Frequently Asked Questions
This page contains answers to Frequently Asked Questions, along with some tips and tricks that we have found useful and presented here as questions.
What are the basics of centering prayer?
1. Choose a sacred word as the symbol of your intention to consent to God's presence and action within.
First think of a sacred word, we call it sacred only because it is your word and symbolizes your intention to consent to God's presence and action within. It should be one or two syllables such as Peace, Father, Mother, Abba, Silence, Love, Calm, Yes, etc. Having chosen the sacred word we do not change it during the prayer period because that would be to start thinking again.
2. Sitting comfortably and with eyes closed, silently introduce the sacred word as the symbol of your consent to God's presence and action within.
Whatever sitting position we choose, we keep the back straight. We close our eyes as a symbol of letting go of what is going on around and within us. We gently introduce the sacred word. If we fall asleep, upon awakening we continue the prayer.
3. When engaged with your thoughts return ever so gently to the sacred word.
"Thoughts" is an umbrella term for every perception including sense perceptions, feelings, images, memories, plans, reflections, concepts, commentaries and spiritual experiences. Thoughts are a normal part of centering prayer. We are not fighting thoughts or trying to change our thoughts. We let them come and go, and let them be. When returning to the sacred word, a minimum effort is needed. This is the only activity we do during centering prayer.
Where can I find more about the method of centering prayer?
Contemplative Outreach Ltd has a host of resources on their web site. One resource addresses the method of centering prayer: http://www.centeringprayer.com/methodcp.htm
You can also read "Open Mind, Open Heart" by Father Thomas Keating, attend a Centering Prayer Introductory Workshop, or attend a weekly Prayer Group in your area.
Do I have to be a certain religious denomination to participate?
No. We identify with the Christian Contemplative Heritage. While we are formed by our respective denominations, we are united in our common search for God and the experience of the living Christ through Centering Prayer. We affirm our solidarity with the contemplative dimension of other religions and sacred traditions, with the needs and rights of the whole human family, and with all creation.
Is there a National Office?
Yes. Contemplative Outreach Ltd has a web site located here.
Who can I contact about setting up an introductory workshop at my church or for a group of people?
Please visit our Contact Us page for a list of contacts in your area.
How can I sign up to receive newsletters and notice of events?
You can join our mailing list by going to this page.