Q: When doing my Centering Prayer and after settling in to “find my sweet spot” I find that despite the quiet of prayer, there always seems to be noise in the background , like someone has a radio or TV on. It sounds like static background noise. Can you help explain what this is?
A: I don’t know for sure what might be the cause of the noise. You said it always seems to be there. Perhaps the source may be a physical ailment? For example, I have tinnitus, a ringing sound in my ears. A friend had his eardrum damaged and often hears static. If you think this might be the source of the problem, please take the time to go to an ear specialist and have it checked out.
If it is a physical issue, the noise can become a constant companion on your spiritual journey. Centering Prayer’s guideline #3 says “When engaged with your thoughts, return ever so gently to your sacred word.” Thoughts can include the awareness of sounds. So the noise becomes an invitation to constantly let it go by returning to your sacred word and renewing your consent. It’s not easy in the beginning, but after a while, as Fr Thomas says, it just becomes background noise.
I’m happy to talk with you about this and help you with the letting go process, as this has been part of my life for almost 50 years. Meanwhile, you’re doing the best you can under the circumstances and it all works out fine once you let go. It is a challenge, but with God’s help, all things are possible.
Blessings, Fr Carl Arico
** See this related Q&A here: Centering Prayer and Tinnitus