Meditating in a group might seem like a slightly strange thing to do, especially when most formal meditation practice takes the form of sitting still with the eyes closed. Why would you want to sit with other people who may have a different experience of meditation going on in their own heads? The benefits of sitting to meditate in a group are multiple and may not be what you might initially think. By meditating with other people you can experience greater benefits of meditation and at the same time make a bigger difference to the world around you. So what are the benefits of meditating in a group, and what does meditating in a group look like?
Group meditation can be the perfect way to learn more about meditation with a teacher who provides support and guidance. Meditating in a group can help to create a sense of community, exploration and reduce the feeling of isolation and failure. Group meditation can provide accountability to continue with meditation and maintain a regular practice. Knowing that other people in the group are also learning, you will feel more comfortable trying different techniques and be more open to new experiences.
Be less alone
Sharing the experience of meditation with others and hearing their experience and questions can help you feel less alone and reduce isolation. The negative effects of loneliness can be overcome by spending time with other people, even if you sit together in silence. Hearing other people's questions may help to answer your own and overcome any challenges. How many times have you heard someone ask a question only to realise that this question is relevant to you too? By sharing time and the experience, we can create a sense of community and belonging.
Connect to communicate
While you may sit in silence for group meditation, it is still possible to feel that you can connect with other people. Using your senses to feel the calm and intention of others can positively impact your nervous system and the feelings of relaxation. You may find that meditating in a group actually allows you to go deeper into your meditation practice than meditating alone. By finely tuning your senses when you practice silence, you can improve how you connect and communicate with other people.
One aim of meditating in a group is to increase the energy around the individual. The knowledge that the impact can be greater than the sum of the individual parts. Being surrounded by like-minded people can be really powerful. Realising that people share a similar intention to be a true version of themselves, be more conscious in the world and create world peace can be really uplifting and motivating and at the same time have a greater impact on you. Deepak Chopra says “In every wisdom tradition, meditation hasn’t been just a way to seek inner knowledge. It has the potential to transform the world".
What does group meditation look like, and how can you practice it?
Group meditation in-person is typically guided by a meditation teacher. The teacher will give instructions throughout the meditation, as well as allowing for moments for silence. A meditation practice may start with some simple body movements or yoga asanas to help you to maintain stillness. Students may sit in a circle or lines with a dedicated space for themselves, often marked by a mat or a cushion. Comfort is paramount, and the teacher may provide other cues during the meditation to allow everyone to be as relaxed as possible. The teacher may use a gong or bell to signal the start and end of the meditation.
Group meditation can also be experienced using apps, and Insight Timer is a great example of this. The Insight Timer app allows you to see who else is meditating simultaneously as you and send a simple message to thank them for their practice. The live streams also enable teachers to share guided meditation practices with a group. Many of the benefits of group meditation can be achieved through the online format when shared sensitively and authentically.
If you are new to meditation or would like to deepen your meditation practice, trying a group meditation can be a great experience. Find a teacher near to you or find a group online or through an app that you feel comfortable with, that energises you and where you feel you can explore and expand your meditation practice.
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Image by Frank McKenna on Unsplash