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Centering prayer is a popular method of contemplative prayer or Christian meditation, placing a strong emphasis on interior silence. Though most authors trace its roots to the contemplative prayer of the Desert Fathers of early Christian monasticism, to the Lectio Divina tradition of Benedictine monasticism, and to works like The Cloud of Unknowing and the writings of St. Teresa of Avila and St. John of the Cross, its origins as part of the "Centering Prayer" movement in modern Catholicism and Christianity can be traced to several books published by three Trappist monks of St. Joseph's Abbey in Spencer, Massachusetts in the 1970s: Fr. William Meninger, Fr. M. Basil Pennington and Abbot Thomas Keating. Contents [hide] 1 History 2 Practice 3 Dissemination 4 Research 5 Further reading 6 See also 7 Footnotes 8 References 9 External links History Seeds of what would become known as contemplation were sown early in the Christian era. The first appearance of something approximating contemplative prayer arises in the 4th century writings of the monk St. John Cassian, who wrote of a practice he learned from the Desert Fathers (specifically from Isaac). Cassian's writings remained influential until the medieval era, when monastic practice shifted from a mystical orientation to Scholasticism. Thus it can be plausibly argued that contemplation was (one of) the earliest meditational and/or devotional practice of Christian monasticism, being later supplanted in dominance by the scholastic theologians, with only a minimal interest in contemplation. The Trappist monk and influential writer Thomas Merton was strongly influenced by Buddhist meditation, particularly as found in Zen — he was a lifetime friend of Buddhist meditation master and Vietnamese monk and peace activist Thich Nhat Hanh, praised Chogyam Trungpa who founded Shambhala Buddhism in the United States and was also an acquaintance of the current Dalai Lama. His theology attempted to unify existentialism with the tenets of the Roman Catholic faith, a unique undertaking at that time — Christian Existentialism began as a feature of modern Protestant theology. As such he was also an advocate of the non-rational meditation of contemplative prayer, which he saw as a direct confrontation of finite and irrational man with his ground of being. Cistercian monk Father Thomas Keating, a founder of Centering Prayer, was abbot all through the 60s and 70s at St. Joseph’s Abbey in Spencer, Massachusetts. This area is thick with religious retreat centers, including the well-known Theravada Buddhist center, Insight Meditation Society. Fr. Keating tells of meeting many young people, some who stumbled on St. Joseph’s by accident, many of them born Catholic, who had turned to Eastern practices for contemplative work. He found many of them had no knowledge of the contemplative traditions within Christianity and set out to present those practices in a more accessible way. The result was the practice now called Centering Prayer. However, centering prayer has not been without criticism. Some critics have argued that centering prayer contains practices that were warned against by the document Aspects of Christian meditation, issued by the Vatican's Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, led by then Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger. The Vatican's document, however, does not use the term "centering prayer". Practice The actual practice of centering prayer is not entirely alien to Catholics, who are advised to meditate in some form daily — such as on the rosary, or on Scripture through the practice of lectio divina. However, although the practice makes use of a 'sacred word,' Thomas Keating emphasizes that Centering Prayer is not an exercise in concentrating, or focusing one's attention on something (such as a mantra), but rather is concerned with intention. The participant's sole occupation is to establish and maintain the will (intention) to "consent to God's presence and action during the time of prayer." The above methods, in contrast, have some contemplative goal in mind: with the rosary, the Mysteries of the Rosary are contemplated; with lectio divina, the practitioner thinks about the Scripture reading, sometimes even visualizing it. Centering Prayer is more akin to the very ancient practice of hesychasm as understood in the Eastern Orthodox Church, in which the participant seeks the presence of God directly (aided by the Jesus Prayer, perhaps) and explicitly rejects discursive thoughts and imagined scenes. (The height of hesychast prayer is spoken of as the vision of the "uncreated light," but this very rare experience is understood as a gift of God, and must not be sought or imagined.) Basil Pennington, one of the best known proponents of the centering prayer technique, has delineated the guidelines for centering prayer: Sit comfortably with your eyes closed, relax, and quiet yourself. Be in love and faith to God. Choose a sacred word that best supports your sincere intention to be in the Lord's presence and open to His divine action within you (i.e. "Jesus", "Lord," "God," "Savior," "Abba," "Divine," "Shalom," "Spirit," "Love," etc.). Let that word be gently present as your symbol of your sincere intention to be in the Lord's presence and open to His divine action within you. (Thomas Keating advises that the word remain unspoken.) Whenever you become aware of anything (thoughts, feelings, perceptions, images, associations, etc.), simply return to your sacred word, your anchor. Ideally, the prayer will reach the point where the person is not engaged in their thoughts as they arrive on their stream of consciousness.
This is a very simple way of meditation and the more it is practiced, the better it gets and becomes more personalized. This is the type of meditation that got me to the current understanding of being in God's Presence.
That is another type or meditation that I have shown in my last thread which may also give a sublime understanding and deepening in meditation, and profound spiritual growth.
This is my other thread which I called "God's Presence Among You"
www.abovetopsecret.com..." target="_blank" class="postlink">God's Presence Among Youedit on 20-9-2012 by backcase because: (no reason given)