Q: Firstly, I am very thankful for the teaching on Centering Prayer and have been practicing it for about two years. (The mobile app is really helpful too.) Though I still feel like a beginner (maybe a high beginner or low intermediate:) practitioner of the prayer, I truly do notice the centering, grounding effect it has had in my life. I only just learned of the Welcoming Prayer while reading Cynthia Bourgeault’s book Centering Prayer and Inner Awakening. Having only practiced it for a few days, I already sense that it will be a hugely effective tool for me to keep centered in tough moments. I have a question though. My wife, who passed away three years ago, suffered from bipolar disorder. My daughter has a milder form, diagnosed as hypomania, and a young, recently married woman at my church suffers from it. Do you think the Welcoming Prayer can be applied to the onset of mania or depression? It seems so strange to “welcome mania” or “welcome depression”. I’m wondering if you have encountered this before and have any thoughts for me.
A: Thank you for reaching out to us. Happy to hear the Welcoming Prayer is connecting with you in your life. I would direct you to the many teachings we have on Welcoming on our Contemplative Outreach YouTube channel. Our practice wording and teachings are slightly different from Cynthia’s, but the fruits are the same.
As to your question about praying Welcoming as an episode of mania/depression emerges, several thoughts come to mind. I am both a long-time Welcoming Prayer practitioner and a Licensed Clinical Social Worker in private practice. So I would encourage you to continue your practice of the prayer and go deeper into its amazing nuances. But what we teach is to have no expectations of the outcome. There is always change with this prayer practice, but the biggest change is often our attitude/acceptance about what is happening rather than what is happening changing. So if I pray when aware of a shift in my being the real gift is I AM AWAKE AND AWARE of my being and turning to the Divine Indwelling. It may impact mania or depression. It may not. Doesn’t really matter, because we are consenting to the Divine Indwelling in the midst of whatever we are experiencing and that is sheer gift.
It is hard to address your question in email, so if you would like to talk about this further I’d be happy to have a phone chat.
Blessings to you on your journey,
Contemplative Outreach Welcoming Prayer Service Team