Today I’m sharing more highlights from Cynthia Bourgeault‘s book Centering Prayer and Inner Awakening with a focus on Divine Therapy.
What is Divine Therapy? How much and how frequently should you engage in it? How helpful and how risky is this form of meditation? Check out the quotes below:
“In the summer of 1983, Keating organized the first Centering Prayer Intensive …. hoping to achieve a more concentrated meditative experience on the model of a Zen sesshin, or deep immersion retreat ….
Keating produced a tape-video series then a series of books …. in an innovative synthesis, Keating interweaves the traditional wisdom of Thomas Acquinas, Teresa of Avila, and John of the Cross with the contemporary insights of Ken Wilbur, Michael Washburn, Jean Piaget, and even the Twelve Step Method of Alcoholics Anonymous. The result is a comprehensive psycho-spiritual paradigm that begins in woundedness and ends, if a person is willing to take it that far, in transforming union. He calls it the Divine Therapy.” Centering Prayer and Inner Awakening, (c) 2004 Cynthia Bourgeault, The Psychology of Centering Prayer, pp. 91 – 93
Keating explains in his own book, Intimacy with God, (c) 1994, the real meaning of the term transforming union is “we can bring the false self to (church), but we cannot bring the false self forever to contemplative prayer because it is the nature of contemplative prayer to dissolve it.” p.98
Bourgeault goes on to explain that “a period of committed sitting is often the emergence of a patch of pain long buried and several days of emotional turmoil …. and quotes Keating once again with his explanation that (committed sitting) ‘will reduce anxiety for perhaps the first three months. But once the unconscious starts to unload, it will give you more anxiety than you ever had in your life.’ For individual practitioners he recommends a limited dosage – twenty to thirty minutes twice a day is the normal prescription – to prevent the premature emergence of material into the conscious … by repositioning meditation as a tool for the purification of the unconscious … the ‘Divine Therapy’ is gentle and it always holds paramount the need for integration of psyche and spirit.” p.98-99.
So, as always, “buyer beware” and be gentle with yourself with whatever form of contemplation, meditation or mindfulness you choose to practice. Remember, healing in any dimension (i.e., physical, psychological or spiritual) takes longer than we expect and sometimes we feel worse before we feel better.
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