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We do not teach a method or technique. However the Christian tradition has a number of helps to offer. A problem with contemplative prayer/meditation is dealing with distractions. There are some suggestions here. They are not exhaustive and you may find your own helps. Always remember – the helps are not the prayer.  Some would say it is not we who are praying in this mode, but the Holy Spirit who prays through us.  

Breathing Moment 1

Breathing Moment 2

Breathing Moment 3

'Sit in your cell and your cell will teach you everything' Abba Moses 4thC AD

 1 Preparation

Find a quiet and comfortable place. Freedom from the sudden distractions of phone, doorbell,conversation, etc. is very desirable. Ideally we should choose a time when weare reasonably alert and able to relax.

When we pray we bring our whole selves to God - body, mind and spirit. If our body is uncomfortable it will distract us from prayer. As we are all different,it is worth experimenting to find a posture which really suits us and helps us relax. Generally people find it best either to sit upright on a straight-backedchair, or to kneel with a prayer-stool to sit back on. Some find the cross-legged half-lotus position is right; others lie flat on the floor.......

2 Choose Your Focus

Below are some online ideas. Whatever you choose, online or offline, stay with one. Do not keep changing during the meditation period. You can also close your eyes and imagine a picture. Or count your breaths - up to five then start again. You can use a short word or phrase - a mantra.

John Main, founder of the World Community of Christian Meditation, summarised it thus, and these instructions are also found in the 14th century classic 'The Cloud of Unknowing'

"Sit down. Sit still with your back straight. Close your eyes lightly. 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 from 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 but let them go by saying your word faithfully, gently and attentively and returning to it immediately that you realise you have stopped saying or it or when your attention is wandering."

3 Use A Timer

Set a timer for the length of your prayer period. Then you won’t be distracted by looking at the clock and seeing that only five minutes have passed when you thought you had been praying for at least 20! Sometimes it is the other way round!

Top Tip: most of our gadgets have an array of ring tones on the timer settings. Choose a gentle one, soft chimes or the like. Turn off other notifications!

4 Have a Ritual

A small ritual can help settle the mind and body. Take a few slow deep breaths. Say a short prayer before you start and when you finish.

"O Lord, the Scripture says:

“there is a time for silence and a time for speech.

Saviour, teach me

the silence of humility,

the silence of wisdom,

the silence of love,

the silence of perfection,

the silence that speaks without words,

the silence of faith.

Lord, teach me to silence my own heart that I may listen to the gentle movements of the Holy Spirit within me and sense the depths which are of God". Frankfurt Prayer

Icons are the traditional focus of the Orthodox Church. There is a legend that St Luke was the first icon painter. Find a selection here.

5 photo(s) Updated on: 09 Aug 2017
  • Tropical Beach
  • © Ann Moran
  • Anne Stamper©
  • © Sally Winsor
  • © Brian Morris

© The Julian Meetings 2014

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