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Group Meditation

Jump to the following topics:

  1. What is group meditation?  
  2. Group meditation has advantages and disadvantages.
  3. We might be able to find a local meditation group.
  4. We can create our own group.  

What is group meditation? It is the practice of any type of meditation in a group of two or more people.

Group meditation has advantages and disadvantages.  

  1. The advantages.  
    • We can learn more about meditation.
      • We can learn from the instructor. He or she will teach new types of meditation, or the nuances of the style which we are already using.
      • We can learn from the other members' experiences. If we create an environment of trust and confidentiality; the people can talk about their inner experiences (and their interpretations of those experiences), their difficulties and successes during meditation, their ways of incorporating their insights into daily life, etc.
      • We can learn from the other members' feedback. If we talk about our experiences and problems and victories, the members' feedback will help us to understand what is occurring. We discover that the other people are having many of the same experiences, so we are less likely to feel discouraged (during the apparent dry spells which we all endure) or inflated (when we touch on a spiritual part of ourselves, which is actually no different from the spiritual part of these other people).
    • We can develop techniques in which we interact with a partner. For example:
      • With eyes open or closed, we visualize light surrounding the other person.
      • We synchronize our breathing so that our inhalations and exhalations are simultaneous.
      • One person inhales while the other person exhales; during the exhalation, that person sends out a quality (such as "peace") which is taken in by the person who is inhaling.
      • We do some type of meditation while holding one another's hands, to feel the energy passing between us.
    • The group's energy can deepen our meditation experience. While we meditate, we all naturally radiate the energy from those meditative states; in turn, we receive that energy from one another, thus intensifying our own. Some groups start every session with prayers, rituals, and songs, to acknowledge the group consciousness and to give it an "energy tone" of love, friendliness, support, and other beneficial qualities.
    • We might gain motivation. When the session is finished, and we return to our own homes, we might feel a greater momentum and "habit" to do the daily practice because our group membership contributes to our identity as a meditator, and it gives us the incentive to do well so that we will be able to contribute more to the group at the next session. Although our motivation ideally comes from within ourselves, some of us need an occasional external boost in order to continue through our difficult periods.
    • We develop a network of like-minded friends. These are people whom we can call on when we want to get advice, or when we want to talk about our experiences, or when we simply want to socialize with people who might have interests and viewpoints which are similar to our own.
  2. The disadvantages.
    • We must conform to the group in various ways. For example:
      • The type of meditation. We might be asked to use a particular method which seems ineffective (or even dangerous) for us.
      • The time constraints. If the group decides to meditate for a particular length of time (e.g., one hour), we are expected to oblige -- even if we lose interest before then, or if we want to continue for a longer period.
      • The group's beliefs. Some meditation techniques (and group discussions) are based upon a particular theology which might not be compatible with ours.
    • The "group energy" might not be advantageous for us.
      • The type of energy. Our state might be disrupted by members whose mental and emotional states are agitated -- during the meditation or during discussions.
      • The amount of energy. In some types of meditation, we experience a significant increase in energy; if this amount is excessive, we might feel overwhelmed and "spaced out." Some meditation groups perform a grounding exercise to regulate the amount of energy in the group.

We might be able to find a local meditation group.

  1. We can look in a phone directory. The group might be listed in a category such as "meditation" or "Zen."
  2. We can read the notices on bulletin boards. We might find bulletin boards at health-food stores, metaphysical churches, libraries, colleges, bookstores (particularly New-Age bookstores), and other places.
  3. We can ask people. We might ask our spiritually oriented friends, or a minister at a metaphysical church, or a professional psychic, or an instructor of yoga or a similar subject.

We can create our own group. We need to consider these issues:

  1. The optimal number of members. A large group would increase both the benefits and problems inherent in group meditation. If there are too many people, we can split up the group into two or more groups.
  2. The meetings' location. The meetings can be conducted in someone's home, or a church, library, community hall, or another place.
  3. The meetings' frequency and time (e.g., every Monday from 7 to 8 p.m.). Members need to arrive early; a late arrival would disrupt the other members' concentration. To supplement these regular meetings, the group might plan an occasional all-day session, or a multi-day retreat.
  4. The leadership. The leader can be:
    • An experienced teacher.
    • A members who simply directs us through the procedures which the group has planned in advance. Each week, we might have the same leader, or a different person (in a system of rotation).
  5. The style of meditation. We can consider various options:
    • We all practice the same method in every session.
    • We all practice the same method, but we use a different method every week. We are eclectic, trying different methods which are suggested by the members or by a book.
    • We each select any method which suits us. We can use our favorite style in the privacy of our own mind and soul.
  6. Confidentiality. We can create a policy regarding the discussion of person issues. The policy can include some of the following considerations:
    • We are not required to talk about our inner experiences. In fact, we are not required to participate verbally at all (during the group discussions, etc.).
    • We might be prohibited from mentioning other members' revelations when outside of the group. Or we might agree that the information can be shared if the person's name is not used; this sharing might be useful if we are talking about the general topic of those revelations and we want to use that unnamed person's experiences as an example.
  7. The format of meetings. The format can include some of the following elements:
    • Socializing before the session. The conversations allow us to introduce new members, and to create an atmosphere of warmth and friendliness.
    • A hymn or a prayer or a reading from a religious book.
    • A period of instruction in the meditation technique.
    • A period for discussion and questions.
    • The beginning of the meditation session.
    • The end of the meditation session. To avoid disturbing the meditators, the end can be announced gently, perhaps with a quiet gong.
    • A closing statement or prayer.
    • Socializing and refreshments. Some members might prefer to go home immediately, in order to retain the state which they established during meditation.

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