Reasons to fall in love with Group Meditation

Meditation is a journey within. It is the process of developing a relationship with yourself, and truly getting to know yourself, of stripping back the layers of expectations that have accumulated since birth, and finding out who you truly are.

It is a very personal journey of self discovery, and everyone’s journey is different. So why embark on this individual and intimate journey surrounded by other people? Surely that is paradoxical?

Over the years I have found the benefits of meditating in a group to be profoundly beneficial, exhilarating and life changing! My positive experiences encouraged me to become a teacher myself, and the groups and workshops I run on a regular basis here at Haney’s Holistic Wellbeing, continually give me a deeper understanding and belief in the power of group meditation.

Group Motivation.

It is easy to find excuses not to do something on your own, such as meditating, but when you find a group you ‘click‘ with, and enjoy being with, it encourages and motivates you to continue to develop a consistent practice. Attending the group on a regular basis can become part of your social calendar and a way of meeting like minded people and sharing experiences.

Sometimes, especially when we embark on a spiritual journey, it can feel quite lonely and bewildering but meeting up with a regular group who are also starting their journey can be both stimulating and inclusive and it is fun to share the path together, rather than alone.

Many people who come to my groups, share with me the fact that the group inspires them to practice regularly, as without it they would probably fall off the wagon! The longer they come for, the more their practice deepens and they start to reap the benefits in their everyday lives.

Face to Face Connection

We humans are social animals, and as a rule we tend to thrive in communal group environments where there is a collective feeling of ‘being in this together‘ . By learning and growing together we can develop a real connection and harmony and take inspiration from shared progress.

It is comforting to know that you can share experiences and feedback with the group if you want to. Many different experiences can arise during meditation, and being part of a group allows you to share any struggles, insights, joys or ‘light bulb‘ moments that you have.

Often, when people first come to my groups, they are very quiet and reserved , but as they weeks go on, and they become familiar and comfortable with the energies of the group and what to expect, they begin to open up like flowers in the sunshine and this is so rewarding to observe!

Even if you do not want to share your experiences with everyone else, you can still feel a real sense of connection by tapping into the same silence and source of peace. Recorded EEG results have shown that brainwaves synchronise when meditating, bringing to life the familiar saying “on the same wavelength“!

The Power of Collective Energy and Intention This power is awesome and really has to be experienced to be believed!

When a group comes together, to meditate with the same intention, to learn and grow together for their own and the collective good, the energy is palpable!

At the start of each of my groups, I always take a moment to ‘check in‘ with the energy in the room. People arrive and bring with them their fears, their concerns, their anxieties and stresses, their joys and their sorrows . As the session develops I can sense and feel a change in the atmosphere. Slowly and gradually the energy settles down, then starts to amplify and rise. I can sense the consciousness changing within the room and I feel we are creating a safe, warm, cocoon-like bubble of positivity, calm, harmony and deep peace and at some level this is vibrating out and having an influence, no matter how small, on the greater consciousness. This is so rewarding for everyone, and cannot be found in an app!

When we finish a session and everyone leaves, I always take a minute or two to soak up the positive atmosphere and energy that has been created by everyone in the room, confident in the knowledge that they too will take a drop or more of this inspiring essence back out into their everyday lives.

So, if you have contemplated meditating in a group situation, but have been unsure, I urge you to give it a try and here are a couple of tips.

  1. Seek out different groups and find out a bit about how they operate. There are many different types of meditation, ranging from Mindfulness, to Zen Buddhist to Transcendental. Make sure the time of day suits you, also the regularity with which they meet. Don’t be frightened to ask questions before you go along, and make sure you are happy with the answers. Try different groups until you find the one that resonates with you!
  2. Make sure you like the teacher/ guide who is running the group and that you feel comfortable with them. Every teacher has a slightly different style but it is important that you connect with the person teaching you to enable them to guide you on your journey.
  3. Whichever group you decide on, try not to go along with preconceived expectations, but instead with an open heart and an open mind. These really are the only 2 requirements you need for your meditation journey! Good Luck!

If you would like to find out more about my workshops or the regular meditation sessions I run, please get in touch with me through the contact page.

I would be delighted to hear from you!

How Meditation has benefited my life

In my first blog I opened the door to the practice of meditation and explained a little of what it involves and some basic tips on how to start.

