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For more information about the centering prayer workshop at Saint Ambrose or about future centering prayer events, call 303-931-7777 or visit creativelifecenter.org.

Practitioners of centering prayer often turn to the simplicity and complexity of Psalm 46:10: "Be still and know that I am God."

A meditative practice with Christian roots, centering prayer looks similar to Buddhist or some other meditative practices. The goal is to feel closer to God by tuning out the everyday and embracing the silence and stillness of contemplative prayer.

Practitioners take about 20 minutes or more out of their day to sit comfortably and close their eyes in a quiet space, focusing on a sacred word to help guide their prayers.

It's a practice embraced by Boulder Christian congregations ranging from Catholic to Lutheran, Methodist to Episcopalian.

Anyone interested in learning more about centering prayer can do so from 8:30 a.m. to noon Saturday, Dec. 14, during a workshop today at St. Ambrose Episcopal Church, 7520 S. Boulder Road, Boulder.

Guest speakers include Bob Mischke, who often hosts centering prayer workshops for beginners, and the Rev. Michelle Danson, an Episcopal priest, Naropa faculty member and centering-prayer leader with Boulder's Contemplative Beehive.

The practice of centering prayer has a deep history, said Mischke, who was introduced to the practice about 20 years ago when he read "The Cloud of Unknowing." The book, written by an anonymous mystic from the 14th century, and outlines some of the principles of modern-day centering prayer.

While traditional Christian prayers either celebrate God or ask God for guidance or forgiveness, Mischke said centering prayer does the opposite: It's a prayer that listens to God instead of asking something from God.

"With centering prayer, you're learning to be present and aware ... the focus of the prayer is not expressive, but is a prayer of listening and being receptive to God," he said.

Though more meditative aspects of Christianity faded throughout time, the meditation practice began to become more popular in recent years because of Father Thomas Keating, who lives in a monastic community in Snowmass.

Keating is considered a "principal architect and teacher" of centering prayer and one of the founding members of centering prayer group Contemplative Outreach, according to the Centering Prayer Workbook written by Keating.

Keating's interest in centering prayer started when he was a young college student at Yale in 1940, when he studied the writings of Christian mystics. Those writings, coupled with his own time spent in prayer and meditation, led him to discover the idea that people should have personal relationships with God through silent, reflective prayer.

"Set aside all activity, rest in silence and come into an intimate relationship with the beloved," Keating wrote.

Sam Pottinger, one of the leaders of the centering prayer workshop at St. Ambrose, has been practicing centering prayer for 20 years.

Pottinger said practitioners gain insight by simply being quiet. Quietness is a way to be fully open to the presence of God and tune out the everyday hustle and bustle, he said.

"It's like you're in a river and the river passing you is the ever-presence of God," Pottinger said. "But there are all these boats that are passing, too. Those boats are your thoughts. The idea is: Don't get on the boat."

Pottinger said his introduction to centering prayer became a "real habit" where he was able to apply the practice to everyday life, even when he was not actively sitting in silence.

He found that centering prayer helped him focus on everyday tasks, including his job in real estate. He began to focus less on the stress of the job and more on the people he was there to help, he said.

"God opened my heart to the people I was with," he said.

Even driving became easier, he said.

"Someone would cut me off, and instead of getting mad, I'd get quiet and become awake," he said. "You start to see God in all things instead of getting anxious."

Megan Quinn writes a faith column once a week for the Camera. Contact her at quinnm@dailycamera.com.