When you can’t meditate in a group COVID-19
As a result of the impact COVID-19 is having on meditation groups, the WCCM in the UK leadership team (formally called The Action Group) have and will offer suggestions to help you stay connected with others in your local and wider communities. We will also include any communications from Fr Laurence, the Spiritual Director of WCCM worldwide and Kath Houston, Director of Liaison with National Communities. The communications are replicated exactly as issued by email and are listed in reverse chronological order.
Meeting the challenge of these times…. (Julie Roberts - 20 April 2020)
It has been a challenging few weeks for us all as we try to come to terms with the impact of Covid-19 on our lives. As we listen to the government announcements, the heartbreaking and the inspirational stories, we know that we all have to adapt to new ways of being and doing.
As a community, we have been heartened to hear of the different ways that individual meditators and meditation groups are meeting the challenge of these times and so wanted to share a few more ideas and developments that might be helpful.
1) A Contemplative Path through the Crisis
A wonderful new WCCM website has been launched to bring together essential resources to help us all find a contemplative path through the crisis see http://acontemplativepath-wccm.org/ . And as part of this initiative, it has recently been announced that the inspirational Rev Sarah Bachelard will be giving a series of talks entitled ‘A Living Hope; the shape of Christian Virtue’ over the next six weeks. The talks start on April 21st and you can join in live or listen after. To register your interest and find out more visit the new website.
2) Online meditation groups on Zoom
As well as the many online groups which you can join at
http://www.onlinemeditationwccm.org 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. Some useful tips are:- to mute all the participants at the start of the meditation; if you find 40 mins too short an unlimited version is available for a small monthly fee which you can cancel at any time, or you may be able to share Zoom with someone; the fees have been waived for teachers; by changing the settings you have options to use a password, waiting room etc. Zoom have responded to questions about security with several updates in the last few weeks, but for the purpose of our meetings we don’t feel overly concerned.
3) Taking the opportunity to share the gift of meditation
We came across a lovely article written by Barbara Jones which is at the end of this email. It might be something that you could amend as appropriate and submit to your local parish magazine. If you would like the original ‘word.doc’ please email Roisin at UKAdmin@wccm.org who is currently doing a great job looking after the UK office from home.
4) If you are currently at home with children, you might like to look at the wonderful new WCCM and CCS videos which are aimed at children in isolation to help to continue their meditation practice or to take it up. Whilst aimed principally at those who have a faith, those who follow the practice do not necessarily have to believe in God and it’s a useful resource to help reduce stress and loneliness for any child during this difficult time. They videos can be found via the links below, the first developed for primary school children and the second link for young people at secondary school. If you have connection with a local school, you may also like to share with the resources with the head teacher.
And finally, a big thank you to all the Regional Co-ordinators who have made contact with those people that we have been unable to connect with because we have no email details. If you would like to help contact people in your area please let Roisin know.
With love and best wishes to you all.. and keep safe.
School of Meditation Co-ordinator
WCCM in the UK
On behalf of the Action Group
No Church for ages …..
For all those who go to church most Sundays, the sudden and complete shutdown of the churches in response to the Coronavirus pandemic must have come as a shock – for some, an enormous shock. And the clergy, like everyone else, are working on imaginative ways that they can offer support within these constraints.
So what can we do at home on our own to feel we are still part of a worshipping community? Well, one possibility, perhaps surprising and initially unfamiliar, is to try Christian Meditation. Far from being a strange, ‘foreign’ custom, a simple form of meditation has been part of the Christian tradition right back to the early centuries, and even to Jesus himself. It just got rather lost in more recent times. For the last 50 years or so, the tradition has been revived, and there is now a World Community for Christian Meditation (WCCM) – ecumenical, and with a strong presence in the UK.
WCCM recommends a short time of meditation – about 20 minutes – twice a day. The short version of ‘How to meditate’ is in the box below. But as long as you have Internet access, it’s best to go the website: either (for the UK) https://www.christianmeditation.org.uk or http://www.wccm.org. There is a great deal of help, resources and information on these websites.
