Do you ever notice how often our thoughts buzz around our heads like a swarm of bees circling a honey jar? And it gets worse when we try to quiet ourselves and meditate. In fact, many people give up or even refuse to try meditation because of the buzzing thoughts that invade the quiet.
Centering Prayer is one way to tame our swarm of constant mind chatter so we can enjoy inner peace and quiet. A gentle discipline that allows us to calm our minds and open our hearts so we can listen for the Creator’s wisdom and guidance, Centering Prayer invites us to simply rest in God.
The practice has become increasingly popular since the 1970s when Father Thomas Keating and others re-introduced it into the United States through the international organization Contemplative Outreach. Centering Prayer’s roots dig back to the third century when it was practiced widely by desert fathers and mothers, those men and women who left the noise and chaos of the city to live in caves so they could seek wisdom and solitude. St. Benedict also incorporated Centering Prayer as a foundational daily practice for his monks as they sought to create a balanced rhythm of life.
The practice is simple. Here’s the steps.
- Sit comfortably for 10-15 minutes with your eyes closed and your head pointed downward so you can connect with your heart.
- Take a few deep breaths to relax your body.
- Choose a sacred word or phrase you want to hold in your heart silently during your meditation (something simple such as love, peace, or be still).
- Silently speak the sacred word or phrase to yourself. Feel the words center themselves in your heart space.
- When your mind drifts, return ever so-gently to the sacred word or phrase. Let the words become an anchor that stills your mind like a rowboat held securely in place on a wavy lake.
- At the end of your meditation time, sit in silence with eyes closed for a few more moments. Reflect on what you noticed or experienced during your mediation.
- Then slowly open your eyes and move into your day. Return to your sacred word or phrase as needed during the day to refocus and find your center again. You might even write the word on your to-do list or on a sticky note you post on your computer screen, mirror or dashboard as a gentle reminder of what you experienced during your meditation practice.
In these difficult and anxious times, when it feels like the storms of everyday living get more tumultuous with each passing day, the ancient practice of Centering Prayer offers us an anchor to ground ourselves so we can find our Center once again.
—brian j plachta
Click on this link for a podcast to experience Centering Prayer Meditation:
Centering Prayer Meditation