Prayer – Week Eight
Prayer – It’s good for you! We continue our focus on Centering Prayer with a final wrap up. (If you miss getting a Bulletin at Mass, you can find the Bulletins on St. Luke’s website www.stlukesschenectady.org and on My Parish App)
Some Practical Points:
- The minimum time for this prayer is 20 minutes. Two periods are recommended each day, one first thing in the morning and the other in the afternoon or early evening. With practice the time may be extended to 30 minutes or longer.
- The end of the prayer period can be indicated by a timer which does not have an audible tick or loud sound when it goes off. There is a free Centering Prayer mobile app timer available.
- Possible physical symptoms during the prayer:
- You may notice slight pains, itches, or twitches in various parts of the body or a generalized sense of restlessness. These are usually due to the untying of emotional knots in the body.
- You may notice heaviness or lightness in our extremities. This is usually due to a deep level of spiritual attentiveness.
- In all cases pay no attention and ever-so gently return to the sacred word.
- The principal fruits of Centering Prayer are experienced in daily life and not during the prayer period. You may feel that nothing much happened during the actual prayer time, but, pay attention to your everyday life – are you feeling or reacting differently? Are you less anxious? Has your perspective shifted?
- Centering Prayer familiarizes us with God’s first language which is SILENCE.
Points for Further Development:
- During the prayer period, various kinds of thoughts may arise:
- Ordinary wanderings of the imagination or memory.
- Thoughts and feelings that give rise to attractions or aversions.
- Insights and psychological breakthroughs.
- Self-reflections such as, “How am I doing?” or, “This peace is just great!”
- Thoughts and feelings that arise from the unloading of the unconscious.
- When engaged with any of these thoughts return ever-so-gently to the sacred word.
- During this prayer avoid analyzing your experience, harboring expectations, or aiming at some specific goal such as:
- Repeating the sacred word continuously.
- Having no thoughts. (This is not possible)
- Making the mind a blank. (Again, not possible)
- Feeling peaceful or consoled. (This may happen but don’t have it as an expectation or goal. Simply be in God’s presence.)
- Achieving a spiritual experience. (You will likely notice the spiritual benefits of Centering Prayer in more subtle shifts in your daily life and everyday experiences.)
What Centering Prayer Is and Is Not:
- It is not a technique but a way of cultivating a deeper relationship with God.
- It is not a relaxation exercise but you may find it refreshing and relaxing.
- It is not a form of self-hypnosis but a way to quiet your mind while maintaining your alertness and awareness.
- It is not a charismatic gift but a path or journey of transformation.
- It is not a para-psychological experience but an exercise of faith, hope, and selfless love.
- It is not limited to the times when you feel God’s presence, but is rather a deepening faith and trust in God’s abiding presence at all times.
- It is not reflective or spontaneous prayer, but simply resting in God in a way that is beyond thoughts, words, and emotions.
I hope you have enjoyed our summer Bulletin series on prayer!