Q: Where does one initially place their awareness during Centering Prayer? In other words, when introducing the sacred word does one let the awareness float up toward heaven someplace “outside” oneself, or anchor it in the heart, or between the eyes, or somewhere else? Alternatively, as we “rest in God” are we allowing our consciousness to relax and expand?
A: Centering Prayer has been described as a prayer of consent. It is both a relationship with God and a discipline to foster that relationship. As our relationship with our God deepens, we trust that by resting in God’s presence we are honoring what already is: God is here within us. It is also a discipline to sit for 20 minutes twice a day and be open to the Spirit’s healing presence, freeing us from our false-self tendencies and habits such as disproportionate attachment to security, esteem, and control which are obstacles to God’s free flow of grace.
Our awareness during Centering Prayer is placed on the intention to consent, which means we are aware that we are sitting in the presence of God. We are consenting to the relationship and consenting to the discipline. Resting in God, we allow our consciousness to relax and expand, without being the doers. We are simply in the prayer. Centering prayer is a receptive prayer, a celebration of receiving.
What we are not doing when introducing the sacred word or symbol is making our awareness do anything – float up toward heaven, anchor it in the heart, or between the eyes, or somewhere else — that would be manipulating the prayer. When these thoughts enter our awareness we ever so gentle return to our sacred word and let them go.
– Fr. Carl.