We have reached our 6 month anniversary!  The first meeting of the Leominster Meditation society was held on April 14, 2008 and consisted of two people.  This past Monday we reached our sixth month of continuous Monday meditations!
Many thanks to the Library for creating the practice space, and to the many people who have come to participate.

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What is Sangha?

“Sangha” is a Sanskrit word that has become popularized in English as “community,” specifically the community of people consciously committed to practicing awareness.

In the broadest sense it includes anyone, anywhere, at any time, who was or is consciously practicing awareness.

In the most practical sense, it refers to the group of people we currently practice meditation with, all of whom have some commitment to living a life of freedom, compassion, and wisdom.

What is the value of Sangha?

We all need human companionship.  We all need friends and confidants.  We all need a support network.  As personalities we have particular tastes and preferences and we are drawn to certain people whose personalities complement ours.  We also may feel a special commitment to people we are related to by blood, or whom we otherwise define as family.  And at a soul level, we sometimes feel a special resonance with someone without knowing why.

Sangha is not primarily about any of these kinds of relationships.  We may have friends who are part of our Sangha.  We may have relatives who are part of our Sangha.  We may have soulmates who are part of our Sangha.  But we don’t have to have anything “special” in common with members of our Sangha.  On the personality level, we don’t have to “like” everyone in our Sangha.  The important part is that they support and inspire our practice.  Collectively our Sangha helps create a safe, non-judgmental, quiet space which supports us in practicing concentration, relaxation, and awareness.

You may have noticed that having a definite place and time to meet helps support some kind of regularity in your meditation practice. And often the presence of other people who are diving into the Silence helps us to dive more deeply into it.  And even when someone is being “annoying,” in that special environment it may be easier for us to become aware of the layers from which annoyance is built, and how insubstantial it really is.

So, even if you never “get to know” another member of your meditation group, the fact that they show up periodically and practice contemplation with you, nourishes you and supports you.

Knowing that they will not judge you, or if they do sometimes judge you they will be aware of judging, and will not solidify their judgments into a story about who you “really” are. . .knowing this creates a special kind of environment that is difficult to find elsewhere.

Knowing you don’t have to perform, or turn on your personality. . .that
you will be accepted just for showing up, and for having a sincere intention. . .that is something special that we all get from Sangha.

So, Sangha is not something to take for granted.  It is an auspicious set of circumstances that sometimes allows people to gather together to silently honor that deepest part of themselves that is inherently wise and compassionate.

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