Joining a meditation group can be a great way to keep you motivated and committed to a regular practice. However, it’s not always easy to find a group that meets at a convenient time, is reasonably close to home or work, and practices a style of meditation that you like. Most of us are so busy these days that those simple requirements can actually be tough to meet.
There is an alternative, though. In a culture dominated by technology, social media offers the opportunity to connect with virtual communities without the hassles that come with trying to get a group of live bodies in the same place at the same time. Social media outlets designed specifically for meditators are becoming increasingly popular, and offer benefits similar to those of live groups, as well as other perks.
Here’s a sampling of some of the more popular sites out there:
- Medivate – As the name implies, this site provides a variety of features designed to keep you motivated for meditation, including an online journal that can be shared with other users, the ability to set specific goals for your practice and track your progress, inspirational quotes, and a blog. You can also join groups within Medivate, follow other members, and post questions on an open discussion forum.
- OpenSit – A self-described “online sangha,” with many features similar to Medivate. OpenSit expands its community through active engagement with Twitter, Facebook, and Google+ groups. OpenSit’s “Explore” page continually updates member posts, a feature it calls the Global Sit Stream.
- The Buddhist Centre: Online Meditators – The Buddhist Centre offers loads of information and resources on Buddhism and meditation in general. Its online meditation program uses Google Hangouts to facilitate regularly scheduled live meditation sessions. Anyone registered with a free account can “drop in” and practice with meditators from all over the globe.
- Wild Divine Online – Wild Divine specializes in mindfulness and meditation software and hardware. The online community is a gathering place for users to interact and share experiences though games and activities in a virtual, fantastical world. Free basic membership is available in addition to paid premium subscriptions.
Online communities offer convenience and the opportunity to engage with people literally from across the world—something you just can’t do in the face-to-face world. Naturally, there are downsides to social media as well. One of the great benefits of meditation is its potential to expand our sense connection with others. Over-reliance on technology and “virtual connection” can cause us to become even more withdrawn and separated from flesh-and-blood interaction with the world.
Social media can also be a huge sinkhole for time—an addiction, even. If you find yourself burning away the hours in online meditation communities, step back and ask yourself, “Am I really using this to support my meditation practice, or has it become just another distraction in my life?”
Does social media play a role in your meditation practice? Please share your experiences in the comments section below. We’d love to hear from you!