Travelling lightly:

living fully

Sandy feet on a beach to denote travelling lightly and living fully

Last weekend, we ran a day workshop at the home of the Community of the Resurrection in Mirfield, Yorkshire. For many who attended it was their first encounter with meditation in the Christian tradition.

In the days that followed, several people emailed to say it was like a “homecoming” – a homecoming to an ancient way of prayer, a homecoming to who we really are and to each other, a homecoming to God.

In her wonderful book, Upon This Mountain: Prayer in the Carmelite Tradition, Sister Mary McCormack OCD speaks about her experience of following a way of prayer that is about stillness of mind, surrender and release. (1)


“During long years of struggle and darkness,” writes Sister Mary, “I finally learned to let go of everything else. In that time...every idea of the God to whom I would direct my prayer just withered away, [such] that, in the time of prayer, I could only be. In the end, there was not even the slightest flicker of anything that you or I would identify as prayer...I even stopped protesting.


“Very, very slowly (and words fail me here), I became aware that there was now absolutely nothing between my raw reality and the utter reality of God.


“I understood that any concept of God veiled him more than it conveyed him, and that my reaching out to God was only distracting me from the immediacy of his presence.”

In meditation, we set out on a journey like no other.  Saying our prayer word, following our breath, we learn to travel light.

Instead of packing, we unpack.

Instead of trying to grasp hold of what cannot grasped, we allow ourselves to be held.

Instead of worrying about finding God, or experiencing God, we allow ourselves to rest in God’s ever-present Presence.

We learn how easily our concepts and images of God can veil what cannot be conceived and cause us to overlook the One who cannot be imagined.

In meditation we accept Jesus’ invitation to the rich young man to divest himself of all his valued possessions (Matthew 19:21) and follow our teacher’s path of total self-emptying (Philippians 2:1-6). Saying our prayer word, following our breath, we look beyond what our mind and senses can grasp.

We learn to surrender everything, that we might come home to the truth of everything.  “Take nothing for the journey” Jesus told his disciples (Mark 6:8).

The gateway to the Kingdom, Jesus tells us, involves a total self-emptying which is also a self-giving, a releasing in absolute trust that opens us to receive more than we could ever ask for. It is only our hesitations, our second thoughts, our lack of trust, that causes us to overlook the gift which shines within each of us and which we are created to enjoy.

“The Kingdom of Heaven,” writes the great fourth century monk Evagrius, “is apatheia [inner peace] of the soul [mind] along with true knowledge of existing things.”

St. John Cassian, Evagrius’ famous student, who was largely responsible for bringing the wisdom of the Desert contemplatives and our simple form of meditation to the West, translated apatheia as “purity of heart” (puritas cordis), the bliss, beatitude or reward of which is that the pure of heart shall the enjoy the gift of contemplation of God (Matthew 5:8).

The great 7th century teacher of prayer St. Isaac the Syrian speaks of the Kingdom as the gift of contemplation, the gift of transfigured awareness. He writes that we receive this gift when “our mind has been freed from its many conceptions and enters the unified simplicity of purity [of oneness]...and becomes as a little child.”

Notice that these great voices of the Christian contemplative tradition speak of the Kingdom as something internal, not external, which becomes manifest as God helps us to establish peace within ourselves.

A more peaceful, just and loving world comes from the inside out. The foundations for a wholly different future are to be found in the very heart of who we are. “The Kingdom is within you,” says our teacher (Luke 17:21). You might say that meditation is all about becoming a place where the Kingdom happens.

Over time, writes Sister Mary, “I came to recognise that moments of such formless prayer had a substance that deeply satisfied and sustained me. I also became aware of an effect in my response to life... Inner rules that had always governed me, began to give way to something more free and authentic. As I learned to tolerate ‘unknowing’ in prayer, I became more at ease with the questions and perplexities of human existence in our uncertain age.


“I became conscious of a simple oneness with God that pervaded everything in life, without effort on my part, and there was also the beginning of a sense of oneness with the rest of humanity and with all of creation.”

The Kingdom of Heaven, of awareness, of oneness, is not an idea or a concept, but a reality to be touched and tasted, available right now.

We are invited to know the infinite love of Christ that exceeds all knowing (Ephesians 3:19), to become this love, to live this love, together.

Christian meditation - a new way of seeing for a new way of being

If you feel inspired to meditate, you’re very welcome to join one of our free online practice sessions or read one of our guides.

School of Contemplative Life
Privacy Preferences
When you visit our website, it may store information through your browser from specific services, usually in form of cookies. Here you can change your privacy preferences. Please note that blocking some types of cookies may impact your experience on our website and the services we offer.