3 Reasons to Meditate With Your Friends!
The word Sangha is Sanskrit meaning “assembly”, “association”, “company” or “community.” It was used 2500 years ago to describe the monastic communities of Buddhist monks. As meditation has made its way into the more secular communities of the West, I’ve been hearing this word a lot lately. Not by Buddhist monks and not even by Buddhists. It’s become a word in many places to simply signify a community of people meditating together.
When you think about meditation, what comes to mind? Silence? Quiet? Alone time? Those voices in your head that just won’t pipe down?!?!
Spending anywhere from 5 minutes to an hour focusing on your breath may not seem like the ideal social time but, recently, I started a Tuesday afternoon meditation group with friends and guess what!! It’s powerful!
1) Friends hold you accountable!
That’s right! I talk to a lot of people who want to integrate meditation into their daily lives. When that alarm goes off at 7am though, it’s just too tempting to go back to sleep until the very last minute. I still struggle with this every morning. Before I had developed a strong personal practice, I originally went to a once a week sit on Monday nights. Even that was hard to stay with week after week!
So I invited some friends. As time went on, we checked in with each other every Monday afternoon. It became our routine. We stopped making other plans on Monday nights. We missed each other when any one of us was out of town or couldn’t make it. It became part of our weekly routines. We inspired each other to go even when we were making excuses to ourselves not to. We carpooled. We discussed our feelings and our experiences.
Which brings me to…
2) You have friends to share your experiences with!
If you’ve walked into a room of 20 people and at the end of a 30 minute meditation and the facilitator asks, “does anyone have any questions?” Well, not all of us are ready to start sharing immediately with a group of strangers.
Having your friends with you opens up a safe space for your to talk about what may have come up. Was your mind quieter for once? Louder than ever? Did your back hurt? Your feet fall asleep? Old traumas come up? A memory of your childhood? An epiphany? Were you in complete bliss? There are so many things that happen in those moments of “stillness.” This act of meditation and sharing not only deepens your relationship with yourself but also with your friends.
And even if you are not ready to share, take a moment to pat yourselves on the back, and give each other a high five. YOU SHOWED UP AND DID THE WORK…TOGETHER!
Speaking of sharing…
3) You and your friends share that calm energy with each other!
Have you ever been around someone that when you walk into their home or just sit down next them, you immediately feel at peace? Group meditations have this same effect.
In 2006, I went to a 10 day silent meditation. We meditated 8 hours a day and did not speak for 10 days. Get this - I had never meditated before. That’s right - NEVER! It may sound crazy. Looking back now, I do wonder what my little 20-something mind was thinking when I signed up. But, sitting there, in a room of 100 people, there was something comforting about being around all those humans doing the exact same thing - closing our eyes and sitting in silence.
Our bodies are releasing subtle energies all the time. As we quiet our brains, we can tap into these energies and our minds can pick up on subtler and subtler vibes. Because of this, in a group setting, the calm energy is contagious. So sitting with your friends can literally make it easier for you!
You might not be ready to meditate every day. You might not be ready to join an open meditation group. So try getting a group of your friends together and see how it works for you. My hope is that it will create a gentle start for your lifelong practice. <3