What is group meditation?
It is the practice of any type of meditation in a group of two or
meditation has advantages and disadvantages.
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.
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.
might be able to find a local meditation group.
We can look in a phone directory. The group might be listed in
a category such as "meditation" or "Zen."
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.
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:
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
The meetings' location. The meetings can be conducted in
someone's home, or a church, library, community hall, or another
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.
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
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.
Confidentiality. We can create a policy regarding the
discussion of person issues. The policy can include some of the
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.
The format of meetings. The format can include some of the
Socializing before the session. The conversations allow us
to introduce new members, and to create an atmosphere of warmth
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
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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