Spiritual Friends Groups

Join spiritual friends on the path

Spiritual Friends groups—“Kalyana Mitta” in Pali—commit to meeting regularly with peer-led small groups of people who share an interest in meditation and the Buddhist path—an opportunity to develop deep roots in the practice, together.

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 further 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.
 

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

FAQs

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.

How do I join a SF group?

Step one: choose your group

Please select a group from below with either Open or Forming in the title and choose this in the questionnaire. Groups with Forming in the title have not yet reached minimum attendance or do not have a facilitator. Maybe your interest will put it over the top or perhaps you would like to offer to facilitate!

Online

MINDFULNESS IN RECOVERY | SUNDAY EVENINGS | RECOVERY

Sunday, 6:30-8 p.m., weekly

In the interest of anonymity, please do not complete the questionnaire, just show up using the information below!

Our group is open to both new and seasoned meditators interested in the intersection of Buddhist teachings and 12 Step recovery. All 12 Steppers are welcome, from all spiritual traditions, or none. We ask that you have continuous recovery and a working relationship with a 12 Step group before attending your first meeting.

We abide by the tradition of anonymity and respecting confidentiality. Please remember that who you see here and what is said here needs to stay here.

You may find more information on this calendar (check for Sunday listing): https://living-mindfully.org/calendar

Meeting virtually now.

GROUP E | WEDNESDAY EVENINGS | GENERAL

Alternating Wednesdays, 7:00-8:00 pm ET

Online meditation and check-in, followed by mindful discussion, group process time and final short sit/metta practice.

GROUP F | TBD | GENERAL

TBD

This group is not yet meeting. We need 4-5 more members and 1 facilitator to begin.

Online meditation and check-in, followed by mindful discussion, group process time and final short sit/metta practice.

District of Columbia

WESLEY HEIGHTS | TUESDAYS DAYTIME | RETIREE

Tuesdays, 10:00 a.m.-12:15 p.m., twice per month

Meditation and check-in, followed by mindful discussion, group process time and final short sit/metta practice.

SE / SW DC | SUNDAY EVENINGS | GENERAL

Sundays, 6-7:30 PM, twice per month

To begin meeting this group needs a facilitator and 8-10 participants to sign up.

Silent meditation and check-in, followed by group discussion.

Maryland

GAITHERSBURG, KENTLANDS | TUESDAY EVENINGS | GENERAL

Tuesday eve, 7-9 pm, twice per month

Silent meditation and check-in, followed by group discussion.

GERMANTOWN AND RIVERDALE PARK | SUNDAY AFTERNOONS | WITH A MOOD, ATTACHMENT, AND ANXIETY DISORDERS (MAAD) AFFINITY

Sunday, 1:30-3:30 p.m., 1st & 3rd week

This group is for and supports members with mood, attachment or anxiety disorders only in that we all have some experience with one or more of these concerns, allowing us to view any mention of them with recognition and acceptance. We don’t necessarily have mood, attachment, or anxiety issues as topics for our meetings, or read and share educational material about them. However we frequently discuss how our individual practice helps us with these and other challenges in our lives. Therefore, we are a normal Spiritual Friends group whose members have experienced, or are experiencing significant mood, attachment, or anxiety problems.

We use the IMCW SF meeting format: meditation and check-in, followed by mindful discussion, group process time and final short sit/metta practice.

ROCKVILLE, DERWOOD | THURSDAY EVENINGS | GENERAL

Thursdays, 7-8:30 p.m., twice per month

Silent meditation and check-in, followed by group discussion.

TAKOMA PARK / SILVER SPRING | WED. EVENINGS | LGBTQIA+

Monday 7:30-9:00 p.m., twice per month

We start with a 20-30 min sit, do check-ins, and then discuss a dharma topic. Members rotate facilitating and hosting.

ANNAPOLIS | TBD | GENERAL

Not currently meeting

To begin meeting this group needs a facilitator and 8-10 participants to sign up.

Silent meditation and check-in, followed by group discussion.

TIMONIUM | TBD | GENERAL

TBD

To begin meeting this group needs a facilitator and 8-10 participants to sign up.

Meditation and check-in, followed by mindful discussion, group process time and final short sit/metta practice.

WHEATON / SILVER SPRING | MONDAY EVENING | GENERAL

Monday nights from 7:30-9:00pm, twice per month

To begin meeting this group needs a facilitator and 8-10 participants to sign up.

Meditation and check-in, followed by mindful discussion, group process time and final short sit/metta practice.

Virginia

ALEXANDRIA | FRIDAY AFTERNOONS | RETIREE

Fridays, 11 a.m.-12:30 p.m., 2nd & 4th week

Retired/transitioning from the workforce: Retirement and transition can be a good time to connect with others. This change brings forth many new challenges for our ego and letting life flow as we adjust. We can share these challenges in a mindful way with support. Join us!

