366 Centering Prayer And The 11th Step

 The Method of Centering Prayer


The Prayer of Consent

By Thomas Keating

An 11 th Step Prayer Practice for those in 12 Step Programs

 “Sought through prayer and meditation to

improve our conscious contact with God as we understood Him …”

The 11th Step

  This pamphlet was put together to help those searching for emotional sobriety and a method for the 11th Step to improve their conscious contact with their Higher Power. “Sought through prayer and meditation” deals with our own personal attempt in communicating with a Higher Power. Many people in 12-Step programs have deepened their relationship with their Higher Power from the method of Centering Prayer. This is about you and your God “as you understand God.” It is not an attempt to change the instructions given in the Big Book but to support and supplement them.

About Centering Prayer

The practice of Centering Prayer, and the spiritual, historical and psychological basis of it, is described and elaborated in several of Father Keating’s works, including Open Mind, Open Heart and Invitation to Love. The practice of Centering Prayer has extraordinary parallels with other traditional practices and is remarkably simple and rewarding.

For those who practice the 12 Steps found in AA, Al-Anon, SCA, OA, DA, NA, GA, and other programs, there are parallels between Centering Prayer and practicing the principles of recovery--the process of human transformation.

Centering Prayer deepens the 12 Step practice generally, and the 11th Step specifically, through daily immersion in prayer and meditation. We believe that, when applied as a daily supplement to the 12 Steps, Centering Prayer opens us to a deeper dimension of spirituality.

Thomas Keating, OCSO is one of the founders of the Centering Prayer Movement and Contemplative Outreach, a spiritual network that teaches Centering Prayer and provides a support system for those who practice it. He is the author of several books and video/audio tape series.

The 12 Step Outreach of Contemplative Outreach is dedicated to offering Centering Prayer to people in all 12 Step fellowships as an 11th Step prayer/meditation practice. We help individuals and groups establish a contemplative prayer practice through workshops, retreats and formation programs.

Freedom from the Bondage of Self

Whether you have been in recovery for a long time or are just beginning, you probably have experienced a lot of frustrated feelings that didn’t just go away when you got abstinent or sober…problems with relationships, work, anxiety, depression, or feelings of emptiness. These feelings are natural for us no matter what your addiction and or the amount of time in recovery you have. But we don’t have to let them rule our lives. The 11th Step offers us a solution! Through this simple method you can improve your relationship with the Ultimate Power of life. This is true whether you call that power God, Allah, Mother, another name, or no name.

This process works for anyone who is willing to put forth the effort to practice it. Every system of spiritual and religious belief in the world knows some form of this simple and powerful practice. We know there are many persons who are spiritual but not necessarily religious. A poet once said about silence: “a view where language is inside seeing.”

This type of prayer has been used over the centuries, but it is different from what you may think of as prayer. It is not the type of prayer we are used to, like praying for something we want. It is simply moving deep within yourself, in silence, saying nothing, asking for nothing, just being and allowing your Higher Power to be with

you. For those who are working a recovery program, parallels can be found between the transformation that Centering Prayer brings and the process of growth facilitated as we work the 12 Steps.

The 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

1. 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 and consent. Examples: Love, Let Go, Serenity, Peace, Silence, Faith,Trust, Gentle etc.

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

Effects of Centering Prayer

The positive effects of the prayer are experienced in daily life and not necessarily during the prayer period itself. During this prayer, avoid analyzing the experience, or having expectations such as: continuously repeating the special word, having no thoughts. or achieving a spiritual experience. It is important not to judge the success of your prayer period. The only thing you can do wrong in this prayer is to get up and leave. You may find yourself getting in touch with feelings of pain, lust, or fear, even remembering feelings or events you forgot about long ago.

Everyone moves at their own pace in Centering Prayer, finding the “closer communication” and peace that comes from letting go. There is no way to change or repair the damage of a lifetime EASILY or QUICKLY. Just practicing the prayer and opening yourself to the presence of your Higher Power in silence will encourage you to keep going.

The growth is certain to happen when you work the 12 Steps in the context of this prayer:

Enhances our ability to “Let Go and Let God”

A nonjudgmental attitude of ourselves and others emerges

Growing in self knowledge which at times may be painful

A growing capacity to listen and be of service to others gradually emerges

Our ability to live in the present moment develops and matures

Some Practical Points

1) Twenty minutes of Centering Prayer twice a day is recommended. However, you may start with whatever amount of time you like.

2) If you notice slight physical or emotional pain arising during the prayer, pay no attention and return ever so gently to the sacred word.

3) It is suggested that you join a weekly Centering Prayer Group or find others in recovery willing to meet on a regular basis to support one another in this practice.

4) The benefits of the meditation may be experienced more in daily life than during the period itself.

About 12 Step Outreach

Centering Prayer works really well for 12 Step people. There are many of people in recovery who are already practicing this meditation. 12-Step Outreach offers retreats and introductory workshops that teach this method in more depth.

You can find information about workshops and retreats offered by the 12 Step Outreach at. www.contemplativeoutreach.org Click on Programs.

Random Awakening

The great Healer within each of us through our Program is removing obstructions and creating an environment where the natural Healing takes place.