Contemplative Outreach UK Distance Learning Course

On Centering Prayer and the Christian Contemplative Tradition.

This is a course of study being developed primarily for those who are practicing Centering Prayer and for whatever reason cannot attend the Study Groups. The course would also be useful to anyone practising a meditative prayer form and wishing to ground his or her prayer in study and the Christian Contemplative Tradition. The course is meant to enrich and deepen the experience and understanding of the practice of Centering Prayer. It is an individual programme where student and mentor will work together, via correspondence, to meet the goals and objectives of the programme. The mentor is only obliged to correspond with you on the subject of the essays. You will only correspond with them via the correspondecne address and not directly with the mentor. This is to ensure the mentor can keep some form of privacy.

The course is an addition to the other workshops and retreats offered by Contemplative Outreach UK and does not replace them. It is meant to make available another dimension of study, especially for those who cannot attend a Centering Prayer Study Group. Attendance at the Contemplative Outreach UK Retreats is strongly recommended to all who pursue this correspondence course.


  1. To gain a deeper understanding of Centering Prayer as a modern expression of the Christian Contemplative Tradition.
  2. To study some fundamental aspects of the Christian Contemplative Tradition such as The Cloud of Unknowing, St John of the Cross, and St Teresa of Avila.
  3. Through this study to go beyond the intellectual level to a deeper personal understanding of prayer as an evolving experience.


A regular practice of Centering Prayer is fundamental.

Each part of the course consists in required reading based on the “Spiritual Journey”, as taught by Fr Thomas Keating OSCO, except for Part THREE when you will be asked to read and study something from part of the Christian Contemplative Tradition.

There will also be additional materials plus a suggested reading list.

The course is divided into Four Parts.
It is suggested that participants take a year to complete each part, though this can be altered in consultation with the mentor.

  1. Part One: Developing Centering Prayer looking at;
    • The Method of Centering Prayer and the Use of the Sacred Word.
    • Lectio Divina
  2. Part Two: The Human Condition
  3. Part Three: Aspects of the Tradition
  4. Part Four: Contemplation

Three set written assignments based on the required reading are expected for each part. (E.g. Part One, 3 written assignments)

These are an essential element of the course and enrolment implies acceptance of this requirement. You will be sent a paper on Essay Methodology to help those of you who have been out of the practice of essay writing for some time.

Each piece of written work will be limited to 1,000 to 1,500 words. A mentor is assigned to each individual, WHEN THE FIRST ESSAY IS RECEIVED, to provide help and guidance with the course.
There will be no grades or marks as the primary purpose of this course is to encourage and deepen the individual’s prayer life rather than the intellectual life. But the mentor is free to make useful comments.

Successful completion means completing the written assignments and sending them to the mentor.

A certificate of completion will be issued after each completed section.


By sending a cheque for the fee required to the address below.

The student may enrol at any time that they find convenient.

A time line of at least a year for each part of the course is suggested. However, the length of the time line would depend more on the student and their situation. This would be worked out to the convenience of both between the student and the mentor.

Fees for each Part, which includes, books and/or other reading materials, postage and mentors’ tuition, are £75 per part, except for Parts Three and Four which are £45, as the student provides there own materials.