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.
The Spring 2017 issues of Christian Meditation News and Meditatio, the International Newsletter, are now available here as colour PDF downloads. The newsletters have been sent to the printer and should be posted out to subscribers after Easter.
In Christian Meditation News, the life and contribution to Christian Meditation of John Cotling, leader of one of the first groups in the UK is remembered by Paul Harris and Graham Williams. There are several articles from the community: Roz Stockley describes her experience of Online Meditation; Valerie Quinlivan describes a visit to a Boston (USA) group; Simon Andrews gives his response to Alex Holmes talks at the SW Retreat in the autumn; and we look at Malcolm Guite's poem Four Voices illustrated by Linda Richardson. Looking forward, Sally Walters, SIC for Mental Health, introduces Mental Health Week in May and we look at Quiet25, a course run by the Quiet Garden Movement which identifies silent spaces suitable for meditation throughout the UK. Regular contributors Terry Doyle looks at the complimentary arts of Christian Meditation and Tai Chi, and Bob Morley offers a personal view of Contemplative Love. There are updated events and contacts lists.
In Meditatio, Fr Laurence looks at the Silence of Healing, reflecting on the many meanings of health and healing. In the news section there are articles on the first online meditation group in the USA 5 years on and how online meditation links groups in the Americas and Asia. There is a visit to Bonnevaux and a new meditation centre in Trinidad in a room made available by the Cluny Sisters. There are articles on meditation with health workers and in a Hong Kong prison, a retreat in China and the first Essential Teaching Weekend in Czech Republic. Finally Mary Meyer from Paraguay describes how her journey with Christian Meditation has changed her life.
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.
Resources for Lent
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, see the Online Resources page. 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.
Reflections for Lent are also available here.
Ash Wednesday starts a springtime season of personal renewal as well as a preparation for the Easter celebration. In Beginning Lent Fr Laurence starts us off for a fresh and liberating forty days. This was an evening event at the Meditatio Centre and is available as on the WCCM You Tube channel.
Sensing God: Learning to Meditate During Lent is the title and subject of an SPCK book by Fr 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).
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 School of Meditation School Retreat
Led by Liz Watson with Eileen McDade and Julie Roberts
29th September - 5th October 2017
Abbey House, Glastonbury, Somerset BA6 8DH
We are pleased to announce the 2017 School Retreat. This long silent retreat will take place at Abbey House which is set in the beautiful and historic grounds of Glastonbury Abbey. As well as enjoying the tranquil setting of the retreat house, with its walks and gardens, retreatants can enjoy access directly into the extensive Abbey grounds.
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.
Abbey House is very welcoming and offers simple, comfortable accommodation - www.abbeyhouse.org
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.