“In the essence, centering prayer is almost idiot-proof.” The conferees titter, but Cynthia explains. It is an “inner gesture”, letting God know that you are open to any message.

“If you catch yourself thinking, you let the thought go,” she says. It is a beautiful practice of letting go! What a lesson for me!

This type of prayer can help us recognize what we need to let go of in our “return to God.” As the centering prayer movement has taken off within the Catholic church, it seems to open a whole new way of thinking about things–not what people think, but how they think. It creates a capacity for “non-dual thinking”, embracing the both/and rather than the either/or. Sounds like a conversation we’ve been having on Facebook recently.

Apparently there is data on why this sort of meditation works this way: how we respond initially to a stimulus in the outer world is tied to which part of our brain reacts. In general, this is the reptilian brain, the deepest and oldest part of our brain. This is where we get violence and dualism.

However, if the brain is trained to open and soften, the neocortex gets involved much earlier in the stimulus-response process. Good stuff. (Is it possible to force violent people to practice centering meditation? That probably wouldn’t work; or at least it would be against the intention of prayerful contemplation.)

To be able to listen “through the still and open heart”–what a beautiful image! I am excited to practice this more. Cynthia compares the inner reality created by this practice to Jesus’ term “the kingdom of heaven”.

I’m not going to take the time/space here to discuss the historical nature of this meditative practice–nor am I going to get too much deeper into the issues of reality (spiritual sight of things “unseen”). But I welcome an opportunity to center. I’ll let you know what happens.