In a world full of distractions, First Presbyterian Church is inviting people to learn how to take time to slow down and focus on something beyond themselves.
The church will host a workshop on centering prayer on March 2, led by Tom Eberle, Director of the Living School at the Center for Action and Contemplation in Albuquerque.
The event is open to not only the congregation but the wider Hudson community, Rev. Kendra Grams said. And she's excited for the event.
"It just really is a great resource for everyone," Grams said.
She said it would be a waste not to open the opportunity up to the entire community. Doing so fits with the core values of the congregation to be welcoming and inclusive.
"It's just a wonderful chance to strengthen our community," she said.
The practice is similar to forms of meditation seen in different cultures. The concept of meditative prayer exists in every major religion, Eberle said.
Its origins in Christianity date back to the Roman empire under Constantine, when Christianity became imperial, Eberle said. Some who felt the message was being bought out started this practice of prayer. After the shift of consciousness in the 60s and 70s, Father Thomas Keating helped bring the practice back into the Christian tradition.
Centering prayer is a silent prayer that has people focus on looking within.
"It seems simple," Eberle said. "It's not so simple."
The event will share how the practice works and give participants a chance to try it out, Grams said.
Centering prayer is all about intention, Eberle said.
"You're consenting to be in the presence of God or the greater mystery," he said.
The method, Eberle said, is not meant to replace other types of prayer, but to serve as an additional one.
To practice centering prayer, Eberle said one should sit in a chair with both feet on the ground, eyes closed or lowered to the ground, for 20 minutes. One then chooses a sacred word, something grounding but not distracting, and uses that word whenever they notice they're beginning to engage in thoughts, feelings or actions.
"Here we're asking people to be able to slow down and to actually, in this particular practice, to sit," Eberle said.
It can be difficult to do in a world that's fast-paced and full of distractions. People often turn to these distractions to fill the silence, Eberle said, while centering prayer asks you to realize that silence.
Eberle compares it to the waters of a river. The movement of the surface is the thoughts and feelings, and centering prayer takes you deeper into the still waters below.
The method is not about setting or reaching a goal.
"The tendency is for you to want something to happen," Eberle said.
The results are often subtle, Eberle said. The focus should be not on enlightenment, but being in the presence of something bigger than oneself.
The practice can be very transformative in the long run, though Eberle said it's often others who notice the changes in a person practicing the method.
"If you really commit to the prayer you start to realize you're really not your thoughts, your feelings, your emotions," Eberle said. "There is really much more to who you are."
The registration deadline is Feb. 22. For more information, contact Grams at firstname.lastname@example.org.