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Center for Action and Contemplation

Centering Prayer: Weekly Summary

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Centering Prayer

Summary: Sunday, February 12-Friday, February 17, 2017

This week guest writer Cynthia Bourgeault explored the contemplative practice of Centering Prayer.

Thomas Merton, Thomas Keating, and John Main recognized meditation not as a newfangled innovation, let alone the grafting onto Christianity of an Eastern practice, but rather, as something that had originally been at the very center of Christian practice and had become lost. (Sunday)

Centering Prayer is a pathway of return in which every time the mind is released from engagement with a specific idea or impression, we move from a smaller and more constricted consciousness into that open, diffuse awareness in which our presence to divine reality makes itself known along a whole different pathway of perception. (Monday)

Each time you manage to disengage from a thought, you are doing so in solidarity with Jesus’ own kenotic stance; and in the process patterning that stance more and more deeply into your being until it eventually becomes your default response to all life’s situations. (Tuesday)

It could be said that in Centering Prayer your intention is “to be totally open to God”: totally available, all the way down to that innermost point of your being; deeper than your thinking, feelings, memories, and desires. (Wednesday)

There is a deeper current of awareness, a deeper and more intimate sense of belonging, which flows beneath the surface waters of your being and grows stronger and steadier as your attention is able to maintain itself as a unified field of objectless awareness. (Thursday)

Once you get the hang of it, attention of the heart allows you to be fully present to God, but at the same time fully present to the situation at hand, giving and taking from the spontaneity of your own authentic, surrendered presence. (Friday)


Practice: Centering Prayer

As Cynthia Bourgeault shared earlier this week, here is the simple method for practicing Centering Prayer as taught by Thomas Keating. I hope you’ll try it and stay with it for a while!

  1. Choose a sacred word as the symbol of your intention to consent to God’s presence and action within.
  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 [including body sensations, feelings, images, and reflections], return ever so gently to the sacred word.
  4. At the end of the prayer period, remain in silence with eyes closed for a couple of minutes. [1]

Gateway to Silence:
Return to God.

[1] Thomas Keating, “The Method of Centering Prayer: The Prayer of Consent,” Contemplative Outreach,

For Further Study:
Cynthia Bourgeault, Centering Prayer and Inner Awakening (Cowley Publications: 2004)
Cynthia Bourgeault, The Heart of Centering Prayer: Nondual Christianity in Theory and Practice (Shambhala: 2016)
Thomas Keating and Richard Rohr, Healing Our Violence through the Journey of Centering Prayer (Franciscan Media: 2002)

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