These two terms mean much the same thing, but are frequently misunderstood. Many people understand meditation as a process of analytical thinking about a topic, scripture verse, etc., but the traditional Christian approaches to meditation involves rather the opposite of pursuing our thoughts! There are several contemplative 'schools', each of which has a slightly different approach, but the thing that they have in common is an intention to centre our beings on the presence of God by silencing our own thoughts.
Most approaches involve the silent inner repetition of a word or phrase, and rejection of intruding thoughts. The instructions are simple, but actually managing to act on them consistently is difficult for many people, but nevertheless, even a regular attempt at mediation can prove beneficial! The World Community of Christian Meditation is the main body fostering the rediscovery of Christian mysticism for today's church.
WCCM is based in London and co-ordinates the world-wide Christian Meditation movement. Its meditation techniques are based on those rediscovered by Dom John Main OSB, from the writings of Saint John Cassian, who recorded the work and practices of the Desert Fathers in the life of the Early Church. There are groups in over 60 countries including many in the UK. There are abundant resources available, including books, audio CDs, videos, etc. and there are regular meetings, conferences and retreats spread throughout the year.
Visit the WCCM website for more information, or the UK site for details of what is going on in this country. Basic instructions on meditation technique can be found on the UK website. WCCM is headed today by Dom Laurence Freeman OSB, who makes regular contributions to the quarterly newsletter issued to members. Resources are available from Medio Media. The website is based in the USA and its e-shopping facility is dollar based. However, it is a very good guide of the resources available, and the same materials can be ordered by contacting the UK Meditation Centre.
Our local group usually meets on Monday 7.30 to 8.30pm. There is also another meeting on Tuesday afternoon 2.00 to 3.00 for those who cannot make Monday evenings.
At meetings we usually listen to the readings of the week, provided by WCCM. This is followed by a short piece of music which fades into silence as we go into meditation for half an hour. The music then fades back in to bring our meditation to a close.
There is then time to share thoughts, concerns, socialise and have a cup of tea!
Occasionally, members attend special meditation events and retreats organised by WCCM in other parts of the UK. We are well placed to offer help and support to those who want to see if meditation is for them.
Anyone interested should contact the Carmel Dennison for details.
Bede Griffiths (1906-1993) was a pioneering Benedictine monk who chose to serve God in India, exploring the commonality of Christian, Hindu and Buddhist spirituality. He lived in poverty but produced some of the richest and most ground-breaking work on inter-religious dialogue. He wrote several books, some of which have become spiritual classics of the day, and are readily available in bookshops or via www.amazon.co.uk
There are a number of meditation groups related Bede Griffiths' teaching and the Bede Griffith Trust website is full of useful information.
If you are interested in meditation you will also find Lectio Divina a helpful practice click here to download a guide to Lectio Divina. Saint Wulstan's Lectio Divina group meets in the Lady Chapel each Wednesday between 7.15pm and 8.15pm.