Get full access to Outside Learn, our online education hub featuring in-depth yoga, fitness, & nutrition courses, when you sign up for Outside+.
You know the story: Stuck at home during the pandemic, people felt alone—and in need of connection. With mental health issues on the rise, researchers found that meditation practices could reduce the rates of anxiety and depression fueled by pandemic-related stress. Looking for community, connection, and relief, some turned to online group meditation sessions.
Similar to group yoga classes, group meditations allow you to feel more connected with those around you—potentially leading you to deepen your own meditation practice, as well. People who participate in group meditation classes often feel more connected and part of a whole following their class, leading to an even more beneficial experience than a solo session. However, during the pandemic, in-person classes aren’t feasible to many. So, like many things, the classes went online.
What does an online meditation class look like?
InsightLA, a nonprofit meditation community, started offering online meditation classes in March 2020, when COVID-19 came to the United States. Mark Koberg, executive director of InsightLA, says the online meditation classes quickly began attracting people from all time zones—and over 20 countries.
So, what can you expect from one of these online meditation classes? Well, you should be ready to turn your camera on. (I mean, it is a community-based class, after all.) Instead of a webinar-style class, where you can only see the teacher’s face, Koberg says InsightLA launched their classes in a Zoom-style format, so all participants could see and practice with one another.
For the organization’s Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction classes or the Mindful Self Compassion classes, the number of participants is capped at around 25 to 30 people in order to facilitate this sense of community. However, close to 4,000 people tuned in for some of the organization’s larger events.
Koberg says many expressed gratitude for InsightLA’s online meditation classes, especially during a time where the world feels chaotic, and community can be hard to cultivate. And InsightLA has no plans to cease these online meditation classes—even when the pandemic ends. “It seems from a business model point of view that online meditation is going to be a definite ongoing part of the organization, for sure,” he says.
Some students and even teachers may even elect to stick with online meditations for the long haul. In a city known for its traffic, trekking across Los Angeles to join others in meditation may not be ideal for everyone. An online group meditation eliminates the commute, while maintaining the community connection.
We found love in an… online meditation class?
And hey, you may even find love during one of these group meditation sessions. Actress Vanessa Hudgens met her now-boyfriend, Pittsburgh Pirates player Cole Tucker, during a Zoom meditation. While we haven’t yet received our invites to whatever celebrity group Zoom meditation session Hudgens and Tucker joined—we’re still waiting!—who says you can’t fall in love with someone’s square in your own online meditation class?