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In terms of creating positive ripples in my community, starting a meditation circle has been one of the best things I’ve done since moving to Berlin 2 years ago. To this day, the group still meets regularly to meditate and has become a community of people that can support each other and offer a space for each of us to be heard. This is a great way of bringing people together and creating a friendship group, as well as providing support for my own practice.

Having experienced the positive effect it has had, I would love to see more of this and others doing similar. So here is a way, step by step, to start your meditation group:

Enlist Support

Before starting, as an optional first step, if you have a friend or know someone who is interested, enlist their help. Getting started with something like this is always easier with someone else. I had a good support friend at the beginning and eventually got comfortable doing it alone. This step is optional and you can of course do it alone.

1. Find A Place

You can do it at your place, a friend’s apartment, a park… ideally a place where there is not much outside noise coming in and you won’t be disturbed by other people.

2. Set a Time and Date

Pick a day, maybe two weeks ahead. Consider whether you’d like to have regular meetups and whether this day will suit you going forward. You could also change the day every week, depending on your needs, but a consistent day helps establish a routine and helps people plan around it.

3. Spread The Word

Tell any friends who might be interested in joining about your event. Share it online. You could do this via Meetup or facebook, or, as I did, on Couchsurfing. In your post, include info such as: basic information about yourself and why you’d like to hold a meditation meetup, who it is suitable for, when it is and how long it will last, and what type of meditation and exercises it will include. You can use a simple name, we held ours on Wednesdays so called it Midweek Meditation Group.

If you have limited space, I’d suggest not including the address. Instead, put a contact number or email so people can contact you to tell you if they are coming. That way it will be easier to manage numbers. You can also add info like if it’s free or if you’ll accept donations. You can also ask people to bring tea or candles, snacks, and things that you’ll use for future meetups.

Now that you’ve organised it and have a date, you need to prepare!

4. Get Ready

Get anything you may need, such as candles, cushions, tea, and maybe some snacks for after. All you will absolutely need are enough cushions for the amount of people attending. If you are short you can also ask people to bring their own cushion, like I did when first starting out. Then, the day of, go a bit early to prepare the space and make it nice and cosy. Clear away clutter and have some nice low lighting, either with lamps or some candles.

5. Hold the Circle

Ask people to arrive on time to prevent latecomers disturbing the sit. When people arrive, give them a warm welcome and take them through to a place where they can sit down and talk to others. Ask people to turn off their phones. You could even have a box where people can drop them for the time of the meet.

Once everyone has arrived, you can say hello and remind them of the basic plan for the session. A nice way to begin is a short sharing round. Before that, it might be useful to offer some sharing guidelines. In the first session, I think a nice thing to do is ask people why they came and are interested in meditation. In future and consecutive meetups, I think it’s nice to have a round where each person just takes a moment to check in with themselves and share how they’re feeling with the group. When you have a consistent group, each person can share a little more with what has been going on with them since last time.

You can guide the meditation yourself if you feel comfortable doing that. Otherwise, you can prepare a guided meditation and play it. You can also just decide a set time and do a silent meditation.

Then, you have successfully held your first meditation meetup. Here’s some further tips:

Be Open to Evolve and Mix It Up

It can be nice to offer a few different types of mindfulness activities to keep the practice fresh, and as different things will work for different people, it’s nice to expose people to different tools.

Some activities that we’ve done include:

  • Pranayama (breathing exercise)
  • Mindful eating
  • Sound Meditation
  • Body Scan
  • Mindfulness of Breath
  • Open Awareness
  • Eye Gazing
  • Loving Kindness Meditation

As you have more experience holding the circles and getting to know the group you will feel more comfortable mixing it up and can also include other things like authentic relating exercises.

Don’t Be Afraid to Start Small

Don’t worry about how many people show up. Keep going! More and more people will reach out and you will find your community. For my first one, which a friend and I hosted, we had one person show up. The next week we had 2, and the following week we were at capacity of 10 and had to turn people away. Over time a regular group settled and I stopped posting about the event online.

Keep It Regular

I think keeping some kind of regularity is great to help build connections between people and offer some consistency to people’s support and practice. If once a week is too much, consider every two weeks.

