You’ve probably heard over and over again just how important it is to be consistent if you want to get the most out of your meditation practice. Five minutes every day will give you much greater benefits than an hour once a week. But consistency can be hard to develop and maintain, and if you’re anything like me even the smallest, most trivial life events (doing the laundry, catching up on Breaking Bad, etc.) can sabotage that consistency if you’re not careful.
Being part of a meditation group can be one of the most effective ways of staying motivated and returning to the cushion day after day, since a group offers lots of benefits, including:
- Support from others who share your values and face the same types of challenges;
- A strong sense of commitment to the group and, in turn, to your own practice;
- The opportunity to see your connection to something greater than yourself and learn from others;
- A way to meet new people!
Most people also find that the experience of meditating in a group carries a different kind of energy than sitting solo. This collective energy can really boost your motivation to keep up the practice.
When you look for a meditation group, there are a few things you should consider to ensure that it will be a positive experience:
Meditation Style or Tradition
Are you into Vipassana, Zen, or other Buddhist practices? Do you want something associated with a formal religion, or do you prefer something more secular? Is sitting your thing, or would you like to try more active meditation techniques, such as walking? Do you prefer a formal atmosphere or a casual gathering of people? The possibilities are endless.
Are you more comfortable with an all-beginner group? Seasoned meditators? A mix?
Do you like guided meditation, or just the quiet presence of others? Would you like to dive deeper through group discussions, or hear Dharma talks? Some meditation groups, like the regional Tergar groups, follow a specific curriculum, and others are more loosely structured.
Location and Environment
You don’t want the commute to deter you from participating, so is the meeting place easy to get to? Are you more comfortable in someone’s house? A church basement? A yoga studio? Does everyone sit on the floor, or are chairs available? Do you need to bring your own cushion?
It may take a little time and research to find something that’s right for you. Don’t be afraid to try something out—chances are you’ll be welcomed wherever you go, and if it doesn’t resonate with you there are always other options.
There are a few ways to go about finding a meditation group. You can start where everyone starts looking for everything these days: the internet. Meetup can help you find a group for anything under the sun. Ask your yoga teacher if he/she can make a recommendation (heck, your yoga studio may already host a group). Religious leaders in your area may have some insights as well, if that’s the direction you want to take.
And of course, you can always get exactly what you want by forming your own meditation group. It’s a big commitment, but it can also be a great motivator to keep up with your practice.
Are you part of a meditation group, or are you looking for one to join? Tell us about your experience in the comments section below.