In the early 1970s, Trappist monk and priest Thomas Keating and two other Trappists, Fr. William Meninger and the late Fr. Basil Pennington, worked to bring people living outside monasteries a form of silent prayer now known as Centering Prayer. With roots in the fourteenth century book, The Cloud of Unknowing, this kind of prayer allows people to sit silently and become receptive to God’s gift of contemplation.
In 1984, interested in making Centering Prayer available to more people, Fr. Thomas founded Contemplative Outreach. Today, the Contemplative Outreach network has hundreds of chapters and reaches people worldwide through numerous books and videos of Fr. Thomas’ teaching on Centering Prayer and its conceptual background.
The Method of Centering Prayer
- Choose a sacred word as the symbol of your intention to consent to God’s presence and action within.
- Sitting comfortably and with eyes closed, settle briefly and silently introduce the sacred word as the symbol of your consent to God’s presence and action within.
- When engaged with your thoughts*, return ever-so- gently to the sacred word.
- At the end of the prayer period, remain in silence with eyes closed for a couple of minutes.
*thoughts include body sensations, feelings, images, and reflections