Group Sitting Persistence

I started hosting a weekly group sitting 1 year ago. My simple goal was to meet other meditators in my area, and since there wasn’t currently a group sitting close by, I created one. I managed to track down about 8 meditators who had completed a 10-day course and I did my best to encourage them to come to my house. This didn’t happen.

For the first month or so I people came, but their motivation quickly waned. About 3 months in I almost cancelled the sitting because it was depressing to sit alone. Why am I opening up my house and setting aside one evening a week to sit by myself? So I asked one meditator who I had become good friends with if she wanted to commit to coming every week and she did. Then a second meditator, who had been travelling for several months returned and started coming regularly. We then had a long stretch when at least one of them would come, and we might get another random meditator, so the sits were with 2 or 3 people. This helped me a lot, but still wasn’t what I had planned in the beginning.

Now with my girlfriend who completed her first course in June, we’re averaging about 3.5 meditators per session. This doesn’t seem that impressive after a whole year of hosting sittings, but it has made a big difference in all of our lives. The biggest impact is the ability for people to have a dhamma connection when they want it. The second impact which was less expected, is that people who didn’t attend the sittings regularly, but knew we were sitting locally, were inspired and motivated to meditate more consistently on their own.

I’m curious to see if and how my group sitting will change over the next year. I think it will continue to slowly grow, but it’s hard to say. The main thing is hosting a group sitting, no matter how small, has helped me continue my daily practice. Time to meditate.

 

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6 thoughts on “Group Sitting Persistence

  1. Susanna Kelly Winters

    Our local group sit here in Jacksonville had the same issues with attendance (I am guilty of showing up regularly at first, and then dropping off myself). The kind gentleman who hosted decided to suspend the weekly sits since they were so poorly attended and is spending significant time away now, but has offered to come sit with others or have others come to him when his is in town- I hope to take advantage of that. The group sit was helpful even when I didn’t attend (you are correct in your evaluation, I think). This blog has also been very helpful to me. Because it is so regularly a part of my day,it helps keep all I have learned through Vipassana close, and even though I am still not sitting regularly, I find myself reacting to, evaluating, and approaching solutions to various situations with more equanimity, and I spend more time in the present moment. I am grateful for you, and the community of writers,and Phil, for all you have done and continue to do to encourage and support other meditators.

  2. sudhakar

    if some one else comes to sit or not
    at fixed time and place, you must sit

    you change and the does place
    both grow in abundant peace

    The number oscillates in a range for long time.
    Some new show up and some drop out.

    Potluck or someother socialization once in a while not just with the meditators but their families as well will help.

    that is my experience as guest and and as host.

  3. Elena

    I’m with you on that Ryan.
    I host a group sitting and it has helped me maintain my practice.
    Thank you for sharing your thoughts on this.

  4. Teri

    Hi Ryan –

    About 3 years ago, after returning from India and feeling as though my practice finally took deep root, I decided to renovate my small abode to provide a space for a group sit in my remote community. I live in a small community of about 30,000 in the sub-Arctic. Amazingly, we have about 40 old students on a Vipassana email list and there are many more from this community who have sat a course.

    My intention in respect of hosting a group sit was and remains to be that I will continue to hold such a space for anyone and everyone who wishes to come and sit, whether they make it or not is irrelevant to me because such a fact is constantly changing and outside of my control. The only thing I can influence is my intention towards the space, which is to be consistent in a world full of inconsistencies. That is what I wish to cultivate in my life and being their for the group sit over the years has definitely strengthened my abilities in that regard.

    At times others students who may be struggling with the practice have expressed their gratitude for the holding of this space. Such expressions of gratitude in turn provide me with more inspiration given that fellow students appear comforted in knowing that continuity of practice is alive in our community. Truly, the biggest beneficiary in this process has been me, as holding such a space, whether alone or with others, has allowed me to feel a deeper connection to the greater Sangha. It has also allowed me to feel a deeper sense of purpose in respect of Dhamma in my life. Yes, there have been more evenings of sitting alone than not but at this stage that is of no consequence to me because what is more important is that a student can randomly arrive at my door on any odd Wednesday and feel welcome and not judged regardless of where they are at in their own practice. And then we sit and start again, together.

    I wish you great success in building your own continuity of practice. And I am immensely pleased to have discovered this blog. Thank you for taking the time to share your experiences.

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