One of the problems that many people have with regard to their meditation and yoga practice is maintaining consistency. I know because I’m one of them. Fortunately though I have a good teacher, so I know what to do when I sometimes get distracted. The advice that he gave me a long time ago is as relevant today as it ever was, and this is what I would like to pass on. Like so many aspects of Yoga teaching, it is something so simple and obvious, that it’s almost embarrassing to even mention it – and yet it is of such great value that people need to be reminded of this age old advice.
The advice is, that if for one reason or another you are being distracted from your meditation practice then make an effort to spend more time with people who aren’t so distracted. See? Simple, obvious, embarrassing to even mention – but necessary and helpful nevertheless.
The common problem of distraction often gets compounded, because if we have stopped meditating we will tend to associate with other people who have also stopped meditating, or who have never been ‘into it’ in the first place. Keeping each other company in this way, people think they are okay, but the unfortunate reality is that they are helping each other to stay distracted. In some cases they completely forget and drop their meditation practice for extended periods of time.
If we know that we should be meditating more and if we want to meditate more – we don’t need to struggle and flap about on our own – we simply need to be determined to associate with other people who are also meditating. In that way everything will become very easy.
Yes, there may be a very rare person who can successfully maintain their meditation practice by their own determination, even in the midst of the many varieties of raging distractions that are a prominent feature of the modern society we find ourselves in – but we need to be honest with ourselves. Am I really strong enough to maintain a regular meditation practice by my own strength, against a tide that is overwhelmingly strong? That is a question that we all need to look at in our own personal situations. If the answer is ‘no’ and we want to do something positive about it, then as we have just described, our course is clear.
Now all of this may give the impression that group meditation is nothing more than a technique but that would be a great mistake. In one sense it is – but beyond that, and in its purest form, meditation is in reality a communal event. Just try to imagine all the people of the world – all six or seven billion of them, all sitting alone at home practicing their meditation. Even if they are strong enough to maintain themselves – what a drag that would be! Now compare that to having all those people coming to the party of all parties – and having the best chanting session ever.
So yes, there are many benefits we gain by meditating with other people, but the real point is that group chanting is simply the ‘funnest’ and natural way to go.