Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Rule of Life Updae-- making slow progress.

I continue to use my version of the daily office-- a highly contemporary one by Thomas Merton. I like to pray early at dawn or late at night with the lights off and by candle light. In the office there is a pause for "Silence" so that is when I have slipped into the Jesus Prayer or Centering Prayer. the other day when I was doing Tai Chi exercises I tried to do it to the Jesus Prayer and I had some acoustical African music in the background. That was better to some degree - I'm not making much connection through centering prayer. I find it is very hard to empty the mind and center. I last maybe 5 minutes. I am going to actually try Zen Meditation to see if that will improve my concentration. Or maybe centering prayer is just not for me. I went to a Quaker service over the summer and no one was moved to speak. It was total silence for an hour-- not that this was bad but it did not do much for me spiritually.

So my efforts for the next couple of weeks will be to continue to integrate some fort of prayer or meditation with my Tai Chi and try to get some training in Buddhist meditation. I think Salesian prayer practices with the mind and imagination actively engaged might be a better fit for me. I'll try that at the end of the two weeks.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Soul Shaping via Centering Prayer

When the UPS guy delivered this package, I was quite impressed by this little book on spiritual practices packaged like a manual for your new car. I thought that was quite clever packaging!
The contents, however, were a bit more complex {(not to say how an alternator functions is not complex) listing ancient spiritual practices (like fasting, centering prayer, Jesus prayer, Ignatian examen, labyrinth, pilgrimage etc) along with not only a “how to” but a “why for” (i.e. theology). Tony Jones admonishes that youth workers should not “schedule” time to learn centering prayer but must first try on the practices themselves.
I’ve been trying to get back into a regular practice of prayer. I wrote a Rule of Life two years ago centered on the Native American medicine wheel. I need to revisit that Rule of Life since I did abandon it somewhat.
What I have been doing the past few weeks is integrating a highly contemporary modified daily office by Thomas Merton. There is an established pattern of prayer, psalmody and scriptural reflection (scripture adapted by Merton) with robust imagery and vivid contemporary language. The only drawback it is “He, Him, His” so I change some of it to “She, Her, and Hers” just to have balance. There are four offices around Dawn, Day, Evening, and Dusk. In each office there is a pause for silence—this is where I inserted centering prayer last night and this morning. I used the word “Beloved” to center myself, which I found hard even in the darkness by candlelight. I did everything I could to create a mood of soft, tranquil solitude. My monkey mind made this exercise challenging even in spite of my efforts to really engage myself in this activity. I have actually been thinking about taking up Zen Meditation to learn how to learn how to detach better And since I am in Cambridge where one can find a myriad of alternative spiritualities, I think I need to try to see how centering prayer and Buddhist meditation intersect.
I am currently studying Tai Chi (two weeks) and want to integrate Tai Chi into my spiritual practice as well. But I’ll leave that for a separate blog posting. This is my bad habit of taking on too much in one posting.