The yeast of centering prayer
At our February “Come to Quiet” meeting, we had a look at the transforming power of contemplative prayer.
Thomas R. Ward says that “contemplation in not only an end in itself but also a means to the end of the transformation of the one praying.” We have often discussed this in our group and marvelled at how the process of opening oneself to the presence and action of God in the silence of the heart, subtly brings about changes the practitioner may not even be aware of, but which will be noticeable to others who know him/her.
Ward goes on to explain how Father Thomas Keating “compares the practice of contemplative prayer to the experience of psychotherapy. Here the Risen Christ dwelling within is the Divine Therapist, and the one praying is the patient.”
The whole process of transformation is a movement from the ego-centred “false self” to the liberated “true self”. This true self is the being God meant us to be when he created us. “Contemplative prayer dissolves the false self by healing the emotional wounds of our unconscious.”
What happens as a bonus side-effect is that the transformation goes much further than just the practicing group. It acts like the yeast in a lump of dough and spreads the transformation ever further afield. Like a rock cast into a pool the ripples extend ever wider outward. The influence of a regular group of people praying in this way will enrich and transform, not only the individuals involved, but the whole community that they are involved in.
So be on the lookout, Community of St Aidans. Expect to be transformed!
Quotations from: “Spirituality, contemplation and transformation: writings on centering prayer, by Thomas Keating, et.al.” specifically Chapter 9 by Thomas Ward, p. 241 – 249.