Community Meditation Senior Teacher and Founder of Mind Oasis
Meditation practices invite us into the present moment. When crisis strikes, and particularly when that crisis is tinged with the unknown (which is certainly the case with Covid-19), our minds tend to wonder, “What if?” From there, the thoughts tend to spiral out of control.
Establishing and maintaining a meditation practice trains our minds to anchor to an object — often times the object is the sensation of breath. By returning again and again to one object, we train our mind to stay and not go off in a bunch of different directions. As we exercise this “being in the present” muscle in our practice, that potential to stay with what is currently happening leaks into all areas of our life and becomes a lifeline during times like these.
Good meditation practices and advice also encourage us to move our attention out of our mind and into our body (through practices like a body scan or a scan of our five senses). When we shift our attention from our thinking mind into our bodies, we connect with a greater capacity to be with whatever is arising without adding a lot of extra layers of story.
Finally, with good instruction, our meditation practice can connect us more intimately with compassion and empathy for ourselves and others. This becomes crucial for understanding why we need to engage social distancing and isolation even if we ourselves feel A-OK. I’d add that while engaging a meditation practice has a bit of a learning curve at the start, once you become a daily practitioner (even just 10 minutes), you can more frequently access a level-headed response instead of reacting.
Group meditation has the greatest potency, bar none. There are a number of reasons why, but to give the short list:
- People look forward to greeting one another, and friendships grow in group meditation. When this takes place online, you end up meeting people all around the US and world that you otherwise never would have.
- When you know people look forward to seeing you in group meditation, it provides an extra level of accountability that helps you consistently show up for yourself and others.
- Having a guide ensures that you have someone to ask questions when you’re not sure if what you’re doing is quite right (there is a lot of bad meditation advice out there!).
- Meditating together is fun. Group meditation is unbelievably potent even online.
- The practice of meditation is generally amplified by having a community with a face. Teachers are useful, but teachers only go so far. Face to face interactions with fellow students also help build one’s practice and it’s a well-known principle in pedagogy that students learn from each other as much as they learn from the material or the teacher. We’ve been doing this since 2017, and every single day people show up for one another and keep coming back. To be honest, it has been more appreciated and powerful than I could ever have imagined. Our community has experienced births, deaths, hardships, triumphs, and everything in-between.
This is why Mind Oasis is structured as it is. We don’t provide one-size-fits all app, YouTube video, or the mere chance to see an online meditation teacher who doesn’t really know your name. That may work for some, but our project is different. We are building a worldwide community of connected meditators, who all have each other’s back.
And that is so needed right now.