A friend tells me centering prayer is futile, that her thoughts roam like wild horses, and trying to capture them is useless. She has labored to center herself … has tried for three days straight to be still but claims it’s impossible.
Not so, if you view your thoughts as a stream-of-consciousness parade instead of wild horses…or (worse yet) a tree full of chattering monkeys!
Just let thoughts go in peace, one by one. Imagine them as floats…a group of majorettes twirling by… a marching band... a clown or two…one float after another. Let them entertain you for a second, and then simply watch them glide away.
Choose a sacred word and stick with it. When a new thought appears, return to your word… over and over until you achieve inner solitude. Here are more guidelines from Thomas Keating, one of my contemplative mentors from way back when.
Fruits of Silence
What I’ve learned from centering prayer is that the answers I seek don’t generally come during the silence, but they materialize sometime later…like seeds planted that come to fruition in time.
I may be driving down the road or sweeping the porch… and voila! A flash of insight emerges out of nowhere. This is one fruit of silence: creative insight or inspiration.
Deep, abiding peace. No matter how troubled the world becomes, there is a place of rest in the inner sanctuary of the soul. A man once told me that he knew of concentration camp survivors who had practiced centering prayer to endure sanity.
Advanced intuition. We know things without knowing, and tend to rely more on divine guidance because trust grows stronger during stillness. I’ve written about this here.
Inner healing. The practice of centering is cumulative, like an antibiotic. When a doctor prescribes the Z pack, directions specify “take all this medication…” It takes days for the drug to do its work.
Keating recommends 20 minutes twice a day. But others say even five minutes daily helps. What do we have to lose but unnecessary stress?
Creative insight, abiding peace, keener intuition, and inner healing are only four of the many fruits. These are just a few I’ve noted from my own experience with centering prayer and silence.
In quietness and trust is your strength.
What spiritual practices work wonders for you?
Please share your experience with us.