Book Reviews | Gordon Campbell | News Flashes | Scoop Features | Scoop Video | Strange & Bizarre | Search

 


Is Group Meditation an Oxymoron?


Is Group Meditation an Oxymoron?

By Martin LeFevre

I have never understood the concept and practice of group meditation. The term has always sounded like an oxymoron to me. To my mind, awakening meditation is an inherently solitary art. Sometimes I take sittings in the backyard, but the freeway is less than a mile away and can often be heard. Most days I take the time to go for a walk and sitting in the large park that runs through town, or better yet, the semi-wilderness just beyond this small city in northern California.

When I sit in the backyard, I don’t resist the noise of the highway. To me, the noisy mind is like the constant din of a freeway. Resistance and opposition are futile; they only introduce conflict and more noise.

Sitting with a group of people in a room seems like sitting in a little park in the center of San Francisco. I’ve lived there and done that, but it makes awakening meditating, already an arduous art, that much more difficult. Are people who try to awaken meditation together seeking comfort or affirmation in the group?

The traffic that runs through our mind is not merely from our own accumulated and unaddressed experience, but from old family and relationship business, and more metaphysically, the background din of the culture in which one happens to live.

The brain requires regular periods of wakeful quiet, and in turn, a quiet mind requires space and solitude. Sometimes I wonder if I’m missing something about group meditation, but the last time I attended such as session, the facilitator actually said that communal sitting allows him “to feed off the group.” Egad.

Certainly there is merit in taking a few minutes of silence before beginning a dialogue, but for the person who regularly experiences the radical shifts in consciousness that characterizes the meditative state, sitting with a bunch of other busy minds as one attends to one’s own makes it that much harder.

Theoretically, one can meditate anywhere, anytime, but essentially one can only awaken meditation alone. That doesn’t mean being isolated, but embracing the richness and miracle of solitude.

I saw the drops on the stream before I felt them. The variable sky had completely occluded just after I sat down at the table downstream from the footbridge. Gently, but insistently, the clouds began to disgorge their moisture.

A steady rain fell for half an hour. In addition to my hat and shell, the bay tree overhead provided enough shelter. I remained with the impulse to leave until it passed. Then I saw rain for the first time.

It was more than a drizzle but less than a downpour. After ten minutes or so, long after the concern about getting wet or looking foolish had passed, there was an insight that completely surprised me.

Gentle rain in early spring is shelter for the land. It encloses every living thing in its encompassing, regenerative roof. There is an inherent reverence experiencing such a rain. Water is the essence of life, and life, at least new life, is joy. Both qualities were in abundance as the rain fell.

Two women, both with dogs, walked by as the drizzle came down. The first had a friendly, open, pretty face, with eyes that smiled before she said hello. When I said ‘nice rain,’ she exclaimed, “It’s beautiful!”

Meditation descended as softly as the rain. Then there was just the sight, sound, and smell of the present moment. When there is no self-concern and no thought, just beauty, joy rains down, and bubbles up within.

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
Top Scoops Headlines

 

Don Franks: Thwarting National's Tea-Break Busting Bill

National's tea break busting bill will pass through parliament this week. What will this mean? The Government's Employment Relations Amendment Bill makes several changes, including removal of guaranteed tea breaks and meal breaks. More>>

Jim Miles: Canada’s Heart Of Darkness

Once upon a time, Canada was able to create the illusion that it was the “peaceable kingdom”, an illusion accepted domestically and arguably by most of the rest of the world. This history has been well discredited with newer historical research outlining how Canada’s position as a “peacekeeper,” generally under UN auspices, remained effectively within the realm of U.S. foreign policy... More>>

ALSO:

Michael Collins: Jet Fighter Shoot Down Of MH 17 Still On Table

A senior prosecutor investigating the MH17 shoot down for the Dutch Prosecutors office, Fred Westerbeke, offered up as many questions as he did answers in an interview with SpiegelOnline yesterday. More>>

Jonathan Cook: How Israel Is Turning Gaza Into A Super-Max Prison

It is astonishing that the reconstruction of Gaza, bombed into the Stone Age according to the explicit goals of an Israeli military doctrine known as Dahiya, has tentatively only just begun two months after the end of the fighting. More>>

Binoy Kampmark: Dysfunctional Hagiography: Australia & Gough Whitlam's Death

Hagiography is the curse of the Australian Labor movement. It is a movement that searches for, and craves, mythical figures and myths. Such a phenomenon might be termed mummification, and detracts from closer examination. More>>

David Swanson: On Killing Trayvons

This Wednesday is a day of action that some are calling a national day of action against police brutality, with others adding 'and mass incarceration,' and I'd like to add 'and war' and make it global rather than national. More>>

Uri Avnery: Israel Ignoring “Tectonic Change” In Public Opinion

If the British parliament had adopted a resolution in favour of the Israeli occupation of the West Bank, the reaction of our media would have been like this: More>>

ALSO:

| UK MPs blow a “raspberry” at Netanyahu and his serfs

Byron Clark: Fiji Election: Crooks In Suits

On September 17 Fiji held its first election since Voreqe “Frank” Bainimarama seized power in a 2006 coup. With his Fiji First party receiving 59.2% of the vote, Bainimarama will remain in power. More>>

Get More From Scoop

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Top Scoops
Search Scoop  
 
 
Powered by Vodafone
NZ independent news