Ourselves and each other

I came to meditation some years ago during a bad patch (do we ever seek help when things are good?). I started out with a CD, then found a group, and realised that like most activities it was much easier to keep up with a group than when you’re on your own.

The group is important for me in many ways. For one thing, it keeps me anchored to a weekly routine, and motivates me to maintain my daily practice (more or less!). But it also liberates me from my social identity. We meet to sit first, and to socialise second, so there is no pressure to ask or answer (and resist!) questions of who you are, where you come from, what work you do, and what car you drive.

I started this post thinking I was going to explain why it was I meditated, but I think the more important question is why I meditate with others. This is what I wrote in a blurb about my local mindfulness group:

‘We sit to learn how to be more in ourselves and with each other’.

Sure you can meditate alone, but meditating in a group allows you to step out of yourself and be with others; not talking at them, or judging them, or annoying them, or trying to get them to like you. Just being with other people in silence makes me better at being myself.

It probably isn’t an accident that the Three Jewels in Buddhism refer to the Buddha, the Dharma (teachings) and the Sangha (spiritual community), rather than the unholy trinity of ‘Me, me and myself’.

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