[TBC: The merging of unbiblical spirituality and occultism continues.]
Leaders bring meditation to Christianity [Excerpts]
Pat Prescott, coordinator of the "Dialogue on Contemplative Prayer," [held in December] remembers conflicting impressions she has had about meditation over the years.
She remembers, as a college student, watching her roommates get involved with the Maharishi, and thinking that they had gone off the deep end. She also remembers reading in her behavioral science  classes about studies documenting the benefits of meditation.
When her husband, Charles, became a paraplegic following a severe spinal cord injury, the Prescotts turned to transcendental meditation for stress relief. "Then, all of the sudden, I found it offered in a religious context," Pat Prescott said. "And it's made a world of difference in how we've felt about a lot of things.
"We haven't won the lottery, or had illnesses cured, but we seem to have a lot more balance in the way we see life. And we've been through our ups and downs."
The three-day Christian Meditation conference held at the Hyatt Sarasota [in December], offered a chance to learn about and experience "contemplative prayer," a term used to describe meditation in a Christian context.
The Rev. Laurence Freeman, a Roman Catholic  priest who leads the World Community for Christian Meditation, joined Abbot Thomas Keating, co-founder of Contemplative Outreach Ltd. The two are leaders for more than 30 years in a movement that involves not only restoring the ancient and mystical practice of contemplation into Christianity, but also encouraging interfaith dialogue such as ongoing gatherings with the Buddhist leader, the Dalai Lama.
The movement is based on mystical Christian teachings that date back to the third century A.D., from Christians who fled to isolated desert communities to escape Roman persecution and led hermetic lifestyles. Another key influence is "The Cloud of Unknowing," a 13th-century text written by an anonymous monk to help prepare a young man for the contemplative life of the monastery.
Some fundamentalist Christians criticize the practice as a distortion of Christianity, labeling it a "seepage" into Christianity from Eastern religions. Many who practice it, however, say contemplative prayer has deepened their spiritual commitment. "It helps me bring God very much into my life," said D'arlene Llewellyn, who has practiced Christian meditation for more than 20 years. "It also gives me a calm, like an internal calm."
The Prescotts have practiced contemplative prayer for 25 years, taking an hour twice a day to meditate with the aid of a Christian mantra, "maranatha." Pat Prescott said the practice has helped her better recognize and appreciate "the love and laughter that's in life. It's helped us to respond better to what's going on in the present moment."