Meditation can be a lonely practice. All that really means is that the mind can be a lonely place. It seems to come with a sense of isolation from other minds. Sometimes it feels removed from anything “outside” — like there’s a gap, or a glass barrier, that cannot be crossed.

This is why spiritual teachers insist on practice in community, so at least words, gestures, and facial expressions can be lobbed across the gap or pressed against the glass. If the path feels too lonely, it can be demoralizing to the point of giving up. Or, perhaps worse than that, one can get lost without the friendly guidance of others, wandering aimlessly, in circles, or in the wrong direction.

Most of us can’t take the express train to spiritual community and become monastics. Luckily, the local will still get you there. There are religious and secular meditation groups all over the place. I’ve sat regularly with a few over my years of wandering around looking for home, and they’ve been anchors in times of rest and sails in times of motion.

This kind of community, though, is hard to build while wandering. The work of this practice takes a lifetime, and so does the work of building the companionship required to support it. And these are wandering times. There are millions of people searching desperately for home, and millions more less desperate, but still searching. The prophets of our time point to the internet as the great layer of community that can connect us all, even as we wander. I’ll leave it to you to decide whether you believe in that. But even if one can’t build a spiritual home on the shifting grounds of these times, at least one can smile across the gap to the person passing by.