I have been a Friend for forty-five years. I started attending a few years after returning to the U.S. from a tour in Vietnam. It was a stressful time. We had two young children. At the encouragement of Charles and Mary Minor, we visited Flagstaff Friends Meeting on South Beaver Street, just off the campus of Northern Arizona University.
In 1969 in Seattle, getting help from the American Friends Service Committee on my application for conscientious objector status, I went upstairs to see what the Quakers were about. That Sunday meeting was my first experience of mindful meditation. “We sit in silence and listen for thoughts from God,” they told me.
In meeting for worship, we center down, listen to vocal ministry, discern authentic vocal ministry, and hold people in the Light. The practice of mindfulness helps me with all of these. Also, if it weren’t for my mindfulness practice, I probably would have had to abandon Quakerism decades ago.
The purpose of meeting on Sunday morning is corporate worship. Worship transcends meditation, yet meditation can be excellent preparation for worship. Meditation is inwardly focused, as one plumbs oneself and frees oneself from worldly thoughts. Worship seeks a shared communication with God, through prayer, praise, thanksgiving, petition, humble penitence, or opening to God’s leadings.