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Guard of the Heart

Another practice to bring the effects of contemplative prayer into daily life is traditionally known a "guard of the heart." This consists of letting go of every emotional disturbance as it arises and before we start to think about it. This is a more sophisticated method than dismantling the emotional programs for happiness because it deals with the whole of life. Guard of the heart is based on the sense of interior peace that comes when our wills are united by intention with God's will. Whenever that basic sense of peace is disturbed, we reaffirm our intention to be united with God's will by some simple but appropriate act. The attentiveness to abide in this union of wills might be compared to a radio beam that guides an airplane. If the plane moves off course, the signal changes, warning the pilot to readjust his direction.

The following are three ways of keeping ourselves on course in everyday affairs: the first is to cast disturbing thoughts as soon as they arise into the lap of God, or to give them to Jesus as gift. The second is to give our entire attention to whatever we are doing when we notice disturbing thoughts; we concentrate on the activity of the moment and refuse to think of them. Finally, if we find ourselves unoccupied when disturbing thoughts arise, we may grab a book or take up some prearranged project and thus avoid thinking about the upsetting situation and setting off the commentaries that initiate or reinforce interior turmoil.

Invitation To Love, Thomas Keating, p.136-137.

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