Fr. Thomas Keating states that two things happen in the inner room: We get in touch with our basic core of goodness, and the process of divine therapy is initiated and unfolds. What is divine therapy and how does that happen?
When I was doing vipassana meditation in India, we were reminded that the Buddha said every moment that we are truly present, something heals; the deep impurities of a lifetime surface in various forms.
As a western physician, I questioned every teacher on this matter. I had to know how this healing happens. The answer came years later, rising within me. If I cut my hand, I do not do the healing, nor do I know how it happens. It just happens, almost as a miracle. The Universe does know to send platelets to stop the bleeding, white cells to prevent infection, and fibroblasts to rebuild the tissue. What must I do? Cooperate – meaning rest the area, perhaps keep it clean and certainly stop doing what injured it in the first place!
I realized that similarly the Universe wants the healing and wholeness of my entire body, mind and emotional states. What must I do? Practice stillness and stop engaging in the activities and thinking patterns that caused injury. Wow.
That insight forever changed my attitude toward Centering Prayer. I understand now that I am giving myself a precious gift by centering every day – inviting healing in God’s timing. Thus, Centering Prayer became more about being and less of a doing.
I remember on one early intensive retreat when so much stuff came to the surface, I knew something was seriously wrong with me. After that retreat and the evacuation of so much emotional debris, I quit waking up angry and no longer had so many bad dreams! I understand now that most of the unloading of the unconscious is much more subtle.
I have noticed how beautifully steps 6 and 7 of AA summarize this part of our process: I have to be truly ready and willing, and humbly ask for God to heal me.
Another significant insight came with recent open-heart surgery. Recovery invites learning about patience. Healing is occurring not according to my desires or schedule, but again according to the timing and will of God. The first time I ever met with Fr. Thomas to learn more about Centering Prayer, he took one look at this Western physician and smiled, “What is needed is not more effort, but more consent.” So again, the principles of Centering Prayer apply perfectly to daily life.
My life has changed as a result of 25 years of Centering Prayer. I have healed in ways I didn’t know I needed to, which is most helpful to me and those around me. At the same time, I feel I am just beginning. Paradox embraced.
Here are wonderful guiding words from Fr. Thomas from the film, The Rising Tide of Silence: “At this point I don’t regard myself as knowing anything. I make many mistakes and I’m getting happier in making them. And I’m not sure that process ever ceases. In some respects I feel I’m just beginning, or I’d be willing to start over again. But on the other hand I wouldn’t change anything either.”
Keating’s words, like all of his insights, have guided me true. I am forever grateful for the “christogenic field” (the ultimate morphogenic field) that Jesus, the mystics through the ages, and our modern mystic, Thomas Keating, have given us.
Let the healing begin!
Bob Mischke, M.D.