Meditating in a Group - The Whole is Greater than the Sum
Jan 25, 2019 | By: toni gordon
The first time I meditated in a group was about a dozen years ago. I had been trying to meditate on my own for a couple of years and was committed but challenged by my efforts. It had been a couple of years of sitting with a mind that insisted on running the show. It would not be more than three or four breaths into the meditation before there was a shopping list that needed to be contemplated or I suddenly had to understand the parliamentary system of Albania. I was determined to find the silence, but the mind seemed more desperate to see that I didn't.
It was in my Ayurveda class and a small group of us had remained in the classroom during lunch break. We decided to do a meditation together having just discussed meditation as a tool for healing in class. Sitting in a circle cross-legged on the floor, knees nearly touching, we all fell into a quiet space at the same time. I recall having no expectations and had known that my excessively busy mind might have me wrestling more than my more experienced colleagues. I drifted along for a few minutes, listening to the chatter in my head and the quiet noises of the school when the most startling and peaceful feeling came over me. In a single moment I was sitting in a cone of utter stillness as if I was at a house party and suddenly found myself in the upstairs bedroom where all the coats were stored and the door shut behind me after entering. The silence was profound. I was aware of my surroundings, I was aware of the little noises in the space, I was even aware of the little voice somewhere inside of me saying ‘Holy Shit!’ ‘Shut up, don’t spoil it!’ but was able to remain still even while these little ripples of chatter happened outside the silence. After I don’t know how many minutes, I was lead out of the meditation and was only able to sit there and try and contemplate what had just happened. I shed a few tears, releasing some inarticulable tension. It was then I recognized that there was an energy within me that could be connected to, and guided by, something outside of the 5 senses.
Over the years I have had a few discussions about the effects of group meditation, in particular, the impact of meditating with experienced meditators and good teachers. At the beginning of my meditating journey, one person described how a good meditator takes your consciousness with theirs and lifts it to a higher place. I listened on sceptically, but as my practice grew I continued to experience the potential of that concept.
There are many good reasons to meditate in a group, the article on Yoga International - 6 Reasons Why Group Meditation is Awesome - outlines most of the good ones. But the most magical is the impact of the collective energy of group consciousness - the expansiveness and the intensity of the energy - amplifying the healing and wisdom of the present moment. In our group, we have felt the energy in the room crackle, as we have gathered momentum as a meditating collective. Group meditations are a sacred gift to each other and to our communities, bringing in our inherent capacity to heal ourselves and our fellow humans.