The Daytime Sangha Group has existed as a sub-group of Bristol Insight Meditation since 2010. The group was originally established by Gordon Adam and Sally O’Carroll to give parents with young children, and people with health issues who couldn’t make the evening sitting group an opportunity to meet up. The group meets for 2 hours one morning a month, with the day and location varying to accommodate people’s availability.
The format of the group is to start with a 30 minute silent meditation, then, with a cup of tea and biscuits at hand, we have a round of sharing, where each person has the opportunity (usually for 5–10 minutes, or sometimes longer) to share whatever feels relevant/meaningful for them in the moment and in their life in general. This can lead into discussion and further sharing relating to any issues arising.
The sharing has evolved as the heart of the meeting and can be quite personal and ‘in-depth’, including sharing of challenges and difficulties, both practical and spiritual, as well as ‘the good stuff’ that is happening. The depth of the sharing is enabled by a sense of safety and trust which has grown through the long-term showing up of members of the group.
Attendance has historically mostly been in the range of 4–6 people. However, the writing of this article has been prompted by a decline in attendance over the last year or so, mainly due to members moving away, health issues and work commitments – this has led to numbers being generally low and some meetings being cancelled.
Having set this group up, and having attended most of its meetings over the last 9 years, I am in a position to really appreciate what it offers the Bristol Insight sangha. I think it would be a loss to the sangha if the group were to cease to exist, and I, along with remaining regulars, would like the group to continue to meet if possible. For that to happen we need some new members! So, in a way this is a sort of appeal to anyone out there who might benefit from a regular or even occasional opportunity to engage in meditation and sharing with others to come forward and let themselves be known!
The group offers a regular, safe, supportive, ‘in-depth’ listening space in a small group setting, where participants share an understanding and appreciation of Buddhist dharma. We sometimes have short readings or poems that are resonant with the dharma in response to themes that emerge during the sharing.
If we gained several new members, that could provide an opportunity to ‘reappraise’ the group and possibly make some changes, so that we could shape the group to meet the needs of the participants. This could include when and how often we meet, and how we spend our time together. I think it would be important to retain a period of silent sitting and also the sharing aspect of the group for the sake of continuity, but other aspects of the format might benefit from a change. A re-evaluation process could enable new members to become more part of the group as they would have a say in what happens in the group.
We would also like to change the name of the group to ‘Daytime Meditation and Sharing Group’ as this feels more accurately descriptive of what the group is about and may make it more accessible to people, also a change of name may help to facilitate a transition or ‘re-birth’ of the group. I hope so anyway, as the group has provided a wonderful, continuous, supportive and nourishing thread in the lives of those who have attended it over the years.