As they all say, meditating is ‘simple, but not easy’. But, with practice and perseverance it will bring rewards, and perhaps a new dimension to your spiritual life. It’s for everyone – young (including children!), old, new Christians and (really!) old hands, and those whose links to ‘church’ are at best tenuous. And, for all of us stuck at home, you become part of a very real, though invisible, worldwide Christian community.
Sit down. Sit still with your back straight. Close your eyes lightly. Sit relaxed but alert. Then interiorly, silently begin to recite a single word – a prayer word or mantra. We recommend the ancient Christian prayer-word "Maranatha". Say it as four equal syllables. Breathe normally and give your full attention to the word as you say it, silently, gently, faithfully and - above all - simply.
The essence of meditation is simplicity. Stay with the same word during the whole meditation and in each meditation day to day. Don't visualise but listen to the word, as you say it. Let go of all thoughts (even good thoughts), images and other words. Don’t fight your distractions: let them go by saying your word faithfully, gently and attentively and returning to it as soon as you realise you have stopped saying or it or when your attention wanders.
Meditate twice a day, morning and evening, for between 20 and 30 minutes. It may take a time to develop this discipline and the support of a tradition and community is always helpful.
Keeping in Touch with our Meditation Community in Challenging Times (Julie Roberts - 22 March 2020)
It has been an unprecedented week as the whole country prepares itself for difficult times ahead. In fast changing times we all have to consider new ways of doing things in every aspect of our lives. There is a beautiful letter to us all from Fr Laurence at the end of this email.
At the heart of our meditation community are our group meetings and following on from the email sent out on the 17th March, listing various resources available to everyone, we are writing again to offer some ideas to help groups keep connected.
1) Set up an online group meeting.
An easy way to do this, which we can recommend, is that you join Zoom (the basic version) which offers free online video conferencing. You can get this on your computer by googling Zoom and then following the instructions to join, or do this on any of your mobile devices (iPads tablets, smartphones) by downloading the app. If you are already panicking thinking that this is too techie for you, please be reassured that it is really easy. If you have difficulties no doubt a friend, relative or a group member will be only too happy to help. Once you have accessed Zoom, group members are invited by email to the group meeting at the time of your choice. It is free for 40 minutes then your session will end, but if you need longer you just reconnect for another 40 minutes. Any group members who do not have the internet can join the meeting by phone (0203 481 5240).This is a brilliant way to retain social contact with your group, so we want to encourage all groups to give this a try.
2) Arrange to meditate together, but apart.
Here’s a very simple low tech option being used by one of our oblates in Denmark. Her local meditation group is cancelled, so she is emailing or phoning each member at the normal meditation time to repeat the opening and then closing prayer. And in between the prayers, they each meditate in their own home.
3) Set up a WhatsApp group
Many of you will already have discovered the joys of a WhatsApp group so that you can keep in touch with your friends and family. Simply download the app and then set up a group to which you can invite group meditators. When one person posts a message on the group you can all see it and respond if you want to. Again this is free and enables people to keep in touch as a group between your meetings. Of course, you could use it instead of the phone or email as in 2) above - video calling is also available but limited to 4 people so if you have a very small group it could be used like 1) above.
We don’t want to bombard you, as there are lots of options and you may well have this in hand. But, if you haven’t please try at least one of the above as it will be so appreciated by your group members. Some group leaders are not on email or not so confident, so if you can help please contact them and work together.
And finally a note from the UK office :-
“At very short notice on 18th March the UK office was closed for the foreseeable future. Please be aware that whilst Roisin and Elena are currently able to work from home, any postal mail will not be responded to for some time, probably several months. Consequently please communicate by email to email@example.com and 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.”
Please feel free to get in touch if you have any thoughts or ideas for consideration ...and we will be in touch if we have any more information.
Meanwhile, we send our best wishes to you and your families.
