We meditate to learn to be kinder to ourselves and others and to understand things.
Whenever I run into an old friend and ask them how they are doing, the standard response is “busy; really busy.” And as much as I have tried not to, this is usually my response, as well. Although this is often said in a lamenting tone, it also has the undertone of “I’m important, and what I have to do is significant.” Our culture has trained us to believe our value depends on our ability to get things done, to be self-sufficient, and to not need any help from anybody. More on The Busy Trap from the NY Times.
After all, work needs to get done, the kids need to be chauffeured from one activity to another, the laundry is piling up to the ceiling, and I have to prepare for that speech I got railroaded into giving. Our nerves are jangled, our bodies are tight, and our minds are racing. We might even be rushed to the ER thinking we are having a heart attack, only to find that it is just anxiety.
The doctor recommends we take a meditation class to reduce our stress. But we are just too busy to attend a class. And, isn’t meditation something you do in a room alone with a candle? Plus, no one else we know is meditating, and they seem to be doing okay.
We resist all suggestions, even if they promise some respite from the craziness and a way to meet our lives with more composure. It is no small feat to strike out on a self-care path in this world built on getting and having.
Support for Our Path
I would argue that it is imperative to find the support you need; a place to find refuge in the thrashing sea of your life. We need understanding, compassion, and harmony to make life livable.
In the context of community, we can connect with others who are struggling just like we are; people who are acknowledging the very real fact that we need each other. There is an energy to meditating in a group that you can’t find anywhere else. And your time with the group can inspire you to keep up your daily meditation practice, even on those days you don’t want to.
In a group, you can receive some guidance and have a place to ask questions. You can share your misgivings and have others help you figure things out. You can turn to your community for support, and maybe even more importantly, you can offer support and kindness to others. Others also remind us through their questions and struggle how valuable practice really is.
One of the most famous meditators of all time was the Buddha. When his faithful attendant Ananda asked him, “Is it true, venerable sir, that half of the spiritual life is spiritual friendship?” The Buddha answered, “No, Ananda, the whole of the spiritual life is spiritual friendships.”
If you’re looking for a meditation group, or would like to give group meditation a try, join us for Wednesday Meditation Drop-Ins hosted by our friends at Mindful Counseling GR. The drop-ins are currently scheduled through December 11, 2019, with a different guide from the local mindfulness community leading each week. Find more details on the public Facebook event page.