Committing to a regular meditation practice is one of the most practical and transformative actions you can take for your life.
It sounds straightforward. On those rare days when everything goes to plan, it is. For the rest of life, most of us need a more substantial approach.
This is why there’s a case to be made for the importance of meditating in community. As Greek poet Archilochos stated, “we don’t rise to the level of our expectations, we fall to the level of our training.”
And that’s what group meditation is. It’s training for when we’re meditating alone. It’s an anchor in our lives when things feel overwhelming. And, it deeply resources us with a sense of connection both within ourselves, and to a community.
Below we explore the reasons why attending regular group meditation sessions is a powerful pillar for your meditation practice, and your life.
Five Reasons To Join A Meditation Group
1. Anchor your practice and stay regular
“There’s a reason why community practice is a part of the wide range of traditions and approaches to meditation.” —Clearlight Gerald, Senior iRest Trainer
Showing up for a regular group practice creates a positive habit and reinforces your commitment to your daily practice. If you haven’t managed to meditate on Monday and Tuesday, your Wednesday group session acts as a reset. It becomes the anchor in your week and supports your desire for integrating meditation more fully into your life.
When you regularly gather with other people who share your intention for meditation to be part of daily life, the group intention becomes a normalized, collective lifestyle choice. Feeling part of a culture of mindful living makes it far easier to stay the course than sitting alone each day does.
Leaning into the current of the group helps you stay regular when life feels particularly demanding.
2. Feel motivated and stay accountable
“If they can do it, so can I.” —Group meditators everywhere
It’s motivating to see the other people in your group consistently showing up session after session. Observing others doing what it takes to stay committed to their intentions helps you do the same.
Being part of a group enhances our sense of accountability. If we’re relying on others to show up, they’re likely relying on us too. As Senior iRest Trainer, Clearlight Gerald explains, “when we practice together we join a community of friends and meet on common ground with common purpose. We will be missed if we leave, so we are more likely to stay.”
3. A deep sense of connection and shared meaning
Senior iRest Trainers, Stephanie Lopez and Fuyuko Sawamura-Toyota are joined by community members for an online discussion.
“Meditation in community helps you shift from alone-ness to all-are-one-ness.” —Fuyuko Sawamura-Toyota, Director of iRest Australasia
A strong sense of belonging is essential to all aspects of our health. Joining a meditation group enables you to find the others who share your desire to belong to a community dedicated to self inquiry, expanding consciousness, and collective peace.
Meditation as a shared experience has the power to deeply unite us. One of the most comforting and validating realizations you can have is “I’m not the only one”. Through group meditation, we experience this on many levels. From “I’m not the only one who struggles with [insert your ailment or situation here]” all the way to “I’m not alone as one person, I am part of Oneness.”
4. A safe container and support for deep inner work
“As a teacher, I’ve found that as students meditate in community, the community itself provides a holding ground and container in which each person may begin to feel held and supported by the group. This safe container acts as a catalyst for each person to open into their practice with honesty and curiosity. Over time, practicing with others can build a sense of cohesion with each person feeling free to deepen into their practice of self-inquiry and discovery.” — Stephanie Lopez, Senior iRest Trainer
The sense of safety and support fostered by being in a group can help you explore yourself at a deeper level. Meditation is not always comfortable. It’s possible we may resist an intense emotion when facing it alone. But in the comfort of a safe group, with the guidance of a trusted teacher, we feel resourced enough to meet what is arising and stay with it. This opens the potential for deep and transformative experiences.
The group cohesion created by sitting together in expanded Awareness makes it possible to tap into a level of Stillness deeper and more profound than you may experience on your own.
5. The guidance of a teacher
Senior iRest Trainer, Clearlight Gerald facilitating an online group meditation.
“Guided meditations offer students the ability to use the instructions, and later simply the teacher’s voice, as a support to focus and hone attention. The teacher’s presence, voice, and instructions offer guidance, enabling you to find what is true for you – revealing your deepest heartfelt knowing and truth.” —Stephanie Lopez, Senior iRest Trainer
Meditation sessions with a teacher act as a means for checking our technique and ensuring our solo practice remains effective and accurate. As we evolve on our path, we may need additional guidance, explanation, or pointing out of blind spots.
Group sessions often include time to ask questions and learn from the questions of fellow students.
The Added Benefits of Online Group Meditation
“When the teacher or a fellow practitioner drops in deeply, this anchors the group and holds the space for a settling and opening into stillness. Group practice can really amplify the effects of meditation, and I’ve found it of great personal surprise and delight that this is the case online as it is in person.” —Clearlight Gerald, Senior iRest Trainer
We don’t all have easy, or weekly access to an iRest meditation group or event nearby. Extensive online offerings have removed location as a barrier to finding your nondual meditation community. Online meditation also has its own benefits:
1. Increased sense of intimacy
Joining a group meditation from your home can increase the sense of intimacy in the experience. Afterall, your teacher and fellow meditators are, in a way, gathering with you in your home, and you in theirs.
Due to the nature of meditation, your laptop screen is an enabler rather than a barrier. Effectively, it’s allowing you to gather with a community of meditators from all over the world in the comfort of your space (or wherever it is you choose to meditate).
2. No more excuses
Online meditation sessions mean many of the excuses and hindrances to in-person meditation are removed. Traffic, poor time management, or not feeling like getting ready are no longer opportunities for missing your practice. Sick in bed? Turn your video off and you can still attend. You’ll potentially get better faster too¹.
3. Come as you are
In iRest group classes specifically, the invitation is always to show up as you are. No need to dress up, look a certain way, or worry that your favorite meditation pillow is actually the dog’s blanket folded over a few times.
There’s an added layer of relaxed convenience available when joining in from home.
4. A more inclusive community
Online groups offer you the opportunity to meet people from all walks of life and from all over the world. People you may never otherwise meet. This encourages open-mindedness and gives you access to new ways of thinking. Two aspects very important to living a mindful and conscious life.
Depending on where you live, in-person community gatherings can be more homogenized to one class, or age group, for example. When you think about it, joining an online group is possibly one of the most connecting and inclusive things you can do because all at once it closes the gaps of age, gender, class, location, and ability.
Community Is The Answer To Loneliness
A happy community of meditators bringing playfulness to their time together.
“Group meditation helps you stay committed because you start to look forward not only to meditating together but also to being in community.” —Fuyuko Sawamura-Toyota, Director of iRest Australasia
Online meditation sessions are bringing community to you. You’re expertly guided within, safely held, and on the self-inquiry path together. You’re not meant to go it alone all the time. As Ram Dass said, “we’re all just walking each other home.”
As with all of iRest and nondual teachings, we don’t want you to take our word for it, we want you to experience it yourself. Join us for our upcoming weekly community class series Move, Breathe, Rest, beginning September 28 to do so.