Centering Prayer – Definition & Detailed Explanation – Meditation & Mindfulness Glossary

I. What is Centering Prayer?

Centering Prayer is a form of Christian meditation that focuses on quieting the mind and opening the heart to the presence of God. It is a contemplative practice that helps individuals deepen their relationship with God and cultivate a sense of inner peace and stillness. Centering Prayer is rooted in the Christian mystical tradition and draws inspiration from the teachings of ancient Christian mystics such as St. John of the Cross and St. Teresa of Avila.

II. How is Centering Prayer practiced?

Centering Prayer is typically practiced in a quiet and comfortable setting where individuals can sit or kneel in a relaxed position. The practice involves choosing a sacred word or phrase as a symbol of one’s intention to be open to God’s presence. This word or phrase is then silently repeated throughout the prayer session to help focus the mind and let go of distractions.

During the prayer session, individuals are encouraged to let go of their thoughts, emotions, and desires, and simply be present to the moment. This involves letting go of the need to control or manipulate the prayer experience and surrendering to the mystery of God’s presence. The goal of Centering Prayer is to cultivate a sense of inner stillness and openness to God’s transformative love.

III. What are the benefits of Centering Prayer?

Centering Prayer offers a wide range of benefits for individuals who practice it regularly. Some of the benefits include:

– Deepening one’s relationship with God
– Cultivating a sense of inner peace and stillness
– Enhancing one’s ability to listen and discern God’s will
– Developing a greater sense of compassion and empathy for others
– Reducing stress and anxiety
– Improving overall mental and emotional well-being

Many individuals who practice Centering Prayer report experiencing a greater sense of connection to God and a deepening of their faith. The practice can also help individuals develop a greater sense of self-awareness and self-acceptance, leading to a more balanced and fulfilling life.

IV. What is the history of Centering Prayer?

Centering Prayer has its roots in the Christian contemplative tradition and can be traced back to the early Christian mystics who sought to deepen their relationship with God through prayer and meditation. The practice was popularized in the 20th century by Trappist monks Thomas Keating, William Meninger, and Basil Pennington, who developed a modern form of contemplative prayer based on the teachings of the Desert Fathers and other Christian mystics.

Since its introduction, Centering Prayer has gained popularity among Christians of various denominations and has been embraced as a powerful spiritual practice for deepening one’s faith and connection to God. The practice continues to evolve and adapt to the needs of contemporary practitioners, while remaining rooted in the rich tradition of Christian mysticism.

V. How does Centering Prayer differ from other forms of meditation?

Centering Prayer differs from other forms of meditation in several key ways. Unlike mindfulness meditation, which focuses on observing and accepting one’s thoughts and emotions without judgment, Centering Prayer emphasizes letting go of thoughts and distractions in order to open oneself to the presence of God. While mindfulness meditation can be practiced by individuals of any faith or belief system, Centering Prayer is specifically rooted in the Christian tradition and is intended to deepen one’s relationship with God.

Another key difference between Centering Prayer and other forms of meditation is the use of a sacred word or phrase as a focal point for the practice. This word or phrase serves as a symbol of one’s intention to be open to God’s presence and helps individuals let go of distractions and enter into a state of contemplative prayer.

VI. What are some tips for beginners practicing Centering Prayer?

For beginners who are interested in practicing Centering Prayer, here are some tips to help get started:

1. Find a quiet and comfortable place to practice where you won’t be disturbed.
2. Choose a sacred word or phrase that resonates with you and use it as a focal point for your prayer.
3. Set aside a specific time each day to practice Centering Prayer, ideally in the morning or evening when you can be fully present.
4. Begin each prayer session by taking a few deep breaths and centering yourself in the present moment.
5. Let go of your thoughts, emotions, and desires, and simply be present to the moment.
6. If you find yourself getting distracted, gently return to your sacred word or phrase and refocus your attention on God’s presence.
7. Be patient and persistent in your practice, knowing that the benefits of Centering Prayer will deepen over time with regular practice.

By following these tips and committing to a regular practice of Centering Prayer, individuals can experience the transformative power of this ancient contemplative practice and deepen their relationship with God.