It is normal to feel awkward when you force yourself to sit quietly by yourself if you are not accustomed to doing that. It may feel like being trapped with yourself in silent stillness, watching yourself being unable to figure out what to do. The key to easing into it is:
– not to force anything
– not be alone
– talk with others about what is happening.
The practice I will be describing here is a hybrid, as it combines meditation and mindful connection. You do it with a friend or a small group of friends. In a relatively short amount of time, you can both go inside and feel connected with people.
The mix of meditation and sharing is a great format for people who want to deepen their practice of meditation, as well as people who are new to it. It enables you to learn more about the process and about yourself.
This page gives simple instructions on how you can set it up.
It is very easy to set up. There is a short introduction (giving people a sense of what is ahead), a moment of mediation, and then, sharing in a meditative way. The rest of this article gives you a sense of the structure. There is a one-minute video describing what it feels like toward the end of this page.
Introduction to Meditation in Connection
We are making time now for a special moment of meditation in connection.
Essentially, what we’re doing is combining meditation (that is, going inside, connecting with our inner experience), and connection with other people.
Let’s first break the ice, by briefly introducing us to each other. A very brief, one sentence introduction.
We’re going to start with 15 minutes of meditation and then we’ll talk about it. At that time, I will explain how we share. Right now, let’s get ready for our 15 minutes of meditation.
You can use any way of meditating that you’re accustomed to. If you’re not very familiar with meditation, think of it as some kind of a pause. A moment when you’re going inside, paying attention to your inner experience. You’re especially paying attention to what happens in the body. Noticing thoughts as they come, yes, noticing feelings as they arise, but also curious about what happens in the body.
Often, what happens in the body is fairly subtle, so it may feel like nothing is happening. Or it may feel like your attention is highjacked by tension or aches. Or by worries, or even anxiety. And it’s OK. It’s not going to last more than 15 minutes, and then we can talk about it together if you want to.
So, relax and enjoy the show! Notice where your attention gets pulled, and gently come back to the pause, and to what is happening in your body.
Set an alarm for 15 minutes (or the time that your group would prefer).
Connection (after the alarm): A contemplative conversation about the meditation
Now, we’re taking turns sharing what it was like to meditate.
As we share our experiences, we do so in a meditative mode. We speak slowly and err on the side of using fewer words rather than too many. A lot of what there is to say might be left unsaid, and it’s OK. The point of the practice is to gently open the door, not open the floodgates.
It may be that what you experienced is pretty vague, and it’s tempting to say “nothing much happened.” I encourage you to embrace the vagueness. Just say: “ there was something I can’t quite put my finger on” and you might just stop with that. Or, as you say it and pause, it is possible that something more comes up. For instance: “it was like something was churning in my stomach, a little bit, not too strong… not quite churning, but something like that.” It doesn’t have to make logical sense.
So, it’s totally okay to share something that is not quite formed.
What does it feel like?
In this one-minute video, Hilary Bradbury describes what a moment of Meditation In Connection feels like.
Gently transitioning away from the space of meditative connection
If this is the first time you’re doing this with a friend or a small group, it’s a good idea to plan on having a little time to talk a bit about the experience, and about possibly doing it again, maybe regularly.
In any case, you make a gentle transition from leaving this very connected space, inner connection and interconnection, to go back into ordinary reality. An abrupt ending would be jarring. Give time for goodbyes.