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Taking a meditation class

BunksBunks Australia Veteran

Hi Sangha!

I have been thinking about setting up a weekly lunch time meditation class at my place of work. I have never led a class before.

I thought as a start I'd send out an invite to which I expect maybe a handful of people will come along.

Even though I am currently focusing on the Tibetan tradition, I was thinking a 15 minute simple breathing meditation may be the way to start (assuming no-one here at work has had any experience).

Some comments I thought I'd make to people as they meditated.

  1. When your mind wanders (as it will) bring it back to the breath with no judgement.
  2. Suggest counting breaths to people if it's easier (1 to 10 then start again).
  3. You will feel self conscious at first but this will pass as time goes on.
  4. If you feel any discomfort in the body then let it pass. It is just energy.
  5. Keep reminding people every 30 secs or so to come back to the breath for the first five mins or so.

Any other ideas or thoughts?

EarthninjadhammachickHamsakaToshDhammaDragonVastmind

Comments

  • How awesome to introduce this into your workplace!
    The breath thing is very helpful. I've tried counting to six on the inhale, then holding it in for another count of six, then exhaling for another count of 6. Then repeat.

    How about seating? Will participants have options? Not everyone can sit on the pillow. A sturdy chair will be good.

    One more thing: what about distracting background noise?
    Hope to hear about this soon.

  • BunksBunks Australia Veteran

    Thanks @Nerima.

    I was thinking of booking a training room and having everyone sitting in chairs.

    There should be minimal background noise as it's in part of the office that has little foot traffic.

  • Right.
    But how should participants handle noise? It can be very distracting. I suggest that after they breathe to quiet the mind, then perhaps they can also become aware of incidental background sounds (like a ticking clock, a creaky chair, or a cough), because to me it's just another way to quiet the monkey mind....

    Bunkssilver
  • personperson Where is my mind? 'Merica! Veteran
    edited January 2015

    Jon Kabat-Zinn's MBSR meditation techniques has some traction amongst the populace. I'd suggest seeing there are any teaching resources from that program you can connect with. Or really any sort of established secular program rather than going it completely on your own.

    Bunkslobster
  • bookwormbookworm U.S.A. Veteran

    @Bunks said:
    Hi Sangha!

    Any other ideas or thoughts?

    If anybody in your group smokes cigarettes tell them they can get the most out of breath meditation if they are able to cut back or quit smoking altogether, because for me smoking makes meditating on the breath very difficult.

    Bunksdhammachick
  • lobsterlobster Veteran
    edited January 2015

    I would love to teach meditation but I doubt I would attend. :mrgreen:

    It is fine to make people aware that you are passing on from a Buddhist tradition but a secular methodology allows the attendance of other religions, atheists, agnostics, yogis, the curious, Pastafarians, nicotine and caffeine addicts etc.

    Good luck . . . oh a secular led meditation or yoga nidra relaxation (can be done in a chair) might be suitable . . . or a music/sound listening meditation as suggested . . .

    Bunksperson
  • EarthninjaEarthninja Wanderer West Australia Veteran
    @Bunks‌

    That's incredible! Great idea.

    A couple of added pointers, I would let people know it's OK to move. That way they won't see meditation as self torture.

    Just be aware of movement.

    Let them know not to force anything, just accept everything as it is. Return to breath.

    Also not all meditation suits everyone, just like studying!

    Listening to guided meditations helps relax people and it's easier to listen to sounds because it blocks out the thought process to a degree.

    Nothing better than the sound of a mountain steam!

    All you do is guide while the music plays.

    Just an idea, I would like to similar at my work.
    lobster
  • BunksBunks Australia Veteran

    Yeah, maybe music or a stream would be a good idea. I could take my laptop in there and play some relaxing music!

    @lobster - I'll definitely be keeping it secular. Don't want to freak out the natives with my Eastern mumbo jumbo......

    EarthninjadhammachicklobsterDhammaDragon
  • silversilver In the beginning there was nothing, and then it exploded. USA, Left coast. Veteran

    There's nothing wrong...and absolutely everything right...with being mindful to any background noises that may occur. Be attentive to them and when they stop, go back to being attentive to your breathing or music or ___.

    Bunks
  • dhammachickdhammachick crazy Aussie BUJU Sydney, Australia Veteran

    @Bunks‌ - you rock!! The counting is really helpful. It's my default to focus on my breathing. Especially when my monkey mind is going bananas (see what I did there? :P )

    _ /\ _

    BunksEarthninjalobstersilver
  • SpinyNormanSpinyNorman It's still all old bollocks Veteran
    edited January 2015

    @Bunks said:
    1. When your mind wanders (as it will) bring it back to the breath with no judgement.
    2. Suggest counting breaths to people if it's easier (1 to 10 then start again).
    3. You will feel self conscious at first but this will pass as time goes on.
    4. If you feel any discomfort in the body then let it pass. It is just energy.
    5. Keep reminding people every 30 secs or so to come back to the breath for the first five mins or so.

