Centering Prayer and Brainwave Entrainment Products

Q:  For the past 6 months I have been using a brainwave entrainment product (developed by people associated with the Integral Movement and Ken Wilber) with my Centering Prayer practice.  My experience is that it is deepening and accelerating the practice and the fruit I experience as a result of the practice, though I have a friend who has tried it and feels a sense of caution about the use of this technology.  What are your thoughts and cautions about using this technology to deepen and accelerate my meditation practice?

A:  What is the purpose of Centering Prayer?   It is to deepen our relationship with our God and to consent to the purification process. That process is the letting go of the false-self system, in order to allow the true self to blossom. Part of the purification process is cultivating the ability to let go of the thoughts, images, commentary, sounds, sensations, emotions, etc., that surface during the prayer. We do not try to empty the mind, but allow the letting go process to manifest itself.  It is in the struggle, if you wish, or letting go, that the growth takes place and this makes one stronger to let go outside of the prayer time. As they say, ‚Äòno pain, no gain‚Äô, in a sense. If you eliminate the process by using artificial means to quiet the mind – where is the growth of letting go?  Where is the ongoing consent to God‚Äôs presence and action, which over time evolves into surrender?  It is like using crutches when you do not need them; they might weaken the strength of the legs and hinder your ability to walk on your own.

I spoke to Thomas Keating about this and he is aware of these products but cannot recommend any in particular.

The third guideline of the method of Centering Prayer is so powerful, as it is at the essence of what we are consenting to.

Your basic question was, ‚ÄúWhat are your thoughts and cautions about using this technology to deepen and accelerate my meditation practice?‚Äù  In short, the focus is on the relationship not the means. My sense is do whatever you need to do, but do not forget the purpose.  Ponder these comments in this light. 

-Fr. Carl