By Kathy Keary
Our full series in the Contemplative Prayer Video Series is here.
Our full series on Contemplation is here.
Today we will use a mantra along with our breath to center ourselves in the prayer of silence. But first I would like to share with you the wisdom of the contemporary sage, Eckhart Tolle, that appears in the introduction of the book, The Calm Center: Reflections and Meditations for Spiritual Awakening by Steve Taylor. The book is a collection of powerful meditations and poetic reflections that I highly recommend. Eckhart writes:
The essence of all spirituality is presence, a state of consciousness that transcends thinking. There is a space behind and in between your thoughts and emotions. When you become aware of that space, you are present, and you realize that your personal history, which consists of thought, is not your true identity and is not the essence of who you are. What is that space, that inner spaciousness? It is stillness, the calm center. It is pure consciousness, the transcendent I AM that becomes aware of itself. The Buddha called it sunyata, emptiness. It is the kingdom of heaven that Jesus pointed to, which is within you, here and now.
We have been focusing on the prayer of silence for several weeks because of its power to change lives. Eckhart lists some of the ways its impact is experienced. He asserts:
As presence increasingly arises within you, it manifests in many different ways: inner peace, empathy, an outflow of goodwill toward your fellow human beings, creativity, a heightened sense of aliveness, freedom from dysfunctional and compulsive thinking, a deep appreciation of the present moment. All these shifts and many other changes greatly enhance the quality of your life.
In our video, Breath as a Threshold to the Present Moment, I mentioned that focusing on our breath anchors us in the present moment. Focusing on our breath as we silently say a mantra is a way to center ourselves. When I inhale I say “Come, Lord Jesus.” When I exhale I say “Fill me with your presence.” Any mantra that speaks to your heart can be used. Examples are:
Focusing on our breath as we silently say a mantra, is a meaningful way to begin a prayer of silence as a statement of our intent to rest in God. When distractions occur, I recommend that you turn your attention to just one word of the mantra. For instance, if your mantra is “Come to me, and I will give you rest” consider turning your focus to the word “come” or “rest” as you take a breath when distractions occur.
Consider joining us on Thursday mornings during Lent as we journey with authors Chris Pritchett and Marjorie J. Thompson through their new book, On Retreat with Henri Nouwen: Engaging Life’s Big Questions.
Until next week, I hope you find time each day to engage in the prayer of silence. God bless you.
I look forward to seeing you next week. Until then, may God bless your journey.
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[Kathy Keary, spiritual director, holds a bachelor’s degree in education, a master’s degree in theological studies, and completed Sophia Center’s Souljourners Program, an intense study of spirituality and spiritual direction. Kathy believes that the Divine is present and active in all of life and encourages others to be awakened to the God in all including the Divine within. She enjoys accompanying others on their journey to wholeness discovering the person they were created to be.]
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