Every Monday just before 10 o’clock six to eight people gather in the presbytery prayer room. We have come to meditate together. We greet each other and sit quietly, turn on the CD player and listen to a talk for ten minutes or so. We then meditate in silence for 30 minutes.

Afterwards, some people leave straight away and others linger for a chat and a cup of coffee in the meeting room. The mood is relaxed and casual. People come when they can and anyone wanting to try meditation is made welcome, supported and encouraged.

The group is part of the World Community for Christian Meditation which was set up by an English Benedictine monk, the late Fr John Main. He revived the Church's ancient teaching on meditation practised by the Desert Fathers and kept alive over the centuries.

Why would you meditate? The health and psychological benefits are well known and include reduced stress and a greater sense of well being, relaxation and calm.

John Main writes:  ‘The important aim in Christian meditation is to allow God’s mysterious and silent presence within us to become more and more not only a reality but a reality which gives meaning, shape and purpose to everything we do, everything we are.’

How to meditate

Sit down. Sit still and upright. Close your eyes lightly. Sit relaxed but alert. Breathe calmly and regularly. Silently, interiorly begin to say a single word.  Fr John Main recommends the prayer phrase, ‘Ma-ra-na-tha’. Recite it as four syllables of equal length. Listen to it as you say it, gently with love and continuously.

Do not think or imagine anything - spiritual or otherwise. If thoughts or images come these are distractions at the time of meditation, so keep returning to simply saying the word. Meditate each morning and evening for twenty to thirty minutes. 

Contact Helen on 0418 999 800 for information about the St Joan of Arc group or simply come along on a Monday at 10 a.m. to the St Joan of Arc presbytery prayer room.  This daily practice may take some time to develop. Many people find that a weekly meditation group and a connection with the meditation community helps deepen this discipline and allows the benefits and fruits of meditation to flower.