“[Through] the regular practice of [Centering Prayer] the dynamism of interior purification is set in motion. This dynamism is a kind of divine psychotherapy, organically designed for each of us, to empty out our unconscious and free us from the obstacles to the free flow of grace in our minds, emotions, and bodies.”*
After we begin our prayer practice in earnest, we may find ourselves experiencing unexplained and normal emotions such as sadness, grief, anger, fear, anxiety, and others. This can also happen when we are deeply listened to, such as in Journey Groups or in a container of nature, silence, worship, Eucharist and community.
“[The] consequences of traumatic emotional experiences from earliest childhood are stored in our bodies and nervous systems in the form of tension, anxiety, and various defense mechanisms. Ordinary rest and sleep do not get rid of them. But in interior silence and the profound rest that this brings to the whole organism, these emotional blocks begin to soften up and the natural capacity of the human organism to throw off things that are harmful starts to evacuate them.”
“The psyche as well as the body has its way of evacuating material that is harmful to its health. The emotional junk in our unconscious emerges during prayer in the form of thoughts that have a certain urgency, energy, and emotional charge to them. You don’t usually know from what particular source or sources they are coming. There is ordinarily just a jumble of thoughts and a vague or acute sense of uneasiness. Simply putting up with them and not fighting them is the best way to release them.
As relationship with God deepens through the prayer, the Divine Therapist begins to show us aspects of ourselves that had been hidden. The Work of Inner Christianity, working synergistically with Centering Prayer, gives us tools to bring these old patterns fully into the light where they can lose their power over us. In the Work, this is called purification of the emotional center.
*All quotations from Open Mind Open Heart, by Thomas Keating