Step-by-Step Guide by Lowell Grisham

- Centering Prayer


Outside Links

- Visit the Contemplative Outreach web site

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Come and See by David KellerDavid Keller, close colleague of Thomas Keating, offers practical suggestions for personal prayer, addresses its difficulties, and reveals what is special about it in relation to other prayer traditions. 

Short but substantive, this book is for Christians looking for new insights about prayer and for people who are drawn to contemplation, but do not think the church has much to offer them.

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Bypassing the Thoughts that Distract Us

Written By Renée Miller

We live in a fast-paced world where we increasingly turn to multi-tasking in order to keep up with the demands of daily life. Our minds and bodies are busy most of our waking hours, and even in sleep, our minds can find it difficult to be still. We might be tempted to blame technology for the rising levels of noise in our lives and heads. The truth is that our minds were created to think, and the 'noise' of our thoughts is a gift that makes us human.

A common complaint is that thoughts regularly interrupt us when we pray or meditate. It seems that what has become so habitual to us in our workaday world has overflowed right into our soul.We may end up trying to get through prayer and meditation by pure grit, or we may decide our busy soul will need to content itself with just a few sentences shot up to heaven while we're on the run. Or we may end up abandoning prayer and meditation altogether. What our soul needs, however, is to sit in the Divine stillness and use a tool that will help our thoughts rise and fall away like waves rolling gently into shore and flowing back out again.  

Jesus once went to dinner at the home of two sisters—Mary and Martha. Martha was busy multi-tasking—getting the space ready, putting the dishes out, making sure the guests were comfortable and everything just so. She felt overwhelmed, and her sister, Mary, was not helping her. Mary wanted to sit with Jesus, listen to Jesus, be in the presence of Jesus. Martha complained to Jesus and even asked him to tell Mary that she should be helping.

Jesus' response to Martha was astonishing. “Martha,” he said, “You are busy about many things. Only one is necessary, and Mary has chosen that. It will not be taken away from her.” (Luke 10:42) It would be unrealistic to think that Mary’s mind was completely free of other thoughts as she sat there with Jesus. But, she didn't allow those thoughts to take her away from him. When thoughts came, and she noticed them, she somehow let them go, and turned her mind back toward Jesus.  

Thomas Keating, the Cistercian master of contemplative prayer talks to this point in this video:

Using the image of a boat on water, he discusses the levels of awareness that are most natural to us and suggests the way to go deeper down in our spiritual awareness. When thoughts assail us in prayer, he suggests that we use a sacred word. The word serves as a talisman, a touchstone to call us back to the Divine Presence when we have gotten into the boat of our thoughts and are rhythmically bouncing along in the waves. The sacred word gives us what we need to spiral downward through the surface levels to that place of pure spiritual awareness.

We will continue to be busy.  Our world will continue to move at a quickened pace. Technology will continue to encroach in our lives. We will continue to multi-task. But as we access the deeper levels of spiritual awareness—as we spend more and more time in the Divine Presence—as we practice letting go of our thoughts and returning to the Beloved—we will be startled to find that rather than our life spilling out into our soul, our soul will be spilling out into our life. Then we will know we have chosen the better part, and it will not be taken from us.