Q: Can someone explain using the sacred glance in Centering Prayer, instead of the sacred word?
A: The sacred glance in Centering Prayer is a beautiful symbol of our consent to the presence and action of God. As with the sacred word or the sacred breath, the sacred glance is not something to divert our attention and become a new focus, but is a brief symbol of our renewed consent; our internal yes to the One, to the Wholeness that prays in us and that calls us to the prayer in the first place. So if you are sitting with your eyes closed, you would keep them closed and perhaps bring up a brief image, without dwelling on it or filling in details in your imagination.
All of these sacred symbols of return are about letting go to the Divine Presence. We relax and let God move through us, as the unique persons we were created to be. We offer them as symbols of letting go of anything we identify with, even deeper things we don’t even realize we are holding onto, such as our sense of who we think we are, who God is, what Centering Prayer is, etc. The sacred glance, for example, can show us the extra efforts we are constantly making with our eyes: the eyes have a way of tensing up and almost pushing forward, as part of configuring the “face” we present to the world. This can be subtle, but with God’s help we can begin to see this in action. The sacred glance can become a deep letting go, almost as though the eyes are relaxing into the back of your head, to make way as we sink down to the heart, the organ of spiritual seeing.
No worries about making any of this happen: the One who calls us to prayer does it through us. And there is no way to do any of this “wrong” – our pure intent to consent to the presence and action of God sustains us through the prayer, working with us in ways unseen.
Blessings on your prayer practice.
Joy Andrews Hayter
You may also wish to read this related Q&A here.