Leading meditation sessions can be a truly wonderful experience, but as with any venture, the more experience you have the easier it all seems. But some of us may want to lead a meditation for the first time, or do not have quite enough experience to feel comfortable. The benefits of introducing a guided meditation into a retreat, a classroom, or any other group related event are truly worth the effort.
To help you along your way we are going to cover a few of the areas of leading meditation that may require your attention, or at least very good to know about and prepare for ahead of time. (don’t worry, most preparation is mental and just a personal understanding for yourself to know how to guide.)
Relaxation: The entire meditation session should have a foundation of relaxation. In order for us as individuals to gain more control of our minds, we need to block out the external and physical stimuli that serve as distractions. Tense muscles, by their very nature, use energy to remain tense. This is energy being taken away from other areas of your life, including your spiritual and mental selves. The idea here is to guide the people in the meditation session to an active relaxation of their muscles. This is achieved by either encouraging the tensing and relaxing of muscles. Tense and relax. Tense and Relax. This technique is used for a more direct approach to what physical relaxation feels like.
The other way to help with active relaxation while leading meditation is to just encourage the individuals to envision their muscles relaxing. Start at the the feet and work up the body. Verbally express this with phrases like “picture your feet muscles relaxing.”have your mind to tell your calves to relax” For people that have trouble with this method you may have to use the actual tense and relax technique so people actually feel the difference more dramatically.
Environment is also a key component to providing the right guidance in a meditation session. What this means is to find a quiet area, one closed off from traffic noise, other loud rooms, or any other major distraction (a wooded retreat is even better for the obvious reasons).
Music can also be used, as their are specific musical albums designed to provide a relaxing ambiance for meditation. This music tends to be quiet and non-distracting and serves as more of a backdrop than a featured part of the experience.
Certain scents can also be relaxing but should be used cautiously as there seems to be more sensitively with scents than with sounds. An unwanted smell can ruin the meditation experience, especially for those who are just beginning.
What if my mind wanders!?!?! Often the most asked question from beginners in meditation. The easiest and most simple answer is... “Go back to your breath” ...once your are aware of your wandering mind just go back to your breath, concentrate on your breathing. For further explanation, usually not during a session itself but to help another person get past their frustration is to tell them to remember that meditation is a learned skill, so it is more than common to have your mind wander, don’t fret or judge yourself negatively, just try again and again. The more you practice bringing the mind back to breath the easier it becomes to have a still mind with the periods of peaceful times growing longer and longer.
Be a gentle reminder: Leading meditation means knowing that people will get frustrated, or have their mind wander, or not know how to relax... it is your duty to gently remind them throughout the session to come back to center, breathe deeply, etc. Be sure to ask people to share their experience after the session. This will not only provide you with feedback for next time but everyone will feel more comfortable knowing that the issues they were having were shared with others as well. Always remind yourself to be supportive.
Next up... Script for Leading a Meditation