Leading Guided Meditation Part 2

Hallelujah ūüôā

This morning, after leading a guided meditation, a few key points became clear.

  1.  A proper introduction to the practice is most valuable!  In addition to explaining the process for the practice this morning, also offer an explanation of how they can take this practice home with them and practice by themselves.
    1. Let the students know that you’ll be practicing various techniques, and hopefully one of the techniques resonates with them so that they can take it home with them and practice regularly. ¬†Let them know that an ‘Om’ will signify the beginning of a new technique.
      1. Also, let them know that all the techniques are tools that we eventually need to let go of. ¬†The tools are to calm the mind, but ultimately the process of meditation takes us beyond the mind completely, so we don’t want to be attached to the tools, but keep them in their proper place. ¬†The tools are there to serve us, not we to serve them. ¬†They help us train the mind so that we become its master rather than slave.
  2. After each practice, bring closure. ¬†For example, if the focus is on the sound of the breath and listening to the breath, consider a transitional statement and guidance going forward with the practice, rather than just ending the practice with an ‘Om.’
  3. Before beginning: remind them that everything worth while takes time.  No one has bypassed the mind the first time.  So the process of practicing concentration and meditation is like training an innocent puppy.  As we practice, we are not to set up thoughts/the ego as an enemy, but rather see it as totally innocent, and melt it with compassion and understanding.  We can see the ego/thinking process identifies with the animal body and is concerned with its survival Рwhich in many ways is a totally reasonable concern.  So, instead of condemning the ego and the thought process, we just witness it and melt it with compassion.
    1. Progress in concentration and meditations happens daily and naturally and benefits when the welfare of the calmness of mind is taken into consideration regarding all activities of daily life: from food choices to conversations to movies to music.  Everything adds up and either contributes to our peace of mind or its disturbance.
    2. When first beginning practice, don’t expect anything. ¬†Just commit to practice out of a sincere interest in the truth, freeing oneself from the illusion that happiness is something to be gained externally, and to confirm the spiritual teachings directly via one’s own experience (e.g. The Kingdom is Within).
    3. Inspire them! ¬†Give the students all the inspiration they need – but be weary of slipping into a preaching mode. ¬†Be sure to speak sincerely and enthusiastically but not preaching. ¬†Meditation is not so much about what is heard but what is unheard, so even as they listen to instruction they can listen to the silence out of which all sound arises. ¬†Allow the whole experience to be meditative rather than something intellectual (i.e. the instruction). ¬†Turn giving and listening to the instruction into a meditation itself! ¬†Don’t get intellectual. ¬†Prioritize ‘being’ rather than ‘doing.’
      1. On that note, clarify that the techniques are ‘doing,’ but the end of meditation is pure being. ¬†It is ultimately about being, not doing! ¬†The doing can just help calm and purify the mind, and when the mind is calm and pure it is easier to go beyond it.
    4. Be so clear in your preparation that you know exactly the steps you will guide them through so that you can communicate the plan ahead of time. ¬†Then again, don’t want to burden students with ideas to cling to about future expectations…sooo be weary. ¬†All for fun!
    5. Have fun ūüôā ¬†Enjoy it. ¬†During the whole process, hold an energy of gratitude for the opportunity to give and be of service. ¬†The giver is truly the receiver! ¬†Giving is a great opportunity to grow spiritually – and that is what we are here for!

Gloria in Excelsis Deo!

To Live It, Don’t Speak It

Hallelujah ūüôā

There is a saying, “Preach the gospel; if necessary, use words.”

The primary way we serve and lead and teach and inspire and everything, everything!, is by our lives as a whole.  It is not about what we have or what we do that really matters Рbut what we have become matter supremely, and it is what we have become that serves and uplifts all humanity.

So, I could spend all day talking and writing about the benefits of regularly meditating and keeping good company and studying the scriptures, but meanwhile Рduring that whole time РI was not meditating or keeping good company or studying scriptures.  Hypocrisy is so easy!  And we must be vigilant.

It almost seems to be a guarantee at this point Рas soon as I write something on this blog, I go ahead and do just the opposite. Hence, the value of simplicity.  These words are not necessary at all, yet they seem to come naturally and it feels effortless so I trust they are aligned with serving the Highest Good.

So, instead of preaching a whole lot, perhaps it is best we either preach one simple thing, or rather to not preach at all, and simple practice one simple thing, and allow our own practice to be our non-verbal preaching.

Thank goodness that our internal awareness is a far greater contribution and service to humanity than anything we can do externally. ¬†Love, Love, Love, and with that foundation – come what may ūüôā

 

Gloria in Excelsis Deo!

Leading Guided Meditation

Hallelujah ūüôā

The past few weeks I’ve had the great fortune of leading visitors to Satchidananda Ashram Yogaville in guided meditation.

