Christian meditation

Christian meditation for children

From the Independent Catholic News.

There is much noise and little silence in our children’s world today. Yet children have a natural capacity for meditation and research shows that teaching them to sit in stillness and silence encourages creativity and calms their behaviour. With benefits like this, why are we not teaching the spiritual practice and recognised life-skill of meditation in our schools, promoting balance and growth of the whole child?

A Seminar on Tuesday, 7 December from 9am – 5.30pm Regents College, in Regents Park, London, will discuss the impact of meditation programmes now being taught in schools and look at how this practice can become more widely available.

Dr Cathy Day and Ernie Christie, Directors of Catholic Education in Townsville, Australia will lead the seminar. They have created and implemented the world’s first Christian Meditation programme for all 30 Catholic schools in their diocese. Meditation is part of the curriculum and the daily life of teachers and 12,000 children in their schools.

Jonathan Campion, a British consultant psychiatrist has evaluated a schools meditation programme and will speak about its psychological impact and benefits.

Fr Laurence Freeman, a Benedictine monk and Director of The World Community for Christian Meditation will describe meditation as part of the prayer tradition and set it in the context of our pluralist world.

Further workshops are being held in Kerry (8 December), Belfast (10 December), Milton Keynes (13 December), Brentwood (14 December) and Birmingham (15 December).

For more information see: www.wccm.org.

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A hunger for depth

Shirley Lancaster: Today’s search for a meaning is not so much ‘spirituality lite’ as a quest for authenticity in a culture obsessed with the trivial

Spirituality today, less bound to religion, is part of everyday life. A person’s spirituality might be expressed in listening to Bach, walking in the countryside, doing voluntary work or comforting a friend. We talk of a spiritual dimension to athletic excellence or great art.

And a common yardstick for evaluating spirituality is not a bad one: do our spiritual values or practice make us better people? Are we more forgiving, kind…

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Unity Church of Sun City, Arizona, to dedicate labyrinth

The Unity Church of Sun City will dedicate a replica of the labyrinth of Chartres, France, on Sunday at 10:30 a.m.

Fewer than a dozen replicas exist. The first in the United States was at Grace Cathedral in San Francisco.

Labyrinths have been known to the human race for more than 3,500 years. They have been used in many different religious ways by many peoples and as solar and lunar calendars. In Arizona, the Hopi use a form of the labyrinth in their religious symbolism, and the Tohono O’odham “Man in the Maze” is actually a seven-circuit labyrinth and is part of an elaborate creation myth.

Medieval pilgrims, unable to fulfill their desire to make a pilgrimage to Jerusalem, went instead to many pilgrimage sites in Europe or Britain. In many cases, the end of their journey was a labyrinth formed of stone and laid in the floor of the nave of a Gothic cathedrals. The center of the labyrinths probably represented for many pilgrims the Holy City itself and thus became the substitute goal of the journey.

The labyrinth is a path for prayer and meditation and is available to the Sun City community at any time.

People have different experiences walking the labyrinth. As with all practices of prayer or meditation, the experience will grow and deepen the more one does it.

Some people feel a sense of peace. Others find old memories rising up as they walk. Others find themselves thinking about an immediate situation or person. Others walk at varying speeds as different thoughts and emotions come and go. Some people experience physical sensations, perhaps become light-headed, or have a feeling of floating above, a feeling of weight or of great warmth. Some people have profound insights. Others have very small experiences or none at all. The experience of walking the labyrinth is different for each person, each time.

The labyrinth is in the garden at 10101 W. Coggins Drive (101st Avenue in Sun City). It is open at all times, including nights, when it is lighted.

[via AZ Central]
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Three lies and a half-truth

United Church Observer: When it comes to understanding meditation, Christianity and neuroscience are closer than you might imagine

When I teach about cognition and prayer, I often start with an exercise designed for failure. I ask the class to cross their legs and arms, slump in their chairs and think of nothing for two minutes. During this period, I remind them regularly and harshly how much time is left and that their minds should be empty.

