Centering Prayer at Center For The Working Poor in 2014

December 31st, 2014

Monday evenings you will find a group of 5-12 people sitting silently, with eyes closed, in the living room of the Center For The Working Poor. Centering Prayer, a meditation practice rooted in the Christian contemplative tradition, was developed by Fr. Thomas Keating, a Benedictine monk. His organization, Contemplative Outreach, teaches Centering Prayer through classes and retreats worldwide.

Although the practice is rooted in Christianity, our group has been blessed to have attendees from various faith traditions, and we value the interspiritual perspective. Our meetings typically start with a community dinner and 20 minutes of reading from a book about spirituality or contemplative practice, followed by 20 minutes of meditation and an open time of sharing our personal experiences and resonating with one another. We have a small but committed core as well as many random attendees- you never know who’s going to show up at Centering Prayer. Mark Infusino and former Center resident Susan Lawrence in particular have done much to sustain the group and help keep it running.

In the past year, we have also started a monthly trip to La Casa de Maria, a retreat center founded by renegade Catholic nuns near Santa Barbara. There we have a half-day of silence and Centering Prayer followed by a group outing to the beach or a local cafe. Most practitioners of Centering Prayer tend to be 50 and older, and our group is one of the youngest affiliated with Contemplative Outreach. The women at La Casa are always happy to see “the kids,” as they call us, despite that fact that most of us are in our 30’s.

This fall we hosted a contemplative retreat in Lake Arrowhead where we were joined by some members of Tribe LA, the church that Paul attends. Everyone was grateful for the opportunity to learn and deepen their practice while spending time in the fresh mountain air.

The format for our meetings is based in part on 12-step programs, and we’ve had a few friends of the Center take the format and start groups in other cities. We’ve also brought it back full circle by launching False Selves Anonymous, a new 12 step group emphasizing contemplative practices and interspiritual wisdom. We’ve introduced FSA at Transform and Wild Goose Festival, two progressive Christian conferences, and received much interest and positive feedback. Between the Centering Prayer and False Selves Anonymous formats, we now have people running groups in 6 different cities in the US and Canada.

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