International Holistic Spiritual Center


Book Club
Centering Prayer
Mystical Christianity
Healing Room
Free Monday Webcast
Tao Qigong/Meditation
Weds Blessing Circle
Interfaith Communion
Blessing Giver Initiation
The Diamond Heart
Flowering of the Heart
FloweringHeart Blessing
Flowering Heart Path
Eye Blessing
Our New Vision
Counseling & Ministry
Sessions with Michael
Sessions with Suzanne
Email Newsletter
Gift Certificates
The Seraphic Order
Order of Melchizedek
Our Teachers
Philippe Park Potluck
Online Courses
About Us/Contact Info




Rev Suzanne Champlin

Spiritual Teacher & Counselor

Interfaith Minister

Divine Healer

Reiki Master



Rev Dr Michael Milner, PhD

Spiritual Teacher & Counselor

Awakened-Life Coach

Interfaith Minister

Taoist Priest

Abbot for the Seraphic Order


300 Feather Tree Drive
Clearwater, FL 33765

(727) 686-3912

(727) 458-3208







(Christian Meditation)


Gratitude to Fr. Thomas Keating & Contemplative Outreach

for much of the following material www.contemplativeoutreach.org


And to Rev Dr Michael Milner for the article at the bottom of the page:

Lectio Divina & Centering Prayer:



Click Here for details about our Centering Prayer Group & Book Club


Centering Prayer Guidelines

     1. Choose a sacred word as the symbol of your intention to consent to God’s presence and action within.

     2. 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.

     3. When engaged with your thoughts*, return ever-so-gently to the sacred word.

     4. 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


Explanation of the Centering Prayer Guidelines


I. Choose a sacred word as the symbol of your
intention to consent to God’s presence and
action within.

1. The sacred word expresses our intention
to consent to God’s presence and action within.

2. The sacred word is chosen during a brief
period of prayer to the Holy Spirit. Use a
word of one or two syllables, such as:
God, Jesus, Abba, Father, Mother, Mary, Amen.
Other possibilities include: Love, Listen, Peace,
Mercy, Let Go, Silence, Stillness, Faith, Trust

3. Instead of a sacred word, a simple inward
glance toward the Divine Presence, or noticing
one’s breath may be more suitable for some
persons. The same guidelines apply to these
symbols as to the sacred word.

4. The sacred word is sacred not because of
its inherent meaning, but because of the
meaning we give it as the expression of our
intention to consent.

5. Having chosen a sacred word, we do not
change it during the prayer period because
that would be engaging thoughts


II. 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.

1. “Sitting comfortably” means relatively
comfortably so as not to encourage sleep during
the time of prayer.

2. Whatever sitting position we choose, we
keep the back straight.

3. We close our eyes as a symbol of letting
go of what is going on around and within us.

4. We introduce the sacred word inwardly
as gently as laying a feather on a piece of
absorbent cotton.

5. Should we fall asleep upon awakening
we continue the prayer.


III. When engaged with your thoughts,
return ever-so-gently to the sacred word.

1. “Thoughts” is an umbrella term for every
perception, including body senstations, sense
perceptions, feelings, images, memories, plans,
reflections, concepts, commentaries, and spiritual

2. Thoughts are an inevitable, integral and
normal part of Centering Prayer.

3. By “returning ever-so-gently to the sacred
word” a minimum of effort is indicated. This is
the only activity we initiate during the time of
Centering Prayer.

4. During the course of Centering Prayer, the
sacred word may become vague or disappear.


IV. At the end of the prayer period, remain in
silence with eyes closed for a couple of

1. The additional 2 minutes enables us to bring
the atmosphere of silence into everyday life.

2. If this prayer is done in a group, the leader
may slowly recite a prayer such as the Lord’s
Prayer, while the others listen.