Meditation is a very personal journey, and that journey will be different for everyone, so I thought I would share with you how I came to embrace the practice and how it has benefited my life so far.

As a child I regularly went to church with my family. The thing that resonated with me during these occasions was the collective sense of energy I felt all around and the sacred rituals associated with mass, for example the prayers, the lighting of candles, the hymns and the beautiful robes worn by the priest.

However, I began to realise that religion alone did not fulfill me. I always felt that somewhere deep within me there was a powerful source and a well of knowledge, but I was at a loss of how to tap into it.

A thriving career in media and a hectic social life in my 20’s and 30’s took my mind off the need for any inner searching, but when personal tragedy struck on more than one occasion, the need for answers and deeper fulfillment returned, this time with a greater urgency.

I had read about the benefits of meditation and had dipped into the practice on occasion, but in a whimsical way, with no real commitment or understanding.

I now felt the need to explore it again. I read some of the studies on meditation, in fact there are over 3,000 studies documenting its benefits, ranging from reducing blood pressure, stress and anxiety, to increasing happiness and creativity, to improved memory and emotional stability…WOW !

So why when I started meditating was I disappointed ?

I found it hard to sit still, I felt guilty for doing ‘ nothing ‘. I couldn’t concentrate on my breath, I felt silly ! my mind was full of incessant thoughts that wouldn’t subside and I was annoyed at not being able to clear my mind. There were no lightning bolts, no deep revelations and I felt I had failed. I felt cheated ! What the hell was all the fuss about ?

However something deep inside me told me to keep going.

By nature I can be stubborn, determined and wilful. If I want something I do not give up easily. So a combination of deep curiosity, a need for mental peace and answers, inner guidance and sheer bloody mindedness made me return to my practice regularly and doggedly, not always with a good heart!

Then, over the weeks and months that followed things began to change.

I began to find it easier to breath. My breaths became deeper and calmer and I was concentrating on my breath for longer periods of time.

As a result I felt calmer after each session, more at peace and a mental clarity began to gradually emerge.

Some days were harder than others, occasionally it was a chore, but I stuck at it and slowly, but surely this magical practice, very gently crept into all areas of my life, and I found myself on the most awesome journey of self discovery!

I began to see life differently. I realised I could separate myself from certain emotional struggles and difficulties by observing them, rather than getting caught up in them, and this allowed me to make decisions from a calmer, more relaxed perspective, rather than reacting in the moment and making things worse!

I became more tolerant of painful feelings. Rather than trying to bury them and move on, as I had done in the past, I began to face them and see what they had to teach me. I started to embrace painful and negative emotions full on and it felt cathartic, if at times upsetting. For the first time in my life I faced my dark side, my shadow side and I went to places in my mind I had been too scared to explore before. I began to grow and felt a more rounded and whole person by doing so, I became less critical and more compassionate of myself and others.

As the years have gone on meditation is no longer a chore. I look forward to it with a sense of excitement and anticipation. I have grown to love and cherish the time alone, sitting in stillness, calming my mind and body and seeing what it brings. I have learnt, for the most part, how to calm my mind so I can hear my inner voice and tap into my intuition. I have learnt to follow my heart rather than my mind. Sometimes I have flashes of awareness, of being part of a greater whole. Sometimes I make new discoveries about myself or my way forward in life, and other times I struggle to settle, but continue to do so, knowing that every experience is part of the bigger transformation.

Meditation allows me to filter out the rubbish and get rid of old stagnant energies, making way for the new. I feel more grateful, less rushed, lighter of spirit and happier.

When I meditate I feel I am nurturing my well being from the inside out and I have made it a sacred ritual in my life that is as important as eating and sleeping.

Does meditation guarantee you a stress free, perfect ,happy life?

No! Life will always have its challenges and will periodically throw us curve balls, usually when we are least expecting them. Just as a ship can sail along in calm waters, then hit an unexpected storm, life can do the same. I have found that meditation does not stop the storms happening, but it allows me to navigate them a little better and to surf the waves rather than drown in them .

With meditation there is no end goal or result. There is no moment when you say ‘I’m done’, ‘I’ve achieved it’, ‘I don’t have to do it anymore’.

