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InFocus Series: Meet Naomi Downie, Australia

Peace with every step to you. Hello! I am Naomi,  and I currently host the International Young People’s Meditation Online Group. Our group was meeting on Zoom before the Covid pandemic. I feel blessed that we were set up and in place ready to be a support during lock-down in connecting communities of like-minded people during this time.

I have been a part of the New South Wales WCCM young people’s meditation groups and retreats since I came to live in Sydney over 10 years ago. When I saw the pamphlet at Cafechurch in Glebe it was a great relief to have found a Christian path of intentional silence.

I have been drawn to meditation since my university days when I borrowed tapes of guided meditations from the library. I had grown up in the church, but  I was seeking a mystical way which I didn’t see in my childhood church. The tapes were very helpful, and I continued on to Buddhist retreats and chanted Om Mani Padme Hum. I attended Kir-tan with Hare Krishnas and sang Hare Hare Hare Rama Hare Krishna in a call and response style with the group. I read the Bhagavad Gita, which was a seminal text for me. I experienced chakra meditations & Reiki and attempted to raise my kundalini with breathwork. All of these things were enriching and fascinating for me, but  I still missed the regular fellowship and guidance of continual teaching.

That is when I joined, at 25, the School of Philosophy in Newcastle. For a wonderful three years, I attended a weekly class that gradually introduced concepts and wisdom teachings with robust and increasingly intimate discussions. I have never forgotten my initiation into the School’s mantra in a beautiful ceremony. I continued to use that mantra for a further four years, twice a day, as well as doing readings and mandala drawings. I was very devoted. The School used the name of a  Hindu god for their mantra. After a time the word did not sit well in my spirit, and I couldn’t stop coughing when I said it. After I left the School and then had a relationship breakdown, someone sent me a CD of Father Laurence on Christian Meditation. His voice was so soothing and calming to me. I began a slow process of returning to Christ and going to the spiritual direction in Melbourne.

When I moved to Sydney for work, it was very important for me to find a church where Christian Meditation was practised. I found one, and I haven’t left. I have experienced wonderful retreats in Mittagong and Dan-gar Island, silent retreats at St Mary’s, and day retreats in Lavender Bay and the Blue Mountains.  I have also attended groups in Paddington and Glebe, and incredible seminars and conferences in Sydney and  Melbourne.

Online meditation sessions,  retreats, and conferences have been really inspiring and supportive for me as I seek to recommit to regular devotion and personal practice. I recently joined a committee for the NSW Young People’s Coordination team. I look forward to moving into the future with this team and working to grow Young People’s Christian Meditation.

Naomi’s story is part of the WCCM Quarterly Newsletter – November issue Making the Divided Self Whole. Read or download the full newsletter here.

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