June 24, 2018

Session 47 and Session 48 of the Spiritual Journey series focuses on what happens during Centering Prayer for the individual pray-er.  Father Keating discusses the process of how the pray-er, with time, as she Centers on a day to day basis, begins to be more aware of inner awareness-es and less dependent and reactive to the outer awareness-es of life.  For example, when an upsetting event may occur, the pray-er is able to "watch" the event rather than be absorbed in the event without the awareness of how the event is touching or effecting the pray-er.  

As time goes on, the pray-er becomes more aware of inner processes and is able to respond with compassion and love which emanate from deeper levels of our spiritual selves during these events and with continual discipline to centering prayer, this deepening level of awareness continues until, as determined by God, we become more and more united with our God.  

In Session 48, Father Keating discusses the "moments" of Centering Prayer.  I copied and pasted the summary from the retreat leaders here:

"In today's video, Fr. Thomas introduces us to the seven moments of Centering Prayer, an unfolding psychological process we go through in Centering Prayer and then day after day, and year after year. This process opens up our awareness of these deeper levels of being. We begin to experience God's healing action, what Fr. Thomas calls the Divine Therapy. 

The first moment of Centering Prayer is when we settle into our intention to consent to God's presence and action within by introducing our sacred word. During the second moment we start to quiet down and experience the rest that begins to work on the unconscious. The third moment may bring feelings of uneasiness and apprehension because our defense mechanisms are lowered and repressed psychological material starts to emerge. In the fourth moment we may begin to feel the emotions we dreaded or experience psychological insights. We don't pursue insights during prayer but allow feelings to surface as part of the healing process. The fifth moment is acceptance. We allow the body to feel what we have avoided feeling so that we don't perpetuate the pain. Acceptance moves us into the sixth moment which is evacuation, getting rid of the emotional junk of a lifetime. With each evacuation the Spirit rushes into the empty places and fills us up with the capacity for human health, the seventh moment. Each time we move through the cycle of the moments of Centering Prayer, we get closer to the center, our True Self and the Divine Indwelling." 

The moments of Centering Prayer are not just in the period of the prayer itself, but what happens through the years of praying.  The first couple of years may be spent at the first moment and as one continues to pray, one begins to get in touch or connect with who one is at a deeper level through one's greater connection and trust to God.

I appreciated this video and the knowledge of the "moments" because this is the first I have heard of this and I am experiencing this in my prayer time.  I am feeling anxiety and it is pretty consistent about 15 minutes into the prayer.  I really want to get up and stop praying as it if quite uncomfortable.  I now know I need to sit and stay with it and "This too shall pass."  This is an evacuation I need to experience and I do trust God, so this understanding helps me recommit to my centering prayer practice with more courage.

Resources for Further Study: You may wish to read chapter 4 in Intimacy with God (20th anniversary edition), Chapter 8 in older editions.