How to Meditate: Centring Prayer

Many of the meditation practices that we’ve already looked at in this series can be practised without focusing on spirituality at all. You can watch your breath, do body scans and practice mindfulness as basic techniques to calm the mind and reduce stress. But centring prayer has a direct spiritual meaning and significance, and is a feature of most religions. So if you’re an unrepentant atheist, you might want to give this one a miss!

However, you don’t have to be properly religious to do this meditation. All you need is a spiritual text that you find personally inspiring. You could even use a poem. Choose from the Bible, Koran, Buddhist or Hindu scriptures, the Gnostic Gospels, or the works of spiritual teachers such as Krishnamurti and Ramana Maharshi, or the poems of Kahlil Gibran, Walt Whitman, William Blake, Rilke, and so on.

Pick one word from your chosen text as the focus of your meditation. This can be a word you find particularly inspiring or one you feel is sacred to you. As you meditate on this word, you’re inviting the sacred into your life to provide guidance and support.


  • Reconnects you with the sacred
  • Provides a focus for your spiritual practice
  • Balances out society’s focus on materialism
  • Balances your emotions
  • Calms your mind and heart

Practise this meditation when you feel disconnected from life and need to feel the presence of something greater moving through your life.

Centring Prayer

Choose a spiritual text that inspires you. Read the text and notice if one word particularly resonates with you – like God, Buddha, Jesus, love, peace, etc. Use this word as the focus of your meditation and intention to open your life to the sacred.

  1. Sit in meditation on a cushion or chair, and close your eyes. Think of the word you have chosen. Breathe slowly and allow the word to fill your being. This is similar to meditating on a mantra like Om, only the word in this case has personal significance to you.
  2. If thoughts intrude, gently bring your focus back to the sacred word. Continue to meditate for 20 minutes, or however long feels right to you.
  3. At the end of the session, sit in silence for a few moments and feel the effects of the prayer on your body, emotions and mind.

You may like to re-read your chosen spiritual text at the end of the session and allow the teachings to penetrate to the core of your being.

>Discover more meditation practices here