Contemplative practices have likely been used for self-awareness, concentration, creativity, and well-being since the dawn of time. While practices such as yoga and Buddhist meditation have been extensively studied in recent decades, Christian contemplative practices have received less attention in empirical research. This study aims to investigate the effects of centering prayer, a Christian contemplative practice, on mental health and well-being. The research focuses on college students enrolled in a religious studies course that incorporates centering prayer into the curriculum. It is a pilot study because it is the first to explore centering prayer in an undergraduate setting. Using a comparison group from another religious studies course, the study examines whether practicing centering prayer regularly for seven weeks can lead to changes in anxiety, stress, depression, mindfulness, satisfaction with life, hope, and compassion as assessed by multiple questionnaires. Additionally, the study explores whether religiosity influences the impact of centering prayer on these variables. Participants were recruited through their course enrollment, and data was collected through online surveys administered at three time points during the study. Multivariate analyses of covariance indicated trends suggesting that centering prayer may contribute to decreased anxiety and increased hope and compassion. However, no significant changes in these outcomes were observed (p > .05). The study highlights the potential therapeutic benefits of centering prayer and the need for further research on Christian contemplative practices.
Eros, A., & Plante, T. G. (2023). The Effects of Centering Prayer on Well-Being in a Sample of Undergraduate Students: A Pilot Study. Pastoral Psychology. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11089-023-01103-w