I tried learning a lot of things this year – photography, drumming, coding, Cantonese, singing – but nothing has become more a part of me than an outdoor meditation group I’ve joined since May 2021.
Looking back, it’s taken at least five years and different experiences to get me here.
In February 2016, I joined a 45-minute indoor meditation session. I’m not sure what drew me to it in the first place though. It might have been a culmination of hearing about it on the podcasts I was listening to, encountering Headspace, and mum’s encouragement.
The session was fascinating and I can see from my Meet Up records that I went back a few weeks later but that was it.
I have a faint recollection of going to a buddhist temple before or after this experience and meditating there. Again, it was an interesting experience but just a one-off thing.
I didn’t get into meditation from these experiences but I think they did plant the seeds somewhat.
Fast forward a few years, in 2019 I joined Sam Harris’ Waking Up app and started meditating alone regularly. Until May of 2021, I was still doing this on my own and it didn’t occur to me to revisit the idea of group meditations.
In April of 2021, I bought a 90-day package for a yoga and wellness studio that had recently opened near my gym. I was going through their class offerings and came across a meditation class. Just out of curiosity and also the need to use up the class credits I had bought, I signed up.
The class itself a simple body scan guided meditation but it couldn’t have come at a better time in my life. After meditating alone for more than a year and believing it was one of the best things I took up, I was ready to do much longer sessions than I had done alone. And I was also ready to do it with others.
After a few sessions at the studio, I wanted to do engage in a more formal practice and looked up the Meet Up app. To my surprise, someone was just then restarting an outdoor meditation group that hadn’t been active since mid-2019. What are the chances?
Awareness and commitment
I think if I hadn’t done those 10-minute meditations alone over a span of a year and a half, I wouldn’t have found the 2×20-minute group meditations very accessible.
But the positive experience from the first session has turned into 18 sessions across 6 months this year:
- 22, 29 May
- 5, 19 June
- 3, 10, 17, 31 July
- 7, 14, 21, 28 Aug
- 4, 11, 18, 25 September
- 2, 23 Oct
Other than the 2 days I missed due to personal reasons, the other days were days when the meditation had to be cancelled due to bad weather.
I was so acutely aware of the ‘lightness’ and ease I felt after each session that I committed to going every Saturday morning.
Even after a late Friday night, I somehow wake up Saturday morning and head to the park to meet the group. Even if I feel like skipping, coming up with a creative range of excuses to justify that, I get up and go. And every time, I’m glad that I did.
Honestly, I think a part of me that kept me going was the desire to have some long term practice unlike the other things I tried to pick up but couldn’t sustain. I wanted to be able to call myself a meditator – and for that I needed to meditate.
It took a while to come full circle but now, after 6 months, it’s become a part of me.
Can I call myself a meditator now? Well, that doesn’t really matter anymore.