From The Path of Centering Prayer: Deepening your Experience of God
Chapter 2: Renewing Your Practice of Centering Prayer, Part II
How Your Body Position Affects Your Inner Posture During Prayer
Reconnect to the second basic guideline: sitting comfortably and with eyes closed, settle briefly and silently introduce the sacred word as the symbol of your consent to God‚Äôs presence and action within. I asked Jane about the physical posture she used during Centering Prayer. She told me, ‚ÄúI have a recliner chair at home that I sit in. With my head back on the cushion, I feel very relaxed. Sometimes I doze off. The comfortable chair helps me lose awareness of my body.‚Äù
Her posture helped explain the spaciness she felt in prayer. Contemplative resting in God can bring physical relaxation. However, resting in God is primarily an inner resting of your being in God‚Äôs Being. The receptivity needed to deepen Centering Prayer is facilitated by having a body position that is alert and attentive.
Unless you have a physical condition that requires special care, being so comfortable in your chair that you lose awareness of your body often leads to a kind of spaciness that, although temporarily relaxing, is not as valuable as contemplation. In contemplation, God‚Äôs indwelling presence normally manifests through spiritual attentiveness, as awareness is transformed in you. Realizing God‚Äôs indwelling presence in pure awareness is much more valuable spiritually than feeling relaxed or losing awareness.
But you also don‚Äôt want a posture that is rigid or constrained. Centering Prayer‚Äôs effects are very ordinary, sometimes hidden in daily life and certainly unseen during your own self-reflection. During prayer, having a natural, upright body posture that is not special or unique is very helpful. Some people find that kneeling or sitting cross-legged on the floor, even in a full lotus position, brings them inner alertness. But for many people, kneeling or sitting in lotus position is too constraining, too tight, too unnatural a position for Centering Prayer.
Our inner posture before God is affected by our outer bodily posture. Cultivate alert responsiveness on the outside and the inside. If you find that you are spacey or, alternatively, tight, constrained, and rigid in your prayer, remember the basic guideline about physical posture. As Jane regained the sense of having a comfortable, alert posture in prayer, her spaciness dissipated.
Go to Part I of this series. Go to Part III of the series.
David Frenette’s website is Incarnational Contemplation. He is available for spiritual direction by phone. Go here for more information: www.incarnationalcontemplation.com/spiritual-direction/what-is-spiritual-direction/