Centering Prayer and Meditation: Two Interviews

One of the topics we’re going to go over at the retreat is Centering Prayer and meditation. Interestingly, I came across a couple of excellent interviews today that both addressed this very topic!

1. NPR’s Fresh Air: PTSD Treatment for Monks, an interview with Dr. Michael Grodin
A moving interview in which Dr. Grodin discusses Post Traumatic Stress Disorder in Tibetan Monks. What’s amazing is that Dr. Grodin, in treating Tibetan Monks who have been imprisoned or tortured, has seen that meditation seems to bring about flashback memories of their torture. He walks the listener through his theory, that somehow meditation lowers one’s ability to push bad memories out of one’s consciousness. Instead, meditation causes the monks to relive some of the horrible events of their past. His methods of helping the monks deal with this problem are quite fascinating – and I’m sure you will find this interview engaging.

2. Cynthia Bourgeault on Centering Prayer
I was looking around to find more info on Centering Prayer and happened upon this interview, from 2007, with Cynthia Bourgeault. I had not heard her speak before (the retreat I had signed up for was unfortunately cancelled) but I thoroughly enjoyed hearing her explain her own point of view. She does a great job of walking the listener through some of what it means to engage in Centering Prayer … that it is not unlike a teenager taking off his “walkman” headset and hearing birds for the first time. In silence, we hear God’s language, and are drawn closer to God.

I first was introduced to meditation about five years ago. I’ve since discovered that the method I use is very similar to Centering Prayer. I allow my mind to slow down and make an effort to let go of thoughts. As I recognize a thought, I acknowledge it and visualize it moving on its way (usually I visualize it moving left to right) out of my mind. Then I enjoy the nothing. As a new thought pops up, I acknowledge it and move it along. I’ll admit that I love using this as a tool to fall asleep. And, I often do it when I feel my mind getting to0 busy. I really loved that Dr. Michael Groding makes reference to monks visualizing placing their thoughts on a lotus flower, and letting them float away on a peaceful river. I might have to try that, too.

Do you have a meditation practice? How do you approach meditation?