Do You Need a Spiritual Teacher?

St. Joseph's Abbey in Massachusetts. Monasteries are often excellent places to find guidance in Christian contemplation.

A reader of my blog wrote the following message to me: I have been meditating for about a year now. I have been working with a meditation teacher who has been helpful, but, even though we are of the same Christian faith, he leans too far into the Yogi tradition for my comfort level. My experience with Centering Prayer has been very positive and what I have read and heard about the Christian Contemplative Path resonates with me. To really deepen my practice, do I need a spiritual teacher? If so, … [Read more...]

What To Do When Your Prayer Doesn’t Get ‘In The Zone’

Front Gate, Monastery of the Holy Spirit, Conyers GA

A reader named Kevin wrote the following comment to me on Facebook, in response to my recent post Why Is "Mysticism" a Dirty Word. Thanks Carl, interesting points. I was wondering if I could pick your brain on something...when I meditate/contemplate on my breath (I have a semi regular habit) I only seem to get "in the zone" of a peaceful meditative state about 1 session in 10. The rest of the time not much happens. Is this normal? Am I expecting too much? I'm getting a bit … [Read more...]

The Evelyn Underhill Rosary

I've just finished reading The Letters of Evelyn Underhill (which were published in 1943 and edited by Charles Williams). It's such a wonderful book; I think anyone who is a spiritual director (or who sees a spiritual director), spiritual companion, or soul friend, would find much to treasure in this collection. Although the collection includes its share of love letters to her husband, "wish you were here" descriptions of her many holidays in Europe, and fan mail to authors she admired (such as … [Read more...]

Concerning Stillness, Songs, and Soul Friends

A reader writes:Carl, when you are sufficiently silent with the “waters stilled” how do you experience revelation. I suppose a better question would be what is your experience “there” like? Does God float into view … or does God whisper … ?? Or do you find a path to look inwardly in order to find answers, results, etc. I guess that one overarching question here would be “Do you have a purpose or question in mind before you start out?”I believe radically that "silence is praise" (Psalm 65:1, t … [Read more...]

The Ethics of Sharing Mystical Knowledge: Meister Eckhart and the Cloud Author

Pick up any edition of The Cloud of Unknowing, and you are likely to find the following language a bit intimidating:Whoever you are possessing this book, know that I charge you with a serious responsibility, to which I attach the sternest sanctions that the bonds of love can bear. It does not matter whether this book belongs to you, whether you are keeping it for someone else, whether you are  taking it to someone, or borrowing it; you are not to read it, write or speak of it, nor allow … [Read more...]

Before We Face the Monkey Mind

A reader has written to me with the following question:I make my living as a psychotherapist & most of my work is spiritually oriented counseling with Christians.  I have long been trying to introduce clients to contemplation through encouraging brief periods of silence, solitude and openness  (15-20 min).  I also taught an introductory  course through my church.  Finally, I am preparing to lecture other therapists on using contemplation in therapy.As I have tried to introduce others we … [Read more...]

Getting Started in Contemplative Practice

A reader writes:I hope you might be able to write me a quick note about a good way to get started in a more contemplative/mystical oriented Christianity.  I was involved in religious fundamentalism for most of my adult life and now I am trying to recover from that.  I am hoping you might point me to some books that would help me embark on this path.  Thanks for your time.Thanks for a great question. This is actually the subject of my book, Answering the Contemplative Call, but I'll go ah … [Read more...]