There is a lot going on in the world right now — I’m not going to even try to list it because you already know — and, frankly, it’s overwhelming. For the sake of our mental health, we all may need to take a step back from the edge of madness and take some time to just breathe. Meditation is a very helpful tool for this: Just spending some time with yourself and letting your thoughts roll by without fussing about them.
A really good way to not only make time for meditation but make yourself actually do the thing is to meditate with other people. The buddy system is always great for making yourself accountable, even (especially!) for self-care. Sitting in a room with a bunch of other people is not the best plan right now, though, so here are some places where you can do group meditation online.
Meditation Coalition is a Los Angeles-based Buddhist learning and meditation center, dedicated to supporting and uplifting marginalized people. They bring a strong feminist stance to their practice, and they host frequent talks about race, gender and equality. Refreshingly, they also make a point to ensure their spaces (back when they had classes in person) are accessible to disabled folks. They seem pretty cool.
Their Morning Meditation series provides a space to sit for a half-hour every morning (7am PST/10am EST). It’s totally free and hosted through Zoom by co-founder Mary Stancavage.
Spirit Rock is a Buddhist center in West Marin County, California that focuses on vipassana, what’s called insight meditation, and metta — loving-kindness. Their philosophy posits meditation as a means of developing mindfulness, and right now is an especially important time to be aware of your mind and body and to be checking in with yourself about how your life is going.
All of Spirit Rock’s classes have gone online now, including their Wednesday morning drop-in meditation session. It runs from 10am to noon PST, so there’s a little bit wider window for you to drop on in with Zoom, whenever works for you. There’s a PWYW donation scale, but sometimes WYW is free, and that’s just fine.
The San Francisco Zen Center has been sharing the practices and teachings of Buddhism, including meditation, for nearly sixty years. Now, dubiously-thanks to the current pandemic, you can attend sessions in their online zendo (meditation hall) for free through Zoom.
They have a varied selection of offerings all week long, throughout the day, with a range of durations and with or without a guiding teacher. There will certainly be a session that fits your schedule and level of familiarity with meditation. Plus, unlike many other online meditation groups I’ve seen, they offer evening sessions, so if you’re more of a night owl you may want to check them out.
Disclaimer: Meditation may not work for everyone, and that’s totally okay. But if it works for you, or even if you’re not sure and want to try it, meditating can be a great way to take some time out of the chaos your life has undoubtedly become and just chill for a bit before you have to dive back in. You might feel better equipped to handle it when you do.
All these groups are free, drop-in sessions, no registration required, so if it’s not for you, you won’t be out anything but some time.
Even if meditation isn’t your cup of tea, just relaxing with other people can be a huge boost to your mental health. You’ll get to sit and regroup for whatever’s coming up next, and you’ll get a reminder that you’re not alone. We’re all going through this, and some of us may be dealing with it better or worse, but we’ll get through it together. Just breathe.
Monday Lovelace is a queer Black writer and graphic designer out of the Pacific Northwest. They’re out here to live their best life and help others do the same. Contact Lovelace via email@example.com.
Header image via Unsplash here. iMovie screengrab by YNOT Cam.