FLOWERING HEART

International Holistic Spiritual Center

 

Home
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
Meditation
Counseling & Ministry
Sessions with Michael
Sessions with Suzanne
Email Newsletter
Gift Certificates
Chikara-Reiki-Do
The Seraphic Order
Order of Melchizedek
Our Teachers
Philippe Park Potluck
Online Courses
About Us/Contact Info
Donations

 

FACILITATORS

 

Rev Suzanne Champlin

Spiritual Teacher & Counselor

Interfaith Minister

Divine Healer

Reiki Master

Artist

 

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

 

 

 

 

NEW CENTERING PRAYER GROUP

& BOOK CLUB

 

EVERY SUNDAY, 2PM EST

 

The Book Club and Centering Prayer Group meet in-person at Flowering Heart Center, 300 Feather Tree Drive, Clearwater, Florida 33765, and live on Zoom.

 

The Book Club focuses on Christian Mysticism, Meditation & Contemplative Prayer. Contemplative prayer is sometimes referred to as “Christian Meditation”, “Resting in God” or simply “Resting in the Presence”.


The Centering Prayer Group provides a weekly opportunity to experience this wonderful contemplative practice in the support of a group setting. Each Sunday we conclude our meeting with 20 minutes of Centering Prayer.

 

"Contemplative Prayer is not something that can be achieved through will, but rather is God’s gift. It is the opening of mind and heart – one’s whole being – to God. Contemplative prayer is a process of interior transformation. It is a relationship initiated by God and leading, if one consents, to divine union."  

- Fr. Thomas Keating


The first book is "Open Mind, Open Heart" by Thomas Keating, a Trappist abbot who was a founder of the Centering Prayer Movement. Centering Prayer helps one open to receive the divine gift of Contemplation. When you buy the book (available on Amazon), be sure to get the 2006 twentieth anniversary edition, not the 1986 original.


Readings from "Open Mind, Open Heart" 20th Anniversary Edition by Thomas Keating: It's not too late to catch-up on the readings. Or just jump in where we are now. Hope to see you Sunday!

Feb 18, we discussed "The Method of Centering Prayer," Appendix 4, pg. 175-181, the Introduction, pg. 1-8, and Chapter 1 "Dimensions of Contemplative Prayer," pg. 11-17.

Feb. 25, we discussed Chapter 2 "First Steps in Centering Prayer" pg. 18-31.

Next Sunday, March 3, we will discuss Chapter 3 "The Sacred Word as Symbol" pg. 32-42.
 

We are hosting these meetings on a Love-Offering basis. If you wish to make a Love-Offering, any amount is appreciated, you can do that in-person at our center or go to https://floweringheart.org/Donations.htm.

 

Be sure to read and follow the Guidelines below.

If you are interested, email michael@floweringheart.org, so I can add you to the list.

 

Meeting ID
832 4591 6262

Meeting Link (stays the same every week)
https://us02web.zoom.us/j/83245916262 
 

 

GUIDELINES FOR BOOK CLUB & CENTERING PRAYER GROUP
We are all working together to create a very special a sacred space. So, whether you attend in-person or via Zoom, we ask you to agree to follow these Guidelines:

1. Unless you are speaking to the group, please, keep your microphone muted, maintain silence and refrain from eating during the Book Club or Centering Prayer (unless you have a medical condition and notify us in advance).

2. Turn off your phone ringer, and do not text, email or read incoming messages (unless you are an emergency first-responder).

3. If you are viewing at home via Zoom, be in a quiet room alone with no pets or children or people who are not engaged in the meeting, and don't let people or animals come and go. It would be best to close the door.

4. Don't leave the room for kitchen breaks or to talk to someone, etc. Of course, a necessary trip to the bathroom is an exception.

5. Keep your microphone and camera turned on throughout the meeting, and eliminate music, extraneous noises and distractions that would detract from your experience and that of others.

We ask you to follow these guidelines so that everyone can have a deeply sacred, transforming experience. Imagine you are in a Spiritual Temple personally meeting with God. In the past when we have allowed remote participants via Zoom this has been a challenge.

