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Sometimes the best group to meditate with is yourself

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Still on the high of last long weekend’s Mindful Lawyering retreat, I decided last night to join a nearby mindfulness group’s regular meditation gathering. Almost no sooner did I walk in (granted, ten minutes after the meditation had started) and sit down, than I walked right out. This was not my cup of tea. Around 25 people were lying in a circle — all on rectangular lying/sitting pads and many with blankets over them — and with two loudly snoring, already asleep. The itinerary said this lying segment would take thirty minutes before proceeding to over an hour of such activities as sitting and walking meditation.

I have nothing against lying meditation itself, although the blanket part was new to me. Of course much of this was my perception, but for me the mood at this gathering was of heavy energy rather than the uplifting, fresh and transcendent energy I experienced throughout the Mindful Lawyering retreat. Had I attended this local gathering before the retreat, I may not have noticed the contrast as much.

Locally for group meditation, the only desirable choices that I know of thus far are at least ten miles away from me, across the Potomac River, those being Sharon Salzberg’s somewhat monthly visits to the Campaign for Tibet in Washington, D.C.; the regular Insight Meditation Community of Washington’s sessions with Tara Brach and Hugh Byre; and the monthly gatherings of the D.C. Contemplative Law Group at the Georgetown Law School.

Certainly, many people go to meditation gatherings seeking to alleviate their discomfort, pain, and even dire straits. I can be with such people when they focus on the light at the end of the tunnel rather than on pulling me down into their misery.

Sometimes the best group to meditate with is yourself. Nevertheless, meditating in groups can help me keep my batteries charged and is a good way to feel connectedness with people following a similar daily practice.

In a near-future blogpost, I plan to provide some great links to videos, podcasts, and writings on mindfulness and meditation.