One of the phrases used to describe Quaker meetings is expectant waiting. The unprogrammed silent meeting is not a service, but nor is it merely a group meditation. Instead the quaker meeting is a chance to still your heart and mind with the goal of listening for the message. Sometimes that message seems to come from yourself, sometimes from another Quaker, and sometimes the silence. Many Friends would say the message comes from the Spirit, inner light, divine light, or Jesus. One of the great parts about Quakerism is that it’s ultimately about one’s own experience, with the words to describe the experience of minor importance.
Everyone has their own emotional, mental, and spiritual techniques in meeting. Many use a mantra of some sort. I personally start with a meditation. I try to focus on my breathing, still my body and mind. I close my eyes and just breathe. After awhile, when my thoughts have died down somewhat, I open my eyes and try to take in the room. Feel other people’s presence, notice the room, and then I sit with the intention of waiting for a message. My mind often wanders (oh PopCap, why do you haunt me so?) but it’s pretty easy to come back to listening in silence.
I’m still new to quaker meeting, but I get a lot out of it. The messages I’ve received have been way more powerful than when reading a book, meditating, or listening to a pastor. My sense of spirituality is heightened along with my feeling of connectedness with those around me, my community, nature, and loved ones. Great things that are having a profound impact on my life.