Kalyana Mitta Groups

What are Kalyana Mitta (KM) Groups?

Kalyana Mitta is a Pali term which means “spiritual friend.” Often used to describe someone in the teacher role, it can refer to anyone on the path of Dharma who is a guide, support or merely co-traveler. Here at SIMS we call these groups KM groups.

A KM group usually consists of 5-12 members, making it possible for sangha bonds to grow strong as well as providing an intimate enough setting for true exploration of Dharma topics. KM groups also deepen the development of daily life as practice. For many SIMS sangha members, participating in a KM group is a very important aspect of their meditation practice. A strong sense of connection and intimacy often develops within these small groups.

Why Are KM Groups Important?

The KM groups create a network of friends to serve dharma students interested in having on-going support with their practice. For most sangha members, sitting groups that are teacher-led usually don’t provide the opportunity for students to personally share issues they are working on in their own practice and KM groups address that need.

KM Groups meet regularly to practice together, forming smaller sanghas within SIMS. They bring together members of the dharma community to study and share practice experiences in a friendly, supportive environment. Groups are generally small to afford a level of intimacy not always available in larger sitting groups. The format usually involves 20-30 minutes of meditation, an opportunity to check in about one’s personal dharma practice, a group discussion of an agreed upon topic or discussion of a book the group is reading together. Between meeting practices support conscious action and awakening. Many SIMS practitioners strengthened their daily practice through KM group offerings. SIMS has quite a few groups that have been meeting for 10+ years.

How Do I Join a KM Group?

Those who are interested in joining an open KM group should contact the group’s facilitator directly or go through the KM Coordinator. Or, if there is not an open group that is the right fit, sangha members may wish to start their own group.

How Do I Start a KM Group?

Two facilitators from the sangha guide each KM group. Some experience is required: one of the facilitators should have at least three years of Vipassana practice experience the second facilitator should have at least two years. KM facilitators have the responsibility to create a safe space for rich dharma discussion through promoting and modeling openness, confidentiality, and commitment. For information about groups or starting a group, please contact the KM Training Coordinator.

What Kind of a Commitment Do I Need to Make to Be in a KM Group?

Typically, KM groups meet once or twice a month for a couple of hours at members homes. New groups often commit for an initial period of three to six months, with each member expected to regularly attend meetings. After the initial period, the group may continue to meet if group members wish to do so. If some members elect to leave, the group may open to new members.
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