Q: I recently completed e-courses in Centering Prayer as well as Welcoming Prayer. When doing Centering Prayer, I find that most thoughts that come up are related to tasks that “have” to be completed. I have been retired for two years and I really don’t have anything that have time constraints. I find this to be the case also when I am doing practices like Tai chi and Qigong. Can you comment why this might be the case ? I am a Type 1 on the Enneagram. Could this be a factor ?
Fr. Carl: Having a vestibule is an important part of the preparation for our Centering Prayer practice. We take that time ahead of our prayer to state our intentions, renew our motives and take care of anything that might be pressing and distracting at that particular moment.
Making a list of things that need to be done ahead of time has always been most helpful to me as I enter into the inner room of my Centering Prayer practice: it can prepare one to give oneself entirely to the prayer. If all of a sudden during the prayer these chores begin to pop up such as “how can I do them”, “how much time will I need” and numerous other planning details , it’s much easier then to gently return to your sacred symbol because unconsciously (or is it subconsciously?) you know it’s been taken care of, you made the list. Give it a try, as a type 1 on the Enneagram I think that you will find this process/discipline helpful.
Ultimately remember that whatever shape our thoughts take, our response during our Centering Prayer time is to let them go by returning to our sacred symbol.
Let me know how you make out.
Blessings, Fr Carl