3 Friends and a Douglas fir

Photo by Omar Lopez

Have you ever had a wet nose interrupt your meditation?
My friend and I have circled this lake for years. It’s about three miles around, with a swimming area, baseball diamond, dog run, and huge old firs and cedars. We’ve walked and talked our way through our kids growing up, parents dying, grandchildren being born. Recently, she suggested giving some of our shared time to meditation. Curious, I said sure. Now we arrive, hug, walk. When we get to Our Bench, we sit. One of us tracks the time (five minutes!) and says “ding” at the end. That’s it.
A small but transformative thing. Our silent time together makes our time together deeper. Or, in a recent incident, more hilarious: sitting in silence we heard feet crunching on the gravel path. Then a jingle. Then a snort. Suddenly a wet nose wiggled her way into our laps! Opening our eyes, we snuggled the pup and sent her on her way. We laughed for the rest of the walk.
3 middle-aged friends laughing

Photo by Philippe Leone

While it may not involve old cedars or furry visitors, practicing with a friend can be a delight. By agreeing to do mindfulness together, you create accountability and support. You can share your experiences and learn from each other. And you heighten your sense of fun, which helps us build resilience.

Zoom makes miracles possible: you can take a class with your far-flung friend! I see this a lot in my classrooms. Recently I had a group of teachers from the same school join my Bellingham Mindful Self-Compassion course. After the first few weeks, they reported that the lunch time discussion in the teachers’ lounge had gotten really juicy!

Many of us long for a friend with whom we can share this practice, but haven’t found one yet. You might invite someone who’s been a little curious to take a small step with you. Maybe you join one of our free drop-in classes full of like-minded others. Or you might find a new friend in a class and ask if they’d like to stay connected.
3 friends laughing while on a break

Photo by Unsplash

Ready to team up for practice? Here are some ideas:

  • Sit before, during, or after a walk — or any activity you already do together.
  • Attend a retreat day or workshop together. Make it an adventure with a meal before or after. Carpool. Bring excellent snacks. Process together on the drive.
  • Take an eight-week class together.
  • Already taking a class? Ask for a practice partner. Your teacher can help you set it up. It can be as simple as a quick daily text: Just sat for 10 minutes!
  • Read a book together. Make it easy and fun. One chapter or three pages at a time: do what works for you.
  • Watch a TED talk, listen to a podcast. Discuss over coffee, over the phone, on a walk, on the commute.
  • Align your personal practice with each other, e.g. “Let’s both do loving-kindness this month.” Compare notes.
  • Join us for our weekly Midday Mindfulness or our monthly Alumni Practice Group. Built-in community and connection!
Friends around campfire, listening to a story

Photo by Toa Heftiba

  • Many of us don’t know anyone who does this stuff. If you continue, that will change. And you might be surprised. As you begin to share your experience, you might find people who are already in your world that have similar interests even though you haven’t discussed it before. I’ve been pleasantly surprised to find the way people come out of the woodwork when I get up the courage to mention mindfulness.
  • True talk: I have also had the experience of people being rude, weird, dismissive, judgmental, and unkind. They don’t get it. They’re threatened by it. Good to know. That’s the last time I bring it up with them, and that’s fine: we’ll stick with the relationship we had before. Take care of yourself.
  • Tap into common humanity: As you sit down to meditate, remember that people all over the world, of all faiths, in all cultures throughout human history have been doing just this: sitting in silence, leaning toward kindness and love.
  • Furry friends count, too! Sit with your pet on your lap, relishing their soft fur as you breathe.

My wish for you this holiday season is finding the gift of companionship in your practice – with or without wet noses. Please reach out with other ideas: how do you practice with friends?


Grateful to be here with you,

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