The Nearness

A community platform to nurture your spiritual life.

WEEK 1: Set Your Intention: Your journey starts by setting your intention for the coming six weeks. You’ll meet your fellow small group members, settle in with a short meditation, and explore the community covenant. Separately, there’ll be two short podcast episodes to check out and an optional larger gathering to meet folks beyond your small group! 

WEEK 2: Share Your Spiritual Story: What’s the story of your life seen through the prism of your spiritual life? In this session, you’ll reflect on your experiences so far when it comes to spirituality, ethics, and religion. Plus, you’ll hear the stories of your fellow small group members. Truly a highlight! 

WEEK 3: Learn From Experts: What can we learn from a 14th century mystic and a modern-day scientist about our spiritual lives? This week, you’ll read and reflect on passages from Meister Eckhart and Bayo Akomolafe, as well as checking out an expert workshop from Dr. Lisa Miller. 

WEEK 4: Discover Deeper Gratitude: Who are your trail angels? Who’s helped you become the person you are today? This week, you’ll experience a visualization to help you access deeper gratitude for the profound interconnected web of life, and the way you have been shaped by it. 

WEEK 5: Ask The Big Questions: Life’s big questions don’t often receive our focused attention. This week, you’ll share your quiet intuitions and listen as others share their spiritual questions. Plus, an expert workshop exploring the question of spiritual appropriation. 

WEEK 6: Marking Endings and Celebrating: As you come to the end of this first journey, you’ll hear from others what gifts they see in you. And, you’ll share what gifts you see in those who’ve journeyed with you, too. You’ll reflect on endings, join a closing celebration with the wider community, and decide what’s next for your spiritual life! 

All for $199 - so that each gathering, and the two workshops, costs only $25!

To sign up for a Nearness small group when our next journey starts, click on the Waitlist button.

People participating in The Nearness have a wide variety of beliefs, practices, and backgrounds. We don’t ask anyone to believe in any dogma; instead, we welcome difference.

Weekly small group

How Small Groups Work

The heart of this journey is weekly 90-minute small-group conversations.

After signing up, every participant is matched into a small group with 5-6 others to meet at a mutually convenient time. Before each meeting, small groups receive a Guide Sheet, which provides step-by-step guidance for the ritual conversations, including words to say to open and close a meeting, timing guidelines, and prompts for sharing.

Small group conversations will have a different focus, depending on the week: setting intentions for the journey ahead, sharing the story of your spiritual life so far, or finding a regular rhythm to practice gratitude and supportive accountability. Facilitation rotates between small group members each week, and someone who’s familiar with the format will serve as the first week’s conversation host.

Each week, small groups receive a Circle Guide, which provides step-by-step guidance for the ritual conversations, including words to say to open and close a meeting, timing guidelines, and prompts for sharing. Members also receive a weekly 5-minute voice note, through a podcast feed, which offers helpful pointers for your conversations. With these resources, members then rotate as the informal “Host” of their small groups.

Small groups meet each week for 90 minutes along the 6-week journey. The times at which small groups will be meeting are listed below:

  • Tuesdays at 9:00am - 10:30am Eastern Time (ET) / 6:00am - 7:30am Pacific Time (PT) / 3:00pm - 4:30pm Central European Time (CET)
  • Tuesdays at 7:30pm - 9:00pm ET / 4:30pm - 6:00pm PT / 1:30am - 3:00am CET
  • Wednesday at 12:00pm - 1:30pm ET / 9:00am - 10:30am PT / 6:00pm - 7:30pm CET
  • Thursdays at 2:00pm - 3:30pm ET / 11:00am - 12:30pm PT / 8:00pm - 9:30pm CET
  • Thursdays at 10:00pm - 11:30pm ET / 7:00pm - 8:30pm PT / 4:00am - 5:30am CET
  • Sundays at 1:00pm - 2:30pm ET / 10:00am - 11:30am PT / 7:00pm - 8:30pm CET
  • Sundays at 7:00pm - 8:30pm ET / 4:00pm - 5:30pm PT / 1:00am - 2:30am CET

Want to get a sense of what a small group conversation is like?

Here's a screenshot of Anjoli Anand (pilot participant), Serena Bian (advisory board member), Casper ter Kuile (co-founder) and Alec Gewirtz (co-founder) starting out the Intention-Setting Circle, the first small group activity.

Anjoli, Serena, Casper and Alec in a small group conversation
Anjoli, Serena, Casper and Alec in a small group conversation

In that first conversation, you'll be guided through a series of activities including:

  • Settling into your body and noticing your breath
  • An opening ritual to set the tone for the shared time
  • Introducing yourself with gentle prompts
  • Journaling on your intentions for the 6-week journey
  • Discussing these intentions with your small group
  • Asking each other open questions and sharing affirming comments
  • Making a commitment for the coming week
  • Reading poetic closing words as you end your time together

Expert Guidance

Expert Guidance

The Nearness offers expert guidance to support you along your 6-week journey. As a participant, you’ll receive Guide Sheets that make it easier to discuss your spirituality, practice prompts to help you feel grounded, and mini-episodes of audio guidance that provide clarifying wisdom and actionable advice.

Guide Sheets

Each small-group conversation will use a Guide Sheet, a structured tool that offers easy-to-use practice prompts, poetic blessings, and aids to reflection and group sharing.

Anyone can pick up the Guide Sheet and have a nourishing interaction. Think of it as a script to nurture rich, reflective conversation and help you connect. Each Guide Sheet has step-by-step instructions for small-group conversations, organized as a ritual with a carefully designed beginning, middle, and end. Guide Sheets start with opening practices to feel centered, then move to questions and journaling prompts for reflection and conversation in the middle, and conclude with space for commitments and inspiration.

Check out what one participant had to say about a small-group conversation using a Guide Sheet:

I just had my first Intention-Setting Circle for The Nearness and it was MAGICAL... We had very different backgrounds, yet we found common ground and by the end of the 45 minutes we were blessing each other with tears in our eyes... Thank you for creating space for connection and community and for real, vulnerable soul-meeting. It means so very much to me.”


To lead you through your small group experience, each week we’ll share a five-minute mini podcast episode of audio guidance.

These mini-episodes will set you up for success in your small group conversations, help you navigate deepening relationships over time, and share inspiring reflections and spiritual insights.

You can find them in The Nearness podcast feed wherever you listen to podcasts.

Inspiring Workshops

Each Pathway welcomes wisdom teachers, activists and artists to share their guidance and insights. Here's an example of a recent workshop

The Practice of Presence with poets Naomi Shihab Nye and Danusha Laméris

Award-winning poets Naomi Shihab Nye and Danusha Laméris led a workshop on "The Practice of Presence." Grounding ourselves in the richness of the present moment, observing the sacred beauty around us at all times, and holding ourselves open to the unexpected.

Danusha Laméris, Naomi Shihab Nye, and Casper ter Kuile at a popular workshop that Naomi and Danusha led in November in The Nearness.
Danusha Laméris, Naomi Shihab Nye, and Casper ter Kuile at a popular workshop that Naomi and Danusha led in November in The Nearness.