Some Practical Points
1. The minimum time for this prayer is 20 minutes.
Two periods are recommended each day, one first
thing in the morning and the other in the afternoon or
early evening. With practice the time may be
extended to 30 minutes or longer.
2. The end of the prayer period can be indicated by
a timer which does not have an audible tick or loud
sound when it goes off.
3. Possible physical symptoms during the prayer:
a. We may notice slight pains, itches, or
twitches in various parts of the body or a
generalized sense of restlessness. These are
usually due to the untying of emotional knots in
the body.
b. We may notice heaviness or lightness in
our extremities. This is usually due to a deep
level of spiritual attentiveness.
c. In all cases we pay no attention and everso-
gently return to the sacred word.
4. The principal fruits of centering prayer are experienced
in daily life and not during the prayer period.
5. Centering Prayer familiarizes us with God’s first
language which is silence.

Points for Further Development
1. During the prayer period, various kinds of thoughts
may arise:
a. Ordinary wanderings of the imagination or
b. Thoughts and feelings that give rise to attractions
or aversions.
c. Insights and psychological breakthroughs.
d. Self-reflections such as, “How am I doing?”
or, “This peace is just great!”
e. Thoughts and feelings that arise from the
unloading of the unconscious.
f. When engaged with any of these thoughts
return ever-so-gently to the sacred word.
2. During this prayer we avoid analyzing our experience,
harboring expectations, or aiming at
some specific goal such as:
a. Repeating the sacred word continuously.
b. Having no thoughts.
c. Making the mind a blank.
d. Feeling peaceful or consoled.
e. Achieving a spiritual experience.


Ways to Deepen Our Relationship with God
1. Practice two 20–30 minute periods of centering prayer daily.
2. Listen to the Word of God in Scripture and study Open Mind, Open Heart.
3. Select one or two of the specific practices for everyday life as suggested in Open Mind, Open Heart, chapter twelve.
4. Join a weekly centering prayer group.
a. It encourages the members of the group to persevere in their individual practices.
b. It provides an opportunity for further input on a regular basis through tapes, readings, and discussion.
c. It offers an opportunity to support and share the spiritual journey.

What Centering Prayer Is and Is Not
a. It is not a technique but a way of cultivating a deeper relationship with God.
b. It is not a relaxation exercise, but it may be quite refreshing.
c. It is not a form of self-hypnosis but a way to quiet the mind while maintaining its alertness.
d. It is not a charismatic gift but a path of transformation.
e. It is not a para-psychological experience but an exercise of faith, hope, and selfless love.
f. If is not limited to the “felt” presence of God but is rather a deepening of faith in God’s abiding presence.
g. It is not reflective or spontaneous prayer but simply resting in God beyond thoughts, words, and emotions.



© Keating, Thomas. Open Mind, Open Heart 20th Anniversary Edition, 2006.


Lectio Divina

& Centering Prayer




    Our planet is waking up, the struggle for liberation is on, and a new global culture is emerging which yearns to be free from the enslaving political, ideological and religious constraints of the past. In Christ there is power, wisdom and grace to make the dream a reality. But centuries of religious repression and dogmatism have blinded many people to the liberating power of Christ. They are turning to non-Christian paths, the new age movement, and secular psychology for guidance.

    Granted, the Christian Tradition does not have a monopoly on wisdom, and there is useful knowledge to discover outside of her walls. But we who serve as shepherds to the flock have a responsibility to provide adequate spiritual direction for those who seek it. Our failure to do so has caused large numbers of our brothers and sisters in Christ to turn away from the Christian community. Spiritual seekers today are not content with moving church services and the preachers’ intellectual knowledge “about” God. They want to know God personally by direct experience. Divine union is the root of true liberation, and if Christian leaders do not point the way, others will step in to fill the gap, drawing many sincere believers away from the Christian Tradition. To heal the breach and respond to the needs of modern seekers, we must revive the Christian contemplative tradition, offering it as a Christ-centered mysticism for all who seek direct communion with God.

    Contemplative prayer is simply resting in God, silently absorbed in the Divine Presence, beyond thoughts, words, and images. Immersed in Divine Love, we forget ourselves, and a process of interior transformation begins, which leads, if we consent, to an abiding state of divine union. In this process, a total restructuring of consciousness occurs. We come to recognize and experience God within us, as the very ground of our being, and simultaneously, we begin to see God everywhere, in, through and beyond all that exists. We even discover God’s presence in the people we have felt most alienated from, and we find the ability to love and to serve them. Thus, contemplative prayer works to bring healing to a world torn by prejudice, hatred, and greed.