Here are a few things I’ve learned:

  • God help us if the ego gets involved! ¬†The ego loves attention, the spiritual ego loves taking credit for leading people in spiritual practices like meditation, hatha yoga, spiritual study, group sharing, etc. ¬†It is important to be vigilant and ensure the ego relaxes and surrenders its attachments and aversions to God. ¬†To protect against the ego taking over and feeling puffed up, the key is to offer up the entire practice in service to God, Humanity, All of Life – whatever resonates. ¬†As long as the intention is pure and there is a sense of a higher dedication and devotion – it is like we are handing the reins of our chariot over to God, opening ourselves to serve as channels for Divine Love, rather than trying to be that love ourselves. ¬†As best we can, no matter what we’re doing or however we’re serving, if we can acknowledge that all of the Power is God’s and that we are here to simple be servants of God, then we’ve already taken great steps to ensuring successful, humble, ego-free service where true peace and joy can flourish.
  • A short introduction to meditation and the nature of the mind is valuable, but saying too much is just another opportunity for the ego to slip in. ¬†With our words, we don’t need to sell our students on anything. ¬†We can gently plant a simple seed, but then the sprouting of the seed and the direct experience of Reality comes to them during the meditation, not through the words. ¬†Saying less is valuable and demonstrates a trust in the process. ¬†Meditation, after all, is about the direct experience – not intellectual learning via listening to a teacher. ¬†So, allow the experience to teach as it is meant to be ūüôā
  • It is much easier to lead a guided meditation or offer teachings with which you are directly familiar with. ¬†If you are not “practicing what you are preaching” then that will reveal itself through the teaching, one way or another. ¬†If you have practiced and directly experienced the benefits of whatever you are offering, then that sincerity and earnestness will come through in the teaching, and all the students will benefit from it. ¬†Especially with a highly conscious practice like meditation, students are present and can feel the presence of sincerity or not. ¬†When you teach with a sincere energy and from your own direct experience, you inspire on many levels and gain the trust of your students.
  • When both a regular meditation and a guided meditation are offered, it is safe to say that those who choose the guided meditation have a sense of curiosity about the meditative process and are likely newer to meditation. ¬†With the understanding that they are closer to beginners than advanced practitioners, it is valuable to guide the students through several different techniques in a 30 minute period, offering around 5 minutes of silence to practice with each technique. ¬†An ideal outcome for the guided meditation is that the student leaves with a technique/spiritual tool that they feel inspired to use on a daily basis – so the more you present them with a variety of tools and an opportunity to practice – the better. ¬†If, instead you only offer one technique over a span of 30 minutes, there is a chance the student doesn’t connect with that technique at all and develops an aversion to meditation overall. ¬†Better for the teacher to share a variety of practices in a respectful way, hoping that one of the techniques resonates deeply with the student and inspires them to practice and inquire more about meditation.
  • This is more of a general comment, but it is good to be on the same energy level of the students. ¬†This will help tune the teacher with the students and protect against a superiority or inferiority. ¬†As an example, the meditation this morning began at 6:40, and I woke up around 5:45, meditated for 15 minutes, drank a cup of peppermint water, and walked over to the ashram. ¬†I had a pretty simple morning ritual before leading the meditation. ¬†I could have done some pride-inflating morning ritual like waking up at 5 AM, practicing 30 minutes of stretching and hatha yoga, 30 minutes meditation, even eat some fruit and drink some tea, and then lead the meditation, but that would have created oceans between me and the students. ¬†It is valuable to be aware of the energy and recent activity of the students. ¬†If the students are just waking up and arriving at guided meditation, chances are their minds are already relatively calm since they haven’t been over-stimulated, and less introduction is necessary. ¬†In contrast, if the meditation is at 6 pm and they just drove 4 hours to arrive at the ashram, the students would likely benefit more from a centering process and formal introduction to the practice. ¬†So, by all means – meet the students where they are at! ¬†The Buddhist word for this is upaya: skillful means.
  • Remind yourself that you’re not doing anything. ¬†You are just a channel for the teachings. ¬†Stay humble. ¬†Remember and trust in God. ¬†Don’t be attached to the students experience or your own experience – know that whatever happens is God’s Will and for the Best. ¬†Trust completely. ¬†From this place of total trust, you can relax deeply and allow the Divine Love to flow freely and effortlessly. ¬†Be totally present with the ever-present Love of God and fear nothing. ¬†If nothing else, take refuge in the purity of your intention – to love and to serve – and know that you are doing the best you can – and in doing the best you can – there is nothing more for you to do. ¬†So, just relax ūüôā
  • Whatever you’re about to teach, be it meditation or something else, be familiar if not in a state of mastery with the material. ¬†You want to appear well-prepared and professional so that the students trust you. ¬†Rest well, dress well, study, practice, and perform. ¬†Prior to leading the meditations this weekend, I regularly listened to audio clips on the practice of meditation as well as read for several hours from various books on the topics of meditation. ¬†Even though much of what I absorbed was not shared directly, the energy of that commitment to leading the meditation came through in the teaching. ¬†Steeping the consciousness in the teachings builds confidence and also affirms that one is truly aligned with the teaching being offered.
  • As much as studying the material is valuable, and practicing delivering the material is valuable, the most valuable aspect is living the teachings oneself; in this case, meaning – practicing meditation! ¬†Whatever there is to teach, first, live it. ¬†Living it is the primary way we teach.
  • Arrive early and go within. ¬†Set an example right from the beginning about what meditation looks and feels like. ¬†Even if they don’t directly feel what you are feeling when you meditate, you can know that your consciousness radiates and on a subtle level they can know what you’re experiencing. ¬†Ultimately, none of it is about you anyway. ¬†You are not doing anything, anyway. ¬†All the Power is God’s and it is all for fun. ūüôā

Gloria in Excelsis Deo!