We are social creatures wired for connection. Yet, often when we think of meditation it conjures an image of a Yogi in a cave somewhere in India. While many saints, sages, and mystics have spent decades contemplating the inner workings of the universe and themselves in silence and solitude… recent studies in interpersonal neurobiology show us that connection supports a healthy life.
For these, and many other reasons… check out your local meditation center, Meetup Group, or even start your own in the living room.
1. Nervous system regulation
Did you know that human babies are the only species dependant on their parents for as long as they are? When we are infants we rely on our parents or other adults to regulate our nervous systems.
Contrary to popular thought, we don’t have the capacity to self-soothe as babies. As we grow, we become more interdependent, however our nervous system is designed to co-regulate with others! You can experience deeper meditations in a room with other people for this and other reasons.
2. Form a new habit
A lot of people say they want to establish a regular meditation practice, but it’s a lot easier when you are accountable and commit to a certain day, time and location to do so. If it’s on your calendar it’s a whole lot more likely that you’ll show up on time and participate fully. The more you show up and participate with a group, the more likely you’ll also establish a practice on your own.
3. Ask questions and receive feedback
Oftentimes in a meditation group there will be a teacher or a leader. This person will have training or experience you can benefit from. Sometimes we don’t know what to expect when meditating and having too high (or low) of an expectation can get in the way of having a beneficial, deep and authentic experience. Having a teacher, or other students to ask questions, receive answers and feedback, and share our experience with, can deepen our practice.
4. Strengthen social connections
If what you want it inner peace, clarity and a more meaningful life, then having friends and social connections we have things in common with is worth the drive across town to sit and practice for an hour. If seeking inner states of calm is the foundation for a friendship, it’s likely you can find people who you might want to get to know better outside of class who you can be authentic and vulnerable with. Of course using caution and boundaries just like with any new relationship!
5. Set collective intentions
Studies show that crime rates dropped by 18% in and around the Washington DC area in 1993, after 4,000 meditators practiced in conjunction with each other. There is a powerful field of intention that is initiated when people come together to pray, meditate, chant, sing, visualize or say affirmations. If you bring an intention to a meditation group you may find your synchronicities or prayers speeding up!
Everyone has different reasons for starting a meditation practice. Some find practicing alone is more suitable, but if any of the above reasons resonate and ring true for you, you can find many places locally to sit with others – or you can start your own!