Spiritual Friends Groups
Join spiritual friends on the path
Spiritual Friends groups—“Kalyana Mitta” in Pali—commit to meeting regularly with peer-led (led by you) small groups of people who share an interest in meditation and the Buddhist path—an opportunity to develop deep roots in the practice, together. If you are interested in groups led by a meditation teacher, please check out our Shared Experience Sanghas or Drop-in classes.
Spiritual Friends (SF) groups consist of six to twelve meditators who are committed to supporting one another as they explore the practice of the dharma in their daily lives. Because these groups are small and meet regularly over an extended period of time, they encourage closeness, sharing and support, discussion of how to keep the practice alive in daily life, and an experience of the heart of the dharma.
- SF groups primarily focus on listening, both giving full listening attention to a member who’s sharing and also deeply listening to one’s internal responses.
- New members should have some basic insight meditation experience. For new practitioners, please visit our Learn to Meditate page to find a class or Introduction to Meditation series, and develop a basic meditation practice before signing up for a group.
- It’s important that members commit to attending regularly, to continue practice between meetings, and to skillfully use mindful listening and speaking.
- If you have never attended Spiritual Friends orientation you will need to find a group and complete the questionnaire before being connected to a group.
Some of our SF groups have continued for over 20 years! Joining a group can be a heart-wise decision that will nourish your practice and grace your life.
SF groups are intended to deepen your insight meditation practice, so please attend classes or an Intro to Meditation series and develop a basic meditation practice prior to applying for a SF group.
Groups are facilitated by peers and generally meet for 1.5-2 hours.
While meeting formats may vary, most groups start with a 20 to 30-minute silent meditation followed by a personal check-in by each member. The check-in may be specific to a dharma topic selected by the group or it may relate the dharma to the individual’s life, practice, or experience in the moment.
Mindful discussion follows the check-in. This might be a discussion on a topic or on themes, questions, or responses arising from the check-ins.
After the discussion, groups may include a brief “process time” for members to express how the meeting was for them.
A short sitting or loving-kindness meditation brings a sense of closure to the meeting.
Some groups have a special focus such as parenting, chronic illness, addiction/recovery, meditative writing, health professionals, etc. Please see individual group descriptions for details.
Pre-pandemic, SF groups met in homes or other community buildings throughout the Washington, DC metropolitan area. Virtual groups choose the technology they’ll use for meetings.
Groups may be started and led by a facilitator or elect a peer facilitator or several co-facilitators. Facilitators typically have a regular meditation practice, have attended at least six months of insight meditation classes, and have attended at least one retreat.
Facilitators are provided with (1) guidelines for new groups and an orientation for each new group, (2) mentoring from an experienced SF group facilitator, and (3) opportunities to meet with other facilitators.