    Really good idea, and you will also learn a lot yourself by doing this.

    If people are completely new it's a good idea to start with an initial few minutes of "settling down" in the present, particularly if people have come from work with busy minds. I used to do an exercise called "feeling your weight" which does what it says on the tin, establishing some mindfulness in the body but more importantly in the present moment.

    Can you make it 20 minutes? That will allow 5 minutes at the beginning for instruction and settling in. A good idea initially is to get people to feel the breath in different parts of the body, eg as it enters the nose, the movement of the abdomen. Talk them through it, make sure people know what to focus on. To us it might be obvious, but don't assume it for a beginner.

    People can easily get confused with optional instructions, so decide to either teach breath counting or not - personally I feel it's more trouble than it's worth, and of course it does take time to explain it clearly. Remember that if people are new to this they will need crystal clear instructions, eg you need to tell them whether to count on the in-breath or out-breath, and what to do when they lose track, etc.

    Generally try keep the instructions really as simple as possible. Phrases like "bring the attention gently back to the breath" are useful. Don't make assumptions. Are you going to tell them where to feel the breath?

    Yes, gentle reminders about returning to the breath are useful initially but do play it by ear - you will be able to sense whether or not people are settling into the practice by the amount of shuffling. ;)

    Hope that helps and good luck. Full report eagerly awaited!

    lobsterEarthninjapersonBunks
  • Why not refer to what you plan to do as relaxation training? Its easier for people to accept. To call it meditation could be either misleading or confusing. Are you ready to accept the consequences of misleading or confusing others?

  • federicafederica seeker of the clear blue sky Its better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than to speak out and remove all doubt Moderator

    Because people are more familiar with the term Meditation' than 'relaxation Training'.

    And as there are many different ways to meditate, why call it something else? That just adds to the confusion.
    Meditation means different things to different people.

    The very best definition I came across was "Bringing the Mind Home". (Sogyal Rinpoche, "The TBoLaD".)

    If I were leading these sessions, I would actually write a brief leaflet to distribute, with all the pertinent points to cover that @Bunks wishes to convey, with the above quotation as a header.

    Then he could distribute the leaflet, or place it in a prominent position (lots of colleague traffic) with an email address to 'subscribe'.

    Just what I'd do...... (did this with my Qi Gong classes. Worked well.....)

    personBunksEarthninja
  • SpinyNormanSpinyNorman It's still all old bollocks Veteran

    @federica said:
    And as there are many different ways to meditate, why call it something else? That just adds to the confusion.
    Meditation means different things to different people.

    Yes, "meditation" is fine, and people can always ask if they're not sure.

  • BunksBunks Australia Veteran
    edited January 2015
    Thanks @grackle but I must agree with the others. As far as I am concerned the word meditation has no negative connotations. if I whacked Buddhist or vipassana before it then I'd expect people to start asking questions :smile:
    Earthninja
  • SpinyNormanSpinyNorman It's still all old bollocks Veteran

    So when are you thinking of starting?

  • BunksBunks Australia Veteran

    @SpinyNorman said:
    So when are you thinking of starting?

    When I work up the courage to send the e-mail :blush:

  • SpinyNormanSpinyNorman It's still all old bollocks Veteran
    edited January 2015

    How exciting! Any idea on possible numbers yet?

  • federicafederica seeker of the clear blue sky Its better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than to speak out and remove all doubt Moderator

    @Bunks said: When I work up the courage to send the e-mail

    I take it you have cleared this with 'the powers-that-be' at work....?

  • BunksBunks Australia Veteran

    @federica said:
    I take it you have cleared this with 'the powers-that-be' at work....?

    No. Not sure I need to.

    Earthninja
  • DhammaDragonDhammaDragon Carpe Diem switzerland Veteran

    @Bunks, when in doubt, there are some very good recorded guided meditations by Bodhipaksa, Tara Brach or Jack Kornfield, to name but a few.
    You could consider listening to some of them to get some pointers.
    As to background music, I think it could be rather distracting and might come in the way of people actually listening to your guidance.
    Just a thought.

    I totally congratulate you on your initiative, really.
    It's a fantastic thing to do. <3

    Bunkssilverlobster
  • federicafederica seeker of the clear blue sky Its better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than to speak out and remove all doubt Moderator

    @Bunks said: No. Not sure I need to.

    Oh.... Well, naturally, I have absolutely no idea really of what your work circumstances are, or how the hierarchy functions, if at all (or if such a 'thing' exists....) but I simply though giving them a heads-up might be in order?
    I'm not suggesting what you are thinking of doing is wrong - far from it - but if you're going to conduct sessions on someone else's territory, maybe a notification my be appropriate....?

