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
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 &
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.