Anyone ever tried the "Centering Prayer" method?

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Yes, I have read a book or two on this, and once prayed with a centering prayer group. They mean well, and what they do is probably harmless enough, but watch out for subtle introduction of new-age ideas, for example: calling mental repetition of the name of Jesus your “mantra”. There is nothing new about what they call “centering prayer”, though - it is as old as Christianity!
 
Hi CatholicGeek…I agree with the previous poster, that you have to be careful, because there is a tendancy for those that are proponents of this credible form of prayer to make it new agey. Some retreat houses and spiritual directors encourage people to empty themselves and repeat ‘mantras’ and not let any thoughts in, even spiritual thoughts. I think you have to let the Holy Spirit do His work, not try to control your mind.

Have you tried centering prayer? What has been your experience?
 
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Philomena:
… encourage people to empty themselves and repeat ‘mantras’ and not let any thoughts in, even spiritual thoughts. I think you have to let the Holy Spirit do His work, not try to control your mind.

Have you tried centering prayer? What has been your experience?
Yes, I’ve tried it. I thought the experience was nice, but I feel you can get the same thing out of utilizing the same method without trying to pray. In other words, it relaxes you to the point that your body experiences rest. I think that is what many are getting out of the “prayer”.

On the other hand, it can be a useful tool to entering into prayer, getting rid of the distractions, etc.

They DO encourage you to disregard ALL thoughts that come to mind. There are Easternish aspects of it, but then again not all Eastern stuff is bad. You just need to make sure the focus is correct. → Does the prayer draw you closer to Christ?

The focus of Centering Prayer is experiencing the indwelling trinity, becoming your “true self”. While it seems that this is compatible with christian theology, it puts a lot of the focus on oneself. While God dwells in us through his Holy Spirit, he is also Other, apart and beyond us. This is mainly where my questions are.

Statements like …
  1. Our basic core of goodness is our true Self. Its center of gravity is God. The acceptance of our basic goodness is a quantum leap in the spiritual journey.
  1. God and our true Self are not separate. Though we are not God, God and our true Self are the same thing.
… concern me.

Aren’t we as creatures different from God, separate? Even when in union with God in heaven, won’t we still be separate in a sense?
 
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CatholicGeek:
The focus of Centering Prayer is experiencing the indwelling trinity, becoming your “true self”. While it seems that this is compatible with christian theology, it puts a lot of the focus on oneself.
This is the philosophy of most centering prayer that disturbs me. Some of the terminology “sounds” good, but it’s really steeped in the New Age and Occult.

The only reason we “empty ourselves” is to be filled with Christ. We are NOT God, and a lot of the New Age teachings are to “find the God within you” but they don’t mean the One, True, God, they mean your own god (little “g”).

The danger with “emptying ourselves” without filling back up with Christ is that we leave ourselves vulnerable to our spiritual enemy.

For me, I have a Heavenly Father, a Brother, Savior and Friend in Jesus, and my Comforter and Guide, the Holy Spirit. They are my family. When I talk with my earthly Dad, I don’t sit quietly in his presence and repeat his name! I talk WITH him. When I empty my heart to a friend, I don’t “center” on him/her; I cry with them, listen to them, receive their love and love them back. For me, it’s the same with prayer. It doesn’t have to be complicated! 🙂
 
This will be a little off the topic but I would only add that the idea of “finding God within” it isn’t a “new age” one, at least originally. They have taken over the idea, I suppose. But, from the perspective of St. Teresa of Jesus and St. John of the Cross, we don’t empty ourselves so that God can enter in–God is already within and our prayer, penance, etc., is our attempt to remove all the junk we put inside ourselves, stuff which has obscured our “vision” of God.

As for repeating the Holy Name, that has a long and venerable tradition in Christianity, in particular the Orthodox/Easter Catholic Churches. That doesn’t mean we all have to do it. It just means that it is legitimate to do, if we so choose.

The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith issued a letter in 1989 entitled “Letter to the Bishops of the Catholic Church on Some Aspects of Christian Meditation.” I’m sure you could find it on the internet and it might help shed some light on the situation.
 
Is centering prayer synonymous with contemplative prayer? When I first started weekly Eucharistic Adoration, I used it as a method to try to let go of thoughts and distractions so that I could be still and learn to listen for Our Lord’s voice. I just wanted to be quiet and let Him have a chance for a change! When distractions would pop into my mind, I would open my eyes, focus on Jesus in the monstrance and repeat His name a few times. I found it’s a discipline to be practiced, but the rewards are tremendous.
 
