Recently, a small group of Luang Prabang residents have begun to gather together for a weekly meditation workshop held at the Amantaka Resort. Participants’ meditation experiences vary from never having meditated before to those with regular meditation practice. The workshop aims to introduce participants to different meditation techniques as well as building the length of the practice. From the soft happy chatter and smiles at the end of the workshops, it is clear that the impact has been positive for both beginners and seasoned meditators.
There’s no doubt that meditation, whether practiced in private or as a group, has its benefits. Physiologically, the practice helps us to breathe more effectively, slowing down our heart rates, thus calming our nervous systems and bringing us at peace with the constant activity in our minds. On a spiritual level, we may feel more connected to nature or the universe. If these outcomes can be experienced by meditating alone, why then is it also important to meditate in a group?
The simplest explanation relates to motivation. Quite simply, most of us find it difficult to set aside time to meditate alone. Committing to get together with other people to meditate gives us just that little bit of motivation that we often lack. Furthermore, we also often lack concentration. How many times have we closed our eyes only to wonder how much time has gone by, taking a peek at the clock on the wall every now and then just to keep time? In a group meditation workshop, sometimes just knowing that someone else will inform us when time is up is enough to help us let go of time. Knowing that we are amongst our fellow meditators can also encourage us to relax.
Beyond these simple benefits, group meditation has also been thought to impact humanity on a global scale through the power of collective positive intent. Noted anthropologist, Margaret Mead was quoted as saying,
“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.”
Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, the founder of Transcendental Meditation (TM) believed that 1% of the world practicing his technique would positively affect the quality of life of the entire population. This is known as the Maharishi Effect. Over time, research has supported the claim that group meditation does have a powerful impact on society regardless of the technique used.
Whether or not you are a believer of the power of meditation to effect global change, certainly you might have experienced this concept on a much more modest scale. Knowing that you are meditating in a room with people who are there to bring positive changes into their lives can help you connect to the goodness within those around you. And perhaps one day you will discover a powerful sense of connectedness simply through shared silence.
If you would like to join a meditation workshop, please contact LuangPrabangYoga@gmail.com
Blog post by Julie (juliehana.com)