Open Heart, Mind, and Body

Contemplation: Week 1

Open Heart, Mind, and Body
Sunday, December 9, 2018

We may think of prayer as thoughts or feelings expressed in words. But this is only one expression. . . . Prayer is the opening of mind and heart—our whole being—to God, the Ultimate Mystery, beyond thoughts, words, and emotions. Through grace we open our awareness to God whom we know by faith is within us, closer than breathing, closer than thinking, closer than choosing—closer than consciousness itself. —Thomas Keating [1]

Whenever your heart space, your mind space, and your body space are all present and accounted for at the same time, you can experience pure presence, a moment of deep inner connection with the pure, gratuitous Being of anything and everything. It will often be experienced as a quiet leap of joy in the heart.

Contemplation is an exercise in openness, in keeping all three spaces open long enough for you to notice other hidden material. When you can do that, you are content with the present moment and can then wait upon futures you know will be given by grace. This is “full-access knowing”—not irrational, but intuitive, rational, and trans-rational all at once.

The supreme work of spirituality, which makes presence possible, is keeping the heart space open (which is the result of conscious love), keeping a “right mind” (which is the work of contemplation or meditation), and keeping the body alive with contentment and without attachment to its past woundings (which is often the work of healing). In that state, you are neither resisting nor clinging, and you can experience something genuinely new.

Those who can keep all three spaces open at the same time will know the Presence they need to know. That’s the only prerequisite for true prayer. People who can simply be present will know what they need to know—the Presence that connects everything to everything. This way of knowing has little to do with belonging to any particular denomination or religion.

References:
[1] Thomas Keating, Open Mind, Open Heart, 20th anniversary edition (Bloomsbury: 2006), 175.

Adapted from Richard Rohr, Just This (CAC Publishing: 2017), 32-33.

Image credit: Brown Wooden Chair, Marcelo Jaboo.
Inspiration for this week’s banner image: Centering Prayer is based on the wisdom saying of Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount: “If you want to pray, enter your inner room, close the door and pray to your Father in secret, and your Father who sees in secret will reward you.” —Thomas Keating
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