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Centering Prayer: Its Divine – Use Your Meditation Timer

Meditation Pose, centering prayer

Meditation Pose, centering prayer

Going through a divorce, my world was askew. Physically, I was paying attention to my core with exercise, but emotionally I was a wreck. When my yoga teacher, Claudia, who was also a Benedictine oblate at Holy Wisdom Seminary, told me about Father Thomas Keating and the Centering Prayer movement I wanted to be open. Keating (along with other Trappist monks) brought the concept to the American public in the mid 1980s, reviving a practice that had been prominent during the first sixteen centuries of Christianity. During the Reformation, this mystical experience was discarded in favor of Rationalism and it wasn’t until the Western World discovered Buddhist meditation that it became popular again.

The goal of Centering Prayer is to know God’s love and feel God’s grace. To do so, you must get quiet, focus on a sacred word of your choice, and relax and enjoy the moment. The result—at least sometimes—a mystical experience. What’s not to like?

Well, for me, the God stuff was a problem. Having left organized religion, I wasn’t sure I believed in prayer or God. But when seeking inner peace, it’s hard to ignore the value of prayer to comfort. Meditation is one path to serenity, said Claudia; prayer is another. They both calm the mind and open the heart.

I met Claudia in her meditation studio. Sitting cross-legged on a cushion, she struck a chime and had me repeat after her: “Be still and know that I am love” (a slight modification of Psalm 46:10). “Be still and know.” “Be still.” “Be.”

I tried to clear my mind of thoughts, focusing only on the sacred word I chose. I tried “Home,” thinking it is so close to “Om” that it will be easy to find my meditation point. Nothing. Then “Freedom,” “Peace,” “Nothingness.” Finally, I settled on the word “Divine,” and fell through time and clouds into a space where I felt comforted. Then the chime sounded. Twenty minutes had passed.

I didn’t know where I had been—it was like I had found a silent sanctuary in my mind that was there all along. Claudia says entering into Centering Prayer is similar to falling in love—all boundaries collapse and you feel authentic and fearless. The real payoff is in the regular practice of Centering Prayer. Knowing you will be calmed and comforted in the loving arms of the universe is a sweet retreat at the beginning or end of a day.

Although meditation can be done in almost any context, practitioners usually employ a quiet, tranquil space, a meditation cushion or bench, and some kind of timing device to time the meditation session.  Ideally, the more these accoutrements can be integrated the better.  Thus, it is conducive to a satisfying meditation practice to have a timer or clock that is tranquil and beautiful.  Using a kitchen timer or beeper watch is less than ideal.  And it was with these considerations in mind that we designed our digital Zen Alarm Clock and practice timer.  This unique “Zen Clock” features a long-resonating acoustic chime that brings the meditation session to a gradual close, preserving the environment of stillness while also acting as an effective time signal.

adapted from Healing Lifestyles & Spas, by Judy Kirkwood, 2010

Zen Chime Alarm Clock and Timer

Zen Chime Alarm Clock and Timer

Now & Zen’s Meditation Timer Store

1638 Pearl Street

Boulder, CO  80302

Posted in Bamboo Chime Clocks, intention, Japanese Inspired Zen Clocks, Now & Zen Alarm Clocks