Finding the power of peace
Today’s world is a busy place for us as adults and also for our children and young people. The choices we face in life have grown enormously; as well as all the activities in the physical world there is the huge expanse of the online world – a blessing in some ways and also a distraction, and sometimes even an addiction.
Where do we find peace and what do we understand as peace? Is it just the absence of violence or an escape from the pressure and busyness we feel? Or is it a power in its own right? Does it come from a personal experience, a deep encounter with God’s infinite gift of unconditional love? And how do we open ourselves to this gift of love and the peace it brings?
Praying contemplatively is one such way. Contemplative prayer takes us from our heads and our analytical minds, to our hearts where each one of us can experience God’s indwelling presence. The practice of Christian Meditation can help us do this. This ancient form of prayer dates back to the 4th Century and was called ‘pure prayer’ by the desert fathers and mothers and connects to Jesus telling us in Matthew, Chapter 6, about how to go ‘into our inner room.’
Christian Meditation is about stillness, silence and simplicity. Our body and mind come to stillness and silence as we pay attention and lovingly repeat our Sacred word or mantra. We let go of all thoughts, leave ‘self’ behind, and open our hearts to being with God within. This is contemplative prayer. We are not asking anything of God. Sometimes, however, in God’s good time we may be blessed with the Fruits of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22) Is this a path to a deep knowing of God’s love and the peace it brings?
Jesus had a special love of children and although it seems counterintuitive, children can also enter into this form of prayer. Many who have been introduced to it now ask for it to be a regular part of their school day. Often they say they feel “calm” and “peaceful” after it. Research (Graham & Truscott, 2020) has shown Christian Meditation offers an opportunity to strengthen children’s personal relationship with God, improving social interactions and concentration. Christian Meditation, like all prayer, is a journey of faith, and the earlier a person begins this journey the more profound the effect.
Having a six year old tell you after Christian Meditation, that it feels like “Jesus is putting His arms around me”, maybe says it all. Catholic schools in Canberra Goulburn are continuing to introduce Christian Meditation to all their schools so all students will have an opportunity to pray in this way.
As the late Bishop Michael Putney wrote in relation to Christian Meditation, “If children are taught when they are young, to be still so that their hearts can be open to the movement of the Spirit, ….. they will have a gift which will continue to bring them great blessings throughout their lives.”
• Helen Bramanatham is a teacher at St Thomas More Catholic Primary School in Campbell