Q: I haven’t been a practitioner of Centering Prayer very long; or rather, I haven’t been as disciplined as I sometimes desire. However, I want to ask about my body’s reactions when I sense God’s presence. Sometimes tears start running down my cheek without any sense of emotion. Not sobbing; just what I might describe as delicate tears. At other times during prayer and meditation I laugh aloud. Again, it comes without knowing it’s coming. It isn’t a guffaw laugh, just a sort of chuckle. Are these reactions to the experience of God’s presence common? I find them neither embarrassing nor special. It seems like my body is reacting in these ways without my willing it. If I experience any feeling about my body’s reaction, I’d say it’s joy. Have others commented on these bodily reactions?
A: Thank you for your question. It sounds like you are describing the unloading process that takes place during Centering Prayer as our bodies release the traumas of a lifetime. As you say, these reactions need not be considered either embarrassing or special. They are simply part of a natural healing process initiated by the prayer as our old wounds are brought to the surface and released. You can continue to notice them without attachment. While right now you may find yourself experiencing joy in response to these bodily reactions, be careful not to become too attached to the joy. As you go further in your practice, it may lead you into the darker side of your personality and more painful material and emotions may come up. As new bodily reactions and emotions arise, be ready to go wherever your practice leads you with the same simplicity and detachment.