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Centering Prayer, Unloading and the Nights
Q: I have been practicing Centering Prayer off and on for about 18 years and more intensely during the past year and a half or so. For many years I had little discipline, just "exuberant mysticism" with lots of consolation. I am sure the "unloading" of the unconscious has either not happened at all or is at least not complete. I still have a lot of egotism (although I am somewhat more aware when it is trying to drive everything) and still have a moderate anxiety disorder (I am not sure this is spiritual malady or physiological or both). Have you or anyone at CO experienced any of this unloading that you are aware of and can describe? Is this connected to the night of sense?
A: You are asking about unloading and wondering if you are experiencing it. Unloading can be active or passive – “eyes open or eyes closed” or both. Known and unknown. Eyes open is when you are aware of it, e.g., your reaction to a situation is disproportionate to the event (like blowing up about something). The Spirit is bringing to the surface something that you have not seen or dealt with it, or perhaps you are still working on it, like anger. Eyes closed is when you begin to notice subtle changes in your life. In fact, usually others begin to notice these changes before you will. You may become gentler in your approach to a situation where previously that was not your typical response. These two experiences are normal and are common to many practitioners.
You mentioned your practice of Centering Prayer has been on and off until recently. When you decide to dedicate yourself to a deeper relationship with God and make your prayer time a sacred priority, you will experience more unloading, especially with egotism. Welcome to the world of the Night of Sense.