Afterward, participants invariably speak about their frustration and discomfort. For me, it’s the longest two minutes of the course. But I love this exercise. It illustrates the three biggest lies and one half-truth about meditation: that meditation means getting our minds totally quiet; that if we get distracted we’re doing it wrong; that there’s only one correct, Christian way to meditate; and finally, the half-truth at the root of much suffering, that our goal is inner peace.

Neurobiology presents a problem for the first assumption, that our minds should be totally quiet in meditation. The human brain is made to be anxious; it’s designed to scan for incoming danger. Three seconds is the longest we usually concentrate on any single thing unless we exert serious effort.

The stilling of the mind that happens in deep meditation is not a normal state of being, and even seasoned meditators can’t sustain it continuously. There is a good reason why Buddhists call meditation “the noble failure” and Christians speak of contemplation as a gift rather than an achievement. There is no way to force one’s self into silence and stillness. Force actually makes repose more difficult to find.

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Rather, the work of meditation is to find a balance between effort and release. We use willpower to maintain our practice and simultaneously let go of straining. Like all balancing acts, it takes time and repetition. Some days I’m good at it, some days I’m not.

A neuroscientist looking at my brain while I’m attempting to concentrate might say I am activating the parts that govern attention. Doing this repeatedly will strengthen my capacity to attend to myself and others. A religious person watching my practice would tell me that I am engaged in an act of co-creation with the Divine, letting God be in charge. Both of these ways of describing meditation are true.

The second big lie is if I can’t concentrate, I’m failing. However, both brain scientists and contemplatives will agree that all my distractions are actually running continuously. The mind is never empty. It’s simply more or less engaged with its own busyness. We don’t notice all the chatter until we get quiet.

In the past, I’ve thought that the incessant noise meant I was a rotten meditator. I’ve beaten myself up for being distracted and at times even ditched the practice altogether.

But these days, I’m convinced that living through the mess between my ears — looking at it with the compassion of Christ, gently setting it aside, returning to my practice — is what actually transforms me.

This is the work: with great self-forgiveness, we point ourselves back to centre. The experience of anxiety and discomfort is so common in meditation, there’s even a phrase for it: taking out the trash. But distractions come and go. Losing the way and coming back are just part of the process.

If I want to know whether or not I’m making progress, I don’t look at what happens when I meditate. I look at my daily life. Am I better able to imagine the feelings of someone I don’t like? Do I lose my temper less frequently, conduct myself more generously in intimate relationships? If so, meditation is working.

A neuroscientist might say that when I bring myself back from distraction to a meditative state, I am increasing my neural integration; that is, I am growing new neuronal pathways from the prefrontal cortex down to the limbic system and the brain stem. This brings my normally automatic reactions more closely under conscious control. A Christian might call these changes in behaviour “fruits of the Spirit” — slow-growing, humble results revealed in daily living — and note that accepting God’s love and forgiveness for myself enables me to love and forgive others. Both of these ways of describing meditation are true.

Now the third lie, that there’s a single correct form of Christian meditation. I’d argue that our early Christian forebears would heartily disagree — as would hundreds of thousands of Christians around the world.

If we believe that God made each of us in our lovely and surprising diversity, then that diversity must also include the ways in which we approach the Divine. Walking a labyrinth, prayerful journalling, reciting a mantra, practising loving kindness, contemplative Scripture reading, developing breath awareness, becoming attuned to the presence of God: each of these is a valid way to meditate.

What makes Christian meditation Christian is not the particular method we use, but the focus and centre we bring to it: Jesus Christ.

Whether you chant, concentrate on your breath or sing, “Oh thank you, God,” to the tune of O Tannenbaum, if it’s Christ to whom you dedicate your practice, you are engaged in Christian meditation.

A neuroscientist might point out similar brain activations associated with different forms of meditation when we label them Christian. A person of faith might say that each practice allows God into another corner of his or her life. Both of these ways of describing Christian meditation are true.

