So the next question is: how might one “sit there”? It is not a quick answer. The simplest answer is: “it can take many forms.”
Multiple world religions include different practices that encourage silence to nurture spirituality. In addition one can look into current culture and find secular practices that are very similar, e.g. mindfulness for stress reduction in the midst of our busy lives.
Within Christianity one looks back to the desert fathers and mothers of the early Christian monasteries(3rd century) to see the roots of our current contemplative practices.
In the 1980s these spiritual practices were adapted in ways that do not require one to enter monastic life. The result has been the development of a contemplative practice (centering prayer) that can be used in our every day lives.
In centering prayer one rests in the presence of life’s Great Mystery we traditionally call God. This is a simple process, but is not easy and requires the discipline of practice.
I have made a list of quotes about contemplative/centering prayer that I hope you will find interesting. Copies can be found in the FCC atrium.
- Centering Prayer is a receptive method of silent prayer that prepares us to receive the gift of contemplative prayer, prayer in which we experience God’s presence within us, closer than breathing, closer than thinking, closer than consciousness itself. This method of prayer is both a relationship with God and a discipline to foster that relationship. Centering Prayer is not meant to replace other kinds of prayer. Rather, it adds depth of meaning to all prayer and facilitates the movement from more active modes of prayer – verbal, mental or affective prayer – into a receptive prayer of resting in God. Centering Prayer emphasizes prayer as a personal relationship with God …. Contemplative Outreach established in 1983 to help develop a network of individuals interested in the practice of Centering Prayer
- “Our fast-paced lives are filled with distractions, frequently leaving us disillusioned and dissatisfied—with ourselves, with others, and even with God.” Mindful Silence The Heart of Christian Contemplation by Phileena Heuretz
- “God’s first language is Silence. Everything else is a translation.” Thomas Keating O C S O …an American Roman Catholic monk … was known as one of the principal developers of Centering Prayer, a contemporary method of contemplative prayer …
- “For contemplation is nothing else than a secret and peaceful and loving inflow of God, which, if not hampered, fires the soul in the spirit of love” John of the Cross, 16th century Spanish mystic
- “In solitude, at last, we’re able to let God define us the way we are always supposed to be defined—by relationship: the I-thou relationship, in relation to a Presence that demands nothing of us but presence itself. Not performance but presence” Richard Rohr, Center for Action and Contemplation, Albuquerque
- “It’s very, very simple. You sit, either in a chair or on a prayer stool or mat, and allow your heart to open toward that invisible but always present Origin of all that exists.” Centering Prayer and Inner Awakening by Cynthia Bourgeault
- What we plant in the soil of contemplation, we shall reap in the harvest of action. Meister Eckhart a 13th century German theologian, philosopher, mystic
- Contemplation means rest, suspension of activity, withdrawal into the mysterious interior solitude in which the soul is absorbed in the immense and fruitful silence of God …. Thomas Merton an American 20th century monk, writer, theologian, mystic, poet, social activist.
- Contemplation seems to be about the only luxury that costs nothing. Dodie Smith