I participate in several different meditation groups. Each setting draws a varied group of participants. One group has a designated leader who reads a spiritual reflection to us then leads us into thirty minutes of meditation. We are discouraged from discussing our meditative experiences. The group is small 2-3. Another group gathers and meditates for thirty minutes and then reads some scripture aloud to each other taking turns and sharing reflections. This group has about 10 or so participants. The final group I meditate with gathers with some informal chat, meditates for thirty minutes, shares whatever comes up, then meditates a few minutes more before ending. This group is also small 3-5 participants.
It builds awareness to listen to what people share in these diverse and intimate settings. I am always inspired to reflect on my own experience and I am enriched by the simple act of sharing in this sacred practice with others. My own contemplative life unfolds twice daily for twenty minutes and is an important piece of my daily attention to my inner life and authentic self. It expands my perception of meditation to sit with distinct groups, cooperating in their practice too. It is an excellent opportunity to learn, to understand how to relate to others with an open mind and open heart.
There is one mature gentleman who often exclaims that he is ‘out of practice’ at the end of our meditation. This refers to a struggle focusing or some sense he has that he did not experience the meditation, as he wanted. To me, it often sounds almost apologetic – as if he is letting us down. Those of us who sit with him endeavor to highlight the importance of the process versus any particular outcome.
Recently, another group member suggested to this gentleman that the awareness of the experience was perhaps an intentional piece of the process. Therefore, not something to lament just part of the overall practice. I appreciated that perspective. Seeing meditation as a process creates space for an authentic unfolding of the self toward something deeper more liminal.
For me, this whole exchange highlights my need to focus on my own daily process while relinquishing ideas of what should and should not be done. I must hold my experience lightly. This is my small way of engaging in a humble, yet sacramental process, that leads me further into my own authentic self and thereby, deeper into wisdom and strength. It strikes me that there is a great mystery in all of this contemplative practice. Through it and in it, I am encouraged to contribute to the wellbeing of the world. It is as if the process leads me to a more relational – unitive perspective of my internal and external worlds as I encounter that which is greater than – yet part of – me.