And now the half-truth: the purpose of meditation is inner peace. Unfortunately, I’m not in charge of what bubbles up in my mind during meditation. Trying to think comfortable thoughts only makes those thoughts more elusive. But if I’m willing to receive whatever comes, I get what’s given: some things hard, some joyful. Unpleasant insights into my own character or a call to a difficult situation come accompanied by an invitation to deeper peace.

Here’s an example. After experimenting with several different practices, I joined a group from the World Community for Christian Meditation. There was one leader who recited a little prayer that ended “so let your God love you.”

This phrase stunned me. I had several mental frames for meditation — trying to love God, trying to contact the Divine, trying to please the Holy — but never before had I thought of meditation as a chance to let God love me. I was too busy beating up on myself every time I fell asleep or found myself worrying. I’d judge each thought, judge each session and then judge myself for judging. It wasn’t fun.

I had kept at meditation for years because I am stubborn. But if you had asked, I’d have rated my experience as generally lousy.

When I heard “so let your God love you,” I realized that I could relax. This wasn’t about showing God anything or trying to make contact; it was simply soaking in the love that was always present. The purpose of my practice could be resting in the love of God and letting it fill me up.

Over time, I found the place inside where I felt that love. I even began to be able to feel it when I wasn’t meditating, and began to bring that love to my work and relationships.

A cognitive linguist might say that I built a substantial neural net that was available for activation in many situations. A religious person might say that I learned to trust. What I say is that I learned to let my God love me.

All of these ways of describing my meditation are true.

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Meditative Jews adopt new tradition

Courier-Post: Fifteen months ago, Franklin Horowitz was in a bad place in his life.

Entangled in “addictive issues,” he was lost inside his own skin. But then the Voorhees resident started walking the labyrinth at an Episcopal church in Bala Cynwyd, Pa.

Though Jewish, he was drawn to the winding path cut in the grass near his childhood home. On it, he discovered the labyrinth’s power for contemplation.

“I was really meditative,” Horowitz said. “I was grounded with the earth. There was something about the way you took specific twists and turns while being cognizant of where you were going, in relation to your center.”

Right there, in the middle of the thing, he called a counselor and arranged to get help.

Labyrinths aren’t a part of Jewish tradition. Centuries ago, they were popular in Medieval European churches for personal meditation and prayer.

But a growing number of synagogues are using labyrinths as a way to reflect and ponder, especially during the High Holy Days, a 10-day period which begins tonight with Rosh Hashana. Also called the Days of Awe, the High Holy Days are a time for self-examination, forgiveness and renewal.

Moved by his experience on the labyrinth, Horowitz donated money to build a small meditation labyrinth and peace garden on the grounds of Congregation Beth El’s new home on Main Street in Voorhees. It was dedicated in memory of his father and his uncle, a longtime member of the congregation.

“There’s nothing not Jewish about a labyrinth,” said Rabbi Jeffrey Arnowitz, the synagogue’s associate rabbi, who meets with Horowitz once a week.

“In fact, there’s something incredibly Jewish about them, this whole idea of wandering. We spent 40 years in the desert wandering. For the Jews, it was more important to wander and learn what you had to learn wandering than it was to get to the goal. That’s ultimately what the labyrinth is all about.”

Arnowitz already has used the winding path as a tool during spiritual counseling sessions, and has plans to use the route for services in the future.

At Congregation Tikkun v’Or in Ithaca, N.Y., a seven-circuit labyrinth is painted on a grassy field just for the High Holy Days.

Diana Levy, the synagogue’s co-president, said a rabbi suggested the idea as an external way to represent T’shuvah (or “return to God”). It’s especially well used after the morning Yom Kippur service, she said. There can be up to 20 people following the path.

“It’s not a Jewish tradition, but it just seemed to be something so much about the High Holidays — to be walking inward, to be turning inward, turning inward, and from that inwardness beginning to come back out,” Levy said. “It’s just really interesting and a lovely experience.”

