The Essential Teaching Program

The Essential Teaching helps you understand your own experience of Christian meditation in the light of a greater tradition as well as through others with whom you share the journey.

The Essential Teaching Weekend is an important way in which we help each other on the journey.  It is a residential weekend. Presentations by teachers in the community illustrate the place of meditation in the contemplative tradition, the essential aspects of our practice and the psychological aspects of the journey.

Participants share ways to introduce Christian Meditation to individuals or groups. They are also introduced to the resource book Sharing the Gift which contains valuable resources compiled from many people’s experience of introducing meditation in the Christian tradition. The resources in this book could be used for deepening individual knowledge, nurturing a group, or as inspiration for giving a talk or organizing a meditation event. Each participant receives a copy.

The style of the weekend is relaxed, informative and participative. It allows for time to develop friendships and a sense of community. There are no expectations but many people who do this weekend find they feel more connected and want to participate in the life and work of the Community.

How to lead an Essential Teaching Weekend

​To lead or be part of a team that leads an Essential Teaching Weekend is a generous gift. It takes some time and work to prepare, and you have to spread the word about it and then welcome the people who come. But you will experience not only the gratitude of those who come and benefit from the Weekend, but a deeper and richer infusion of the gift in yourself. You will also see in new ways, how, as John Main said, ‘meditation creates community’. The Essential Teaching Weekend is one of the most important, tried and tested ways that we can help people who have started the journey to feel renewed, inspired, and fortified for their next stage.

Buy The Book

This book is a comprehensive, step-by-step guide to planning, preparing, and facilitating an Essential Teaching Weekend. Please purchase the book before attempting to host your own Essential Teaching Program.


Below you will find digital downloadable versions of all resources and appendices listed in the book, Essential Teaching Weekend. 

Appendix 1

1.1 Timetable

The Timetable should be included in the Liturgy Booklet that each participant will receive. Additional copies of the Timetable will be needed for placing at various locations at the venue as may be helpful. 

1.2 Budget

Ideally, the Budget should cover all the costs and even provide a small profit for the community.

1.3 Notice

Prepare a Notice to be given to all group leaders to share with their groups. Suggest that group leaders discuss the Notice individually with members of their group who they think are ready to participate in an ETW.

1.4 Invitation Letter

The Invitation Letter should be adapted depending on whether it is planned to follow Alternative 1 or Alternative 2 for the Workshop on Practice Talks on Saturday afternoon.

1.5 Enrolment Form

After the Enrolment Forms are returned, a Participants List should be prepared. The list should include the contact details, dietary requirements and other relevant information for each participant.

1.6 Final Letter

Final letter to be sent to participants.

1.7 Reflection Sheet

A copy of the Reflection Sheet is needed for each participant.

1.8 Evaluation Sheet

Appendix 2

2. Liturgy Booklet

Prepare and print the Liturgy Booklet for each participant.  In addition, a copy of the Gospel of the Sunday will be needed for each participant. If the Gospel reading is long, choose a short passage from it. Each participant will need also a copy of the Notes on Lectio Divina.

Appendix 3

3. Lectio Divina

Lectio Divina is reading with the eye of your heart and listening with the ear of your heart. Prepare for lectio in a similar way to how you prepare for your practice of meditation.

Appendix 4

4.1 Tradition Timeline

The Timeline is made of several A4 sheets of paper taped together to form one long sheet. The years 250, 500, 750, 1000, 1250, 1500, 1750, 1900, 2000 and the current year are written along the sheet to form the Timeline.

4.2 Timeline Cards

Each card has a quote from a significant mystic or contemplative teacher from the time of Jesus over the centuries to the present day. It is best if the cards are printed on thick colored paper or cardboard.

Appendix 5

5.1 From Cassian to Main

5.2 History of the Tradition

Appendix 6

6. The Essential Teaching

Appendix 7

7.1 Stages of the Journey

7.2 The Spiritual Journey

Appendix 8

8. Ox Herder Pictures

Appendix 9

9. Reading List

Additional Resources