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 Bonnevaux, France, 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.
John Main Seminar
The 2020 John Main Seminar from Mexico ONE HEART, ONE HOPE - Indigenous wisdom and the future of humanity is an exploration of ancestral wisdom and spirituality to chart a common path to the future. Running from October 19 to 22, this year it is an online event providingan opportunity for people to take part who even in normal times are unable to travel. Details including the list of speakers and registration information are on the JMS2020 website.
Coronavirus: Resources for meditators - updated September.
We have a page with suggestions to help you stay connected with other meditators while we follow the guidelines on managing the coronavirus. On this page we have shared communications from Fr Laurence, the Spiritual Director of WCCM worldwide, and from the UK leadership team so that they reach as many meditators as possible.
There is information about how to access and setup online meditation groups and details of new WCCM and CCS videos aimed at children in isolation.
The WCCM website A Contemplative Path Through the Crisis has articles and presentations on a wide range of topics. In the midst of global suffering, this website offers rich resources for hope and healing.
The Bonnevaux Community website includes links to weekly live broadcasts including the Contemplative Eucharist every Sunday at 11.00 am UK time, Thursday Community Meditation at 11.15 am, and Tuesday Yoga at 3.15 pm. There are also recordings of seminars, retreats and conversations that have taken place online.
The Meditatio Centre is holding its events online until the end of 2020, another opportunity to join in for those away from London.
If you are an organiser of an event listed in our calendar and have cancelled or postoned it, please let us know at email@example.com so we can update your entry.
UK Office Closed - Roisin and Elena working from home
The UK office is closed for the foreseeable future. Please be aware that whilst Roisin and Elena are workingfrom home, any postal mail will not be responded to for some time, probably several months. Please communicate by email to firstname.lastname@example.org and if you have recently sent a message or invoice by post please resend by email.
If there are any payments you wish to make, do so using the online donation facility https://www.christianmeditation.org.uk/index.php/become-a-friend-of-wccm/donate and please include a message (provided within the donation facility) saying what it is for.
The Autumn 2020 issues of the UK Newsletter meditation news and the international newsletter Meditatio now available here as PDF downloads. We expect printed copies to be with subscribers before the end of August.
The printed copies are in black and white. This is a cost saving measure; the change from colour and use of slower, economy postage will reduce the cost by about a third. Roz Stockley, Chair of Trustees, explains why we have made this change in her article on page three.
The online edition is normally available several weeks before the printed copies and will continue to be in colour! If you would like to be notified when it is on the website, please contact the UK Office by email: email@example.com and ask to be added to the Newsletter email distribution list.
Alex Holmes, the Scotland coordinator, sent a series of 'lockdown' messages to meditators and in meditation news we have used his thoughts on boundaries as our leading article. There are others in the online edition - a good reason to download and try it.
In Community News Roz Stockley explains how the restrictions on meetings and events has reduced our income and outlines changes we are making to balance our finances; the annual Appeal will be made in September and you can donate online at any time. Twelve Talks for Prisoners describes a project to record talks about Christian Meditaion for use within prisons and how these are used to support inmates. Terry Doyle, coordinator for the Marginalised reports on on the 2-day Wellbeing Retreat run for 25 Asylum Seekers , part of work being supported by the Eileen Cox Legacy Fund. Valerie Quinlivan recounts her experiences on the Contemplative Pilgrimage to the Holy Land at the start of the year. Julia Williamson, coordinator for Online Meditation, explains how the online offering has extended to include retreats, quiet days, coffee and chat sessions and an introductory course, and even Aileen Urquhart's cat joins in; in the online edition we have some fantastic feedback from people who have joined in these activities. Clelia Rinaldi has written about her Memories of Dialogues with Fr Graeme Watson.
In Spiritual Practice Julie Roberts, UK coordinator with the School of Meditation, explains how this year's 7-day Silent Retreat in May was held online and Mark Kirkpatrick has detailed his experiences of taking part. Tina Jeffries writes about Essential Teaching online in March and there are details of the October Essential Teaching Weekend at the Brierly, Ilkley (spaces are limited contact Julie soon if you are interested). Shelagh Layet and Birgit Duncan write about a new Mental Health Advice service available in the Community and Shelagh lists some Useful Resources for Meditation and Mental Health.
The Events pages reflect the uncertainty that organisers have about holding face-to-face events with some moving online; this does provide opportunities for a wider audience to join meetings. The website Events page is updated when we heear about new events and changes. There are changes to the Contacts page too.
In Meditatio, Fr Laurence's reflection Returning to the Heart considers how confinement has seen the Community grow and change, and he considers how this can continue. He also introduces this year's John Main Seminar hosted online by WCCM in Mexico in October with the theme: how the wisdom of indigenous traditions still lives in the human family. Alex Zatyrka SJ, keynote speaker, describes the richness of the culture and spirituality of native people in The way back to the heart. Seminar details are here.
Bonnevaux Online events looks back at some of the recent opportunities to bring the global community together through online events, a programme that will continue through to the end of the year. Paul Tratnyek reviews Meditatio's online education seminar A Gift for our Times – Meditation with Children and Young People and Pascale Callec highlights the Meditatio Ecology seminar Towards a new Earth. Recordings of both events are online.
