The short answer is “No!”
In order to learn how to meditate one can start by reading spiritual writings or ‘how-to’ books. This can inspire you to start and give you some beginning techniques. For some people this is all they need. Others may find that rather dry, and would prefer to take some classes where they will have guidance in trying different techniques for quieting the mind and the chance to ask questions and hear other beginners’ experiences.
For myself I found that I liked the class experience, and it was not just the guidance from the instructor that I appreciated. Somehow I felt that in the group there was more of a meditative vibration. And I missed that when I meditated on my own. I missed the added power of several people meditating together. But then the lessons ended.
With daily practise my private meditation began to deepen with a power of its own. But some days it was a struggle when I didn’t feel like taking the time to meditate or I would feel that I had just been ‘spinning my wheels’—my mind trying to take control—or I had questions that I wanted to share with someone who would understand where I was coming from.
And this is what I have found about belonging to a group that is following the same philosophy—in my case the teaching of the realised spiritual master, Sri Chinmoy.
The weekly group meditations, the understanding, working together on spiritual projects, all form a ‘buddy system’ that keeps me on track, and reminds me of why I am following a spiritual path.
Once you learn to meditate then it is up to you how you use that knowledge.
I chose to join a group. Your choice may be different.