A labyrinth is not a maze, Levy said. Walkers start on the path and keep moving forward to come back to the beginning.

That’s the intention of this period of introspection, said Abby Michaleski, a student rabbi who leads Temple Beth El, a synagogue in Hammonton.

“We’ve cycled back, spiraled back to the same place,” said Michaleski. “Hopefully, when we come back to the same place, we return at a higher spiritual level.”

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Buddhism strengthens ties to church

The Denver Post: What in the recent past seemed exotic and foreign is now almost routinely folded into “the fold.”

Buddhism is not only accepted as a mainstream American religion, it is a path increasingly trod by faithful Christians and Jews who infuse Eastern spiritual insights and practices such as meditation into their own religions.

When John Weber became a Buddhist at age 19, his devout Methodist parents were not particularly pleased.

In recent years, however, they’ve invited their son, a religious studies expert with Boulder’s Naropa University, to speak at their church about Buddhism.

“That never would have happened before,” Weber said. “They would have been embarrassed.”

The Pew Forum’s Religious Landscape Survey in 2007 found that seven in 10 Americans who have a religion believe there is more than one path to salvation. A growing number of people are contemplating more than one each.

And they are contemplating contemplation itself.

There are Jubus — Jews who bring Buddhism into their practice of Judaism — and Bujus, who are Buddhists with Jewish parents. Then there are UUbus, or Unitarian Universalist Buddhists, and Ebus, or Episcopalian Buddhists. There are Zen Catholics.

“There is a definite trend and movement that will not be reversed,” said Ruben Habito, a laicized Jesuit priest, Zen master and professor of world religions at Southern Methodist University in Dallas. “We are in a new spiritual age, an inter-religious age.”

Search can lead back home

People are hungry for a deeper spiritual experience — meditation, mindfulness, personal transformation, deep insight, union with God or the universe.

Habito, who calls himself a Zen Catholic, is one of the experts who say the search is a little like Dorothy and her ruby slippers. The quest for meaning ultimately leads some, like Dorothy, to their own backyards.

Judaism, Catholicism and Islam have rich traditions in contemplative practices, yet these had all but disappeared from everyday congregational life.

For many Christians cut off from the past, or alienated from the faith of their upbringing, Buddhism has served as the bridge to ancient wisdom.

“The problem is the contemplative tradition in the Christian Church has had its ups and downs over the centuries,” said Father Thomas Keating, a Trappist monk and leader in the Centering Prayer movement, a modern revival of Christian contemplative practice.

“We sensed that the Eastern religions, with their highly developed spirituality, had something we didn’t have,” Keating said. “In the last generation, 10 to 20 years, some didn’t even think there was a Christian spirituality, just rules — do’s and don’ts and dogma they didn’t find spiritually nourishing. It’s important to recover the mystical aspects of the gospel.”

Christian contemplative practices were lost or weakened in the Protestant Reformation and later in the Great Awakening — religious revolutions in colonial America that advanced the themes of Protestantism.

“There is growing permission to turn back to some of the early church practices and pieces that helped us to be whole,” said the Rev. Stuart Lord, an ordained Baptist minister and new president of Naropa University, a Buddhist-founded institution. “I’ve been studying Buddhism and meditation for about seven years. I look at it as helping a person lead a fuller Christian life.”

Cultivating an inner life

Buddhist scholar Judith Simmer-Brown, a professor at Naropa, said Christian denominations are working hard to rediscover contemplative traditions as one way to combat people leaving their churches.

“They literally have rebuilt their Christian meditative forms,” Simmer- Brown said. “Some borrow heavily from Buddhism.”

Lord said the interdenominational yearning for meditation and deeper spiritual experience is not reflective of a desire for different doctrines or ethos — or a taste for Asian cultural trappings.

“It’s about cultivating an inner life, not the outer appearances,” he said. “You don’t have to shave your head.”

The Buddha was non-dogmatic and non-authoritarian — a compassionate guide, not a god, Buddhist texts say. The Buddha was silent on the subjects of a supreme being and the immortality of the soul.

