Meditation is a foundational Novasutras practice. It has been shown to have many benefits for personal well-being. Dr. Michelle Merrill leads various group meditation events for Novasutras. She has made recordings of several guided meditations on agaya and ubuntu freely available through various channels (see below). She now also offers individual instruction and guided meditation sessions online or by phone.
The Joy of Meditating Together
We recognize the power of meditating together, so we provide many opportunities for people to focus together in meditation at the same time. We often begin Novasutras gatherings with a couple minutes of mindful silence, just to help everyone be fully present for the conversations to come. We also sometimes close with a brief silence, to let what we have achieved in the gathering settle more deeply into us. These are used for both in-person and online gatherings.
Meditating Together Online
Most of our online gatherings now are via Insight Timer, a free meditation app. Michelle hosts many online group guided meditation sessions via Insight Timer Live (they can be viewed on your browser or via the app). This is now how we offer our online Octal Meditations.
Michelle leads meditations in other online venues, as well. She is now the zoom host for monthly sessions to Meditate Together for Regeneration in collaboration with the Deep Transformation Network. She also offers meditations for special events and causes like our Amazon4Amazon meditation.
We mostly come together for live sessions on Insight Timer at or near the four phases of the moon. Michelle offers spontaneous guidance, inspired by the moon phase, current events, and input from participants in the chat. These sessions happen about once per week, and are usually about 30 minutes long.
You can follow Novasutras and join the Novasutras discussion group (circle) on the Insight Timer app. In that circle, we offer an Introduction to Novasutras group meditation on the first day of each month, and join others for a global lovingkindness meditation in Feb, May, Aug, and Nov. We listen to a recording together, and use the text chat to discuss or ask questions about the practice and about agaya and ubuntu. These group sessions are usually about 20 minutes.
Coming Together for Meditations In-Person
In-person group meditations can be offered in a restorative context for our community, but they can also be part of our sacred activism. The Santa Cruz chapter of Novasutras often includes meditation in our Octal gatherings (for the Solstices, Equinoxes and Cross-Quarters). We have included both guided (e.g. as part of the September Climate Strike and December Climate Fast in 2019) and silent meditation (e.g. Sacred People, Sacred Earth climate action in 2021) as part of our climate justice activities.
Building a Personal Meditation Practice
There are many ways to build your own personal practice. While there are great benefits to be gained from daily practice of 20 minutes or more, even just a few minutes of meditation whenever you can fit it in often makes a noticeable difference in your focus and equanimity. You can find many apps with tools to help keep time (useful for adding the comfort to your practice that you will not ‘drift off’ and spend more of your day than you intend in your meditation).
Personalized Guided Meditation Instruction
Dr. Michelle Merrill now also offers personalized guided meditation instruction. You can schedule a a 30-minute personalized session. In a personalized session, Michelle will guide you based on your own concerns, interests or intentions. (This can be for a single person or a small group. Contact us if you have questions.)
Before the session, you can let Michelle know what you want to work on: coping with stress, feeling connected, finding strength & resilience, clarifying your intentions or purpose… We’ll start with where you are, and spiral forward toward where you could to be next.
Like all Novasutras offerings, these sessions are given to the community in the gift economy model: they are freely given, with donations of money, work or other gifts welcome (as feels appropriate to you).
Audio Recordings via Insight Timer and Patreon
For many people, listening to guidance from a meditation instructor helps keep them in a more relaxed state, and prevents excessive rumination (where we follow our thoughts too closely as they wander into unhelpful patterns). Insight Timer is a free meditation app that not only provides timers, it also has many thousands of recorded guided meditations for you to use at your convenience.
The first three recorded offerings from Novasutras there are:
Introduces a basic meditation practice focused on breathing, plus the concepts of agaya and ubuntu.
This talk from 2018 provides some background explanation of the practice we now prefer to describe as “Connecting the Corners.“
A guided visualization of an experience based on the practice of shinrin-yoku (forest immersion).
These audio recordings are also available for download on our Patreon page. Patrons typically have access a few weeks before the recordings become publicly available.
The meditation playlist on the Novasutras YouTube channel includes some suggested Novasutras meditation practices, and recordings of our Octal Meditations.
To learn more about the science on the benefits of meditation, you might start by reading:
- Meditation: A simple, fast way to reduce stress
- 20 Scientific Reasons to Start Meditating Today
- What the Science Says About the Effectiveness of Meditation
or watching videos from this meditation studies and info video playlist we’ve assembled on YouTube.