Mindfulness has hit the mainstream, with everyone from corporate CEOs to professional sports teams practicing some form of contemplation or meditation. The Wellesley Congregational Church, known as the Village Church of Wellesley
, is leading the way toward practicing mindfulness as part of our Christian faith tradition.
The church hosts a prayer walking group, which meets every Friday morning on the Wellesley College campus. They begin by gathering in a circle for contemplation and the sharing of prayers of joy and concern. Members of the group ask for prayers for themselves, their friends and family and for the world. The group, which ranges from 2-10 depending on the week, holds these prayers in their hearts for the rest of the week. After this time of prayer they pair up and walk around Lake Waban (which is located on the campus). The walk takes about an hour to complete.
“Our walking time is a time of fellowship,” said Diane Anderson, a member of the church who started the group when she was attending Andover Newton Theological School
. “The group has been meeting for many years and it's been a wonderful spiritual practice for group members!
The church also holds a weekly Christian meditation practice, every Sunday evening from 5:00-6:00, in the church’s chapel. The session consists of a short reading, followed by 20 minutes of silent Christian meditation, and then group discussion.
“We are longing for silence,” said John Hargrave, the group’s organizer. “Between our emails, text messages, and phone calls, we live in a constant state of interruption and distraction. We teach that God is to be found in the silence, but in today’s world, there is no silence. We as a church have to make it.”
“Christian meditation is a simple, daily way of getting to that silence. We teach people how to quiet the mind and open themselves to God's presence,” he continued. “Like prayer, Christian meditation can be practiced by anyone, anywhere, at any time. Our members tell us that meditation grounds them. It becomes a cornerstone of their spiritual life.”
Hargrave offers these 7 tips on how to meditate:
- Find a quiet place and a regular time.
- Get yourself into a comfortable sitting position.
- Breathe slowly and deeply.
- As you inhale, inwardly say a sacred word such as GOD, LOVE, or MARANATHA ("Come, Lord")
- As you exhale, let the word reverberate in the depths of your spirit.
- If you find your mind wandering, congratulations! Building this awareness is a sign of progress. Let go of your thoughts, then return your attention to the repetition of your sacred word.
- When twenty minutes have passed, say a prayer of thanks, and open your eyes.
The informal event has been promoted to both beginners and long-time meditators via social media, including posting it as a Meetup event
that anyone can join. As a result, many new members have been attracted to Village Church, including adults, families, and children. The group now draws anywhere from 5 to 25 people per week, and Hargrave believes the benefits of regular meditation practice keeps them coming back.
“I look forward to it,” said Margaret Boles Fitzgerald, one of the group’s regular leaders. “I anticipate it. It feels like the bookends of my Sunday, with our terrific worship service in the morning, and then meditation during the evening.”
“Numerous research studies have shown that a regular practice of meditation has benefits on attention, memory, and health,” said Hargrave. “In Christian meditation, we seek to improve our conscious contact with our spiritual self. In doing so, we are better able to discern God's will for our lives, and the world.”
You can read more about the Biblical aspect of meditation in Hargrave’s blog article
Anderson and Hargrave can be reached at the church office at 781-235-1988 or emailed via their message form: http://www.wellesleyvillagechurch.org/send-a-message