.
- The Naked Now: Learning to See As the Mystics See
- Everything Belongs: The Gift of Contemplative Prayer
- Beginner’s Mind
- CAC Foundation Set: Gospel Call for Compassionate Action and Contemplative Prayer
- Emotional Sobriety: Rewiring Our Programs for “Happiness”
- Exploring and Experiencing the Naked Now
- Following the Mystics through the Narrow Gate (with James Finley)
- Healing Our Violence through the Journey of Centering Prayer (with Thomas Keating)
- How Do We Get Everything to “Belong”?
- When Action Meets Contemplation (with Shane Claiborne, downloadable MP3)