During my sessions of Centering Prayer, I am typically in the same area of my home, with a bit of the same ritual of quieting myself before prayer.
But it is SUMMER! We had a long winter, a wet summer, and I felt that I have been just cooped up for too long. So I decided to take CP out of my box and into the outside world! I knew of a very quiet place and "went for it." The first time was a sheer delight: low humidity, light breeze, a comfy temperature. Other times as I did a session or two, the outside was a delight. I felt in total union with God, Nature, and all of Human Kind! (Yes, I know we are not supposed to judge our sessions…but come on! This was the best few days in a really, really, long time!)
I wanted to sing from the top of the hills: The hills are alive with the sound of Centering Prayer!
Then, one day, I took a walk after work. I was a bit flustered by the day. "I know, I will do some CP." I found a quiet place and sat. There was no breeze. OK, just a thought: say my sacred word. It was rather hot… and after 8! OK, just a thought: Say my Sacred Word. A trickle of sweat was coming off my brow… and a bug, two bugs… I waved them away as I said my Sacred Word. I think I may have said it out loud as one of the bugs returned. I took a breath and went back to CP. That was as tough a 19 minute, 49 second session as I have had in a while. (Yes, I know we are not supposed to judge! But with the bugs, perspiration, heat… I am only human!)
The next day, my session was inside. Nice, quiet, a small fan humming in the background. Ah, life is good!
As I drove to work, one of my best contemplation times, I smiled at the similarities of outside practice vs. inside practice. We can try to control things but we can’t. Inside the phone can ring, the coffee machine sounds like it is overflowing. Outside, bugs, humidity, a bus honking and brakes screeching. (Forgot to mention that one :-) ). Some days, the discipline of CP is routine, even a touch of boredom can creep in. Other times there is joy. Or there is a feeling that a great burden has been lifted. Thoughts come wherever I go. One thing I learned outside: You need to let it all go. Recognize it, say your Sacred Word and let that go. It is returning to the practice of Centering Prayer. It is in the doing, rather than "making it special." Being disciplined to continue is the key. Yes, even if only 19 minutes and 49 seconds have passed, I could have taken in one more breath and relaxed into the communion of the intention of the prayer.
Will I ever go outside to do CP again? Yes, of course I will. I have done it in the past and will do it in the future. The lesson this time was not to get stuck on the place, but on the prayer.