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Centering Prayer

Centering prayer is a method used for, or the process of, contemplative prayer in the Christian tradition, although people of all faith paths can use this form.

As the sixteenth century Gregory the Great expressed it, its focus is resting in god, being in communion with the Divine in an attitude of silence. It has some similarities to eastern meditation in that it involves the use of a single word, repeated like a mantra: Possibilities include:` Jesus peace shalom Love Abba. [Because of this, some have referred to centering prayer as 'monologion', or one-word prayer] like a mantra, the repetition of the word serves as a focal point, a marker to return to when distracted by other thoughts.

Centering prayer begins with the intention to be with god; some practitioners of centering prayer advocate doing it twice a day, in sessions of about twenty minutes each. The format is simple: choose your sacred word, or phrase, position yourself comfortably, repeat the word / phrase when your thoughts intrude during this time of prayer, and then conclude the session gradually and gently. Though you might feel you have received insights or new understanding around the sacred word chosen, that is not the point of centering prayer -- and in fact, practitioners are encouraged to simply return to the word rather than follow the train of thought.

Thought is seen as an impediment to the experience of god, which is the reward of contemplative prayer. As the author of 'The Cloud of Unknowing' wrote:

'If you strive to fix your love on him forgetting all else, which is the work of contemplation I have urged you to begin, I am confident that god in his goodness will bring you to a deep experience of himself'