    Contemplative prayer is a gift of God, a spontaneous unfolding of the grace of Christ within us, and no tech­nique can produce it. But there are things we can do to prepare ourselves for the gift, instead of waiting for God to do it all. For instance, certain Eastern methods can help lay the groundwork for contemplation by calming the mind and harmonizing the body with the spirit (a possibility long ignored in the West). Some Eastern practices can also help us channel and integrate the spiritual energy released in contemplation. But Eastern traditions generally make the assumption that the proper spiritual technique will methodically and systematically produce Divine Union. In the Christian Tradition we understand and affirm boldly that communion with God is purely a gift of grace, by invitation only.

    So while many Eastern methods and meditative practices are not harmful and may even be helpful, true Christian contemplation is the fruit of our relationship with Christ, and cultivating that relationship must be our primary focus. One of the best ways to do this is the practice of lectio divina, literally “divine reading,” a way of prayer used by both monks and lay people in the first Christian centuries and the core of the Benedictine Prayer Tradition to this day. Lectio divina has four stages. It begins with 1) reading or listening a passage of Scripture (Latin: “lectio”), followed by 2) reflection or “meditation” on the text (Latin: “meditatio”), leading to 3) the spontaneous prayer of the heart as we communicate with God about what moved us during our reading and meditation (Latin: “oratio”), and finally to 4) interior silence also known as Contemplation or simply resting in the presence of God (Latin: “contemplatio”).

    Initially, viewed as the normal experience of anyone practicing lectio, by the sixteenth century, contemplation came to be regarded as something for only extraordinary souls, and the contemplative tradition was suppressed. This persisted well into the twentieth century, when widespread interest in Eastern meditation and other forms of mysticism sparked a contemplative renewal in the Church. From this emerged “Centering Prayer,” a contemporary presentation of an ancient method used by the Desert Fathers to move from the first three phases of lectio to the final stage of resting in God. It is especially helpful for Western people whose tendency to be too analytical makes it difficult to move from reflection to spontaneous prayer, and from spontaneous prayer to interior silence.


1. Choose a sacred word of one or two syllables which symbolizes your intention to consent to the presence and action of God within. (The word could be Jesus, Yahweh, Abba, Spirit, Peace, Silence, etc.).

    2.  Sit comfortably, with eyes closed. Silently introduce the sacred word as the symbol of your consent to the presence and action of God within. (You need not repeat it continually; it may fade out, become vague or disappear).

3.  If you are caught up in any thought, feeling or perception, very gently release it, and return to the sacred word.

4.  At the end of the prayer time, remain in silence with eyes closed for a couple of minutes, before resuming activity.

    You will probably be aware of a continual stream of thoughts and images. This is not an obstacle to centering prayer. Make no attempt to repress them. Just keep letting them go, and rest in the presence of God, by returning ever so gently to the sacred word.

    Before you decide if centering prayer is working for you, commit yourself to do it for at least twenty minutes, twice a day, for a month. Contemplative grace is very subtle, and you may not perceive what is happening during the time of prayer. So do not measure it by the experiences you have in prayer, but by the fruit it bears in your life, the fruit of peace which comes from yielding daily to God’s presence at the deepest core of your being.

    If we balance the practice of Lectio Divina and Centering Prayer with faithful participation in the liturgy and Sacraments of the Church, and a life of loving service to others, we will be transformed and become healers of the Church and of the world.


Hall, Thelma. Too Deep for Words: Rediscovering Lectio Divina (New York: Paulist Press, 1988).

Keating, Thomas. Open Mind, Open Heart (Continuum). The most excellent book I know of on centering prayer!

Keating, Thomas. Invitation to Love: The Way of Christian Contemplation (Continuum).

      Everything by Thomas Keating is highly recommended!

Copyright © 2003 Maclin R. Milner, Jr.

All Rights Reserved