Annual Conference has been rescheduled for 18-20 June 2021.
See News item below.
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, Kath Houston, Director of Liaison with National Communities, and from the UK leadership team so that they reach as many meditators as possible.
Latest Update: A Contemplative Path Through the Crisis the new website we have launched to respond to the demands of the Covid-19 crisis, offering rich resources for hope and healing. As well as the many online groups which you can join at WCCM Online Meditation Groups some group leaders have set up local online groups. If it is something you are still thinking about we urge you to give it a go. There are also resources for sharing the gift of meditation in your community and at home with your children.
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.
Updated: 5 June.
The Summer 2020 issues of the UK Newsletter meditation news and the international newsletter Meditatio now available here as PDF downloads and the printed copies have been posted to subscribers.
The sheets for some copies of Meditatio have been assembled in the wrong order. To correct this, remove the staples (you may be able to reuse them); swap the second and third sheets so that the page order is correct; insert the staples through the existing holes.
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 by email: firstname.lastname@example.org and ask to be added to the Newsletter email distribution list.
In meditation news Evonne Galloway remembers how much Graeme Watson brought to our meditation community and Margaret Comerford reflects on his funeral in January. Roz Stockley looks at how UK meditators are responding to the COVID-19 pandemic, Julia Williamson reports on the expansion of online meditation to support those in isolation, and Fr John Bannister, our coordinator for Clergy, writes about how his meditation practice is supporting his parish work.
Other Community News includes the rescheduling of our National Conference until June 2021, a report from Julie Roberts on Fr Laurence's Visit to the South West in March, and Joanne Sullivan on the benefits of attending the autumn Essential Teaching Weekend (and there is another opportunity in October).
There is a review of Circle of Light, a lovely booklet of prayers from around the world compiled by meditator Sylvia Lindsay, and Julia Roberts brings us up to date with new resources available on the School of Meditation website.
We have updated the Events pages - mainly looking towards later in the year - and there are a number of changes to the Contacts page, perhaps it's time to print off a new one!
Fr Laurence's letter in Meditatio reflects on the post-CoViD-19 world and how we can make a contemplative response to an unknown future. A Special section looks at how different groups and individuals are taking their Contemplative Path Through the Crisis, looking at the impact in the community in Bonnevaux, initiatives in Latin America and Asia, how teaching meditation is helping reducing stress and loneliness in young people and how the silence around us has helped a local meditation community to go deeper into the slience as we meditate.
In Focus has an interview with Singapore meditator Angelene Chan and we welcome new Director of Meditatio, Briji Waterfield. There are details of retreats and meetings that will be held online or moved to next year and a reminder that the Meditatio CDs will in future only be available on line, visit http://tiny.cc/MeditatioCDs for access.
The Autumn newsletters will be available in mid August. The last date for submitting articles and events for meditation news is 1 July.
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.