It is a journey. My journey has taken me down many roads and paths, some familiar but many unfamiliar. As a result of my practice I have been guided to make decisions in my life that I could not have imagined 15 years ago. I am on a journey through life that unfolds with synchronicity if I learn to love and live in the moment, if I let go of the need to control the future and trust in the process. This is not always easy and needs constant practice, but I keep trying.

I am enjoying the freedom this is giving me, to see things as they really are, with more clarity and acceptance, it is liberating!

The world hasn’t changed, but my perspective has.

When life gets tough meditation is an anchor that guides me back to my heart and brings me home, it is a place where I now feel comfortable and safe.

You can talk about it, you can read about it, but you have to EXPERIENCE it for yourself to appreciate the life changing benefits it
can bring.

I hope that my insights will encourage any of you who have toyed with the idea of meditating, to take up the practice and begin your own journey of self discovery. It takes a small commitment and regular practice, but it is worth it!

I run regular evening and daytime groups from my barn workspace here in the heart of Pewsey, as well as regular one day workshops in all different aspects of meditation and wellbeing . So, if you are interested in coming along and trying it for yourself, or if you have any questions then please get in touch via the contact page, I would love to hear from you!

Meditation Made Easy!

The words stress, anxiety, overworked, blood pressure, angst, overwhelm, overload and illness are words I hear all too often in my treatment room. Men, women and teenagers come looking for some rest, relaxation, healing, pampering or ‘chill out time’ from a world that seems to be increasingly pressurized, demanding and unforgiving. I am so often asked how I deal with the increasing pressures of life and how I relax. My answer is simple….I meditate!

I started this wonderful practice some 15 years ago, but my relationship was a fickle affair. I meditated when I was down or I felt that I needed something, but often wouldn’t bother when things were going well. It took several years for me to understand that meditation could really enhance my life, but only if I visited it on a regular basis.

“To earn the trust of your meditation you have to visit it daily, it’s like having a puppy”

Chelsea Richer

So what exactly is meditation?

Quite simply, mediation is reaching a state of calm awareness, by focusing on a central thought or action, paying attention to the present moment and letting it unfold without judgement or criticism. When we meditate we switch from our normal mode of “doing” to a mode of “non doing”, to simply being! It is not about achieving a specific result, or judging the quality of the experience, as each meditation will be different. It is more about observing with compassion how we are feeling and what is going on within us, whether it is happiness and joy, or sadness and anger. Rather than being our own worst critic, we learn to make friends with ourselves and in doing so we can achieve a greater sense of inner peace and happiness, and make decisions from a place of calm, rather than reacting through stress and overload.

Mediation is not a religion, but a relationship with yourself based on commitment not commandment, and finding your true path. The bi-product of this commitment is a healthier and more open state of mind, a healthier body and a happier outlook on life!

To experience the numerous and wonderful benefits of meditation, the most important thing is to get started and to experience it ! Here are some simple tips:

1) Find a comfortable place to sit, as comfort is the key to an enjoyable practice. Find a place that is peaceful and has few distractions. This will enable you to concentrate better.
2) Gently lower or close your eyes as cutting visual stimulation helps to calm the mind.
3) Bring your attention to your breath. Close your mouth and breath through your nose, and let your breathing settle into a pattern that’s comfortable for you. Notice how your breath feels as it enters and then leaves your nose and notice how your body feels as you breathe, the rise and fall of your chest and stomach each time you inhale and exhale.
4) Whenever your mind wanders, and it will, just gently bring it back to the focus of your attention, in this instance, your breath. Use your breath as an anchor to bring you back to the present whenever you find your mind wandering. It doesn’t matter how many times you have to bring your mind back whether it is once or 100 times. The most important thing is to keep bringing it back for the duration of the session.
5) Set realistic time goals. Start with 1 to 5 minutes a day, if that is all you can find the time for. Regularity is more important than length of time; it is better to meditate for 2 minutes a day than for an hour every fortnight.
6) Have no judgement or expectation. There is no right or wrong way to meditation, if you can breathe you can meditate! Each experience will be different, so don’t get attached to the outcome. Just as long as you turn up and focus on your breath, REGULARLY, you will reap the enormous benefits of this beautiful practice as they slowly begin to seep into all areas of your life.

The tips I have given you here are very basic meditation techniques to get you started. If you have any questions, or want to join one of my groups or forthcoming workshops, please get in touch via the contact page, i would love to hear from you!