Meditation has so many advantages that it’s become more popular than ever. Health, well-being, and mental processes improve with meditation and, over time, the benefits increase steadily. If meditation works so well for an individual, perhaps that power is amplified in a group. It could accelerate and expand everything. Let’s go into the possibilities.
At the most practical level, group meditation reinforces your desire to make it a daily practice. We all lead busy lives, and even the best intention to meditate can get lost once in a while. Joining a group can make you more committed to your practice. But a group can also represent a meditation lifestyle that inspires every member.
In the Indian spiritual tradition, this lifestyle has been condensed into three words derived from Sanskrit, each beginning with “S.”
Seva: Service without regard for the self. In service your actions harm no one and benefit everyone. You spread the influence of peace, which you have found personally in meditation.
Simran: Remembrance. In meditation you contact your source, the true self, and thus you remember who you really are. As you learn more about your true nature, your purpose for being here strengthens.
Satsang: Communing with others and sharing knowledge. You want to belong in the community of peace and wisdom, a desire that can be shared with others who are like-minded.
These three S-words describe the ideal life of any spiritual person. But just as crucial, they unlock a power that materialism can’t defeat, as a rock can’t defeat the rain even though one is hard and the other soft, or as a tree can’t defeat the wind even though one is solid and the other invisible. Power can sound abstract, but satisfaction isn’t. With each S-word comes a satisfaction that is built from your meditation practice when you begin to share its fruits.
Seva brings the joy of knowing that your daily actions support life. You become part of the planet’s evolution, not its degradation. You live in peace with your conscience because you have fulfilled your duty to be a steward of every aspect of nature, down to the most sacred level.
Simran brings the satisfaction of expanded possibilities. You are not limited to being one individual lost in a sea of humanity. You find your authentic self and your authentic truth. A unique path to mastery is opened for you and the group at a silent level of expanded awareness.
Satsang brings the satisfaction of being at home in the world. The rest of the human family is part of you. Older and younger generations are no longer separated by a gap but work together toward the vision of a world without poverty, ignorance, and violence.
These values arise spontaneously. They aren’t an agenda you sign up for or an ideology that you must adhere to. Even though meditation is an individual practice at heart, the resonance effect of doing it in groups makes the meditation more profound personally and socially.
In every wisdom tradition, meditation hasn’t been just a way to seek inner knowledge. It has the potential to transform the world. Research on the power of group meditation has been ongoing for several decades, and the results seem to validate what the ancient sages said, that there is greater peace in the vicinity of the enlightened. Individually we may not see ourselves as enlightened, but the group effect multiplies each single member.
But any group effect will only be effective if the people who join it feel that they’ve gained something more than they can achieve at home alone. Fortunately, meditators in groups often report that they feel less alone and more connected to others. Their practice feels deeper, tapping into a more profound silence than they experience on their own.
Certainly it’s worth a try to find a meditation group near you or to form your own. As the eminent sociologist Margaret Mead said, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.”
You can take advantage of group meditation meet-ups in your area at local temples and churches, or you can organize your own group meditation. You can also look online at http://www.meetup.org to find groups to meditate with.