The Centering Prayer Movement is very popular in retreat centers and parish programs. However, after a closer look, many people have discovered it to be a Hindu type of prayer rather than Christian. (See my published article “A Closer Look at Centering Prayer” on my website, swordoflightandtruth.org )
On p. 35, Keating says,“The method consists of letting go of every thought during the time of prayer, even the most devout thoughts. Since New Age beliefs are contrary to the Christian faith, the document states, “It is therefore necessary to accurately identify those elements which belong to the New Age Movement, and which CANNOT BE ACCEPTED by those who are faithful to Christ and His Church.” (#4)
In the same document, Cardinal Ratzinger states, “With the present diffusion of Eastern methods of meditation in the Christian world and in ecclesial communities, we find ourselves faced with a pointed renewal of attempt, which is not free from dangers and errors, to fuse Christian meditation with that which is non-Christian.” He goes on to say, “Still others do not hesitate to place that absolute without image or concepts, which is proper to Buddhist theory on the same level as the majesty of God revealed in Christ.” He says they abandon the Triune God, “in favor of an immersion in the indeterminate abyss of the divinity.” Then he says mixing Christian meditation with Eastern techniques can lead to syncretism (the mixing of religions).
Fr. Amorth, states that “Yoga,Zen, and TM are unacceptable to Christians. Often these apparently innocent practices can bring about hallucinations and schizophrenic conditions.” (Centering prayer and Transcendental Meditation are almost identical, so this warning would apply to both CP and TM)
The Catechism of the Catholic Church refers to mind-emptying prayer as “erroneous”. In section #2726, it describes “erroneous notions of prayer.” It then lists different types of prayer that fall into that category. It states, “Some people view prayer as a simply psychological activity, others as an effort of concentration to reach a mental void.”
We must remember that prayer is a dialogue with God. A person wanting to reach contemplation begins with normal prayer, or they may remain silent with a loving gaze toward God. Then if God so chooses, he may take that person up into ecstasy or some supernatural state. Then and only then would their normal faculties (ability to think) be suspended! It would be a gift from God!