Centring prayer (or “centering” prayer) is also a form of concentration practice for me. In fact, it’s so similar to mantra meditation, I would say they are the same. Again, as with all concentration practices, I consider them as dharana practices (see here for a definition of “dharana”).
The only difference is that the former comes from Christian practice and the latter from the yoga tradition. Any argument about the differences, in my own personal view, is semantics and honestly brings the practice no benefit whatsoever.
Like mantra meditation, we select a phrase or a mantra, that fits nicely with our breath. When we begin this practice, we silently say the first sound (or sounds) of the chosen phrase or mantra during the inhalation, and the second sound (or sounds) of the chosen phrase or mantra during the exhalations.
The word “mantra” itself can be used as an example: the sound “man” during your inhales; and the sound “tra” during the exhales. For centring prayer, with its Christian roots, usually a word or phrase from the Bible is used. For any other mantra meditation, use a phrase or word of your choosing.
Practise centring prayer / mantra meditation.
Make sure you sacred space for meditation is dark or darkened. Candle gazing perhaps is best practised at dawn or before bed when the sun is not up. Alternatively, close off the curtains, dim your lights, and prepare for your practice.
Remove all distractions, such as your phones and mobile devices. If you’re living in a household of people, inform them you’d prefer not to be disturbed during this duration.
Set your timer or meditation app for the duration of time you would like. Then, about two feet (approximately) away from the candle, sit with spine upright (this helps because if you intend to sit for awhile, bad posture may result in low back pain or other physical discomfort).
There are so many benefits to practising centring prayer / mantra meditation. Here are eleven:
- Relieves stress
- Manages anxiety
- Enhances self-awareness
- Helps with sleep
- Helps with pain management
- Promotes emotional health
- Helps with attention span
- May help prevent dementia and related diseases
- May help with addictions
- May help promote kindness
- May help with blood pressure issues
(source and references are at Healthline here.)
If you find sitting still and “calming the mind” a little bit challenging for you, centring prayer or mantra meditation is another method of meditation you could try.
Leave a comment below if you would like more info. Or just tell me in the comments what your experiences with centring prayer / mantra meditation! I want to know what you have to say!