There is a buoyancy to group sitting that makes it easier than meditating alone. This is especially true when the group is set up to maximize the sense of mutual support, cooperation and shared effort.
At our meditation retreats we make the most of that mysterious buoyancy by adopting a formal structure together. Following a simplified set of guidelines borrowed from Zen Buddhism, we sit quietly, remaining still and upright, in a carefully arranged space. Then we try to “stay put” for 30 minutes per session, with walking meditation breaks in between. This way of meditating together has been honed over many centuries for creating space conducive to serene reflection and transformation. The shared intention to create such a peaceful place for one another makes it easier for everybody to remain settled and venture deep.
If that sounds intimidating, don’t worry. We’re not too strict about it. For us, it is more about what we aspire to, not about “rules”. Also, it’s OK to skip sessions if you need a break.
To read more about the power of group meditation, see this excerpt from Thich Nhat Hanh’s Friends on the Path.