Rowan Williams on meditation

I was delighted to read about Rowan Williams this weekend – the whole article is very interesting, but one thing that jumped out at me was this passage:

Someone raised the royal wedding. “Big surprise: the first man to ask that,” said Williams and got a heartfelt laugh. He did not sound woolly in this context at all. No, no, said the prisoner. I wanted to know how you coped with all the attention.

“It’s about the habits you try to form: making time every day to be quiet with God. That’s what I am answerable to. It’s very important to settle yourself and to remind myself that his is time God gives me, not just time I give to God. For me [prayer] is a matter of trying to a clear a space in my head.”

He talked about this daily prayer in the most careful, practical way, almost as if it was therapy: “Breathe regularly, sit upright, breathe, and say some simple words. I will often say ‘Lord have mercy’ slowly, at intervals, and just let it settle into my stomach. It doesn’t always seem to work. Sometime I can be there for half an hour and the thoughts just go galloping round like horses in the Grand National. Then I have to remind myself that this is time God gives to me, and not just time I give to God.” Then, still in the same matter of fact way, he said: “You are trying to open the cellar door and be aware of the darkness underneath the water.”

I often find myself talking to people about meditation and meditative prayer these days, and have become more and more convinced that for many of us, the most important step is just to take time to sit in inner quietness. The description that the Archbishop gives of his personal routine is very helpful. It is simple, as meditation should be. It is quiet, personal, and uncomplicated.

Its the kind of thing any or all of us could do.

There are many ways of meditating, they all have good aspects, in my opinion.  I personally prefer a simple way, similar to what Rowan Williams talks about. But I dont think its the same for everyone. It’s not a question of ‘one size fits all’, but certainly one size fits you.


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