That’s it. I have seen how initiatives like this can really help people so if this idea calls to you I encourage you to take the first steps to hold your first circle today!

The quiet room is something I picked up from friend and New Moon colleague Tuk a few years ago and is something I always try to arrange for group sessions whether it’s in a house or an apartment.

The Quiet Room

The quiet room is basically a designated room in which there is no talking and no music playing. It functions as a place anyone can go to for some quiet or solo time and is normally used as a secondary room to the main room where people will be together.

Quiet space is very useful when:

  • Being in a group or in a sociable setting is too much or becomes uncomfortable
  • If someone doesn’t want to or is finding it very difficult to talk
  • Anyone wants some time to themselves
  • Just want some peace

What I love about the quiet room is that you can still have a recreational style trip with friends and still have an opportunity to get introspective. At any time you can head to the quiet space and find some time in the session to do that.

For example, if you are taking truffles with friends then you could at some point head to the quiet room to spend half an hour journaling answers to some questions you have prepared for yourself. In this way you can still get some good introspective and reflective work done without having to devote a whole session to it and without having to choose between either a solo inner work style journey or a recreational style journey with friends.

Setting Up & Guidelines for a Quiet Room

To set up a quiet room all you need to do is suggest the idea to your friends and make sure everyone agrees on it beforehand. I would say its a good idea to agree that there is no talking in the quiet room and have this clear from the outset. This helps to prevent someone coming in and disturbing another while they are wanting some peace and quiet. This type of innocent mistake can happen for different reasons whilst tripping; it could be that someone is extremely excited and wants to share that with everyone, or that someone is worrying about another person who has been quiet for a while. Both scenarios can lead to someone unintentionally bothering another who is fine but just wants to be on their own for a while.

Having the quiet room clearly defined makes it clear that anyone who is in there will not be spoken to and it is fine for two or three people to be in there at the same time, each minding their own business and doing their own thing. It’s useful to remember to keep the door closed to stop noise from spilling in.

Creating Setting

Once you’ve decided which room you will use then the first thing you need is some comfortable places for people to lie down. Mattresses on the floor work perfectly, but otherwise any mats or even floor space for people to lie down and get comfortable. Cozify with blankets and pillows. Creating a cozy space with your fellow journeyers can be a fun activity in itself and building the set together is a great way to begin connecting before journey.

It’s also nice to leave a couple of music players and pairs of headphones in there. Load the music players up with a nice selection of music beforehand and if they are phones, make sure they are on airplane mode or even better, with SIM removed. It can also be nice to leave some pens, papers and art supplies in there for people to use for journaling or getting creative. Finally, equip with some basic supplies like water and snacks.

As with general setting space I would recommend a low lighting and cozy ambience. I would not recommend any open flames such as candles, but rather some nice lamps. With lamps, be careful not to use ones that heat up if they are left on a long time as these can also start flames if certain materials are left on them.

Allowing Space to Check in

The quiet room acts as a kind of designated safe space for group sessions. It can promote feelings of safety and relaxation for everyone involved, knowing that they can retreat if at any time they feel anxiety, social or otherwise. It can give you a chance to step out from the group dynamic, a chance to check in with yourself and really take a look at and see how you’re feeling. It can also be used to step out and actively investigate some things going on in your life that you don’t want to share with the group but would like some time to think about and reflect on. It can also be useful to maybe do some problem-solving by yourself.

A quiet room is definitely a key aspect to creating the setting and I would say it’s useful even if the group session is not a recreational or sociable one. For example, even if the main room is used as a formal ceremony room where journeyers are not speaking to each other, the quiet room can still be very useful because the energy of a group ceremony can be quite intense. Although a being in a group ceremony can be enlightening and a great way to learn about how we relate to others and our own social insecurities, it can still be quite a lot to take in and it can be nice to have the option of stepping away from that. It is something we arrange for retreats with New Moon and it was also nice to see a quiet room put in place when I worked on retreat with Truffles Therapy.

If you are unsure of whether you would like to do a group trip with friends I encourage you to suggest having a quiet room and ask them what they think about that.

Viel Glück!