“Buddhism is more about spiritual practice than believing in certain doctrines,” Habito said. “There are more definitive and particular requirements for saying ‘I am a Christian.’ ”

Yet the fusion of strong Buddhist elements with mainstream Christian religion has created a backlash, Simmer- Brown said.

The nomination early this year of the Rev. Kevin Thew Forrester to become an Episcopal bishop in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula created a stir when it was learned he also practiced Zen Buddhist meditation.

Forrester’s nomination failed.

Problems of religious rivalry

Blogger Greg Griffith, of StandFirminFaith.com, criticized the “progressivism” and the church’s willingness to fuse differing religious beliefs that paved the way for Forrester’s nomination in the first place.

“It starts with labyrinths, continues with Buddhist monks constructing mandalas in a cathedral, and over the background noise of pagan priests and books about love spells, proceeds to Muslim priestesses and now a Buddhist bishop,” Griffith wrote .

Methodist Rev. Toni Cook, a founder of St. Paul’s Buddhist Christian InterSpiritual Community in Denver, said religious rivalry creates more problems than reconciliation.

About 14 years ago, a gang member had laughed when Cook and a group of clergy asked how they could help get young people out of gangs.

“How are all the religions any different from street gangs?” he asked. “You mark off your own territory and defend it to the death.”

Cook decided: “There’s got to be a way to share sacred space without trying to convert one another.”


By the numbers

12,000 Approximate number of adult Buddhists in Colorado, according to Pew survey

2,600 years Age of the world religion Buddhism

170 percent Increase of adherents during a Buddhist “boom” between 1990 and 2000, according to the American Religious Identity Survey

1.5 million Estimated total number of Buddhists in the U.S. in 2004

5 million Estimated number of Buddhists in the U.S. currently, not counting the numbers of Christians, Jews and others heavily influenced by Buddhism

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Labyrinth a place for moving meditation

Herald-Mail: As Michael Holland walked the outdoor Cretan labyrinth at the Unitarian Universalist Church of Hagerstown Sunday afternoon, he paused to read the plaque affixed to a large flat stone at its center.

That plaque expresses in words the impact the late Sharon Rucker made on the growth and health of the church she loved so dearly. She died in May 2008 at the age 58.

Even the stone that holds the plaque is a tribute to Rucker and her beloved congregation. It was the bottom step of the church’s former location on North Potomac Street, saved 12 years ago during the move to 13245 Cearfoss Pike.

“She made a difference here,” said Yvonne Pfoutz, a longtime member of the congregation.

On Sunday afternoon, the outdoor labyrinth awaited for members and visitors wanting to meander in their meditations. Inside the meeting room, a Faith in Action fair was being held.

“A lot of people come here just for the labyrinths,” Pfoutz said.

The outdoor version was built in 2003 and opened to the public a year later. In December 2004, church members created an indoor labyrinth, which is a Chartres pattern measuring 22 feet in diameter. The pattern is named for the Chartres cathedral in France, which featured that pattern labyrinth in the church floor.

Children often move through the outdoor labyrinth at breakneck speed, while most adults tend to take their time and even pause along the way. Any way is fine, Pfoutz said.

The outdoor and indoor labyrinths are usually open on the second Sunday of each month from 1 to 3 p.m.

Labyrinths have been in existence for thousands of years, and appear in one form or another in nearly every culture and religion in the world, according to a pamphlet handed out to walkers.

The theory is that labyrinths call people to take a meandering path of the spirit, not the shortest distance between two points.

“I found it relaxing and easy to follow,” Holland said as he completed the journey.

Although he attends services regularly at the Unitarian Church, Holland said Sunday marked the first time he walked the labyrinth. He said he enjoyed the experience and plans to do it again.

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Cultivating inner space

Tom Fox, National Catholic Reporter: My own contemplative prayer efforts have been sporadic and date back some 40 years.

