We talk about meditation all the time at Cleveland Clinic, and for good reason: It’s really, really good for you. In fact, the physical and emotional benefits sound almost too good to be true. There’s the lowered levels of stress and anxiety, for starters, plus an improved immune system, better sleep, reduced blood pressure, improved concentration, even a better preserved brain as you age. And that’s just for starters. Which may explain why so many people are hopping on the meditation bandwagon. But if you’re picturing someone sitting cross-legged at home and chanting in her empty living room, we have news for you: Meditation doesn’t have to be a solo experience. And lately, it’s become almost social, with group meditation events happening not only in studios devoted to the practice, but in libraries, hotels, and even in New York City’s Central Park.
When you think about it, it makes sense: In a world where everyone is hyper-connected, it can be tough to devote yourself to any solo activity, let alone one that newbies may find intimidating and uncomfortable. As with many things, doing something with a group can help you stay committed to the activity. It’s a bit like having a walking or running body — you simply have to show up. What’s nice, too, is that meditating with others means you can’t get up to answer the phone, like at home, or decide to fold laundry five minutes into your practice. You wouldn't ditch your bike in the middle of spin class, right? Meditating with a group can also help inspire you to live like the rest of your meditation community, which means making the practice a regular part of your life. If that means swapping happy hour at the bar for a meditative hour that will leave you happier and healthier, we say, “om, yes!”