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.
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 on the UK website here.
An animated video introducing meditation
We are very happy to launch this short film on what is Christian Meditation and how to meditate - a generous gift by Paul Demeyer, a meditator based in the United States.
Essential Teaching Weekend Update
The last 9 months has been a very frustrating time for event organisers, retreat centres and participants but ‘it is as it is’ and everyone is doing their best in the challenging circumstances.
We had hoped to offer the Essential Teaching Weekend at The Briery Retreat Centre, Ilkley in October, however as the time approached the combination of low bookings and the continued uncertainty around Covid-19 sadly left us with little choice but to cancel.
Those who had booked for The Briery were offered a place on an Essential Teaching Online which will take place on Saturdays from the 9/30th January 2021. Places are limited to 9 which is the number of people everyone can see on the Zoom screen using an iPad/tablet and were taken up very quickly. Consequently, we now have a waiting list and would like to offer this again as soon as possible. So, if you are interested in attending an Essential Teaching Online please do get in touch, as once we have the numbers we can make plans.
The next Essential Teaching Weekend is scheduled to take place at the Ammerdown Centre, Somerset from 7/9th May 2021. More information can be found in the flyer here and a description of the venue is at www.ammerdown.org .
Meanwhile, we look forward to more certain times.
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.
School of Meditation Co-ordinator
WCCM in the UK
Coronavirus: Resources for meditators
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.
UK Conference Postponed
UK Conference – Touch the Earth Lightly – June 2021
It is with great sadness that we have to postpone this year’s UK Conference. We have been advised that the venue at Swanwick is closed until early July. We had hoped to meet together as a community and to share in the celebration of a physical gathering. But we do have a date in 2022, so please put this date your diary. The 2022 UK conference will be in Hoddesdon in Hertfordshire from Friday 17th June to Sunday 19th June. We will let you have more details in forthcoming newsletters and on our website.
Meanwhile, we do hope that you are able to enjoy newfound freedoms in the coming spring and summer. We look forward to WCCM local groups meeting again and regional events taking place.
On behalf of the UK Conference Planning Team
Newsletters - 2021 Issue 1
The first 2021 issue of the UK Newsletter meditation news is now available here as a PDF download. We expect to receive the WCCM Newsletter in the middle of March and printed copies should be with subscribers by the beginning of April.
The online edition is normally available several weeks before the printed copies! If you would like to be notified when it is on the website, please contact the UK Office (email: email@example.com) and ask to be added to the Newsletter email distribution list.
The meditation news front page has the sad news that because of COVID-19 restrictions we have had to postpone our Touch the Earth Lightly Annual Conference until June next year. Under Community News Chris Hill provides a response to Fr Laurence's winter letter Making the Divided Self Whole; there is news about UK School of Meditation Events; Roz Stockley reports on the autumn National Council including the list of attendees' Desert Island Books; and there is a first look at the how the new WCCM 'brand' will change the appearance of the UK website, newsletter and messaging.
David Simpson has provided an insider's view of A December day in the life... of the community at Bonnevaux; there is a report on two projects supported by the Eileen Cox Legacy; and there are reflections on the life of Pam Connolly, a much loved member of our Oblate community. There are updated Oblates, Events and Contacts pages.
The second of this year's newsletters should be available in mid July. The last date for submitting articles and events for meditation news is 1 June.
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.