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.
Annual Conference: Touch the Earth Lightly - BOOKING OPEN!
The World Community for Christian Meditation in the UK Annual Conference Touch the Earth Lightly: Meditation and the Future of the Planet will take place at the The Hayes Conference Centre, Swanwick DE55 1AU between Friday 12 and Sunday 14 June 2020.
Our 2020 annual conference of the UK Christian Meditation Community invites all who want to deepen their understanding of the ecological emergency and find a contemplative response:
- Revisit the Christian understandings of creation.
- Explore how meditation and contemplative practice can:
- awaken us to a more sustainable life
- help us to respond to the crisis
- bring hope and courage in the face of the uncertain future for civilisation as we know it.
The conference will seek to inspire meditators in their continuing practice of meditation but also extends the warmest of welcomes to all who would like to participate.
Timothy O’Riordan OBE is Emeritus Professor of Environmental Sciences at the University of East Anglia. His books, research and advice to public bodies has covered institutional aspects of global environmental change and the transition to sustainability. He has a particular interest in the interface between morality, science, personal ethics and community behaviour.
Dr. Carmody Grey has degrees in theology and in conservation biology. She is Assistant Professor of Catholic Theology at Durham University, working
in philosophical theology and theological ethics, with a focus on science, nature and environment. She also teaches and speaks publicly and is a columnist for The Tablet.
Patrick Woodhouse was Precentor of Wells Cathedral and Social Responsibility Adviser in two Anglican dioceses. Author of several books and a past leader of our conference when he spoke on the writings of the Jewish diarist Etty Hillesum. A particular interest is the practice of contemplation in dark times.
The talks will be integrated into a rhythm of meditation, workshops, opportunities for discussion/questions – and social time. The agenda will be sent in advance.
Registration is from 4pm Friday; the conference ends with Sunday lunch at 12.30pm.
The Hayes has the following room options:
- Single ensuite - £225
- Shared ensuite (2 people) - £180 per person
- Single with shared bathroom - £180
- Day rate (Saturday 9am to 9.30pm) - £75
We are introducing online booking and payment for this year's conference. If you don’t want to use online booking you can still request, fill in and return a form as in past years - please contact the conference administrator for the booking form (see below).
Are you keen to attend this event but financial issues are stopping you? If so you are invited to apply for a bursary to help towards the cost of the weekend. Details will be included with the booking information.
Being able to offer bursaries makes a huge difference to those who are unable to attend the conference due to financial constraints. If you are able to provide help towards the bursary fund, please fill in the appropriate section when you register, and thank you!
John Roberts email: CMTbookings2020@gmail.com tel: 07970 039007
The Blue Marble:Eastern Hemisphere image by Robert Simmon is from the NASA Earth Observatory project.
Reflections for Advent
The World Community for Christian Meditation send out a weekly Reflections for Advent 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 Advent Reflection. You may also be interested in Daily Wisdom and the Weekly Teachings and Readings.
Reflections for Advent are also available on the UK website here.
UK 2019 Conference Recordings
Recordings of Dr Rowan Williams' talks from What the Body Knows, the 2019 UK Conference held in July, are available on the WCCM SoundCloud.
You can listen to them online using a browser or the SoundCloud app or you can download them to listen locally. If you download please note that the files are large - 30 to 40 MByte each.
Fr. Laurence's Saint Benedict's Day Message
Fr. Laurence's first Saint Benedict's Day Message from Bonnevaux is here. Although written for our Oblates it has a strong message for all in our community.
The School of Meditation 2020 Events
Friday 20 - Sunday 22 March
Bishop Woodford House, Ely, Cambridgeshire
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 Bishop Woodford House situated within a short walk from the magnificent Ely Cathedral. 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
Led by Julie Roberts with Jacqueline Russell and Liz Watson
Monday 11 – Sunday 17 May 2020
The Greenhouse Christian Centre, in Poole, Dorset
The School Retreat is a six day 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 and offers 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 retreat will be held at The Greenhouse Christian Centre, in Poole, Dorset which offers warm and comfortable accommodation in single occupancy
rooms. There is limited availability of ensuite rooms which will be allocated according to need.
Cost £550.00 Bursaries to help with the cost of attending this retreat are available – please ask. For an application form please email: firstname.lastname@example.org or telephone 01296 488450
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.
The Winter 2019 issues of the UK Newsletter meditation news and Meditatio are now available here as PDF downloads and printed copies have been posted to subscribers.
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.
meditation news has a focus on climate change which is the theme of the Annual Conference in June 2020 (booking details will be on the website soon). In Hello dear friends Linda Richardson explains how meditation helped her at an Extinction Rebellion protest; Clare Cooper gives A Personal Reflection on Meditation and Climate Activism; and Jim Green gives an account of Peter and Ruth Musgrave's Meditatio workshop in Meditation and Hope Amidst Climate Chaos.
Under Community News we have a message from Roz Stockley about Safeguarding and how you can help; Jon Kille reports on Pop-up Meditations at Haughmond Abbey in Shropshire and short notes about the WCCM App, Advent Reflections and Eileen Mcdade. In Meditation Practice Maureen Hughes relates her experience of Starting a New Group and Alex Holmes considers Advent and Waiting in the Road On Which We Travel. There are updated Oblates, Events and Contacts pages.
In Meditatio Fr Laurence looks at a number of aspects of Meditation and the removal of our attachments of the past; there is a report on the John Main seminar led by Dr Sarah Bachelard; Paul Harris shares his thoughts about the Importance of Meditation Groups; and there is an extended report on the first Bonnevaux Young Adults Retreat.
The Spring newsletters will be available in mid February. The last date for submitting articles and events for meditation news is 1 January.
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.