Centering Prayer’s Transformative Power

I think almost everyone must be aware of the political chaos that seems to be a constant presence in our lives. I don’t know if our times are unique in this respect, but I “feel” as if they are. I have always been drawn to centering prayer and Tai Chi practices because of their promise of inner peace and strengthening of the resistance to stress. This promise has been largely fulfilled. However, I’m finding even greater urgency to deepen my practice of centering prayer as I face these current turmoils.

Recently I happened upon an audio recording of a retreat led by Eckhart Tolle. The title is, “Realizing the Power of Now.” I read “The Power of Now” some years ago and found it to be a great complement to my centering practices. This recording was, however, the first time I heard Eckhart Tolle’s voice and had a chance to absorb his words aurally.

One evening at my centering prayer group a member was sharing her frustration with the current situation with immigration around the world and likened it to her ancestors who were brought to Jamaica in chains. She was lamenting the similar immigration of Africans today. Although not arriving in other countries in chains, the chains of poverty and misery seemed to her to be as powerful and destructive of their humanity. The negative attitude of many countries, including our own, to the immigrants arriving at our door grieved her.

I had just been listening to Tolle’s words on the drive to the church. I shared with her one of the central teachings of his work. That is, the transformation of consciousness, a spiritual awakening that he sees as the next step in human evolution. An essential aspect of this awakening consists in transcending our ego-based state of consciousness. This is a prerequisite not only for personal happiness but also for the ending of violent conflict endemic on our planet.

The final part of that summary seemed key in addressing one of the reasons I keep coming back to centering prayer. Our practice, although much more explicitly based in Christian teaching and tradition than Tolle’s work, addresses the same essential need for spiritual awakening.

I recommend the work of Eckhart Tolle as a supplement to your prayer practice. He incorporates mystical Christian principles into his writing and speaking. But, more emphatically, I recommend the continued deepening of each of your prayer practices as an essential capacity for dealing with the chaos of our times. We release a force that can redeem all creation – the force of our God working through creation.

If you somehow found your way to this blog and do not engage in centering prayer or some other contemplative practice, I encourage you to explore the links on this website. The works of Mr. Tolle are easily found at your local library or favorite online book source. Next week I will discuss the work of another of my inspirations, Richard Rohr.

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