What is Christian Meditation?
Meditation is simple, being simple means being ourselves. It means passing beyond self consciousness, self analysis and self rejection. Meditation is a universal spiritual practice which guides us into this state of prayer, into the prayer of Christ. It brings us to silence, stillness and simplicity by a means that is itself silent, still and simple.Laurence Freeman Your Daily Practice
The method involves the repetition of a single word faithfully and lovingly during the time of meditation. This is a very ancient Christian way of prayer that was recovered for modern Christians by the Benedictine monk John Main (1926 -1982).
John Main recovered this way of bringing the mind to rest in the heart through his study of the teachings of the first Christian monks, the Desert Fathers, and of John Cassian (4th century AD). It is in the same tradition as The Cloud of Unknowing, written in England in the 14th century.
John Main's legacy inspired the formation of the World Community for Christian Meditation (WCCM), and his work is being carried on by Father Laurence Freeman, also a Benedictine monk. The WCCM continues John Main’s vision of restoring the contemplative dimension to the common life of Christians and engaging in the common ground shared with the secular world and other religions.
The Community has its International Centre in London, but is a 'monastery without walls', a family of national and emerging communities in over a hundred countries, each with local Christian meditation groups, supporting meditators on a weekly or monthly basis, in homes, parishes, offices, hospitals, prisons, schools and colleges - pretty well everywhere that people live and seek. The World Community is ecumenical and promotes unity through its dialogue with both Christian churches and other faiths.
To communicate and nurture meditation as passed on through the teaching of John Main in the Christian Tradition in the spirit of serving the unity of all. WCCM Mission Statement
Individual meditators and groups can offer a range of support for those enquiring about Christian meditation. For local groups, see Search UK Christian Meditation Groups or contact your local group leader or regional coordinator.
This website provides information about the WCCM UK community. For information about the work of the communities in other parts of the world, see www.wccm.org.
UK 2017 Annual Conference
We shall be returning to High Leigh Conference Centre where the successful ‘One and the Many’ conference was held in 2013. It promises to be a very special time, with talks from Fr Laurence and opportunities for questions and interaction interleaved with meditation. There will be workshops, discussion groups, time for browsing the bookshop, walking in the grounds and socialising. We will end with Sunday morning Eucharist and lunch.
In speaking on the horizon of Christ, the theme of this year’s conference, Fr Laurence said:
“The Christian contemplative experience is an ever-deeper discovery of the mystery of Christ into whose life we merge. Community happens among those who are growing in this new way of seeing and understanding life. Our heart and minds and the generosity of our spirits expand exponentially.
How does our daily meditation and our work of sharing the gift of meditation help us – amid all the troubles and neediness of our world – to bear witness in service to others while travelling towards the horizon that is Christ?”
Agenda & Workshops
Fr Laurence’s talks will be integrated into a rhythm of meditation, simple body awareness, opportunities for discussion and workshops exploring the essential spiritual practices. A full agenda will be sent to attendees before the conference but you may wish to note that registration is from 4pm on the first day and the conference ends after lunch on Sunday.
High Leigh Conference Centre is an attractive venue set in parkland. Conference and breakout rooms for the workshops are all excellent and the accommodation is ensuite and of a high standard.
Please get in touch if you need financial help to attend the conference. See the flyer for more details.
The conference flyer is here with a copy of the booking form here. The cost is £175 per person in a shared room, £225 for a single rooom. Saturday day visitors are £75. We encourage you to book early to avoid disappointment.
The Winter 2017 issues of Christian Meditation News and Meditatio, the International Newsletter, are now available here as colour PDF downloads. The newsletters are being printed and should be posted out before the end of January.
On the front of Christian Meditation News there is a notice about the Annual Conference with Fr Laurence in June. Inside, under community news, Lauretta Kerridge describes the Dorset day on Thomas Merton with Bridget Hewitt and Susan Garner reports on the Lancashire region retreat; there is a summary of the UK National Council in November; an update on Noggs Barn; feedback on the School of Meditation Retreat, including Haiku writeen by the attendees; and there is an obituary for Doreen Grisbrooke. Following the conference on A Contemplative Response to Austerity,Terry Doyle considers the next steps in Meditation and its place with People on the Margins of Society. John Williams describes his involvement with John Main 40 years ago; there is a review of The Virgin Eye: Towards a contemplative view of life; and there is a poem The Singing Bowl by Norfolk poet and musician Malcolm Guite. There are updated events and contacts lists.
In an extended letter in Meditatio, Fr Laurence reflects on how a contemplative life can be an antidote for the contemporary global crisis. In a look back over 25 years of the WCCM Paul Harris considers the role of weekly groups. In the news section there is the latest about the vision of Bonnevaux, including the new website and Fr Laurences travels to the Caribbean, Venezuela, Sydney for the Meditation and Ageing seminar, Brazil and the Philippines. Sicco Claus from the Netherlands describes his meditation journey.
The online version is normally available at least a week before the printed version and is in colour! If you would like to swap, please contact the UK Office (email: ) and ask to be added to the Newsletter email distribution list and removed from the mailing list.
WCCM 25th Anniversary
Many of us mark anniversaries of various kinds – and WCCM likes to do so too!
