While many of us enjoy meditating alone, a meditation group with others can enhance our spiritual growth significantly.
In addition to helping people learn how to meditate, a meditation group can bring a tremendous amount of healing to everyone who attends. It can also open you up to new forms of meditation you may not have known about and keep you motivated to stay consistent in your meditation.
Here are 10 easy steps to starting a meditation group.
How To Start Your Own Group Meditation
1. Hold a meeting.
Tell your friends and family that you are starting to meditate and that you’d like to form a meditation group. If they’re interested, invite them to join you.
What I do is mention it casually in conversation when someone asks me what I’ve been doing lately. I tell them how I’ve been meditating and the benefits I’ve gotten so far, and they’re welcome to join me.
Sharing the benefits of meditation with your friends and family is key to getting them interested in it. Technology has made meditation mainstream with apps like Calm which introduces people to meditation in an easy way.
I’ve been quite surprised at how many people respond, even people from religious denominations I wouldn’t normally expect.
2. Find a place.
Once you have several members, you can start by meeting at one of the member’s house, and as your group grows, you can easily find another place. There’s no wrong place to stop for a meditation, if you’re a hiker grab a group of friends, hike up a mountain and meditate at a beautiful overlook.
Always strive to remain self-supporting. This will ensure that you remain autonomous, and don’t have to answer to any outside organizations.
If people prefer a specific location, split the costs amongst the meditation group members. Or try rotating between people’s houses to save cost. Make it into a potluck with some delicious organic meals to help boost the mind.
3. Schedule it.
Next, you need to decide when to meet. Keep in mind that you’ll never find a time that’s convenient for everyone. There are apps out there that will allow you to collect people’s availability to find a meeting time more easily.
Many groups meet on a weekday in the early evening starting somewhere between 6 p.m. and 8 p.m. This time works well for people who work during the day because it gives them a chance to go home, have dinner, and then go to the meeting.
Other groups prefer to meet on the weekend early in the day, which allows for other activities the rest of the day. Coordinate with your group to find out what days/times work best for everyone and then just pick a day and time. Not everyone will be able to make it and that’s ok. It’s better to get started than to wait for everyone in the group to be available.
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4. Lead your meeting.
Use a guided meditation online or through an app to your meditation group. In the beginning, start off with shorter meditations and then build up to longer ones. It is important to stay focused so going straight to long meditations when your group isn’t used to it will hinder that.
There are three important elements of an effective mindfulness meditation session: relaxation meditation, concentration meditation, and mindfulness meditation.
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5. Stay focused.
To help you stay focused on your primary purpose—to learn and practice mindfulness meditation—it’s recommended to have a preamble, which includes your guiding principles.
The groups I’ve seen stay focused are the ones that read their preamble at the beginning of every meeting.
6. Be inclusive.
Use a beginning level format so that everyone has a chance to learn the basics of the practice. Once your members gain some experience, you can have two meetings—one for beginners, and the other for experienced members.
You may want to schedule them back to back, because some members will want to attend both.
7. Stay with one form of meditation.
At least in the beginning, stay with one form of meditation to learn and transmit the practice of meditation.
Once your group gets comfortable with the sessions, you should work your way up to a longer meditation. The main thing to keep in mind is that you want to both teach and practice mindfulness meditation, so always include some form of instruction along with at least 30 minutes of meditation.
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8. Recruit new members.
To keep your meditation group strong and healthy, you need to recruit new members. There are many ways to do this, including word-of-mouth, social media, and community calendars.
9. Practice at least once a week.
You don’t have to meet only once a week. In fact, the more often you meet, the better.
The main thing to keep in mind is that you want to both teach and practice mindfulness meditation, so always include some form of instruction along with at least 30 minutes of meditation.
This will enable your meditation group members to experience the power of the mindfulness meditation practice.
You don’t have to be a mindfulness meditation master to start a meditation group. In fact, part of the joy of forming a group is watching each other learn and grow as everyone’s practice deepens and evolves.
Charles A. Francis is the author of Mindfulness Meditation Made Simple: Your Guide to Finding True Inner Peace, as well as the co-founder and director of the Mindfulness Meditation Institute. In addition to teaching mindfulness meditation to individuals, he helps organizations develop mindfulness training programs for their staff to help them realize the cost-saving benefits of the mindfulness practice. He also leads workshops and mindfulness meditation retreats.
Image by andreeleclerc