Practices for a Deeper Commitment To the Contemplative Life

Notes on “Practices for a Deeper Commitment To the Contemplative Life” 

a weekend retreat with Mary Dwyer
Nancy Moran
     What a spiritually enriching weekend it was with Mary Dwyer presenting on “Practices for a Deeper Commitment to the Contemplative Life” on October 2,3 and 4.  This retreat sponsored by CONEO at River’s Edge Retreat Center in Cleveland focused on Deepening Centering Prayer, The Welcoming Prayer, The Forgiveness Prayer and Integration and Transformation.
     I had never heard her speak before last weekend and I was delighted to discover that Mary Dwyer is a spiritual leader who embodies and transmits the wisdom of Father Thomas Keating, Mary Mrozowski, the originator of the welcoming prayer, and Mary Dwyer’s own wisdom teachings on spiritual practices.  All of us present at the retreat were invited to learn with our hearts as well as with our minds.
     There was so much to learn but I will jot down here just a few notes and quotes from Mary over the 3 days.  For more information on the Spiritual Practices themselves and how to do them please go to contemplative  There are books, pamphlets and listings of retreats available to learn about and experience these practices in depth.
Centering Prayer:
       – The deeper you go the more there is to learn.
       – As Father Keating says, sit in the chair every day 2 times and be quiet.  The more you show up to the chair the easier it gets to go to the chair.
       – God is waiting to do for us what we cannot do for ourselves.
       – There are no rules because who is doing the prayer?  God’s spirit in us is doing the praying.
       – We have 4 simple guidelines for Centering Prayer – but we never know what God will do with us
       – Simple practice…..Profound results.
       -The present moment contains all we need to be happy, no matter what the psychological content. God is present…..All is well.
The Welcoming Prayer:
       – We need a second engine to lift us off throughout the ordinariness of our daily lives. The Welcoming Prayer helps us actively let go of thoughts and feelings that support the false self system.  It helps us embrace painful emotions rather than avoiding or suppressing them.
       – The Welcoming Prayer helps us while stuff is happening…..Consent on the go…..
       – Experience, not intellectual understanding is where it all begins.
       – I can only do work to the level of consciousness I am at now.
       – Some things take years.   The 1st moment is the process of seeing it.
       – A meditation practice is foundational for these other practices to take hold.
The Forgiveness Prayer:
       – We need the Forgiveness practice for what is still “sticky” after Welcoming.
       – St. Theresa of Avila, “A contemplative can have many faults except the inability to forgive.”
       – Forgiveness does not mean reconciliation.
       – Forgiveness practice needs a lot of safety and safe space.  The practice is done in our own time and space.
       – Sometimes the forgiveness process takes years….. and sometimes this process takes minutes.
       – Forgiveness does not mean we are allowing it to happen again.  Forgiveness changes things….. making things conscious… it is less likely to happen again.
       – We do the Forgiveness Practice after Centering Prayer when we are in a space of open heartedness.
Let me end this with gratitude for Mary for her time, teachings, presence and authenticity and for helping all of us to let our light shine a little brighter.