Remote Meditation Group Challenge
You can find many articles online on the benefits of meditation and, moreover, the increased benefits of same in the group environment. Benefits of group meditation include: a greater ability to develop a routine, the introduction and feedback are provided by the instructor, learning from each other through the various experience levels of other practitioners, greater power in numbers, and developing a common bond with your peers.
As we at X-Team are a remote company, a community of developers and individuals, spread out over all continents on the globe, it is not often we get to hold a group-anything, in person. So, we thought, why not bring the benefits of meditation to the remote world in the form of a fully asynchronous, remote meditation group.
Most of our communication is Slack-based, so this naturally started sometime last quarter of 2017 when we began the Yoga Club, a place where we interactively promote health and a work-life balance through all things Yoga.
Feel free to subscribe to our Shivam Yoga Playlist on Youtube to follow along.
We began by planning a monthly meditation challenge where the goal was to familiarise or re-familiarise everyone with meditation techniques. The goal was this, and to develop our own, personal routine along the way, with access to the Yoga Club channel, #yoga, for group discussion and weekly DMs (direct messages) from the instructor/meditation facilitator, for more personalised advice and guidance.
Once we got to our Monday start day, we took a roll-call, then kicked things off.
How did we keep this up for a month? Let’s take a look…
We started with a brief introduction to meditation and the benefits on all levels of the body, through the physical, energetic, emotional, mental, and spiritual levels. Then, we outlined the structure of the month: One newly introduced technique per week for three consecutive weeks, with a recommended sitting time of 15 minutes in the morning and evening. Then, on the 4th week, an open week where people chose their preferred technique for a recommended sitting time of 20 minutes in the morning and evening.
On Fridays, we would release the specifically recorded video and descriptive text for the following week’s technique which we would start practicing each Monday.
During the week, we would have an open discussion in the #yoga channel, about the technique itself, any questions or uncertainties surrounding that, and any opinions or feelings experienced through its practice, such as the ones below.
Initial experiences with Week 1’s first technique:
Comparing feelings on techniques from Week 1 and 2:
Sharing thoughts on Week 3’s technique and music:
Some powerful experiences with Week 3’s technique:
Along with the public discussion on the technique, once per week, as the facilitator and instructor of the technique, I would send out DMs to each of the participants. These would be personalised and private discussions on how they were finding the technique, any difficulties or experiences from same, and provide them with any recommendations to suit their needs, such as how best to manage any physical pain, anxieties, stresses, doubts or emotions that the meditation technique brought up.
When the following Friday came, it was time for the next technique to be shared on the channel. It was recommended to persist the sitting practice over the weekend as much as possible, even lowering the sitting duration to maintain routine in advance of a Monday start with the next technique.
The final week was an Open Week where it was encouraged that one take ownership of their own routine, with any meditation technique of their choice and discuss the same on the channel.
Week 1: Natural Breathing (Surya Bheda) Meditation
Week 2: Body Scan Meditation
Week 3: Candle Flame Meditation
Week 4: Open Week
In the last week, we encouraged the development of the participants’ own routine with whatever technique they preferred, be it one of the three above, one from their own experiences with meditation, or through guided meditations from apps such as Headspace or Calm.
For people who already had a stable and consistent routine at, e.g., 15 minutes a sitting, we recommended the increase of sitting time to 20 minutes or an amount they were comfortable with.
This week eased us from the group routine that the Month of Meditation brought to the self-reliant routine that we could integrate into our individual schedules going forward.
What did we learn?
We successfully brought the benefits of meditation and group meditation to the remote environment in our community, helped people to develop a meditation routine and to work through all of the life’s common characteristics, from fears to worries, doubts, insecurities, anxiety, stresses, and pain.
We talking directly about these life situations allowing any unnecessary feelings to flow out and gaining a better understanding of ourselves in the process, feeling lighter, more motivated and balanced to make positive life changes.