Creating a sense of connection and community can be integral to a sustainable meditation practice. Finding like-minded people to continue your meditation journey alongside can help provide accountability (remember external motivation we explored in an earlier blog post) and offer a supportive space within which to continue to deepen and develop your practice.
Here we share some suggestions for how you could go about building a sense of connection and community:
Consider creating your own meditation group. With one or more of your friends, family and/or colleagues. Similar to a book club you could take turns meeting in each other’s homes to practice a meditation together, or you might prefer to meet at work, in a library or other public space. Alternatively, you could also start an online meditation group which would enable you to bring people from further afield together.
Some people prefer the intimacy of meditating in a small group while others feel more supported by a larger group. Similarly, it is a personal choice how often and for how long you meet. You might meet weekly, fortnightly or monthly. Meetings could be as short as half an hour or you could meditate and then share a meal while engaging in a mindful discussion afterward.
Your meditation group might simply sit and meditate together using a guided meditation from the Smiling Mind App. You could try a different meditation each time you meet, working your way through different programs such as ‘Mindfulness Foundations’, ‘Stress Management’ or ‘Sleep’. You might also incorporate some of the mindfulness activities included in the Smiling Mind App to help support your practice e.g. mindful eating, mindful movement.
Support and inspire each other. One popular format for many groups is to begin with a guided meditation followed by a short check-in with each participant during which the joys, challenges and insights experienced in meditation practice and the many ways to bring mindfulness alive in relationships, work and daily life can be shared. The group might then close with a short gratitude or compassion meditation as a way to foster a greater sense of connection to each other and to the world.
The opportunity for discussion gives participants the opportunity to listen mindfully to one another while also paying attention to their own experience of meditation. Some groups like to choose specific topics or themes to explore (e.g. how to apply mindfulness at work or in relationships) while others prefer a more open-ended format.
Stay inspired. As your group evolves, you might attend workshops or retreats together to provide additional opportunities to integrate mindfulness practice more fully into your life. The most important thing is to enjoy cultivating a sense of connection and community as you practice. Take it step by step, allow it to evolve organically, be creative, and have fun.