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 Annual Conference: Going to the Heart of the Matter
Booking is now open for this year's UK Annual Conference Going to the Heart of the Matter - Must all religious people now be mystics? which will take place from Friday 9 September to Sunday 11 September at Kings Park Conference Centre, Northampton NN3 6LL and will be led by David Tacey.
When asked about the content of the conference, David posed the question Must all religious people now be mystics?
He continued ... "The question comes from Iris Murdoch who was thinking of the decline of religion in the UK and Europe. She was reflecting on the popularity of Eastern pathways and added: ‘Eastern religion has seen mysticism as something close to the ordinary religious consciousness’. I am wondering if the future of Judeo-Christianity resides just here: that ‘mysticism’ or what might be called ‘contemplation’, viewed as marginal in the past, will become the new ‘ordinary’ religious consciousness.
"We have arrived at an ‘Eastern’ moment in the West, and as an alternative to allowing our traditions to fall apart we might consider cultivating a new interiority in religious faith.
"That is what the trend toward Christian meditation is pointing to, and I wish to explore this topic in five talks."
David Tacey is Emeritus Professor of Humanities at La Trobe University, Melbourne, and Research Professor at the Australian Centre for Christianity and Culture, Canberra. He is an interdisciplinary scholar and public intellectual who has written extensively on spirituality, religion, youth experience and mental health.
He is the author of fourteen books, including Religion as Metaphor: Beyond Literal Belief; The Darkening Spirit: Jung, Spirituality, Religion; and The Spirituality Revolution.
David grew up in central Australia alongside Aboriginal cultures, and has a life-long interest in indigenous issues. He has written on Aboriginal spirituality and on the suicide epidemic in Aboriginal cultures.
He completed a PhD in literature and psychoanalysis at Adelaide University and undertook post-doctoral studies in psychology and religion in the United States on a Harkness Fellowship. His books have been published internationally and some have been translated into Chinese, Korean, Spanish, Portuguese and French.
Click here for a flyer with details of how to book or contact Jacqueline Russell 01296 488450 office hours only please.
Recent News and Articles
The School of Meditation School Retreat
Led by Stefan Reynolds with Terry Doyle
3 - 10 November 2016
Stroud, Gloucestershire GL6 8AL
We are pleased to announce a School Retreat again this year. Taking place in November the week long silent retreat will take place in a Cistercian Monastery situated in the Cotswolds in an area of outstanding natural beauty.
The School Retreat is a week long residential intensive. It is suitable for people who have been meditating seriously for some time in our tradition, and have some experience of integrating meditation into daily life. It forms a very natural progression from the Essential Teaching Weekend.
It is a time of silence and stillness with a daily flow of meditation, a short talk and a regular meeting with one of the retreat leaders. It offers a profound, integrated experience of both sides of the spiritual journey of meditation - of solitude and fellowship, and gently opens participants to explore how they are called to share the gift.
The accommodation reflects the simplicity of the Cistercian way of life and, at the same time, is warm and comfortable.
Cost per person £475.00 inclusive.
For an application form please email:
or telephone 01296 488450
Limited bursaries available, please enquire
Resources for Lent
Sensing God: Learning to Meditate During Lent is the title and subject of a recent SPCK publication by Laurence Freeman OSB, a Benedictine monk and the spiritual guide and Director of the World Community for Christian Meditation. He takes the reader through Lent day by day, drawing on scripture with his own lived experience, plus the wisdom of a Christian Prayer practice extending back to the very earliest days of Christianity. The reader is gently introduced to the practice of Contemplative Prayer / Prayer of the Heart – as a spiritual practice firmly rooted in all the vagaries of our humanity!
If Contemplative prayer is a part of your journey or a road waiting to be explored, then travelling with this book may be for you. It is available as paperback (ISBN 978-0-281-07546-1) or e-book (ISBN 978-0-281-07547-8).
The World Community for Christian Meditation send out a daily Reflections for Lent email. If you already receive the Daily Wisdom email you can add Receive Seasonal Reflections to your list by clicking on the change preferences link at the end of a recent email. If you would like to subscribe, go to the WCCM home page wccm.org where, about 2/3 of the way down, is a section headed Support for your daily practice. Click on the Subscribe Here button and complete your details. Select Receive Seasonal Reflections (Lent/Christmas) to receve the daily Lent Reflection. You may also be interested in Daily Wisdom and the Weekly Teachings and Readings.
The Winter 2016 issues of Christian Meditation News and Meditatio are now available here as colour PDF downloads.
The printed copies of the newsletters have been posted to subscribers. If you haven't received yours by 7 January, please contact the UK office.
Christian Meditation News includes a farewell letter from Roz Stockley who finished her term as National Coordinator in November; news from the National Council Meeting including changes to the Action Group; tributes to Anne Mc Donnell, Jill Nettlefield and Bob Addison; a write up on the School of Meditation Silent Retreat including some haikus written during the week; Reflections on the autumn meditation training day in Derby Diocese; some helpful hints on downloading Meditation CDs and finding your way round the new Goodnews Books website; and in Monastics in the World there is an write up of the WCCM Oblate Weekend. Note the date for the next UK Annual Conference - 9 to 11 September 2016.
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.
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.
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.