Gratitude and Centering Prayer
Q: Is it possible to experience pleasure and gratitude for the feelings I sometimes have during meditation (e.g. spaciousness, chakra opening) without being distracted by them?
Lindsay: Your question goes right to the heart of how we deal with our experience in Centering Prayer. We allow ourselves to feel and think everything that comes to us, in a state of great transparency, and then we let it go again. Pleasure and gratitude may come up naturally, but the problem with singling them out in any way is that it may tempt us to linger on these sensations, becoming engaged with the pleasure and gratitude. We need to learn to let go of everything that comes up equally, without judging during the Centering Prayer period which feelings are more worthy of being let go of.
If you are particularly interested in cultivating gratitude as part of your meditation practice, there are two ways you might do that. Before you begin the main Centering Prayer period, as you take your posture and introduce your sacred word as the symbol of your consent to God’s action and presence within, you could make a short verbal prayer asking God for the gift of gratitude. You might even experience God as the gift of gratitude. You would then let go of this conscious intention during the Centering Prayer time, but your prayer and connection with God can wordlessly infuse your practice with a sense of meaning and intention.
You might also use the transition time at the end of the prayer period as you remain in silence with eyes closed for a couple of minutes to notice what came up for you during the prayer time. Whatever you might consciously experience during the prayer time, you are receiving the gift of healing, and you could express your gratitude and pray to bring the goodness you received during the prayer time out into the world to be shared with others.
There are many opportunities in our lives to feel gratitude. As we use the Centering Prayer time in a very particular way, it becomes like a battery that charges us up with holy energy so that we are more likely to feel gratitude at other times and bring forth its fruits in our lives.