Centering Prayer by the Sea

At our summer church in Kennebunkport a small group meets once a week in the rectory for Centering Prayer, a meditative practice founded in Massachusetts by three Trappist monks in the 1970s.  We meditate for twenty minutes by focusing on a sacred word of our own choosing, then watch a short teaching by Thomas Keating on DVD.

The first time I went last summer I was very intimidated by the prospect of a twenty minute meditation! Sitting in a quiet room alone listening to the “noise” in my head is old hat to me and I often mistake it for being productive. Making mental to-do lists, planning, lamenting the past, worrying about the future can happen in the most bucolic of settings. Sitting with a quiet mind? It’s a challenge, but meditation gives me moments of inner silence, the benefits of which are deep and lasting.

I don’t believe that one needs to engage in a formal meditation to be fully present in the moment. As an example, when I spent time with Wishy, without effort I was focused on the here-and-now with a very quiet mind. Nothing brings me more down to earth than connecting with the natural world. Wishy also brought me great joy!

Feeding Chipmunks Wishy the Chippie (4)

When Wishy moved onto the next realm, I didn’t just lose a dear friend but my meditation buddy.

I had never really been able to sit down with the intention of meditating. There are just too many “enticing” distractions. I had tried various practices of focusing on my breath, counting to ten and listening to guided meditations. I found them annoying and then I’d get annoyed that I was annoyed. 

Meditating at St. Ann’s changed that for me.


I attended only a couple of meditations last summer, but those two were the first time in my life that I was able to truly shut out the incessant banter in my brain without needing an outside distraction to ground me. When that happened, I experienced an unparalleled peace. It seems that in those truly quiet moments I made room for a healing Holy Presence. It’s nothing I can put into words. The impact is immediate and lasting.

This summer I plan to attend all of the sessions  and will then continue on my own afterward. My hope is that I will eventually be able to quiet my mind during times of anxiety. Magical Maine summers and making friends with wildlife helps me feel connected to God, but those are temporal. A quiet mind is ultimately a discipline. It does get easier each time I meditate, and twenty minutes no longer feels like two hours.

centering prayer flowers.jpg

Inner silence is a sacred gift that is available to us all.

8 thoughts on “Centering Prayer by the Sea

  1. Glad to hear you’re enjoying the meditation. In my experience, it’s like a muscle you build, like training any other part of your body. The more consistent and scheduled the meditation, the more natural it becomes to quiet the mind during each meditation. When I stray from meditation and get back to it, it’s like getting back onto the treadmill if I haven’t been on it for a month or so, it’s a bit of a challenge all over again — it can feel more like work and less like the calm and peaceful exercise I know it to be. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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