In Focus has an interview with Vincent Maire, regional coordinator in Auckland. There are details of some new resources including the latest quarterly talks Contemplative Reflections on Scripture by Fr Laurence, with a reminder that these are now only available online.
The Winter newsletters will be available in mid November. The last date for submitting articles and events for meditation news is 1 October.
2020 UK National Conference: Rescheduled
It was with great sadness that we had to cancel our June Conference at Swanwick. With great consideration, we had chosen the title “Touch the Earth Lightly”, not knowing that it would have such immediate relevance for us all.
For those who have booked, there will of course be a full reimbursement.
It is sad that so many of our WCCM events, retreats and meditation groups are not taking place, especially at this time of isolation and need. But the community is reaching out in new and different ways. If you are on our mailing list, we will have been in touch to let you know about the on line support at local, regional, national and international level. If you haven’t received an email or letter from us and would like more details, please look on our website or contact the UK office (firstname.lastname@example.org).
This time in history is affecting all our lives – each of us with our own story, our own suffering and very personal times of reflection. We do not know the ending, but our daily meditation offers certainty and through God’s Grace allows us to be open and formed again.
There is a reading from the Tao Te Ching:
The Master leads
By emptying people’s minds
And filling their cores,
By weakening ambition
And toughening their resolve.
He helps people lose everything
They know, everything they desire,
And creates confusion
In those who think that they know.
Whilst our 2020 Conference is not taking place, we have rescheduled for Friday 18th June to Sunday 20th June 2021. We are at the early stages of planning, but of course our focus will reflect a new world view and offer a contemplative a response.
It will be an opportunity to bring a truly fresh perspective on the great issues of our times. We will share time exploring the way in which we respond to the changing face of the world around us. And at the centre of our time together, we will meditate as a world-wide community.
There has been an enormous increase in the way in which we have reached out to one another, often using virtual on line gatherings. We need to reflect upon this experience as we plan our conference. Many of us have had rich and fulfilling experiences, using the extraordinary reach of technology. Coming together to meditate, to listen, to share and to discuss form an essential part of our time together, remembering the physical presence of one another remains central. We need to see with the eyes of our hearts, listen with the ears of our hearts and gently touch one another. Seeing and being with the whole person remains an essential human need.
So, please put the date in your 2021 diary or (if like me) make a note at the back of your 2020 diary! We will let you have more detail in the late summer.
Much Love to you all
On behalf of the Conference organising team
The School of Meditation 2020-21 Events
Autumn Essential Teaching Weekend
Friday 2 to Sunday 4 October at The Briery Centre, Ilkely, West Yorkshire
Led by: Joanne Caine and Julie Roberts.
Have you been meditating in the John Main tradition for more than a year? Do you feel you would like to grow in your understanding of your meditation practice and be more confident about passing it on to others?
An Essential Teaching Weekend is not designed as a retreat but as a participative weekend with presentations by teachers in the community, group discussion and practical exercises. We look together at the history of the tradition passed on by John Main, the essence of the practice, and psychological aspects of the journey. We also think about how to give an introductory talk and the sort of questions people ask when they begin.
The style of the weekend is relaxed and informative and takes place at the Briery Retreat Centre. Situated at the ‘foot of Ilkley Moor’ in the heart of the Yorkshire Dales, the comfortable accommodation is mainly single rooms with shared bathrooms - we are unable to guarantee an ensuite room.
We would like all who want to come to be able to do so and have a fund for bursaries. If you wish to come but it is beyond your means, please contact us to see how we can help. We also help with travel costs if needed.
Cost £85 per person. For an application form please email email@example.com 01296 488450
Seven Day Silent Retreat
The Seven Day Silent Retreat that should have run in May has been rescheduled and will hopefully be at the Greenhouse Centre, Dorset from 18 to 25 July 2021. Details will be available nearer the date.
Sharing The Gift Of Meditation – Your Opportunity To Apply for a Grant
The World Community for Christian Meditation exists simply to share the gift of meditation, a gift it received through the teaching of John Main.
We are keen for more people to find out about meditation, help them develop their own personal and group practices and through this, reach out to the wider world. Through a generous legacy from Eileen Cox, a dedicated member of a group in Ealing, West London, we are inviting community members and organisations to apply for grants that relate to the following three objectives:
- To promote the understanding and practice of meditation. For example, is there a particular group of people you want to introduce to meditation? How can you do that?
- To encourage meditators to deepen their practice. For example, do you have ideas for helping people persevere and go deeper?
- To reach out to all parts of society in order to share the gifts that meditation brings. For example, do you particularly want to take meditation out to people and places beyond the reach of churches, or where traditional language isn’t readily understood.
Grants are available from £100 to £5,000 or even more. If you are interested in applying for a grant, there are details and instructions here.
We have partnered with the Church Urban Fund (CUF) to administer the grants using their extensive experience in running grant management systems and we were delighted to discover that they share our values when Paul Hackwood, the Executive Chair of CUF, included the following in a message to us:
Silent contemplation provides us with the place where we can be still enough to create a place of reflection and steadiness, which has much greater benefits that endless activity. A contemplative sprit and an active heart provide exactly the foundation for a changed world. … With all this in mind, it is with great pleasure that we are now working with the World Community for Christian Meditation (WCCM) to help foster silent prayer through their networks and ours, encouraging existing meditators to share the gift of meditation with others with the assistance of the grant fund.
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.