By Kathy Keary
Our full series in the Contemplative Prayer Video Series is here.
Our full series on the Prayer of Silence is here.
Today we will continue our series on silent prayer using a focus on our body touching a surface as a way to ground us in silence. But first I would like to share the wisdom of a couple of spiritual masters.
In her book, The Soul’s Slow Ripening: 12 Celtic Practices for Seeking the Sacred, Christine Valters Paintner asserts that we do not avail ourselves to the practice of silence and solitude solely for our own purpose but to cultivate within us “a greater capacity for living in communion with the world.” She also points out that this practice gives us the ability “to listen more intimately for the whispers of the divine alive in each moment.”
The faithful daily practice of the prayer of silence creates an awareness of the interconnectedness of all of God’s creation. The practitioner develops a greater sense of union with God, with nature and with others.
This is a slow process, Jamal Rahman of the Sufi tradition, explains in his book, Fragrance of Faith: The Enlightened Heart of Islam: “With regular practice of silence, slowly something opens and deepens in you and eventually this state abides and endures. Then, when you face reality, you experience equanimity: a sense of centeredness, peaceful and present with whatever comes and goes.”
Rahman uses a metaphor to illustrate this. When you dip a shirt in dye, the color soon fades. But if you keep dipping the shirt in dye, over time the color becomes permanent. He explains: “Similarly, as you keep immersing your being in the vat of God-consciousness through the practice of silence, at one point in time the fragrance of Divine attributes perfumes your being permanently. As some like to say, the Blush of the Beloved abides in you.”
Over the past several weeks, we have been exploring different ways to recenter ourselves when distractions occur when we are engaged in the prayer of silence. Over time, you will learn which method is most effective for you. Today I offer one final way to recenter yourself when you become attached to a thought. Focus on a part of your body that is touching a surface. It could be your feet to the floor, your thighs to the seat of the chair, or your back to the back of the chair. I experience a sense of groundedness when I use this method.
Distractions during the prayer of silence are quite common. We have explored various ways to recenter ourselves: re-focusing on our breath, a sacred word, an image, our stillness, a mantra, and finally focusing on a part of the body that is touching a surface. It is my hope that one of these speaks to your heart and that you will continue to practice the prayer of silence availing yourself to the spiritual growth it offers.
There is still time to journey with us this Lent through On Retreat with Henri Nouwen: Engaging Life’s Big Questions that will take place in person at the Renewal Center or on Zoom on Thursday mornings beginning March 10th.
I will see you next week when we will explore a close cousin to the prayer of silence. Stay tuned.
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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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