by Freida Maverick
There is now a secular meditation group in Hamilton, New Zealand. We meet at the Central City Library at 6:15 pm on Mondays.
This group came about because I have wanted group meditation with people who are in the same room together. Meditation with people in-person has an energy and connection that I do not experience during online group meditations. And in New Zealand, we are still able to hug each other in these contexts, which is really nice. Before and after group meditation there is an informal socializing that is also missing from online groups.
After speaking with the local librarian, we came up with the idea of offering a free community class that would be hosted by the library. The idea is that I give a 15-minute instruction on how to meditate (the ‘community class’ bit), followed by a 40 minute formal, silent group meditation. The formal silent group meditation is not guided (‘silent’). This allows for people to practice whatever particular meditation type or technique that suits them. The instruction is for people who are new to meditation; experienced meditators need only turn up at 6:30 pm for the formal group meditation. These sessions are called Meditation on Mondays, advertised on the library website:
The first group meditation was this week, on a very wet Monday evening. I waited alone in the library room for a long time before one person turned up. We chatted for a while, and then another person turned up. The three of us weren’t so keen on the room we were in, so we decided to check out another room in the library. As we were walking out, another person turned up.
The second room is much quieter, and we did have enough time to meditate together for 20 minutes. That 20-minute meditation was enough for all of us to know that we wanted to do it again. I think more people might come next Monday.
I’m still looking for my secular dharma sangha. I may never find it in Hamilton, NZ. It may be that talking with people about secular dharma will only ever be online. It may be that a secular meditation group will be the nearest alternative, but maybe that will be good enough.