The Real Welcoming Prayer Practice


Q: I have a question about Welcoming Prayer. I saw some website posting Father Thomas Keating’s poem:

Welcome, welcome, welcome.
I welcome everything that comes to me today, because I know it’s for my healing. I welcome all thoughts, feelings, emotions, persons, situations, and conditions.
I let go of my desire for power and control.
I let go of my desire for affection, esteem, approval, and pleasure.
I let go of my desire for survival and security.
I let go of my desire to change any situation, condition, person or myself.
I open to the love and presence of God and God’s action within. Amen.

Did Father Thomas Keating write that poem? Because the poem says to welcome everything such as thoughts, emotions, situation, but the Welcoming Prayer Mary Dwyer leads on YouTube only welcomes physical body sensations.

While Centering Prayer is to let go of any thoughts, how do we handle thoughts for Welcoming Prayer? We usually meditate on positive thoughts for daily devotions, ignore the thoughts that are nonsense. It is the negative thoughts that we are to watch. It all starts with the first negative thought, if I identify with it, I react to the first one with second, third … before I know, it turns into emotional turmoil. Do you actually welcome those kind of negative thoughts? How do you find balance between accepting yourself (knowing what is truly inside you without covering up) and not indulging, identify with your thoughts?

A: Thanks for reaching out. No, Fr. Thomas did not write that poem. And while it is a beautiful sentiment it isn’t the Welcoming Prayer.

The truth is we never have a thought without a corresponding emotion without a body sensation. We teach beginning with the body because the body never lies. We often rationalize our thoughts and feelings. So if you are able to feel/sink into the thought, Welcome, and let go that is great. But for most of us the body is easiest to begin with.

If we are really experiencing obsessive thinking though, we may not be able to access any body sensation. Then we use the little phrase (I say it to myself out loud — if possible using my name), “No thought is worth thinking about, Mary; no thought is worth thinking about sweet pea; no thought is worth thinking about.”  After a few time the thoughts settle down and my body is usually tight (easy to sink into).

I hope this helps clarify things. It’s hard to fully explain over email.


Mary Dwyer

See this related Q&A “What is being Welcomed in The Welcoming Prayer?”