Like many others of my generation, I was influenced by the writings of Trappist Fr. Thomas Merton, who encouraged contemplative prayer. I felt a special affinity to the monk who was both a pacifist and Vietnam War objector.

Like Merton, I traveled to Asia in the 1960s. I flew to Vietnam in June 1966 after graduating from college to work as a civilian volunteer with war victims. After finishing two years with International Voluntary Services, a nonprofit organization, I took up writing and worked as a Vietnam War correspondent.

It was in 1969 that I encountered an American teacher of transcendental meditation who was passing through Saigon. I signed up along with my fiancée, Kim Hoa, a Vietnamese social worker, to study transcendental meditation. We spent several evenings in training and those lessons ended in a candle ceremony in which he gave us mantras.

Another entry point into meditation came a few months earlier when I traveled to Paris and met Thich Nhat Hanh, who was a member of the Vietnamese Buddhist peace delegation. We spent several afternoons discussing the war, Buddhism and his meditation practices. Some years later, I took part in a retreat he led at his monastery in Plum Village, France, where he has lived in exile for 40 years.

During the retreat, we would eat our meals in silence, chewing each morsel of food from our vegetarian plates 50 times before swallowing. We would take slow and deliberate “meditation” walks, conscious of our breathing with each step. If a bell, any bell, sounded in the distance, we would stop anything we were doing to pause and reflect for one minute.

From Asia I have learned that mind, body and spirit are intimately connected; the health of one influences the others. I believe regular exercise uplifts the spirit and sets the stage for good meditation practices. I still meditate, though not consistently. I go to yoga lessons several times a week. They allow a different form of meditation.

In India, the practice of yoga is connected to religious beliefs; outside, it varies considerably depending on the instructor and the studio. Any yoga is physically rewarding and can lead to a relaxed body and mind. My favorite yoga comes when I find an instructor who appreciates its spiritual dimension and conducts classes accordingly. Good instructors know how to create sacred space.

In recent months, through speaking with various spiritual gurus from different religious traditions, interviewing them for NCR podcasts (www.ncr cafe.org), I have found that all take time to cultivate “inner space.” It is fascinating how common Eastern meditation practices have become in the West, including, and even especially, among Christians. A few prominent examples of people who have learned some meditation techniques from the East include Fr. Ronald Rolheiser, the Rev. Cynthia Bourgeault, Fr. Robert E. Kennedy, Beatrice Bruteau, Fr. Edward Hays, Sr. Pascaline Coff, Fr. Richard Rohr and Br. David Steindl-Rast. Each has, at times, blended Eastern meditation practices into their Western Christian traditions.

We have come a long way in a short time. Visionary East-West bridge builders, including Merton and Frs. Bede Griffiths, Anthony de Mello and Raimundo Panikkar, would be astonished to find so many Christians having learned from Eastern practices.

While dogma continues to separate religions, meditation draws them together. In meditation we discover that all faiths seek insight, wisdom, peace and life in the Spirit.

Read archive of original article.

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Christian meditation finds a sanctuary at Georgetown University

Mark Pattison, Catholic News Service: In the oldest building on the campus of the United States’ oldest Catholic university, Christian meditation has found a place to take root.

The structure — also the smallest building on the Georgetown University campus — is now home to a meditation center that had for two years before been based in a pair of adjoining row houses one block from campus.

In the center, organized meditation is offered twice a day, although students, faculty and staff can walk into the building at all hours for some moments of silent meditation.

“Ma-ra-na-tha,” counseled Benedictine Father Laurence Freeman, a native Briton, at one recent midday meditation session. He was instructing those present to say the ancient Greek invocation for “Come, Lord” to themselves, inside their heads slowly and evenly, without putting emphasis on any syllable.

“The best way to learn is to practice,” Father Freeman said, as the meditation session had a few first-timers.

Some sat in chairs, some sat on small pillows on the floor and a majority had their footwear off, as they meditated. The hum of an electrical unit — turned on to provide heat in the circa-1792 building — could not drown out the drone of jets taking off from an airport across the Potomac River from Georgetown, or all of the everyday hustle and bustle that goes with being on a college campus.

