Please begin by reading the introduction to this section and that under the HOME page before planning your session.
The leader will do well to be sensitive about the length of silence group members can comfortably cope with. Better be short so that the next time the silence can be lengthened than too long with people getting tired, bored or restless. Few groups will want more than 30 minutes of unbroken silence. Some people find it helpful to only have about fifteen minutes. An alternative is to break the silence into three ten minute periods, with one or two things said or sentences read in the middle to provide a break from the concentration. Others, however, find this a tiresome interruption of their inner quietness. There may need to have variety and above all TOLERANCE to find the right balance.
- Begin with a simple awareness or relaxation exercise, and/or a breathing exercise (see suggestions under Centring Down).
- Invite group members silently to recollect and then LET GO of all the things which are worrying or burdening them in their own lives or in the lives of those near to them. Recollect and let go. Offer the phrase to be repeated silently, 'Come to me all you who labour and are heavy laden and I will give you rest’ (shortening to 'Come to me and I will give you rest').
- Now take a simple phrase and hold it in the mind, in the heart, in the will. Let's take an attribute of God - PEACE:
- 'My peace I give you, not as the world gives do I give you’ (shortened to 'My peace I give you' or simply 'My peace'). Whenever our minds wander we come back to that word or phrase. Through the indwelling Holy Spirit that divine peace is already potentially within us and we are simply trying to be open to that peace. Not to induce lovely peaceful feelings but in order that we shall BE more peaceful people in the world and that we shall be able to express something of God's peace in our lives.
It is important for people to realise it is likely that nothing will 'happen'; rather we are placing ourselves as completely as we can for the time being at God's disposal in a longing towards that which we know only dimly.
- The leader may like to round off the session with a suitable prayer .
OTHER SUGGESTED WORDS OR PHRASES:
'These things I have spoken to you that my joy may be in you and your joy complete' (shortened to 'My joy in you' or 'My joy').
'Dwell in my love, for apart from me you can do nothing' (shortened to 'Dwell in my love').
'Whoever finds me finds life'.
'All power is given to me in heaven and on earth, and I am with you always' (shorten to 'All power is given to me' - but remembering that divine power is frequently manifested in weakness).
Contemplation can, of course, also concentrate on the visual - a tree, a flower, a bowl of water, a seed... remember Julian of Norwich and her hazelnut!