Contemplative Terms, and What They Mean

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Ancient Wisdom
The supposed laws of the Universe that, when mastered, enable one to see one’s own divinity-another word for metaphysics or occultism.

A Thin Place
Where the space or distance (spiritually speaking) between heaven and earth, God and man is very small. This thin place is supposed to be achieved through meditative prayer by anyone.

Centering/Centering Prayer
Another term for contemplative meditation (going deep within your center). A type of meditation being promoted in many mainline churches under the guise of prayer.

Contemplative Prayer
Going beyond thought by the use of repeated words or phrases.

Desert Fathers
Monks who lived as hermits beginning around the third century who first taught the practice of contemplative prayer.

False Self
The false self is the ego or personality that is observable by others. One rids oneself of the false self to find the true self through mantra-meditation. New Agers would consider people like Buddha, Ghandi, and even Jesus Christ as examples of people who found their true self.

Higher Self
Supposed God-self within that New Agers seek to connect with through meditation. Also called the Christ-self or True-self.

Jesus Prayer
A popular version of this prayer is Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have
mercy on me, a sinner, often abreviated to Jesus.

A maze-like structure that is used during contemplative prayer in order to center down and reach the divinity within.

Lectio Divina
Means sacred reading. In today’s contemplative movement, it often involves taking a single word or small phrase from Scripture and repeating the words over and over again.

Word or words repeated either silently or verbally to induce an altered state of consciousness.

Meditation is practiced by all major world religions and is often described as an essential discipline for spiritual growth. Yet, like mysticism, there is great diversity in the practice of meditation. While some see mediation as simply spending time thinking quietly about life or about God, others use meditation techniques to experience altered states of consciousness that allow them to have esoteric experiences. In addition, meditation is promoted in secular society for the personal benefits of health, relaxation, and improved productivity.

Sacred Space
Either a physical spot where one goes to engage in a mystical practice or the actual silence or the state of being during the mystical experience.

Spiritual Formation
The teaching and application of the spiritual disciplines.

The silence
Absence of normal thought.

Spiritual Director
One who promotes or trains people in the spiritual disciplines including the silence.

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