Several years ago I began a spiritual discipline known as centering prayer. I began the practice at the recommendation of a social worker I knew. Later I took a great class and one of the required books was Centering Prayer and Inner Awakening by Cynthia Bourgeault.
However, to start practicing centering prayer, you don’t necessarily need a book. The goal of this discipline is to create a space of inner stillness and listening. All you need is a comfortable place without distractions, a timer with a gentle alarm, and the willingness to not engage your mind.
Centering prayer in four steps:
1. Sit in a comfortable, distraction free location. Ideally it will be quiet, or the noise will be continuous, like wind or water.
2. Set a timer for between 10 and 20 minutes.
3. Choose a sacred word (peace, stillness, God, Jesus, love, etc.).
4. Do nothing. If you start thinking, acknowledge the thought, then say your sacred word and let the thought go. Allow thoughts, sensations, emotions, to simply come and go, without participating in them or analyzing them.
Tips: You will remember things you must do. Don’t write them down or try to remember them. You may fall asleep, and that’s OK. You may find your mind fully engaged in a problem or worry for the whole time, and that’s OK too. Centering prayer is not about failure or success.
If you live in the Raleigh area and are interested in trying out this discipline and discussing your experience, you can come to my Meetup group about the Joy Diet, because “doing nothing” is an integral part of the Joy Diet.