The first meditation centre was established by John Main at Ealing in 1974/5, and the practice of meditation spread from there, and later from Montreal, around the world. As the community expanded, continuing to do so after the death of Fr John in 1982 under the guidance of Laurence Freeman, it took formal shape for the first time 25 years ago in 1991. A covenant among meditators agreed our name (The World Community for Christian Meditation) our mission (to communicate and nurture meditation in the Christian tradition) and how we would work together as a community.
To mark the 25th anniversary of the formal establishment of WCCM, the international community has suggested to all the national communities that our groups might like to set aside a few moments each week to reflect together on the many gifts of WCCM and give thanks for Fr John and Fr Laurence.
One way to do this would be to use the these readings, before and after meditation, each week during December leading up to the anniversary of Fr. John’s death on 30 December.
Essential Teaching Weekend
With Eileen McDade, Geoff Waterhouse & Graeme Watson
Friday 21 - Sunday 23 April 2017
The Emmaus Centre,
West Wickham, Kent
Have you been meditating for more than a year?
Do you feel you would like to grow in your understanding of your meditation practice?
Essential Teaching Weekends explore the history of meditation and help you arrive at a deeper insight into what the experience of the practice means to you personally and to see ways in which this experience can be shared with others. Presentations by teachers in the community illustrate the place of meditation in the contemplative tradition, the essential aspects of our practice and the psychological aspects of the journey.
The style of the weekend is relaxed and informative and takes place at The Emmaus Centre in West Wickham, Kent. The accommodation is in single rooms with shared bathroom facilities. Situated in lovely Kent countryside close to Bromley.
Cost: £175.00 inclusive from Friday 3pm (registration) to Sunday after lunch.
About Christian meditation
Why Christians Meditate
Most Christian people know very well that prayer is not just asking God, or Jesus, for help in times of need, danger or distress, although that is not a bad start. Balanced Christian prayer also includes thanksgiving for blessings received, of which the public expression is Eucharist (for thanksgiving is what Eucharist means). This naturally leads to adoration of God, and to interceding for others as much as praying for ourselves. Very often Christian prayer may begin with a simple recognition of failure or sin, and so include owning up to our failures (confession) and a resolution to make amends or do better in future. These five aspects of prayer are sometimes summed up by the acronym PACTS (Petition, Adoration, Confession, Thanksgiving, Supplication).
But this is by no means all that is meant by Christian prayer.
The Stages of the Meditation Journey
Meditation is a way of breaking through from a world of illusion into the pure light of realityJohn Main
The world of illusion that John Main refers to in this statement is the world we build up out of our thoughts. Many of us equate who we are with what we think. Who do you think you are? The image we have of ourselves, the image we have of others, and the world we live in is made up out of thoughts: our own thoughts and, often, the thoughts of others we have unthinkingly made our own.
Meditation and Spirituality
True seekers and travellers into the realms of spirit will inevitably discover that at the heart of any serious spiritual tradition there exists a deep, inner path which is contemplative in nature. Within the contemplative core, there are also recognised stages of spiritual life and growth which the traveller encounters, and is hopefully helped to embrace, as their journey of pilgrimage to the centre continues.
In this respect, contemplation, or meditation, is very far from being just a Christian thing - it is the essential key to all deep and true spirituality and the ultimate answer to all unreality. To quote Rowan Williams, 'To learn contemplative practice is to learn what we need to live truthfully, honestly and lovingly - and is therefore a deeply revolutionary matter'.
Mindfulness and Christian Meditation
Mindfulness and Christian Meditation are both widely practised nowadays and have much in common. We are all aware of the stress and bustle of modern life and seek some escape into a state of peace or freedom from stress. We might be aware that we can find this within ourselves in special moments. Through the meditation practices of Mindfulness and Christian Meditation we can find a way of stabilising these special moments and integrating them into our daily life. For some who have followed a Mindfulness course it may be important to develop this in a way which acknowledges the spiritual and they may choose to do this through Christian Meditation.
More on Christian Meditation and Mindfulness
Having written previously about the similarities between Christian meditation and mindfulness – what they hold in common – I feel moved to complete the picture by saying something about what distinguishes them.
Mindfulness, which derives from Buddhism, exists in many forms and is practised in different ways. It has for example been taken up by the NHS to help support people who are emerging from episodes of depression and help prevent relapse. Others may seek to practise Mindfulness to achieve better mental clarity, to ease pressure in a stressful world, or to find a better balance in their lives.
The Complementary Arts of Infinite Tai Chi and Christian Meditation
Be still like a mountain and flow like a great riverTaoist Proverb
If you're looking for a way to reduce stress, consider Tai Chi. It is sometimes described as "meditation in motion" because it promotes serenity through gentle movements, connecting the mind and body and setting the spirit free in dance like expression. Originally developed in ancient China for self-defence, Tai Chi and its sister practice of Chi Kung ( energy cultivation ) evolved into a graceful form of exercise that's now predominantly used in the West for stress reduction and to help a variety of other health conditions.
Yoga and Christian Meditation
The practice of Yoga predates Christianity, Hinduism and Buddhism and this path to wholeness has been interpreted over the centuries and throughout the world in many different ways. You may attend a class where there are candles, joss sticks, chanting and references to ancient Hindu texts. The teacher may talk of his or her own guru and the lineage of their tradition. On the other hand, you may be in a very hot room doing very strenuous exercise. Of course, there is every variation in between. It is important to find a class where you are comfortable and at ease, both physically and spiritually and where the discipline supports your own journey to wholeness.