Godtalk: Centering Prayer
POST BY PKnott
Friday, August 26, 2016 - 11:15
The variety of personality and experience makes awareness of God's presence unique to each of us. God is already dwelling within us, and it is this presence that many may unconsciously be aware of in their wonder and awe of the world around them. It is within this understanding that as adults we are invited to 'become as little children.’ (Mark 10.15)
One way of deepening our connection with God, is to practice being truly present. We cannot see beauty, or have a better understanding of the world, unless we notice what is immediately around us. Our thoughts of past and future events can cause anxieties, disengaging us from actually noticing what is around us and in the present moment. Many people lead busy lives, and anxieties can distract us from the present moment, especially emotional difficulties. We can readily dwell on past or future worries.
We need to spend a few moments in silence to appreciate what is going on around us: to notice the leaves falling from the trees, the shape and colour of flowers or the raindrops on the window panes. Nature, as it prompts wonder with its smells, colours and sounds helps us sense the presence of God. In this way, we can come to understand the meaning of God being present in everything. The environment in which prayer is practiced influences our sense of ease: we need to feel comfortable to avoid distractions. The provision of a candle or a centre piece can be helpful.
Practicing centering prayer can help to build an understanding and experience of God's love. Those who want to use this kind of prayer should aim at half an hour daily, and as with all prayer, be prepared for periods of dryness and boredom.
At the beginning of prayer, an awareness exercise can help bring us into the present. We become aware of how our body feels on the chair, to notice our breathing, our in and out breath, sensing any tension in our arms and legs and letting it go.
Giving time each day for stillness and silence in prayer, opens us to God's indwelling love. Over time we become more accepting, not only of ourselves, but of everything and everyone around us, more loving in the way that Christ loves us. (John 13.34)
Our growth and understanding of the Divine mystery through silent prayer, deepens our relationships with God, with ourselves and with others. It will touch the wider society around us - people may not remember what we said, or what we did, but they never forget how we made them feel.