1. Choose a sacred word as the symbol of your intention to consent to God's presence and action within.
2. Sitting comfortably and with eyes closed, settle briefly and silently introduce the sacred word as the symbol of your consent to God's presence and action within.
3. When you become aware of thoughts, return ever so gently to the sacred word.
4. At the end of the prayer period, remain in silence with eyes closed for a couple of minutes.
Explanation of the Guidelines
Some Practical Points
• The minimum time for this prayer is 20 minutes. Two periods are recommended each day, one first thing in the morning, and one in the afternoon or early evening.
• A timer can indicate the end of the prayer period, providing it does not have an audible tick or loud sound when it goes off.
• The principal effects of Centering Prayer are experienced in daily life, not in the period of Centering Prayer itself.
• Physical Symptoms
o We may notice slight pains, itches, or twitches in various parts of the body or a generalized restlessness. These are usually due to the untying of emotional knots in the body.
o We may also notice heaviness or lightness in the extremities. This is usually due to a deep level of spiritual attentiveness.
o In either case, we pay no attention, or we allow the mind to rest briefly in the sensation, and then return to the sacred word.
• Lectio Divina provides the conceptual background for the development of Centering Prayer.
• A support group praying and sharing together oncee a week helps maintain one's commitment to the prayer.
Extending the Effects of Centering Prayer into Daily Life
1. Practice 2 periods of Centering Prayer daily.
2. Read Scriptures regularly and study Open Mind, Open Heart.
During the prayer period various kinds of thoughts may be distinguished
• Ordinary wanderings of the imagination or memory
• Thoughts that give rise to attractions or aversions
• Insights and psychological breakthroughs
• Self-reflections such as, "How am I doing?" or, "This peace is just great!"
• Thoughts that arise from the unloading of the unconscious
During this prayer, we avoid analyzing our experience, harboring expectations or aiming at some specific goal such as:
• Repeating the sacred word continuously
• Having no thoughts.
• Making the mind a blank.
• Feeling peaceful or consoled.
• Achieving a spiritual experience.
What Centering Prayer is not:
• It is not a technique.
• It is not a relaxation exercise.
• It is not a form of self-hypnosis.
• It is not a charismatic gift.
• It is not a para-psychological phenomenon.
• It is not limited to the "felt" presence of God.
• It is not discursive meditation or affective prayer.