Developing a group

There is no right time or right way to develop your group. It will evolve according to the needs of its members. But if opportunities for the sangha to discuss its development don’t arise naturally, you might like to schedule one in to a meeting every now and then. Members may have wonderful ideas that they’ve been keeping to themselves!

Here are some simple suggestions you might like to consider — this list is by no means exhaustive…

Deepening your practice

Days of Mindfulness and Retreats

Local groups might organise Days of Mindfulness as one-off or regular events. These will provide additional time for members to integrate mindfulness practice into their lives. It may also be possible to arrange for a Dharma Teacher[LINK] or experienced Order Member to facilitate the day. Special days can be run for people with a special interest. For example, for beginners to the practice or for people wishing to study a particular teaching.

You may also wish to run a short local retreat. The idea can be daunting, but it’s not as difficult as you think. Several group members can share in the organisation, and this itself can be an interesting practice. Make sure that the cook is well-supported and the food simple and good, and you’re at least half way there! Please contact us if you would like us to send guidance on organising a retreat.

Study Groups

A study group can meet as an extension of the regular sangha meeting or at a separate date. There are many excellent books by Thay which are suitable for reading and discussion. A perennial favourite is his classic guide to Buddhist ideas and practice, ‘The Heart of the Buddha’s Teaching’.
Other texts to consider might include Thay’s ‘Understanding the Mind’ on Buddhist psychology, or ‘Awakening the Heart’ which contains commentaries on core Sutra.

Community building

Volunteering together

Volunteering together with solidity and compassion is a wonderful practice. And there will be many charities in your area in need of ‘bodies’. One or more of your sangha members may already have links to a refugee support group or a food bank, for example. The sangha can discuss who it wants to support and how.

Shared meals

A regular ‘bring and share’ meal or even snack (or picnic) can be eaten before or after a meeting. Some of the meal can be in silence to practice mindful eating: mindful eating together is another wonderful practice, as is the mindful clearing up afterwards.

As your group becomes larger

Facilitation

If you have several regular facilitators, they might like to get together sometimes to discuss themes for meetings, challenges and opportunities etc. A bring and share meal usually ensures a constructive meeting.

Admin

It is also helpful for Sanghas to identify and share out the administrative tasks in the Sangha for agreed periods of time. Roles might include:

  • A contact person (to deal with telephone and email enquiries) membership secretary
  • treasurer (to deal with the financial aspects of the Sangha (and you may need a Sangha bank account)
  • someone to organise events
  • newsletter editor
  • someone to look after the website, if the Sangha has one
  • someone to look after the library, if the Sangha has one

In some sanghas, these people meet periodically as a group to assist in co-ordinating the running of the Sangha. This group is often termed a Caretaking Council.

The Web

Many groups have set up their own website or Facebook pages. Have a look at the Heart of London Sangha’s site, or the Edinburgh Wild Geese Sangha’s site. Sites can be set up and maintained very cheaply, and your own can be as simple or complex as you wish, but it is great to keep the information up to date. It is also possible to use the group page on this site to add more information. Get in touch and we can discuss the best option.

Outreach

Be Calm, Be Happy Courses

Your sangha may feel inspired to share Thay’s beautiful teachings with more people. The Plum Village UK has developed an introductory course called Be Calm, Be Happy. Any group can host this course. Training is provided for the course leaders, and all the teaching materials are provided. Support and advice is available at every step. Contact the BCBH manager, Lauri Bower bcbh@plumvillage.uk

More help and advice

Please contact us if you have questions or need more information about starting or developing your Sangha.

Learn Mindfulness

Get a grounding in mindfulness with our introductory courses and retreats

Practice with a group

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Immerse yourself

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