Some Practical Points
“The primary teaching of Centering Prayer is very simple and can be expressed in two words: Do it! It will then do you.” Fr. Thomas Keating
1. The minimum time for this prayer is twenty minutes. Two periods are recommended each day, one first thing in the morning and one in the afternoon or early evening.
2. The end of the prayer period can be indicated by a timer, provided it does not have an audible tick or loud sound when it goes off.
3. The principle effects of Centering Prayer are experienced in daily life, not in the period of Centering Prayer itself.
4. One may experience physical symptoms such as slight pains, itches or twitches in various parts of the body or a generalized restlessness. These are usually due to untying of emotional knots in the body. One may notice heaviness or lightness in the extremities. This is usually due to a deep level of spiritual attentiveness. In either case, one does not pay attention or allow the mind to rest briefly in the sensation but return ever so gently to the sacred word.
5. Lectio Divina provides the conceptual background for the development of Centering Prayer.
6. A support group praying and sharing together once a week helps maintain one’s commitment to the prayer.
In one of the earliest Centering Prayer workshops led by Fr. Thomas Keating, a nun completed her first twenty-minute taste of Centering Prayer. At the end of the prayer period she lamented to Fr. Keating, “Oh, Father Thomas, I’m such a failure at this prayer. In twenty minutes, I’ve had ten thousand thoughts.” “How lovely!” responded Fr. Thomas without blinking an eye. “Ten thousand opportunities to return to God!”