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Introduction [see also: More detailed instruction]

Buddha Mind - get one, be one.

INTRODUCTION | VISUALISATION | ACTIVE

This item is written particularly with group practice in mind and, more specifically, for young people or inexperienced meditators. The basic principle for meditation - that of selecting a meditation object, relative to one's ability to sustain attention or awareness - applies no less to the suggestions here than it does to any other techniques and, if people are happy being still and silent with minimal input, they can be left to explore that experience.
The word meditation has negative (weird religion, cultish) connotations in some situations - try using: stilling, centredness, relaxation, stress management, silent psychology, group therapy - anything that will make people feel comfortable about sitting still, in silence, investigating their hearts / minds.

The assumption with these activities is that there is a leader who will direct or guide the group. This can be quite a challenge so I include a few thoughts here which may be of help. The material in: For Teachers may also be useful. Most direction required is verbal and building a good list of key words is helpful - [see: RESOURCES - SEE].
If possible, meditate alone beforehand. This helps move the mind to the space that one hopes to lead the group toward.
Having the group sit on the floor is best. This connects with most people's idea of meditation and requires developing a self-supporting posture (very useful long term).
If the leader (you?) has a regular practice - obviously preferable - it is not unreasonable, once the group has settled a bit (with eyes closed), to just sit still in silence. They will be expecting something of you and this can be a bit intimidating. They might be watching (waiting for you to levitate - or perhaps giggling) but if a few moments are spent going confidently inward this offers a good, clear model or reference point - either energetically or for those watching. If the confidence is consistent over several sessions your peaceful silence will come to be respected.
Allow that there may well be noise. Some may fidget, or giggle, or whisper, or worse. However, I have often been amazed, with a seemingly inattentive group, at how much they are positively affected by a short period of guided meditation. Try and keep the meditation going and offer (minimum) admonishment from within that context.
Give considerable value to the suggestive power of words - see the introduction to Visualisation.
Be clear about the beginning, middle and end but don't be too self-demanding around impeccable lines of logic or grammar. We are dealing with poetry, magic, mystery, wonder fullness, etc. here, and there is a lot of leeway.
If you can enter the space then all you have to do is describe it. The group can then create their own version of it.

There is quite a lot of material on meditation in the LIFESTYLE section which could be be usefully read in conjunction with this. Also, here are a few sample meditations.

 

There are two (complimentary) levels at which meditation can be approached: as part of a spiritual path or, as a way of relaxing or stilling the mind/body. Most of the ideas here are related to the second approach but both are working primarily with awareness and mindfulness - and the second often quite naturally leads to aspects of the first.

The Buddha's main teaching on meditation is the Satipatthana Sutta [see: RESOURCES - READ] which provides a framework of four basic groups to which these meditations can be related and others developed.
Getting in touch with the body - weight, heat, stiffness, etc. See: Active.
Exploring the inner world of immediate experience - primarily feelings, identifying pleasant & unpleasant.
Developing a deeper appreciation of the mind - the moods (greed, anger, confusion, etc.), general energy flows, concentration, etc.
Examining mental patterns - what we do that leads to happiness, to misery, to social confusion, how they arise, how they are overcome.

Creating categories for meditation ideas is not easy. Although it makes for very 'wordy' pages I have settled on just two and will lump all my thoughts in either one with some attempt at logic.

INTRODUCTION | VISUALISATION | ACTIVE