Methods of Meditation

There are three main methods or approaches to Christian meditation -surrender, concentration and awareness.

Surrender methods are characterised by the focus being on the intention of the meditation or prayer rather than paying focused attention within the meditation or prayer period. It is therefore a practice of the heart rather than the mind.  While intentions may differ for people over time, the intention is generally to be open to the presence and transforming action of God within. A person begins with their intention and then just sits and when thoughts, feelings, body sensations or sounds arise they simply let them go. To support this action of letting go a person can use a sacred word such as abba, peace or Jesus as a reminder of their intention but the word is not repeated like a mantra. Centering Prayer is a surrender method and was founded by the Trappist monks; William Menninger, Basil Pennington and Thomas Keating.
More information on Centering Prayer can be found on: www.contemplativeoutreach.org

Concentration methods rely on the principle of concentrating the mind on a single point of focus. This might involve paying bare attention to the breath, counting the in and out breaths up to ten and beginning again, bringing attention to particular areas of the body and holding it there or reciting a mantra. Rather than the mind being free to roam where it will, the mind is anchored to its task and a person remains present to that.  Christian Meditation is a concentration method and was founded by the Benedictine monk John Main and carried on by Lawrence Freeman.
More information on the Community for Christian Meditation can be found on: www.christianmeditationnz.org.nz

Awareness methods suggests that a person aligns themselves with an inner observer and simply watches the play of thoughts and emotions arise, take form and dissipate. Rather than get tangled up in the play of the mind a person observes it and lets it go. This leads to an inflow of God into the human heart that like all contemplation cannot be achieved by our action alone. Christian Insight Meditation has grown from the writings and teachings of the secular Carmelite nun, Mary Jo Meadows and more information can be found on: www.resecum.org