CIMC has been a refuge for silent practice and support to thousands of practitioners over the years. The many practice groups, workshops, retreats and affinity groups offered create a thriving, busy, dharma center. Yet, seeking a balance between providing a space for silent practice, and providing space for “talking” activities that build community and connection has always been a challenge.
One form that has evolved for enriching individual practice and building a community of like-minded meditators is to form small groups that meet regularly outside of the Center, usually in each other’s homes. Made up of meditators who want to practice together in the Vipassana style that is taught at CIMC, these groups can be a valuable resource for supporting our own and each other’s practice. Many have formed over the past 30 years, often comprised of friends or acquaintances who met each other in classes at the Center. They may go by different names: practice groups, covenant groups, dharma groups, sanghas. One popular name is a “KM group” which is short for kalyana mitta group. Kalyana Mitta means “spiritual friend” in the Pali language.
Useful information about kalyana mitta groups and how they can be structured is available from Spirit Rock Meditation Center: Kalyana Mitta Guidelines. There are other ways of organizing and facilitating a group than the two-facilitator model that is used at Spirit Rock. Some groups are more peer led, with the facilitation tasks rotating. Groups might gather once a week, every two weeks or once a month. Generally, there will be sitting time at the beginning, followed by personal check in time. Then, there may be a discussion on a Dharma theme, on a book, or sutta. A commitment to confidentiality is important. It’s a good idea to create a covenant, or agreement, that members of the group will abide by. Here is a sample covenant from one sangha that meets locally.
If you would like to join a google group of people who may be looking to form or join a KM group, please click HERE (then “Ask to join group”). The purpose of this google group is to help members of the CIMC community connect with one another to form a Kalyana Mitta (KM), or spiritual friend group, or to help them connect with an ongoing group that may be seeking new members. CIMC does not organize or endorse particular KM groups. Groups must be self-forming and self-governing, with their own process for resolving conflicts.
Have general questions about forming your own KM group? A CIMC member volunteer who has KM group experience will be happy to speak with you. Please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org with your query and we’ll put you in touch. We hope you’ll be inspired to create your own KM group and find it to be a fulfilling way to deepen your practice and nurture community.