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trimont:
Is centering prayer synonymous with contemplative prayer? When I first started weekly Eucharistic Adoration, I used it as a method to try to let go of thoughts and distractions so that I could be still and learn to listen for Our Lord’s voice. I just wanted to be quiet and let Him have a chance for a change! When distractions would pop into my mind, I would open my eyes, focus on Jesus in the monstrance and repeat His name a few times. I found it’s a discipline to be practiced, but the rewards are tremendous.
No; contemplative prayer is a grace given by God, in which the mind is silenced and the soul lifted up for a time; it is not the result of any technique.
 
You can put your soul at risk.

Here is a terrific article, originally published in This Rock, Vol. 8, No. 11, November 1997, by Catholic Answers:

[library.saint-mike.org/Occult/CenteringPrayer.html](The Danger of Centering Prayer)

(While Catholic Answers is working to get all their back issues online, I had to link to a different site. Sorry, Mr. Keating.)
 
I have tried this method…a little scarry though. When you are emptying yourself just be sure of what you are filling yourself up with… I’ve read some books on the subject of letting in ‘spirits’, etc. I think though as a previous poster said if we are ‘right with God’, not in serious sin, then He is dwelling within us. ( not those exact words).

I don’t know I just wouldn’t do it anymore. the Rosary is all the ‘centering’ I need.
 
After reading these posts, I have pretty much know what to do.
There is a place west of Cleveland, that claims to be an appriation site.
One time I was there to meditate on the roasary, and that was fine. Then, they had some priest approach the front of the room and asked us to center ourselves for Christ.
He had us imagine that we were holding the hearts of Jesus and Mary in each of our exteneded palms facing up.
I felt nothing and the sensation was empty. At first I thought it was that I was too distracted. I think I was being protected by the Holy Spirit.

I d rather recite the Rosary, Divine Mercy Chaplet, and the Jesus Prayer (a Byzantine Prayer), but to center oneself in other ways are a danger to our eternity in Heaven.

Go with God!
Edwin
 
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arnulf:
No; contemplative prayer is a grace given by God, in which the mind is silenced and the soul lifted up for a time; it is not the result of any technique.
True…genuine contemplation is always grace from the Lord…it cant be “worked out” or achieved by technique…the roots of centering prayer are in the new age…be careful. Centering prayer isnt contemplation…its occult.
 
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CatholicGeek:
I recently encountered a method of prayer called “Centering Prayer”, and it has raised some questions in my mind. Has anyone had any experience with this particular method that can shed some light on what you think of it?
We had a group of nuns locally who pushed this type of prayer. They sort of turned me off becasue they were into alot of new age and what seemed to be buddist stuff. They also refused to attend local churches insisting that a priest come in and say mass at their chapel. They very fact that they engaged in Centering Prayer sort of told me all I needed to know. One lady I know at church said she took part once and fell asleep. They asked her not to come back. :ROFLMAO:
 
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Annunciata:
I have tried this method…a little scarry though. When you are emptying yourself just be sure of what you are filling yourself up with
I always thought that if I emptied my mind I would be giving the devil lots of room to work. :eek:
 
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Edwin1961:
There is a place west of Cleveland, that claims to be an appriation site…I felt nothing and the sensation was empty. At first I thought it was that I was too distracted. I think I was being protected by the Holy Spirit.
Edwin, was that the Our Lady of Toledo Shrine? Some friends of mine, very devout Catholics, went there expecting the best and came home describing an experience similar to yours – and they commented that they felt a real sense of menace and decay about the place, as though it were not of God.

'thann
 
Much of what is called New Age has very ancient origins. It is new to the West, but has existed in Hinduism and Buddhism since before Christianity.

There are other practices which are very modern in origin, and do not have the same pedigree. So, the label “New Age” is a bit misleading. It’s more accurate to simply refer to Buddhism, Yoga, or Shaminism rather than an all encompassing catch all name.
 
Eastern meditation is often described as a process of emptying the mind. There is some truth in that, but one never becomes completely empty. The objective is to cast off the mental and emotional processes which are not part of the essence of the person. For example, one’s mind may have all kinds of thoughts flitting through it at any time.

