HOW TO HOST A GROUP MEDITATION
There are many benefits to meditating with others. Meditation generates inner peace and the ability to connect with yourself at a deeper level. When you sit with others, it can be powerful to influence one another in a community setting.
BENEFITS OF MEDITATING IN A GROUP
There is power in numbers and creating intentions. Coming together with a shared intention can have profound impacts on our lives, our communities, and our universe.
“Meditating in a group is very powerful,” says Gabrielle Bernstein, New York Timesbestselling author and motivational speaker. “The shared intention of the group elevates each individual. When one or more gather with the intention to heal and grow, great shifts can occur. The group’s collective energy has a massive impact on the world.”
People have been coming together to set positive intentions for years. From Gandhi's non-violent movement against discrimination and toward harmony that freed hundreds of millions with the simple intention of peaceful action; to the diverse community meditations and prayers for peace after 911 that continue annually on September 11; to flash mob meditations, where spontaneous participation in sudden bursts of collective silence draws attention to communities globally.
No matter the size or scope of the group meditation or intention, the idea is to plant seeds—big or small—for a better world. Group meditations can also help you:
· Strengthen your connections
· Support one another
· Learn: New meditators can learn a great deal from those who have a practice, while experienced meditators can learn a lot from guiding and helping beginners
· Stay motivated and committed to a regular practice
HOW TO HOST A GROUP MEDITATION
If you’re interested in leading a group meditation, the first step is to decide where you’ll host it. Here are some ideas on places to gather:
In Your Home:
If you’re going to host a group meditation in your home, setting up a designated area to sit would be helpful.
Bernstein has a space in her home that is dedicated to her yoga and meditation practice. “I have a beautiful altar with crystals, candles, and images of my guides and teachers.” She recommends dedicating a space to your inner life within your home and making it somewhere you want to spend time. This concept extends to group meditations as well: create an alter as the central point of the meditation. Have everyone bring something special with them to place at the altar, whether a photo, a letter, a book, or a stone. This way, everyone will feel a special connection to the altar and space.
Another important element is comfort: make sure your guests are comfortable. Offer meditation pillows, chairs, or couch space … or suggest they bring their own with them. “The most important thing is that you’re all comfortable,” says Bernstein. Comfort extends to temperature and smell as well. Sage and incense are a great addition to meditations, but make sure no one is allergic or negatively affected before introducing scents to the group or cranking up the A.C.
Finally, choose a leader, whether it is yourself leading the meditation, reading the steps of a guided meditation—or simply hosting by offering a guided recording for everyone to follow.
At Your Yoga Studio:
Contact your favorite yoga studio to see if they would be willing to offer their space at an off-peak time, when no classes are scheduled. Early in the morning is sometimes a good time for this, whether it’s a one-time meditation, or a consistent meditation group on their schedule. Yoga studios already have students interested in yoga, so the chances are good that they would be interested in joining a meditation group, too.
At a Park or in a Yard:
Spring and summer are great times of year to connect with nature, and meditating outside can bring you closer to the source and universe. Plus, many parks are public spaces so they won’t cost a thing.
“Whenever you feel disconnected from the earth, meditate outside,” recommends Bernstein. “Meditating outside on a rock is very grounding. Being in nature and sitting on the ground literally can bring us back to earth.”
HOW TO INVITE PEOPLE
If you’re going to host a group meditation, you will want to make sure people find out about it. The best way to do this is organically. “I believe in attraction … not promotion,“ says Bernstein. “I find it’s important to value and honor your own practice and trust that those who need it will come to you.” If those close to you know you have a meditation practice, chances are they’re curious what that means, and might want to find out.
Hosting a group meditation might be the perfect time for them to give it a try and learn more about your practice. Make sure you circulate the details of the group meditation so people know where to show up, if they feel called to join.
HERE ARE A FEW IDEAS:
If you’re hosting the meditation gathering or regular session at your yoga studio, ask the studio owners to put it on the schedule so students can easily find out about it if they want to join.
Create a Facebook Event: Take a few minutes to post an event on Facebook, and invite the friends you think might be interested in joining. Enable the “friends can invite friends” option so they can spread the word to like-minded meditators.
Send an Evite or Email: Shoot your open-minded friends an email or Evite letting them know the details of the event, should they decide to join.
Create a Meetup: If this is something you plan to host regularly, create a MeetUp group in your area, and find out who else has the shared interest of meditation.
CREATE A SHARED INTENTION
You can either decide on a theme up-front and invite people to the "Group Meditation for 'Peace'” or 'Healing.’ Or you can decide on a shared intention together, once the group has gathered. Have people bring some ideas, decide on one together, and then sit for the collective intention.
Stuck on the choosing the right intention? Compassion is always a good place to start, as it means something unique and important to everyone.
THE FORM OF YOUR MEETINGS:
Typical sessions might include a combination of some of the following: a period of silent sitting meditation or guided meditation – (30-45 minutes); a tea (& chat) break; listening to a recorded Dharma talk (See: Talks from Gaia House Teachers); a talk by someone in the group or a guest speaker (shorter talks tend to work best); a pre-arranged discussion topic, perhaps introduced and led by one of the group; a sharing session e.g. inspiring poems or writing, or sharing of experiences in relation to a particular issue.
When and how often to meet:
Most groups tend to meet on a weekday evening, weekly or fortnightly, for one to two hours. A weekend daytime meeting is also possible, and this has the advantage of more wakefulness for sitting and discussing, but it may be more difficult to get people to commit to regular weekend meetings.