Love and peace
School of Meditation Co-ordinator
WCCM in the UK
On behalf of the Action Group
A Contemplative Path Through The Crisis (Fr Laurence Freeman - 19 March 2020)
Many things, good or bad, nourishing or destructive, true or false can bring us closer together. The global health emergency is doing it by reminding us, as the environmental emergency should, of the reality that we are a single family; we share a beautiful home; our differences are really interesting not threatening; and we need to learn how to share better and to live in a more joyful way. This crisis can bring us together for the sake of goodness, for new depth of wisdom and kindness. It is not all about fear.
The current health crisis is shaking modern lifestyle to its foundations, dramatically and rapidly. But we can all be part of a shared contemplative response that makes a difference to those around us even if we are physically separated. Social distancing can bring us closer together spiritually. We only need to go deeper. To go deeper we need only to be still. Meditation does both.
A Contemplative Path Through The Crisis
To build up our inner strength, separate fear from reality, be hopeful while caring for the needs of others, we will be starting a contemplative programme oriented to the particular needs of this challenging time- and be aware of the bigger picture and the link between this crisis and the other crises of our time.
We begin with a series of Inter-Contemplative Dialogues starting on Saturday March 21st with Alan Wallace, Eva Natanya and myself. The dialogues will take place from 15.00 to 17.00 (France), 08.00 to 10.00 (Mountain Time US) on the following days.
Register here for the first event with Alan Wallace, Eva Natanya and myself.
You can view all other events dates and registration links and the link to the live webcast from this page here.
We also plan to have online a regular evening meditation live from Bonnevaux. More information on this will be released soon. Keep an eye on the WCCM homepage in the coming days.
Finally, we put together a series of resources which we hope can help strengthen our contemplative resilience. You can learn more on the WCCM - A Contemplative Path Through The Crisis page.
Laurence Freeman OSB
Supporting our meditation community through challenging times (Julie Roberts - 17 March 2020)
Across the country we are all making decisions following the stream of announcements about COVID-19. Our policy is to follow the government guidelines and many of you will already have taken the decision to suspend group meetings.
As a meditation community we know that everyone will want to support one another during difficult times in whatever ways they can. Having spent the last few days with Fr Laurence as he travelled around the South West I noticed how keen he was to acknowledge not only the challenges presented by COVID-19 but also the opportunities. He particularly mentioned that in Italy they had noticed everyone slowing down.
When I mentioned this to my neighbour yesterday she said she was thinking about doing some long overdue decluttering and attending to her kitchen cupboards. As meditators we might want to think about our spiritual health. You may well have some books that you will get around to reading. However, we wanted to bring your attention to the resources which you may never have had cause to look at previously, but in the coming weeks might like to check out.
- possibly join an online group. See the UK website under 'how to meditate’ www.christianmeditation.org.uk or go to www.onlinemeditationwccm.org (see note below)
- you might like to start an online course or use the resources on the School of Meditation website www.theschoolofmeditation.org
- keep an eye on the international websites as there may well be new initiatives announced www.wccm.org and www.bonnevauxwccm.org
- if you like social media there are facebook and twitter pages to check out too.
Some members of our community, particularly those who don’t have access to the internet could feel very isolated and they might appreciate a regular phone call. If you can identify those people you may be able to set up a contact rota to help people feel connected.
Meanwhile if you have any other ideas of how we can all help each other, or particular ways you can help, please let a member of the UK Action Group know.
Love and blessings
School of Meditation Co-ordinator
WCCM in the UK
On behalf of the Action Group
Information about online meditation
It is easy to join one of the groups, go to www.onlinemeditationwccm.org where all the groups are listed.
In the UK online meditation groups are held twice a day at 7.30 am and 6pm and on Tuesdays an extra group is held at 8pm.
These groups follow the same format as the physical groups - opening prayer, reading from John Main, 25-30 mins silent meditation and a short 2nd reading.
Once you find the group you would like to join and click Join Group, You will be asked for your email address. This will be forwarded to the group leader who will then be in contact and give you the link to join the group.
During the current situation online groups will be operating as normal and are an excellent way to support your practice and maintain contact with fellow meditators.
If you experience any difficulty or would like further information please contact firstname.lastname@example.org