Learning to meditate requires daily discipline, persistence and support. A weekly Christian meditation group is very helpful (like the one that meets at LaSalette Retreat House in Attleboro, Massachusetts). The purpose of the group is to teach and support the daily practice of Christian meditation. We follow the teaching of the Benedictine monk, John Main, and the World Community for Christian Meditation. The current director of the Community is Laurence Freeman. The best introduction to meditation from a Christian point of view is Laurence’s book, Jesus, The Teacher Within. It is available along with many other resources from the website www.wccm-usa.org (including a worldwide meditation group locator).
The practice of silent prayer has a long tradition within Christianity, and the practice of meditation using a mantra (a prayer word) goes back to the Desert Fathers and Mothers (3rd century A.D.). The intent is to be in the presence of God in the present moment, and to allow God’s Spirit to shape and guide one’s life. Faithful practice will over time encourage the fruits of the Spirit, including an inner peace and strength. The following is the instruction given by John Main about how to meditate:
Choose a quiet place. Sit down comfortably, with your back straight.
Close your eyes lightly. Sit as still as possible.
Breathe deeply, staying both relaxed and alert.
Slowly and interiorly, begin to say your mantra or prayer word. Listen to the word as you say it. The suggested word is “Maranatha” (“Our Lord Jesus, come!” from 1 Corinthians 16:22).
Continue repeating it gently and faithfully for the whole time of the meditation.
Return to it as soon as you realize you have stopped saying it.
Stay with the same word during the meditation and from day to day.
Do not evaluate your meditation. Do not be discouraged by distractions. Rather, let them come and go, always keeping your attention on the mantra. In time, the fruits of your meditation will appear in yourself, your life, and in all your relationships.
It is very important to be kind to yourself and not be perfectionist about your meditation, and resist the temptation to evaluate your practice. Just keep saying, sounding and listening to the mantra. Below are links to an introduction on how to meditate and to several letters I wrote to the church about my discovery of Christian meditation during a sabbatical in 2005. Also there are links to several of my blog postings about meditation.
If you would like more information about the weekly meditation group please contact me by email at firstname.lastname@example.org
How To Meditate (.docx Word file)
How To Meditate (.pdf Adobe file)
Letters on Meditation (.docx)
Letters on Meditation (.pdf)