Finding Your Breath

An Introduction to Centering Prayer with Kara Lassen Oliver

Do you find yourself out of breath these days? Are you feeling anxious or unsettled? Or do you simply long for a more grounding awareness of God’s presence in your ordinary days? The practices of Lectio Divina (sacred reading) and Centering Prayer are designed to calm our busy minds and bodies and focus our attention on the presence of God.

Centering Prayer is a way of praying developed in the 1970s by Trappist monks William Meninger, M. Basil Pennington, and Thomas Keating. This more contemporary version of Centering Prayer was adapted from the prayer practices of the desert mothers and fathers, described in The Cloud of Unknowing and in the writings of Teresa of Ávila, John of the Cross, and other Christian mystics. The practice invites us to slow our minds and to focus our attention on the loving presence of God.

Lectio Divina, or sacred reading, is a particular way of encountering God in scripture that is different from a more studious approach. Rather than the text being an object of the mind seeking understanding, in Lectio Divina the text is an icon of God that acts upon the heart. The intent is a transforming experience of the presence of God.

These practices are rich and spiritually rewarding, but engaging in a regular practice of any kind can be a challenge. In our eCourse, we’ll use the daily readings from J. David Muyskens’s Sacred Breath: Forty Days of Centering Prayer, weekly live sessions in Zoom, and encouragement from a community of people practicing together to inspire one another to engage in regular practice. Each day’s practice includes a devotional reading, 20 minutes of Centering Prayer, and a guided Lectio Divina exercise. Seasoned practitioners of Centering Prayer are invited to engage in the full practices, about 45 minutes per day. Those new to the practice are invited to try it a small step at a time and work toward the full practice. Live sessions and the eCourse offer encouragement to grow into the practice free from pressure to do it all.

Finding Your Breath includes:

  • All essential content from J. David Muyskens’s Sacred Breath: Forty Days of Centering Prayer.
  • Video instruction in Centering Prayer and Lectio Divina.
  • 40 days of guided prayer practices, including daily exercises in devotional reading, Centering Prayer, and Lectio Divina.
  • Weekly live sessions with Kara Lassen Oliver and friends, beginning May 3rd and ending June 11th, 2021.

Join the eCourse alone or with a group. Group rates (for groups of 5 or more) are available. Private breakout rooms for live sessions and private eCourse classrooms are available. For information on group access, email [email protected].

To purchase a print version of Sacred Breath, visit The Upper Room bookstore.

Interested in online learning options based on your favorite Upper Room books? Look for this graphic and click it to learn more as you explore The Upper Room bookstore.

Your Instructor

Kara Lassen Oliver
Kara Lassen Oliver

Kara Lassen Oliver is executive director of The Upper Room Center for Christian Spiritual Formation. She lives in Nashville, Tennessee. Oliver and her family (husband, Jeff, and children, Claire Marin and Carter) spent two years in Malawi, Africa, as Volunteers in Mission.

Oliver is the author of Passing It On: How to Nurture Your Child’s Faith Season by Season and the compiler of Stepping Out on Your Own: Devotions for High School Graduates and Meeting the Messiah: Scriptures for the Advent Season.

Oliver has served Discipleship Resources International, part of Discipleship Ministries, as director of publishing initiatives in the Central Conferences. She spent several years as a freelance editor and writer and was youth minister at Belmont United Methodist Church in Nashville from 2003–2006. She holds a master of divinity from Vanderbilt Divinity School and a bachelor of arts in religious studies from Butler University.

Frequently Asked Questions

When does the eCourse start and finish?
The eCourse starts when you are ready to begin and will remain open indefinitely. It’s self-paced, so you can decide when to start and when to finish.
How long do I have access to the eCourse?
How does lifetime access sound? After enrolling, you have unlimited access to this eCourse for as long as you like—across any and all devices you own. We’ll give you plenty of notice should we need to close the eCourse.
What if I am unhappy with the eCourse?
We would never want you to be unhappy! If you are unsatisfied with your purchase, contact us within the first 30 days and we will give you a full refund.
Who sponsors these eCourses?
This eCourse is brought to you by The Upper Room.

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