So you have made the decision to start to meditate! You have been meditating at home and studied on the Internet and done some sitting. You also see a need to be with a group or Sangha
as it's sometimes called.
The next step will be to look in your area and find out who is "sitting" within a distance that you can commit to driving once a week. There are lots of different kinds of sitting groups. And all sorts of different approaches. It really does get confusing, Just keep in mind that we meditate just to do it. We are seeking process not outcome. There may be some sort of outcome but it really doesn't matter.
My encouragement is that you should "shop around" for a bit. See what the different "schools" of thought have that might attract you from where you are right now. Sometimes there are some really "charismatic" people who are the guiding teachers and can "attract" people through personality and presentation. That's good. Nothing wrong with that. Just keep in mind that it's not a personality thing but a spiritual thing. So my encouragement would be to look around.
Find out the sitting hours.
Be anxious and nervous. We all are the first several times. It's OK. It will wear off and pretty soon you won't be in that anxiety anymore. Give it some time and effort.
Showing up is the hardest part. Usually there is a component of the group that will focus on new people just coming to practice. This might include some beginning "classes" and some education on how to "sit."
Remember that a lot of this will be opinion. Take what you can from where you are and then evolve.
Study on your own. Never stop learning.
Make a commitment to sit with the group and on your own. Sitting on my own has always been my primary focus. Groups are wonderful. Sitting on your own has it's own benefits. Like what to do when you find yourself without a group.
Don't worry about how you are doing. It doesn't matter. Just sit. Don't compare yourself. If you grew up like I did you have a lot of internal criticism in you head. It's only purpose is to discourage you.
If you find yourself sitting with a group for a while find a way to give back. It sorta solidifies that whole "I am part of something" feeling. And it's good for you to give. Me too.
Be serious enough but don't be too serious. This is your choice. Something that you are doing to support you. There is no right or wrong way to sit. Don't let anyone convince you of that. Try everything.
Find out for yourself. Try it and see. Keep what works right now and keep evolving.
Give what you can. The only groups I sit with are on a "donation" basis. This is a personal decision. If you can afford to and have the desire to help finance a system then do so. Remember that you can learn awareness anywhere.
There are people who feel that they need to do something and go somewhere "special" in order to focus on practice. Really? " If you can't find the truth where you are then why are you looking somewhere else?"
So explore and have fun. Have the experience and remember it's all OK.
Thoughts and comments are welcome!!! If you are just starting in meditation let me know what your experience has been.