Led by Rev. Patricia Rose via Zoom, this series will offer opportunities to experiment with different forms of contemplative prayer with a light hearted openness. We can learn so much from our own experiences and one another’s. Contact Patricia with questions or to let her know if you’ll be attending. In preparation, participants are strongly encouraged to experiment the week before class as outlined below, however no one need feel they should not attend if unable to get to this. To join the class, click on this link.
WEEK ONE: SITTING IN STILLNESS
If you notice an inner groan, reluctance, or aversion to the idea of sitting in stillness, that is a great start to entering the riches of contemplative prayer! It is the mind that has this response to silence, not your deepest inner being, and becoming aware of your mind and its incredible nature is a most powerful and fundamental skill for contemplative practices.
Sitting in stillness is quite restorative to our entire being – body, mind, heart, spirit. It replenishes us like a really good night’s sleep – and beyond. Sitting in stillness is like sitting in the clear waters of our awareness – as opposed to the active, stirred up waters of busyness and thinking. In the “clear waters,” we are more able to sense and feel nourished by the presence, peace, and love of God. The skills and art of stillness practice are an essential basis for contemplative prayer.
For these reasons and more, we begin this series by experimenting with and observing how it is to sit – or try to sit – in stillness.
Because we will be discussing our experiments at each gathering, everyone is encouraged to practice the below exercise the week prior to October 7. See below. Do not feel that you should only come to class if you have done this! It will be worthwhile, but even if you don’t get to it, there will still be much for you to receive and offer.
Preparation for Week One
Ideally, practice this for 20 minutes a day, but if necessary, just do whatever you can. Find a quiet place where you will be undisturbed. Sit up in a comfortable chair and whatever you need for a comfortable temperature. You will need a journal and a timer, such as a phone.
- Set your timer for 20 minutes. Make a brief prayer stating your intention to sit in silence, including asking for help if you want. Take a couple of minutes to notice how your body is feeling, and what your mental and emotional state is.
- Then, sit in silent stillness for the remainder of the 20 minutes. Do this by directing your attention to the breath coming in and out of your body. There are many aspects to observe, such as how deep it goes into your belly and how that feels, the sensation of the air coming in and out of your nostrils, the sound, the rhythm, etc. If you become engaged with thoughts, gently return your attention to your breathing. You cannot stop the thoughts, you can only choose to not engage with them and to rest your attention on your breath.
- When your timer goes off, give a short prayer of thanks if you wish, then take a few moments to jot down whatever you like of your experience. This recorded notes will be really helpful to our discussion and your discovery process.