Continuing today with my series elaborating on the four steps of Centering Prayer.
I sit a lot on a typical day. At work, I’m chained to my desk answering phones for almost my entire shift. When I’m not working, I’m often writing, reading, or doing other similarly sedentary things.
So it’s ironic that my chosen method of prayer practice involves sitting too. Also my posture is terrible, so when I try to sit comfortably, I’m uncomfortably aware of all the unnatural shapes into which my spine is slowly curving.
Maybe you can relate?
Also, many practitioners of Centering Prayer or similar practices say that you need a special prayer chair, or mat, or whatever. I do not have these things. Most of my prayer is done on the fly, in a forgotten corner of office or apartment building, or in a park, sometimes even on a bench waiting for the bus. I don’t have a special setting for my sitting, and I don’t see that changing anytime soon.
And yet, as C.S. Lewis once put it, we are animals, and our bodies affect our spirits. So even if sitting isn’t as comfortable or isolated as I would like, how can I situate my body in a way that helps my spirit pray? I’m still figuring this out, but I will share a few things that have helped.
First, finding as stable a position as possible: seated in a chair with feet planted on the floor, or cross-legged against a wall or tree or something else to lean on. When my back is supported, I don’t have to constantly search for another more comfortable position.
Second, breathing deeply and imagining my spine being lifted upward from the base of my skull. When my chest lifts, my spirit lifts too. Sometimes this can become distracting, though, so again, I try to do this adjustment early on so I won’t have to think about it later.
Third, turning my palms upward. For me, it’s a simple way of assuming a posture of praise, of gratitude and openness. You may not get the same feeling from such a gesture, of course. When you find something that works for you in terms of helping keep your mind clear and your heart open, go with it!
One thing I’ve found really does not work for me: praying while lying down. I always think I can do this without falling asleep, but I’ve never managed it even once!
Do you struggle with finding a good position for prayer? Or do you have tips for the rest of us? Please do share in the comments!
Today’s 15 minutes of prayer: I was supposed to be in bed already and was thinking to myself that I didn’t have time. But I will never have time unless I make time, so I did it anyway. And I felt more focused than I usually do, actually. I’m such a night owl…