Poll

DO you find it more helpful to meditate on your own, or in a group setting?

I find it more beneficial to work alone for meditation
I prefer to meditate alone, but I will meditate in a group in order to do longer retreats, and to have somebody feed me and look after my needs
I find it much more helpful to meditate in a group. I try and attend local group sitting whenever I can, and I join meditation retreats as often as possible so I can meditate with others in a conducive environment
I greatly value meditating alone and in groups because I think both have their distinct advantages

Author Topic: Meditation on your own or in a group?  (Read 4335 times)

Lokuttara

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Meditation on your own or in a group?
« on: November 04, 2010, 12:04:36 AM »
Many teachers including people like Eckhart Tolle, Goenka, Ajahn Cha, Dhiravamsa, say it is useful to meditate in a group. They say we support each other in meditation and create an energy field where more serious meditation can be done. From the early days, monks gathered together in monasteries and in forests to meditate together.

Yet J. Krishnamurti and also Matthew from this forum advocate sitting alone, and not meditating in a group. I'm wondering wat the reason are for this. Are there other teachers who say we should avoid meditating in a group?

I personally have found meditating in a group very helpful to my practise, and I have often felt "recharged" after a weekly group sit, or a 1-day course.

"One may be surrounded by great beauty, by mountains and fields and rivers, but unless one is alive to it all one might just as well be dead." Krishnamurti

kidnovice

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    • Theravada: with nuts and bolts from Goenka-ji, and fine tuning from Thanissaro Bhikkhu
Re: Meditation on your own or in a group?
« Reply #1 on: November 04, 2010, 12:57:24 AM »
In my own experience, I definitely notice a difference when meditating alone and meditating with others. Really,  I see specific benefits to both, and would not forego either.  Personally, I would say that meditating alone has a more fundamental impact on me.

I deeply value meditating in community, but no matter how many hours I meditate with groups, I have found it extremely valuable to make sure that I still sit alone every day.

I suspect that part of it has to do with the power of intention. So much of what we get from our practice is derived from the quality of our intentions, however murky they might be. I find that sitting alone naturally distills my intentions (without my even thinking about it) to something more pure and potent.

Of course, this sort of thing is very idiosyncratic, but that is what I have noticed in myself. So, I've chosen to abstain from voting in this poll, and instead would like to suggest an additional category:

"I greatly value meditating alone and in groups because I think both have their distinct advantages."  :)
May we cultivate the serenity to accept the things we cannot change; the compassion to change the things we can; and the wisdom to know the difference.

Crystal Palace

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  • "Move on Bhikkus, Move On" - Buddha
    • Thai Forest Tradition
Re: Meditation on your own or in a group?
« Reply #2 on: November 04, 2010, 07:33:13 AM »
Dear Lokuttara,

I feel the 80:20 rule holds good in this regard. Roughly about 4/5th's of one's time one can meditate alone and in the remaining 1/5th, one can practice in a group. The numbers do not matter, the idea is that it is a good idea to supplement one's solo practice with a group sit every now and then.

Whenever I am at home in Delhi, I follow this rule. From Monday to Saturday, I am at home going solo. And on Sundays, I go for a group sit that is organised in SN Goenka's tradition in my city. Currently, at the place where I am, there is no meditation center nearby, nor have I found anyone to practice with, so I am compelled to go solo.

Nonetheless, and I think Mr. Goenka has also said this, that while group sits are good for motivational and recharging purposes, the case should always be that group sits should supplement one's solo practice and not vice versa.

Warmly,
CP
"Abstain from unwholesome actions,
Perform wholesome actions,
Purify your mind"

Buddha

Matthew

  • The Irreverent Buddhist
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  • Meditation: It's a D.I.Y. project.
    • Buddhism is a practical psychology and philosophy, not a religion.
    • If you cling to view, you must know this limits your potential.
Re: Meditation on your own or in a group?
« Reply #3 on: November 04, 2010, 08:46:21 AM »
Nonetheless, and I think Mr. Goenka has also said this, that while group sits are good for motivational and recharging purposes, the case should always be that group sits should supplement one's solo practice and not vice versa.

