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Introducing Centering Prayer

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  1. Introducing Centering Prayer James A Van Slyke

  2. Born 1923 in New York • Trappist Monk and Priest • One of the primary leaders in centering/contemplative prayer • Prayer practice started in the 1970s among a group of Trappist Monks • Led to a program of training in prayer for both laypersons and ministers from many different denominations • Open Heart, Open Mind Thomas Keating

  3. What Centering Prayer is Not 1) Not a Relaxation Exercise 2) Not a Charismatic Gift 3) Not a parapsychological Experience (i.e. Out of body experience) 4) Not a “mystical” Experience (i.e. Visions or Magic)

  4. Centering Prayer: Definition • Prayer of the Heart • Prayer of Simplicity • Prayer focused on reducing the obstacles to experiencing God • Facilitating responses and habits, which bring about the inspirations of the Holy Spirit

  5. Method of Centering Prayer Attempt to Turn off the Ordinary Flow of Thoughts To slow down the Flow, start by focusing on one thought One or Two syllable Word Could be a word from Scripture

  6. As thoughts drift to different places, continue to focus on the word or phrase • Not about repetition, but refocus • Thoughts are often clustered together and distracting • Prayer creates space between the thoughts • Attempt to direct attention away from the stream of thoughts, to the transcendent Method of Centering Prayer

  7. Story of Mary and Martha Luke 10:38-42 Martha is busy doing work about the house (Our thoughts can become distractions) She chastises Mary for not helping her with the chores and sitting at the feet of Jesus Jesus says that Mary has “chosen what is better”

  8. Random thoughts from the imagination • Plans; agendas, etc. • Just accept them and move on • Thoughts with an attraction to them • Something draws your attention • Hearing a sound on the street • Insights; psychological breakthroughs • Can be helpful, but should not distract from the connection to God • Clearing the mind to allow room for the Holy Spirit Types of Thoughts

  9. Self-Reflection • Reflect on what is happening • Once again, helpful but distracting • Can take one out of the experience • Interior Purification • Through silence inner psychological content may arise • A type of therapeutic experience • As these attachments are released the false self leaves and the true self emerges • Psychological content sets up defenses (False self) • Letting go of these defenses allows for the emergence of the true self Types of Thoughts

  10. Open Heart, Open Mind (page 14) Not the absence of thought, but detachment from them Opening of the Mind and Heart, our entire being to God, who is beyond words thoughts, and emotions Beyond the psychological content of the present moment