ARLINGTON, CLARENDON | SUNDAY AFTERNOON | GENERAL

Alternating Sundays, 4-5:30 pm ET or 7-8:30 pm ET

Meditation and check-in, followed by mindful discussion, group process time and final short sit/metta practice. The group meets both virtually and in-person, depending on the weather and the host.

ARLINGTON, CLARENDON | TBD | WOMEN

To begin meeting this group needs a facilitator and 8-10 participants to sign up.

For women only. Meditation and check-in, followed by mindful discussion, group process time and final short sit/metta practice.

LEESBURG | TBD – SUNDAY AFTERNOON SUGGESTED | GENERAL

TBD – Sunday afternoon suggested

To begin meeting this group needs a facilitator and 8-10 participants to sign up.

Meditation and check-in, followed by mindful discussion, group process time and final short sit/metta practice.

VIENNA | TBD | GENERAL

TBD

To begin meeting this group needs a facilitator and 8-10 participants to sign up.

Meditation and check-in, followed by mindful discussion, group process time and final short sit/metta practice.

Step two: complete the questionnaire for a group

Step 3: attend an orientation

Our orientation session will go over our SF guidelines as well as review your requested group choice.

These groups are currently filled

Online

GROUP A | TUES. EVENINGS | GENERAL

1st & 3rd Tuesdays at 8 pm ET

Online meditation and check-in, followed by mindful discussion, group process time and final short sit/metta practice.

GROUP B | SUN. EVENINGS | GENERAL

Sunday, 7-8 p.m. ET, 1st & 3rd week

Online meditation and check-in, followed by mindful discussion, group process time and final short sit/metta practice.

SF 2020 | TUES. EVENING | GENERAL

Alternating Tuesdays, 7:00-8:30 pm ET

Online meditation and check-in, followed by mindful discussion, group process time and final short sit/metta practice.

GROUP D | THURS. EVENING | GENERAL

Alternating Thursdays, 7pm ET

Online meditation and check-in, followed by mindful discussion, group process time and final short sit/metta practice.

District of Columbia

PETWORTH | MON. EVENINGS | GENERAL

Mondays, 7:30 p.m., monthly

Meditation and check-in, followed by mindful discussion, group process time and final short sit/metta practice. Focuses on Self Compassion in the service of advancing on the path of Insight (Vipassana) meditation.

CLEVELAND PARK | TUES. EVENINGS | SELF COMPASSION

Tuesdays, 7:30 p.m., twice per month

Meditation and check-in, followed by mindful discussion, group process time and final short sit/metta practice. Focuses on Self Compassion in the service of advancing on the path of Insight (Vipassana) meditation. 

DUPONT CIRCLE | WED. EVENINGS | GENERAL

Wednesdays, 7:00-8:30 pm, twice per month

Appropriate for members who have at least 2 years of practice and a commitment to maintain a daily practice (even if that doesn’t actually occur every day – it’s the aspiration and intention that is important to us).

We start with a short check-in or mindful discussion about a book we’ve selected (15 min.), followed by a silent meditation sit (25 min.) and then a longer check-in related to our practice and mindfulness in daily life.

KALORAMA TRIANGLE | TUES. EVENINGS | GENERAL

Tuesday, 7-8:30 pm, twice per month

Meditation and check-in, followed by mindful discussion, group process time and final short sit/metta practice.

Maryland

BETHESDA | MON. EVENINGS | GENERAL

2nd and 4th Monday

Silent meditation and check-in, followed by group discussion.

BETHESDA | TUES. EVENINGS | GENERAL

Tuesday evenings, twice per month

We typically sit for 20 minutes, then have a period of sharing about our experiences with our practice followed by Dharma study and a concluding short sit.

CHARLES VILLAGE | SUN. EVENINGS | GENERAL

Sunday, 6:30-8:30 p.m., 2nd & 4th week

We follow the typical process of a two-hour meeting, opening with meditation, then a check-in, then a topic reading and discussion.

EASTERN SHORE | WED. EVENINGS | GENERAL

Wednesday, 7-8 p.m., 1st & 3rd week

Initial sitting, checking in and sharing, final sit. On the 3rd Wednesday, there is a Dharma talk after the initial sit.

TAKOMA PARK | SUN. EVENINGS | GENERAL

Sunday 7:00-8:30 p.m., twice per month

Silent meditation and check-in, followed by group discussion.

Virginia

EAST FALLS CHURCH | TUES. EVENINGS | GENERAL

Tuesday 7-9 p.m., monthly

Group time includes 30 minutes of sitting meditation, check-in, and discussion of readings. Appropriate for YLM alumni and meditators with 3 or more years of experience.