Starting Your Own Meditation Group

Many people who are new to meditation say they are interested but feel they do not have the time they need for daily meditation practice.

Given how busy most people’s lives have become, nothing could be more understandable.

Either with both parents working, or single parent households, with the children, with keeping up with errands and chores, with long commutes to work and long hours at work, with 2nd or 3rd jobs to help pay the bills, and with at least occasional trips to the gym or yoga studio, many people really don’t have much time at all for themselves. And the little time they do have they find they are too tired for anything other than TV, videos, video games, texting, or eating.

One important part of getting off this treadmill is to begin to realize that you want to transition over time to a less complicated life. Essential to this transition, which may take years, not months, is to be patient with yourself as you discern how you can simplify your life so you do have more time for prayer, meditation, yoga, (or T’ai Chi) and serious reading.

But there is something else you can do. Look around your community and see where there is a local meditation group that meets regularly. It is possible it may be a meditation group that is more Catholic, more Buddhist, more Quaker, more Hindu, more Sufi, or more New Age than you yourself are. On the other hand you may be fortunate to find one of these groups that is a close match for your personal beliefs. In either case, what is important is to get together with others on a consistent basis. Sitting with others is a great help. The discipline of the leader and experienced members of the group will help you develop the discipline of maintaining your good posture and stillness during the meditation time. Even if the only time during the week or month you meditate is with these folks it is worthwhile to do so. It may be necessary to tune out quite a bit of the verbiage and dogmas of the talks given after these meditation sessions. Regrettably, a lot of what you hear in both traditional and progressive talks is kind of flakey or just plain wrong. What is important is to remember you do not have to agree with various doctrines or mythologies you hear. The value of getting together with other people on a regular basis and respecting the general seriousness of their purpose and the valid points of their tradition will help you establish your own meditation practice.

When the time is right, if you feel you need to, you can establish your own small meditation group with one or two friends or family members. You can do this either in your home or in a local community center or church. You can model your group, and the style of your meditation practice, on one of the groups you have become familiar with or you can develop your own basic process and set of readings and chants if you wish to.

While these small groups tend to be fairly short lived, they are all still valuable. Over time people will learn how to attract more people and develop an understanding as to how the group can work together in a manner that is viable for the long term.

Whether joining in with others or beginning your own group, the best way to develop your own discipline with daily meditation practice is to sit with others when you can.

In addition to finding ways to simplify your life so you have more time, and shifting your priorities so you can make the best use of the time you do have, sitting with others on a consistent basis will help. With the consistency of practice you will gain the early fruits of the benefits of practice. The occasional week-end retreat away from the family, the chores, the chit-chat, and the consumer electronics will also support the ability to experience the greater calm and clarity that are primary benefits of practice.

The goal is daily practice twice a day. But this is a goal most people new to meditation will have to work towards carefully over time.

Finding a local meditation group, even if it is a tradition you are not that close to, will help you move towards that goal one uncertain step at a time.

Someday calling together your own meditation group, when and if you feel that is needed is another helpful step to consider. If possible, it is best to obtain the blessing of at least one experienced teacher before taking that step. But if that blessing is not available, or is unreasonably withheld, then proceeding in simple ways with an appropriate degree of humility and dignity is acceptable.

As your meditation practice becomes established you will be better able to do one of two things. Either you will have more skills to help with the renewal of the church and faith tradition you are involved with, or you will be better equipped to discern if you have a calling to form a new church and faith tradition you can co-found and develop.

For out of the people will come the leaders of the future.

Let me know what city and state you live in. I can check my lists to see if I can help you find a meditation group near where you are. If you are more experienced and want to start your own group, please let me know that as well. I would be glad to help you with your start-up efforts.

Will Raymond Author of “The Simple Path of Holiness”

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