Sometimes it's wise not to push too hard when something doesn't want to happen, Jacques. A "blocked ear" of the sort you describe isn't necessarily a problem. It might simply be a bud that's not ready to flower. It's always best to pray and love with the consciousness we have rather than to strive to live in a state we do not have. In the living with what is given, there is a gradual expansion that happens, but in the Spirit's own good time.
Cool Phil, i must say that the only problem I have with the blocked ear is that it is a bit irritating.
Phil, soon after I started trying to practice contemplative prayer I started getting "sinus pressure" in the area between my eyes, sometimes it would be subtle sometimes a little painful, but always it is a distraction. Before this time, I never had this type of sensation before... could this be a result of the same type energies you discuss above?
Caneman, it could well be some kind of subtle/psychic energy intensification. That's not unusual when one first begins a contemplative practice of some kind. Is this still a problem for you? Usually it goes away after awhile as one's nervous system becomes better adapted.
Phil, the sinus pressure has decreased significantly both in frequency and duration.
Along those lines, the first several months I would experience strong waves of His presence, electrical zaps through my body, "crunches" where my abdominal area would tighten up and I would have to bend over, and jerking of the arms... all of this has mellowed out also over time.
Now I rarely receive sudden and intense impulses of energy... His presence now comes subtly and builds from there, and usually felt in the chest area, sometimes like I am on fire! But it is always very pleasant, sweet, peaceful, and affirming.
A Question about Centering Prayer:
I have been practicing C.P. for well over 10 yrs. (more or less) I have read most of Keating's book on C.P. but I still can not quite grasp what the difference is between "Letting go of thoughts", and resistance, or repression of thoughts. Can someone clarify that for me?
Also, it seems over the years, and esp. since I went on the C.P. retreat a couple of years ago, my times of C.P. have gotten worse... more monkey mind than ever, and am finding it extremely hard to stay with it.. Now I wonder .. if after doing CP for as long as I have, if I changed to another form of prayer, would I be taking a step "backward" in my prayer life, or what?
I see centering prayer as welcoming thoughts,the whole of me,not as repression.I go into the feelings of tension,fear,anger,behind the monkey mind thoughts,without replaying the tapes.I ask God for help,ask God if this is how He wants me to pray,and to please direct my way to Him.I find it easier to pray without words,so I do a version of contemplative prayer that has no sacred word.I sometimes use my breath to center ,you probably know more about this than I do,and I sometimes return to the Holy Face or the Holy Glance.I don't think it matters,what matters is the consent to God's action and love.I have found it difficult to find a spiritual director who is also a contemplative.It seems that both your yearning for more at church,and your sense of dissatisfaction with contemplative prayer are great topics for spiritual direction.
The world is full of advice,I hope you can see through this to a sister in Christ.
Katy, sorry if this isn't what you mean at all, especially since I haven't read Keating's book. But some imagery I've used before to clarify things for myself is that for "letting go of thoughts" I imagine taking off a coat.
Trying to repress thoughts, for me, feels like trying to hold back traffic--it doesn't work and it's a completely different sense in me than the natural sloughing off of a coat I don't really need to be trudging around in. It seems to me that if I do have what I'm guessing may be similar to your "monkey mind", it's trying to tell me something, as annoying as it is. Is that possibly similar to what bdb said about going into the feelings? Sorry if I'm misunderstanding the topic.
O.K.. that is pretty much the way I see it.. just not "replaying the tapes... to not repress the thoughts, nor "replay" them, but to just accept them.. a subtle difference.
I guess I don't have to do it exactly as Keating describes.. but like you, have my own version.. especially to focus on my breathing as my prayer word.
Thanks for your comments.
I am not too good at imagery... I tried Ignatian prayer, but felt it just wasn't for me.
I agree with you about trying to repress thoughts... doesn't work.. also, being left brained, and with so much "input", it seems I always have so much to process, and if I don't, well, someting just doesn't feel right in my brain. If I take a long enough time to settle down, then sometimes my mind will quiet down, but that seldom happens.
Yes, I think you understand the gist of it.. :-) Thanks.
That describes it perfectly. I like that!
[QUOTE]Originally posted by bfulbright:
These comments are right up my street, and I entirely agree. the English mystics have much to teach us, and the Greek fathers. i think a lot depends on our temperament and some people are naturally drawn to the Apophatic way.
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