Pastoral Psychology

, Volume 64, Issue 6, pp 803–825 | Cite as

A Phenomenological Investigation of Centering Prayer Using Conventional Content Analysis

  • Jesse Fox
  • Daniel Gutierrez
  • Jessica Haas
  • Dinesh Braganza
  • Christine Berger


Centering prayer is a contemplative practice pioneered by Thomas Keating, William Menninger, and M. Basil Pennington (Pennington et al. 2002). Despite the popular appeal of centering prayer, relatively little research exists investigating its effects on practitioners from a social science perspective. This study sought to describe the lived experience of centering prayer by conducting a phenomenology of 20 centering prayer practitioners. The results of the conventional content analysis yielded 50 codes that the researchers clustered into five categories: (1) The Divine, (2) The Mystical, (3) Spiritual Development, (4) Action-Contemplation, and (5) Contemplative Life. Based upon the study’s findings, future research could better understand how centering prayer affects people by including measures of practitioners’ experience of God, faith development, and important demographic variables like age, religious affiliation, and socio-economic status, as well as measures assessing quality of interpersonal relationships and positive and negative affect.


Centering prayer Meditation Phenomenology Conventional content analysis 



Support for this research was obtained through the Loyola University Maryland Dean’s Grant. The authors would also like to acknowledge Stephanie Durnford for proofreading the entire manuscript.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jesse Fox
    • 1
  • Daniel Gutierrez
    • 2
  • Jessica Haas
    • 1
  • Dinesh Braganza
    • 1
  • Christine Berger
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of Pastoral CounselingLoyola University MarylandColumbiaUSA
  2. 2.Department of CounselingUniversity of North Carolina CharlotteCharlotteUSA
  3. 3.Counseling & Human ServicesNorfolkUSA

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