I have been thinking a lot today about how to get my car air conditioner fixed for less than the $589 quoted. The thought comes and goes. In meditation I let it go, along with others of its kind. We are not the sum of our thoughts and concerns; our essence is different from them.

Some forms of meditation will simply stop at that point. It is the point where we experience ourselves as we essentially are.

Other forms will move to a contemplation of God from the essential self.

However, no form that I am aware of advocates completely emptying the self. That instruction may be given to beginners in learning the process, but it is a teaching tool that is later supplanted. I think that is the source of the misunderstanding.

Mantras are used to give the mind something to concentrate on so that it can stop thinking of a bunch of extraneous thoughts. A mantra is simply a tool to achieve a goal.
 
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Ken:
Mantras are used to give the mind something to concentrate on so that it can stop thinking of a bunch of extraneous thoughts. A mantra is simply a tool to achieve a goal.
Mantras are NOT that benign. And the Church teaches in no uncertain terms that this is dangerous.

I quoted the Catholic Answers article above, but I assume most people never read the link:The Danger of Centering Prayer
Many people assume centering prayer is compatible with Catholic tradition, but in fact the techniques of centering prayer are neither Christian nor prayer. They are at the level of human faculties and as such are an operation of man, not of God. The deception and dangers can be grave.
Centering prayer is essentially a form of self-hypnosis. It makes use of a “mantra,” a word repeated over and over to focus the mind while striving by one’s will to go deep within oneself. The effects are a hypnotic-like state: concentration upon one thing, disengagement from other stimuli, a high degree of openness to suggestion, a psychological and physiological condition that externally resembles sleep but in which consciousness is interiorized and the mind subject to suggestion. After reading a published description of centering prayer, a psychology professor said, “Your question is, is this hypnosis? Sure it is.” He said the state can be verified physiologically by the drop in pressure, respiratory rate, lactic acid level in the , and the galvanic conductivity of the skin.
These differing conceptions of God issue in different approaches to God. In the East, human means are necessarily relied upon to come to God. The goal is not to seek God as an Other, but to achieve an altered state of consciousness. Where a Christian seeks dialogue and interaction with God and, with his help, the “restoration of all things in Christ,” by a certain “participation in the divine nature” (2 Peter 4:4), the East seeks God in the self and seeks escape from the distractions of the outer world. The “experience of God” is essentially achieved by psychological and physiological technique rather than by encounter.
The confusion of technique over encounter arises from a misunderstanding of the indwelling of God. The fact that God indwells us does not mean that we can capture him by techniques. Nor does it mean that we are identical with him in our deepest self. Rather, God indwells us by grace which does not blend human and divine natures.
The Vatican has condemned the practice as well in the document from PONTIFICAL COUNCIL FOR CULTURE, PONTIFICAL COUNCIL FOR INTERRELIGIOUS DIALOGUE


JESUS CHRIST
THE BEARER OF THE WATER OF LIFE
A Christian reflection
on the “New Age”

“The point of New Age techniques is to reproduce mystical states at will, as if it were a matter of laboratory material. Rebirth, biofeedback, sensory isolation, holotropic breathing, hypnosis, mantras, fasting, sleep deprivation and transcendental meditation are attempts to control these states and to experience them continuously”.(70) These practices all create an atmosphere of psychic weakness (and vulnerability). When the object of the exercise is that we should re-invent our selves, there is a real question of who “I” am. “God within us” and holistic union with the whole cosmos underline this question. Isolated individual personalities would be pathological in terms of New Age (in particular transpersonal psychology). But “the real danger is the holistic paradigm. New Age is thinking based on totalitarian unity and that is why it is a danger…”.(71) More moderately: “We are authentic when we ‘take charge of’ ourselves, when our choice and reactions flow spontaneously from our deepest needs, when our behaviour and expressed feelings reflect our personal wholeness”.(72) The Human Potential Movement is the clearest example of the conviction that humans are divine, or contain a divine spark within themselves.
 
While Centering Prayer may revolve around God, consideration of God is not necessary for Eastern meditation. God is certainly not excluded, but the meditation does not have to deal with God.

Many people practice it to control blood pressure, relax, cure insomnia, eliminate anxiety, and bring about a general feeling of health and vitality. It works.

Others may folllow more spiritual paths in their meditation, or may practice both spiritual and non-spiritual meditation.

After time, the experience becomes very personal, and most practitioners stop trying to define it in a way that would be understandable to others.
 
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