Last night the meditation group I lead celebrated our first anniversary together. The group has grown steadily over the past year, from five of us at the start to 15 people if all attend. Every other week, we sit and meditate together; I give a brief talk, or lead a group reflection; and then, after the dedication of merit, we say goodbye. Most of us don’t know each other outside the meditation room, yet there are many expressions of appreciation for the intimacy and trust found there.
One of our members suggested a group dinner. What it would be like to have dinner together is an important question. The agreement to sit in silence and to practice right speech is precious. It’s also a more unusual way to spend social time, for or most of us, than having a dinner party…. And, a dinner party! What a great opportunity for practice! (That’s a very teacher-ish perspective, I suppose….)
After all, the moment our tush leaves the meditation cushion or yoga mat is the moment everyday mindfulness begins. It’s the real-time expression of our practice! How do we see clearly our habits of community engagement or disconnection, and the roles we take on? How does our body-mind move and feel when we are alone compared with meditating together or being at a party? How can we remember to touch in with the presence we nurture on the cushion? Staying close and mindful even when filling our plate and figuring out where to sit and chatting about the ordinary events of our lives.
Congratulations to the Bernal Meditation Group for one year of dedicated practice together, and for courageously venturing into conscious community! Plus, the food tasted great.
And for the readers out there, who do you hang out with these days? How might you welcome even more presence, embodiment, and connection into your community? Where is your tasty sangha?