Thursday, October 23, 2008

Side effects of Centering Prayer/Meditation

After waking up early this morning I checked by blood pressure with my wrist blood pressure monitor. It was high - 148/100, although the heart rate was low (57 beats per minute). I then started meditating - using the centering prayer method. I gazed at the icon of the Sacred Heart of Jesus in front of me, I breathed slowly and deeply as I became aware of the Lord's presence. I repeated silently the word "Shalom" (peace). I felt so relaxed and at peace. After 30 minutes, I ended my meditation with a thanksgiving prayer and then checked my blood pressure again. This time it went down to a normal level: 130/83, with a heart rate of 52 beats per minute.
I do this three times a day - upon waking up early in the morning, at 1:30 in the afternoon, and before going to bed at night. Since doing this method of prayer regularly, my blood pressure level has gone down. I have stopped taking my daily maintenance pill for hypertension. Doctors often tell patients that the only way to treat hypertension is to take medication for the rest of their life. But I have learned that hypertension can be treated with regular meditation. Meditation, not medication.
Physical healing is one of the effects of meditation/centering prayer. It is good for the body, as well as the mind and the soul. Besides developing intimacy with God, centering prayer puts my mind and body into a deep state of relaxation. Without this, I can easily burn out - especially with the pressure of my work and the tense situation around me.
There are a lot priests, religious and lay people who are too busy with their work and the apostolate that they neglect to spend time in prayer and meditation. I have been guilty of this at various times in my life. But I have come to realize that prayer is a necessity. It keeps me in touch with the Lord who is the source of my vitality and dynamism. It is what energizes and heals me.
I cannot continue to be a man of action unless I am also a man of prayer and contemplation. My ministry, my preaching and my work for peace and justice cannot be sustained unless I am able to spend time regularly in prayer. Thus, I always find time for prayer and meditation daily, a monthly recollection and a longer period of solitude and prayer in my hermitage in the mountain of Busay annually.
I like the symbol of the Yin and Yang which is at the basis of Tai-chi. For me, it represents the integration of action and contemplation.

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