What is Christian Meditation?

Experience Teaches
The way remains one of absolute simplicity. There is no advanced technique involved or any complicated books that you need to read. The most simple person can undertake this journey. Indeed, the simpler the better to begin with.

- Fr. John Main, The Way of Unknowing

How to Meditate

Fr. John Main taught that meditation is as natural to the spirit as breathing is to the body. While meditation is common to many religious traditions around the world, the method of practice may differ. The discipline he taught, based on the teachings of the Desert Fathers and Mothers, is approached for twenty to thirty minutes twice daily in the following way:

  1. Choose a quiet place.
  2. Sit down comfortably, with your back straight.
  3. Close your eyes lightly.
  4. Sit as still as possible.
  5. Breathe deeply, staying both relaxed and alert.
  6. Slowly and interiorly, begin to say your mantra or prayer word. Listen to the word as you say it. 
  7. There is no magic to the choice of prayer word(s).  Brief is best.  We recommend the word, “Maranatha,” Aramaic for “Come Lord.”  This ancient Christian prayer in the language Jesus spoke, is how St. Paul ends 1 Corinthians: 16-22.  To concentrate on it we express it slowly and interiorly, as 4 equal syllables:
  8. Continue repeating it faithfully for the whole time of the meditation.
  9. Gently return to it as soon as you realize you have stopped saying it.
  10. Stay with the same word during the
    meditation and from day to day.
  11. Do not evaluate your meditation and try not to be discouraged by distractions. Rather, let them come and go, always keeping your attention on your word. In time, the fruits of your meditation will appear in yourself, your life, and in all your relationships
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Meditation is not the time for words, however beautifully and sincerely phrased. All our words are wholly ineffective when we come to enter into this deep and mysterious communion with God. In order to come into this holy and mysterious communion with the word of God indwelling within us, we must first have the courage to become more and more silent. In a deep, creative silence, we meet God in a way which transcends all our power of intellect and language. We have to listen, to concentrate, to attend rather than to think.

Fr. John Main OSB, “Word Into Silence”

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