“In one of his most colorful teachings Thomas Keating describes (the Centering Prayer contemplation) process using the metaphor of boats on a river. The river, as he depicts it, is your consciousness – which is in fact a constantly moving “stream.” Down it floats boats, i.e., your thoughts …. on and on they float, down the river of your consciousness.” Centering Prayer and Inner Awakening, (c) 2004 Cynthia Bourgeault, p.36
The metaphor continues by describing 5 types of boats or thoughts that will traverse your mind as you seek to reach deeper levels of awareness in your meditation practice. Thoughts will come and go “like clouds on a windy day”, Thich Nhat Hanh would say. That’s okay, just let them gently go.
Bourgeault continues, “The Art of Letting Go – the goal in Centering Prayer is not to stop the thoughts, but simply to develop a detached attitude toward them. As long as they are coming and going of their own accord …. this gentle, laissez-faire attitude toward the thoughts is reinforced through a simple formula called “The Four Rs“:
- Resist no thought
- Retain no thought
- React to no thought
- Return to (your) sacred word
Centering Prayer and Inner Awakening, (c) 2004 Cynthia Bourgeault, p.39-40
Ultimately, contemplation, meditation, mindfulness is more about going with the flow of “stream of consciousness” rather than fighting with our ordinary awareness level.
Today’s senryu: Imagine a River of Consciousness
particle and wave,
matter and spirit, flowing
gently down the stream