“I love you when you’re tired and stressed,” said no one’s partner or children ever. And no boss wants you to be stupid at work, either. That’s why, Emily Fletcher points out, “meditation is the least selfish thing you can do.”
In fact, group meditation has benefits that extend beyond the practitioner, according to Fletcher, creator of the Ziva meditation technique and author of “Stress Less, Accomplish More” (William Morrow, February 2019).
We typically picture meditation happening in a quiet, empty space with no distractions. We expect to reach a state where we can control—and stop—our thoughts. (“The brain thinks, and trying to stop it is like trying to stop your heart from beating,” Fletcher says.) But Fletcher recommends practicing meditation with a group because it activates mirror neurons that fire when we experience meditation (or any action) performed by another person, as if we were taking that action ourselves.
Fletcher compares the group meditation experience to the energy and motivation you get from a group class or workout that inspires you to continue to do the work on your own. “It’s like the group’s practice boomerangs and comes back so it can charge up your practice at home,” she explains.