Meditation, the priest asserted, is “simple. It’s not easy, but it’s simple.”

Although anyone could meditate, not everyone does, said Father Freeman, noting that many Christians have lost touch with this ancient form of prayer.

What’s the reason? “The mind is not attentive,” Father Freeman explained. “It’s very distractive. … Don’t be disappointed if your mind wanders. Someone once described it as a monkey jumping among the branches.”

The Georgetown meditation session was flanked by two readings: one from a Chinese text called “Tao-Ching,” the other by the late Benedictine priest, Father John Main, for whom the Georgetown center is named. 2007 marks the 25th anniversary of Father Main’s death, and his efforts to spread Christian meditative practices have been observed this year with different programs across North America.

Father Main, who believed that the contemplative experience creates community, began the first meditation groups at his monastery in London and, later, in Montreal. His student and collaborator in these endeavors was Father Freeman, now president of the World Community of Christian Meditation.

In December in Sarasota, Fla., Father Freeman is scheduled to lead a three-day event on contemplative prayer with Trappist Abbot Thomas Keating, the founder of an organization called Contemplative Outreach who helped start the centering prayer movement in the 1970s.

Father Freeman said he believes the meditation center at Jesuit-run Georgetown is unique among U.S. Catholic colleges in that a specific spot on the campus has been reserved for meditation. “It’s right slap-bang in the middle of the campus,” he said with a smile.

“People say to me they’re missing something,” Father Freeman told Catholic News Service in an interview after the meditation service had concluded. “They’re often confused” by unceasing demands placed on them in society and respond by undertaking a “spiritual search,” he said.

The search can begin at any time in life. For some it starts quite early. In the Diocese of Townsville, Australia, 31 Catholic elementary schools have adopted meditation as part of the school routine. “The children like it,” Father Freeman said.

The Georgetown meditation building is far too small to accommodate all who would want to pray. Father Freeman said one purpose of the center is to make those at Georgetown feel comfortable meditating in their dorm rooms or elsewhere on campus.

Father Freeman said he marveled at the energy of Georgetown students who work and study hard yet want to maintain a rich prayer life and embrace meditation as one way to pray. Yet it’s almost natural for someone practicing meditation to doze off. “When you first do it, it’s easy to get drowsy,” he said.

But a verse from Psalm 46 in some versions of the Bible carries a rich reminder about the benefits of meditation: “Be still and know that I am God.”

Original article no longer available…

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From merchant banker to monk

Laurence Freeman OSB, Spiritual Teacher of the World Community of Christian Meditation is in Auckland April 17th to 21st.

From merchant banker to monk and a life of meditation – that was the path taken by Laurence Freeman after he graduated from Oxford with a Master’s degree in English Literature.

He tried his hand at journalism, at working at the United Nations and at merchant banking.

But, as one who had been educated by the Benedictines, he found his true calling as a Benedictine monk.

Along the way he embraced meditation and went on to become the founder and spiritual teacher of the London-based World Community for Christian Meditation (WCCM).

He is also founder and director of the John Main Centre for Christian Meditation and Inter-religious Dialogue at Georgetown University.

Internationally, Laurence Freeman is regarded as one of the leaders in the burgeoning contemplative interfaith dialogue movement. A good friend of the Dalai Lama, these two spiritual leaders have jointly led The Way of Peace dialogue; in Bodh Gaya, India in December, 1998, Florence, Italy in May, 1999 and Belfast, Northern Ireland in October, 2000.

Writing in Interreligious Dialogue Laurence Freeman says:

“If religions – with all their rich diversity and contradictions and all their cultural roots – can listen to each other, to learn from their differences and to share what they have in common, then there is ground for hope that political, military and economic power-holders in our different nations, states and trading blocks will learn to do the same. Indeed, if religions cannot do this, what hope is there that politicians, multinationals and soldiers will ever do it? The stakes for dialogue are much higher than ever before in history.”

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