Monday, July 4, 2011

Divine Therapy

One of the aspects of Centering Prayer which Thomas Keating  and Cynthia Bourgeault both speak of at length is the effect it has on the unconscious. Rather like hot water softening the encrustations on a well used pot, the quiet, repeated surender of CP works away at the long ossified strata of that part of our minds hidden from our normal consciousness. What this means is that after a while bits break loose and drift up into the light. Memories or emotions or thoughts from our long forgotten past surface and are present to us again. We can then treat them how we like: shoveing them back down into the place from which they have so recently and inconveniently risen, or dealing with them in a hopefully more healthy and complete way than we did when they last took centre stage.

This is nothing to be alarmed about. Firstly, because not all of these little bits of detritus from our unconscious are unpleasant. Some of us, particularly those of us that are Kiwi blokes, have as much trouble with joy as we do with other more painful emotions, and therefore some of the things we have jammed down into the dark and are now being re - presented with are quite pleasant. Some of the other things are less so. Secondly, the great joy of CP is the sense of there being another intelligence than mine at work and this intelligence seems very much aware of  1 Corinthians 10:13 (No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it.) That is, nothing bubbles up that I am not perfectly able to  handle.

And the way suggested by Cynthia Bourgeault for handling these things has been something of a revelation to me. Welcoming Prayer is a simple but effective tool which avoids my natural inclination to let one part of myself psychoanalyse another part to no effect except confusion.

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