For once I find myself in agreement with Goenka. Group sitting helps motivation, it helps some people keep going when their solo practice might otherwise fail. But in the end ... as my profile says "Meditation is a D.I.Y project".
~oOo~     Tat Tvam Asi     ~oOo~    How will you make the world a better place today?     ~oOo~    Fabricate Nothing     ~oOo~

Quardamon

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    • Teachers were: P.K.K. Mettavihari, Frits Koster, Nel Kliphuis. (In the line of Mahasi Sayadaw)
Re: Meditation on your own or in a group?
« Reply #4 on: November 04, 2010, 11:21:42 AM »
Hello Lokuttarra and others,

What I find is, that meditating alone, I can walk quite a while on a path and not be aware where I am going. For instance, there are moments that I pick up strong emotions or bodily sensations. Some would say from past lives, at times I consider them to be the unprocessed emotions of people in my surroundings. I regard that as a cleansing and a proper thing. But in fact I am not sure, strickly speaking.
I love to talk with my wife about what happens in my meditations, because it gives me a perspective of where I stand. That is also what I like most about the retreats, talking with my teacher every day for 10 minutes. Recently I talked a few times on the phone with a friend who has 30 years of practice with vipassana. That is beatiful. Not instructive in the strickt sens, but good anyway.
Also this forum helps me understand where I am.
I tried to set up a group in the small town where I live, and failed. I tried a zen-group in the next town, but felt that it did not bring me much.
Reading also helps me to place in perspective what I experience and what I want and hope. For instance I compare the emotions that I pick up to the 'ghost roles' that Arnold Midell sees in group dynamics.

Morning Dew

Re: Meditation on your own or in a group?
« Reply #5 on: November 04, 2010, 01:53:19 PM »
Alone, alone, alone  ;D but if group is a must I rather go with that group into a pub instead LoL

This group thingy can easily give you this feeling of security which isnt realy the right way to see into your conditioned fearful self, is it?

Lokuttara

  • Member
  • Trekking the hills of dhamma
    • Vipassanamurti
    • Love cycling into the blue skies and enjoying the first touches of Spring!
Re: Meditation on your own or in a group?
« Reply #6 on: November 04, 2010, 02:02:58 PM »
Added an additional option :D

Thanks for your input guys, keep it coming.
"One may be surrounded by great beauty, by mountains and fields and rivers, but unless one is alive to it all one might just as well be dead." Krishnamurti

Crystal Palace

  • Member
  • "Move on Bhikkus, Move On" - Buddha
    • Thai Forest Tradition
Re: Meditation on your own or in a group?
« Reply #7 on: November 04, 2010, 02:27:53 PM »

For once I find myself in agreement with Goenka....


Well Matthew if you pay close and unbiased attention to what he says, I think you will find there is much more that you agree with.

Crystal Palace
"Abstain from unwholesome actions,
Perform wholesome actions,
Purify your mind"

Buddha

Morning Dew

Re: Meditation on your own or in a group?
« Reply #8 on: November 04, 2010, 02:36:14 PM »
Quote
Well Matthew if you pay close and unbiased attention to what he says

Oh no, I can feel the Goenka storm starting again  ;D LoL

Matthew

  • The Irreverent Buddhist
  • Member
  • Meditation: It's a D.I.Y. project.
    • Buddhism is a practical psychology and philosophy, not a religion.
    • If you cling to view, you must know this limits your potential.
Re: Meditation on your own or in a group?
« Reply #9 on: November 04, 2010, 03:17:46 PM »
No storms due .. I've seen the forecast and all is well.
~oOo~     Tat Tvam Asi     ~oOo~    How will you make the world a better place today?     ~oOo~    Fabricate Nothing     ~oOo~

Morning Dew

Re: Meditation on your own or in a group?
« Reply #10 on: November 04, 2010, 03:40:17 PM »
ha ha ha aaaaa LoL, nicely put!

Quardamon

  • Member
    • Teachers were: P.K.K. Mettavihari, Frits Koster, Nel Kliphuis. (In the line of Mahasi Sayadaw)
Re: Meditation on your own or in a group?
« Reply #11 on: November 19, 2010, 08:34:46 PM »
Hello again.
I did a two-day course shortly after I had posted in this thread. The reason I subscribed was an indication in a dream that I should do so. Sitting in a group, seeing the same teacher again (after over a year of sitting alone twice a day) gives me a sense of being part of a culture. My meditations are far more silent in the group. No strong feelings or images occur. I hear others talk about their experience after a sitting, and sense my reactions to that. There is so much - though subtle - influence of a group on the 'individual' mind and vice versa. I think it is really healthy to be in a group now and then - like being in a family. And this time you can choose your peers and parents.
Warmly,
Quardamon

Matthew

  • The Irreverent Buddhist
  • Member
  • Meditation: It's a D.I.Y. project.
    • Buddhism is a practical psychology and philosophy, not a religion.
    • If you cling to view, you must know this limits your potential.
Re: Meditation on your own or in a group?
« Reply #12 on: November 20, 2010, 09:24:59 AM »
Quardamon,

Good to hear this was such a positive experience for you.

Matthew
~oOo~     Tat Tvam Asi     ~oOo~    How will you make the world a better place today?     ~oOo~    Fabricate Nothing     ~oOo~

 

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