I am delighted to share another beautiful submission for the Monk in the World guest post series from the community. Read on for Rich Lewis' reflection on centering prayer.
When I slow myself down I remember I am a divine being. One way I slow myself down is through the practice of centering prayer. I have been practicing centering prayer since June 1, 2014. The recommended guidelines are twice per day, twenty minutes each time. Previously, I dabbled with centering prayer. For a few months, I practiced once per night. Each session lasted no longer than ten minutes. I knew this was not enough. I knew God was calling me. I knew God wanted me to experience more and more of Her Spirit. On June 1, 2014, I decided to stop experimenting. I decided to consent to the presence and action of God within. I knew that the only way to do this was to follow the recommended guidelines.
I now center first thing before I begin my day. My second session is usually in the evening. Each time I center, I am refreshed. I call this time "sitting with Jesus." My sacred word is a mental picture of Jesus from an icon. As my thoughts wander or my emotions reflect about the past day or upcoming events, I ever so gently return to this mental image to bring me back to the purpose for centering. I am consenting to the presence and action of God within.
I am allowing myself to enter the fourth stage of prayer that I read about in a recent blog article, Finding Your Inner Room by Irwin J. Boudreaux. The first three stages are: One – We speak, God listens, Two – God Speaks, we listen, Three – No one speaks, both listen.
Centering Prayer is a practice which leads me into contemplative prayer or the fourth stage, No one speaks, no one listens. I am simply resting in God. I am letting God act in me. Do I know what God is doing? No, I do not. My job is to simply rest and trust. How God is acting within me, will reveal itself in my non-silent actions throughout the day.
Many times throughout the day, I ever so gently return to my sacred symbol when I find my thoughts and emotions are distracting me from what I need to do. I re-center myself even during my non-centering portion of the day. When I find myself becoming anxious, angry or frustrated, I mentally visualize my sacred symbol and bring myself back to the task at hand. During Centering Prayer, I consent to the Divine so the big D and me, the little d, simply sit with with each other. We become united. During my non silent parts of the day, I do the same. My little d recognizes that I need to become one with the big D. I mentally visualize my sacred symbol and allow myself to become united with God. At that moment I can get back to the task at hand. At that moment I partner with God to accomplish the tasks ahead.
Since I began my centering prayer practice I have noticed a few new things about myself. I am much calmer. Yes, I still become anxious, nervous, frustrated and upset just like everyone else. Yet, I notice that I am able to re-center myself much more quickly and resume whatever tasks are in front of me. I no longer panic when I have an enormous list of tasks that need to get done in a short period of time. For example, at work, I will have at least 20 or more items that need to get done. I find that I am able to calmly review my list and one by one make my way through this list. At the end of each day, I am always amazed by what I have accomplished. I know the calmness and fluidity of this process is because of my centering prayer practice! God and I are partnering throughout the day.
Centering prayer slows me down. I bring this slowness into my daily life. I am calm yet more productive. I am calm and make wiser decisions. Because I am calm and make wiser decisions, I am able to get more done. It is a paradox. Working faster and harder should lead to getting more done. I am finding that this is not true. When I work slowly but with a calm intensity, I am always more productive.
Rich Lewis is daily practitioner of centering prayer since June 1, 2014. Rich enjoys writing short quotes and small articles that share the centering prayer fruits he has experienced. Rich is on the RCMR team (www.amossmith.org) and is currently writing a book with Amos Smith, author of Healing the Divide.