of Centering Prayer Meditation
In Centering Prayer Meditation we regularly practice giving our inner consent to experiencing God with our conscious and unconscious minds. Here are some of the psychological stages of a cycle we typically go through, at least unconsciously, during each meditation session:
(1) We use a sacred word as “the symbol of our Consent to God’s presence and action within us and gently establish an attitude of waiting upon the Lord with loving attentiveness.”
(2) “The feeling of deep Rest (experienced in various ways such as silence, peace, love, well being, awareness of God), especially when it involves a deep sense of the divine presence.” With this deep feeling we automatically begin to look to God for the security, love, compassion and forgiveness that we don’t get from ourselves or the world.
(3) Unloading. “As a result of the deep rest of body, mind, and spirit, the defense mechanisms relax and the undigested emotional material of early life emerges from the subconscious at times in the form of a bombardment of thoughts or primitive emotions.” Beginning meditators almost always hear considerable mental chattering inside their heads. Buddhists refer to this as the chattering monkey mind. This “noise” can go on and off for years though usually it will start becoming less frequent over time. During the Centering Prayer period itself, and sometimes later during your day or during your dreams, beginning meditators may also feel strong negative emotions. Don’t worry about them … such feelings are actually a sign of progress and they eventually disappear over time.
(4) “Evacuation of primitive emotions and thoughts.” “… obstacles in the form of repressed junk” are released in the process. The inner connections to various pieces of emotional junk start to dissolve and pieces begin to break off and float away. Over time more and more are released. It’s like peeling an onion or soaking a dirty greasy pan in soapy water.
(5) “Enjoy greater interior freedom.” “ … the purification of the unconscious continues till divine union is discovered.” Typically after several cycles of Centering Prayer experience you will start to enjoy feelings of greater mental health and freedom in your daily life.
Note that the benefits of Centering Prayer are typically not noticed immediately, during the actual meditation session itself. They are usually noticed later during the process of living. As the unconscious becomes purer then life starts getting better. Enjoy!
* The author of this post is not an “expert” but has practiced Centering Prayer Meditation for over three years. Comments were made to possibly help newcomers from the perspective of a fairly new student.
* The stages above were derived from p.76 of Intimacy with God: An Introduction to Centering Prayer by Friar Thomas Keating. Quotes come from that source.
* Keating notes that these “moments” describe psychological experiences resulting from “the cumulative effect of several years of practice” of Centering Prayer. During any single prayer period sometimes a few of these moments and sometimes many may be consciously recognized.
- Spiritually oriented meditation page
- A simple definition of meditation and why to do it.
- Comments on long-term benefits (see stage #5 above) of Centering Prayer Meditation from someone who has been doing it for over 20 years.
- Free workshops on Contemplative Meditation.
- Discussion of Welcoming Prayer, another contemplative practice.
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