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Lesson 386 - Group Practice  (Audio)

From: Yogani
Date: February 25, 2010

New Visitors: It is recommended you read from the beginning of the archive, as previous lessons are prerequisite to this one. The first lesson is, "Why This Discussion?"

Q: What is the benefit of practicing in groups? I have been to many "spiritual gatherings" over the years, and most of the time there has been a sense of shared communion and energy. But I never really understood what this was. Can you clarify it?

A: There is the old Biblical saying, "When several are gathered in my name, I am there also." This does not have to be taken as a sectarian religious statement. Any kind of spiritual gathering or gathering for a higher purpose will produce a noticeable beneficial effect for the participants, and even for those who may not be physically present at the gathering. It is a clear sign of our inner connectedness in spirit. It is similar to how all the limbs of yoga are naturally connected within each person. If one limb is awakened, all the other limbs are stimulated, and we notice. Likewise, if a group of individuals is engaged in spiritual practice together, everyone in the group will be uplifted in a larger proportion, as will everyone in the vicinity, and beyond.

This has been recognized in all the spiritual traditions around the world since the beginning of human civilization. In fact, the benefits of elevating group consciousness are largely responsible for human civilization. Where such cooperative mutual upliftment has been missing, savagery has been the result. We are all sharing in a journey, and the underlying dynamic of that journey is our evolution as a species to higher stages of consciousness. Of course, we are each in it for ourselves. But that does not change the fact that our individual progress is inextricably tied to the whole, actually is the whole, and vise versa. As we have said from time to time, "The One is the many, and the many are the One."  Therefore, anything we can do to enhance group consciousness is going to be a benefit to both ourselves and the shared destiny of all humanity.

When it comes to spiritual evolution, we know we can accelerate our individual progress by engaging in effective daily spiritual practices at home. When we bring powerful practices like deep meditation into a group setting, the results can be amplified and radiated far beyond the physical location of the group. What we are finding in the age of the internet is that groups of meditators who are widely dispersed around the world can have a similar effect when the meditation time is coordinated with the intention for "group practice." It can be argued that this effect is greater than a localized group, due to the large numbers of people who can participate simultaneously everywhere. It is happening naturally already as practitioners in many countries sit down at home twice-daily, morning and evening, following the clock in waves of cultivated pure bliss consciousness traveling around the world every 24 hours.

Regardless of how group practice happens, there can be no doubt that periodically joining a group meditation is beneficial to each of us, and the world community as a whole. The positive influence of abiding inner silence cultivated in deep meditation touches everyone everywhere, with results that accumulate over time. So whether we are mediating daily at home, occasionally in a local group or worldwide internet group, or all of these, the effects will be reaching far and wide.

Some particulars on group meditations were covered way back in Lesson 37. At that time we were talking mainly about local gatherings, and it is suggested to review the lesson on the various aspects of group meditation practice. Most important to know is that if you can't find an AYP deep meditation group in your area, you can start one very easily. There is assistance available for that in the AYP Support Forums.

Since the early days of AYP, there have been ongoing developments in the growing community of practitioners that have led to many positive refinements in practice and experiences. We are getting collectively better at it. Along with this has come the development of large-scale weekly internet-coordinated global group practice sessions. These occur several times each weekend, and include deep meditation and samyama.

Samyama is a systematic practice of releasing intentions in stillness in the form of specific words or phrases (sutras), which leads to positive influences flowing outward from within omnipresent pure bliss consciousness (see Lesson 150). This accelerates our inner purification and opening, and also produces purifying effects in the environment, both nearby and instantly at great distances. We call this influence from samyama practice stillness in action. Traditionally in yoga, these effects are called siddhis.

Group samyama can be performed when there is a common cause that deep meditation practitioners wish to join together on. For example, if a friend is ill, their name can be used in group samyama practice, and beneficial healing energy will automatically be coming their way. If it is openly received, the results can be amazing.

For general benefit to all, core samyama practice (our standard list of sutras) can be performed right after group meditation. This can be followed by any targeted samyama that is agreed upon by the group. In the AYP global group meditation program, targeted samyama is being used for healing assistance through many practitioners around the world in a coordinated way each week. Information about this program, which is open to all, can be found on the AYP website.

Another form of group practice is the retreat, where practitioners withdraw from regular daily activities and responsibilities for a few days or weeks and gather to engage in an accelerated program of practice. Basic guidelines on retreats will be provided in the next lesson.

For those who would like to increase inspiration and knowledge, assist others, and enhance spiritual progress beyond daily practices at home, structured group meditations and retreats can be very helpful.

The guru is in you.

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Discuss this Lesson in the AYP Plus Support Forum

Note: For additional discussion on group practice and retreats, see the Eight Limbs of Yoga Book, and AYP Plus.

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