 

 

Gratitude to Fr. Thomas Keating & Contemplative Outreach for much of the following material https://www.contemplativeoutreach.org/

 

History of Centering Prayer

Centering Prayer was developed as a response to the Vatican II invitation to revive the contemplative teachings of early Christianity and present them in updated formats. In this way, the method of Centering Prayer is drawn from the ancient practices of the Christian contemplative heritage, notably the traditional monastic practice of Lectio Divina and the practices described in the anonymous fourteenth century classic The Cloud of Unknowing and in the writings of Christian mystics such as John Cassian, Francis de Sales, Teresa of Avila, John of the Cross, Therese of Lisieux, and Thomas Merton.

Most importantly, Centering Prayer is based on the wisdom saying of Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount:
 

“…when you pray, go to your inner room, close the door and pray to your Father in secret. And your Father, who sees in secret, will repay you.”
Matthew 6.6 (New American Bible)


In the 1970s, answering the call of Vatican II, three Trappist monks at St. Joseph’s Abbey in Spencer, Massachusetts, Fathers William Meninger, Basil Pennington and Thomas Keating, looked to these ancient sources to develop a simple method of silent prayer for contemporary people. The prayer came to be known as Centering Prayer in reference to Thomas Merton’s description of contemplative prayer as prayer that is “centered entirely on the presence of God.” The monks offered Centering Prayer workshops and retreats to both clergy members and laypeople. Interest in the prayer spread, and shortly after the first intensive Centering Prayer retreat in 1983, the organization Contemplative Outreach was formed to support the growing network of Centering Prayer practitioners.
 

Today Centering Prayer is practiced by people all around the world, creating local and global networks of Christians in communion with Christ and each other and contributing to the renewal of the contemplative dimension of Christianity.

The Christian Contemplative Tradition

Though it has acquired other meanings and connotations in recent centuries, the word contemplation had a specific meaning for the first 16 centuries of the Christian era. St. Gregory the Great summed up this meaning at the end of the 6th century as the knowledge of God that is impregnated with love. For Gregory, contemplation was both the fruit of reflecting on the Word of God in scripture and a precious gift of God. He referred to contemplation as “resting in God.” In this “resting,” the mind and heart are not so much seeking God, as beginning to experience what they have been seeking. This state is not the suspension of all activity, but the reduction of many acts and reflections to a single act or thought in order to sustain one’s consent to God’s presence and action.


In this traditional understanding, contemplation, or contemplative prayer, is not something that can be achieved through will, but rather is God’s gift. It is the opening of mind and heart – one’s whole being – to God. Contemplative prayer is a process of interior transformation. It is a relationship initiated by God and leading, if one consents, to divine union...


Fathers Thomas Keating and John Main, have pioneered efforts to answer the call of Vatican II to return to the Gospels and to biblical theology as the primary sources of Catholic spirituality. The product of these initiatives is a myriad of modern prayer practices based on historical contemplative teachings.


Prayer of Faith, Prayer of the Heart, Pure Prayer, Prayer of Simplicity, Prayer of Simple Regard, Active Recollection, Active Quiet, and Acquired Contemplation are all names of modern practices based on historical practices and meant to prepare their practitioners for contemplation. The practices around which Contemplative Outreach was built, Centering Prayer and Lectio Divina, are two such practices. Centering Prayer and Lectio Divina are closely derived from ancient contemplative Christian practices and are attempts to present these practices in updated formats that appeal to the lay community.


In many cases, modern Christian contemplative practices serve as a bridge in East/West dialogue as well as a way home for many Christians who have gone to the East in search of spiritual wisdom.



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
experiences.

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
minutes.

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
memory.
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.


 

The following article may provide additional insight:

Lectio Divina

& Centering Prayer

KEYS TO DEEPER COMMUNION WITH GOD

BY THE MOST REV. DR.  MICHAEL MILNER, D.MIN., TH.D., PH.D.

Click Here to Read the Article
 

88888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888