The other day, a Christian man shared an amazing religious experience that he had had while practicing walking contemplation.
On this site, we’ve talked about various forms of Christian mindfulness. Walking contemplation is commonly done in a labyrinth. But this experience shows how many ways there are to practice mindfulness and how profound the experience can be.
Backing up a little
I am beginning to participate in several Centering Prayer groups on Zoom these days. My wife and I restarted our own centering prayer group that meets every Wednesday. Centering prayer groups are a great place to discuss the idea of integrating light exercise, plant-based fasting, and mindfulness into one’s daily prayer life.
About three weeks ago, I was in a group discussing the benefits of doing about 20–30 minutes of light exercise before one’s prayer. I mentioned that Asana Yoga was originally intended to prepare the body for contemplation (aka yoga-style meditation). This was a group of older folks, and we talked a little about tai chi and exercises that older people can do. “It can be as simple as walking for 20 minutes before your prayer,” I said.
This sparked a fascinating exchange of email afterward. One humble Christian man, who wished to remain anonymous, shared an extraordinary theophany while walking and reciting the Rosary.
“I paid close attention to Cornelius’ current research involving physical activity with spirituality via Centering Prayer. Combining Centering Prayer with Tai Chai is a promising combination – I wish him luck.
I have an exercise routine that mostly includes walking around in the basement while saying the Rosary. Not all that many years ago, I would say the Rosary while running. Then as I got older, I said the Rosary while walking outside. Now it is usually saying the Rosary while walking up and down the driveway or walking from one end of the basement to the other. So – I have for about 30 years combined spiritual activity with physical activity.
I [recently] had an email conversation with [name of a female priest withheld] recently, where she said she also usually said the Rosary while walking.
About a month or so ago, after saying one of the Rosaries while walking in the basement, I continued walking while trying to impose silence/(no thought) in my mind. After a few minutes, I “saw” Jesus walking beside me adjacent to my right shoulder. He mimicked every move I made as though we were moving in complete tandem. There was some humor as a few times when I moved or did a circle to the right while he did an exact mirror image opposite to the left – we exchanged smiles, and both considered this as true humor. This continued for perhaps several minutes, and we only communicated by looking at each other and using facial expressions – mostly smiles – it was obvious that there would be no verbal communication.
The message I received from the “communication” was that God is always with us in complete tandem, experiencing everything exactly as we do. The experience was, for me, definitely real. Somehow via heavenly power, I trust this is true for all the almost 8 billion of us currently living here on Earth.”-Anon. Contemplative Christian
Truly amazing. But I am sure this kind of experience isn’t that unique, as I find Christians tend to be very hush-hush about their spiritual encounters. Thank you, sir, for sharing this expereince with us and our readers.
PraXis doesn’t promote mysticism or aim for such lofty things as visions of God. We endorse the use of Centering Prayer or other forms of contemplative mindfulness as a way of deepening our relationship with God, while cultivating the resilience to depression and anxiety that these practices also yield.
If you have experiences with contemplation you wish to share, please send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.