Meditation Groups – Tips for the First Time
Never gone to a meditation group before? Thinking about it? Here are a few tips.
While meditating by yourself is wonderful and the mainstay of most regular meditators, meditating with a group can also be fun. There’s something about a group that creates a field of meditative energy and this helps everyone go deeper. You may need to shop around before you find a group that you really resonate with, but shopping can be fun—all traditions have something to offer and you will invariably learn something.
The hallmark to look for in a group is wholesomeness—you want nice people who are interested in raising their state of consciousness and helping others to do the same. The group vibe should feel good. If it doesn’t, just move on.
As mentioned on the meditation-group directory page, finding a group that you resonate with and that is located reasonably near where you live or work can be challenging. Not only is the information on meditation groups scattered across Google, Meetup and local magazines, it’s also buried in the schedules of yoga studios, community centers and churches.
It’s not impossible to find, it just takes some research. I’m creating a directory to help make it easier, but meanwhile, just know that you may have to look in several places to find all your options. The good news is that there are more groups around than ever, especially in the big cities but even in small towns. We live in a fortunate age.
What to Expect
The first time you go to a new meditation group, it’s good to have an open mind and a sense of adventure. Some meditation groups have roots in long-standing traditions and their process includes things that aren’t exactly meditation. For example, Vispassna groups often open with a talk, Zen groups may have a bit of ceremony, such as reciting the names of the lineage’s masters, and Oneness groups give blessings. So, be flexible and prepared to enjoy whatever experience presents itself.
In terms of meditation etiquette, it’s good to arrive a few minutes early. I can say from personal experience how uncomfortable it is to be late and to walk into a completely quiet room of meditating people and try to get settled – rustling cushions never sounded so loud.
In any case, most meditation groups will want to greet you and make sure you’re comfortable – that you have enough cushions or a chair if you need one. Also, if they have any guidelines or anything special happening, arriving early gives them a chance to communicate those.
Group meditations generally run from thirty minutes to an hour, sometimes longer. If it’s longer, they’ll usually say something, and probably take breaks. Because it can be pretty disruptive when someone leaves before the end – especially for those who are in deep meditation – most groups expect that if you need to leave, you’ll wait for a break.
Finally, bear in mind that you can experience perfectly lovely and deep meditation all on your own. While it’s a nice add on, you don’t need a group.
If you live in a noisy apartment or have rambunctious housemates and you really want to go somewhere to meditate, you might consider meditating in a church.
Many churches are open during the week for prayer, they welcome visitors and it can be quite a lovely experience. In most churches there’s a certain magical hush that is very supportive of meditation, and each church has it’s own beautiful flavor.
Good luck, and may your journey overflow with blessings!
Sharon Rose Summers