    Just asking, honestly.... :)

  • SpinyNormanSpinyNorman It's still all old bollocks Veteran

    @federica said:
    Just asking, honestly.... :)

    Yeah, it's always good to ask. ;)

    One of my bosses always used to go on about how "assume" makes an ass out of u and me, but then he was a bit of control freak and didn't like me using my own initiative. ;)

    Earthninja
  • BunksBunks Australia Veteran

    You're probably right re: asking. In fact I think I'll need to ask in a round about way to book the room I intend using.

    Earthninja
  • SpinyNormanSpinyNorman It's still all old bollocks Veteran

    Please do book the room! Mindful preparation!

    Bunks
  • Bravo @Bunks, I feel your original post (OP) contained an excellent 15 minute format . . . However you may find some people wish to talk, try various techniques, be instructed etc. You are under no obligation to do anything more than you have offered . . .

  • BunksBunks Australia Veteran

    Yes @lobster. I have had a few queries already mainly around whether we'd have music on in the background. Might give that a go. Chop and change to suit the audience......

    dhammachick
  • federicafederica seeker of the clear blue sky Its better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than to speak out and remove all doubt Moderator

    No, I disagree.
    Do not 'chop and change'. If there's one thing people prefer, it's consistency, familiarity and habit.
    People resist change.

    And how will you know what 'suits the audience' if they've never done it before?

    If you keep implementing different methods and techniques, you will lose a vast majority of your participants, because they will think "Well, it was ok to begin with - but we kept changing everything all the time, there was no opportunity to settle into a routine...."

    Trust me, I know.
    Don't chop and change.
    Pick three, well-known reliable methods....

    "There are many ways to practice meditation. I would like to introduce you to three ways you can meditate.
    We're going to do it this way for 10 sessions.
    After that, I will introduce a different method, and keep that going for 10 more sessions.
    Finally, I'll demonstrate a third method, again for 10 sessions.

    It will be up to you, if you so wish, to try these different ways in your own time, and investigate other ways if you want, but these 3 are very common, so let's see how we get on...."

    silverBunks
  • federicafederica seeker of the clear blue sky Its better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than to speak out and remove all doubt Moderator

    Candle method, with music (focusing COMPLETELY on the sounds heard), and watching/counting breath.

  • SpinyNormanSpinyNorman It's still all old bollocks Veteran

    @Bunks said:
    Yes lobster. I have had a few queries already mainly around whether we'd have music on in the background. Might give that a go. Chop and change to suit the audience......

    Music sounds more like relaxation. So unless that's the way you want to go I would advise against it.

    federicasilverBunksEarthninja
  • EarthninjaEarthninja Wanderer West Australia Veteran
    Not if your focussing on the sounds. Meditating to rainfall or water running is fantastic.

    It's easier for people to not get lost in thoughts. At least for beginners.

    You just advise them to listen to pure sounds. Don't label what your hearing. It's really no different to feeling a sensation of breathing.
    It just seems easier for beginners.

    I would try it out @Bunks‌ .

    Experiment with your sangha or friends. Find out what works for them. You just run the class.

    Don't get me wrong. I practice breathing meditation and Vipassana. It's not always pleasant or relaxing. Which is shy id suggest music or rather sounds for beginners.

    :)
    Bunks
  • BunksBunks Australia Veteran

    Update:

    I didn't heed @federica‌ 's advice and just mentioned the class to the CEO of the company I work for.

    I had booked a room for this Friday and had about 8 people lined up.

    Then about an hour ago a manager here pulled me aside and said HR had caught wind of it and I wasn't to go ahead with the class until discussions had been held between management and HR.

    Oh well, we'll see what happens. I can understand from their point of view as the class was going to happen in the office so it is their responsibility.

    Will keep you posted......

    Earthninja
  • DhammaDragonDhammaDragon Carpe Diem switzerland Veteran

    Wonder why all these formalities, but hope you manage to have your class anytime soon!

  • federicafederica seeker of the clear blue sky Its better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than to speak out and remove all doubt Moderator

    @Bunks said:
    Update:

    I didn't heed federica‌ 's advice and just mentioned the class to the CEO of the company I work for.

    I had booked a room for this Friday and had about 8 people lined up.

    Then about an hour ago a manager here pulled me aside and said HR had caught wind of it and I wasn't to go ahead with the class until discussions had been held between management and HR.

    Oh well, we'll see what happens. I can understand from their point of view as the class was going to happen in the office so it is their responsibility.

    Will keep you posted......

    >

    It may possibly have something to do with finding out what your agenda is.

    Without any discussion, it's even possible that someone may mistakenly believe you're going to brainwash, mind-warp and influence people in a 'cultish' way...

    I know, I know. May sound far fetched, but....

    Stranger things have happened....

  • BunksBunks Australia Veteran

    @federica said:
    Stranger things have happened....

    Yes, I did wonder that too. My manager suggested it was more of an OH&S (Health & Safety) thing i.e. if a person falls off their chair or has a seizure then work is responsible.

    Who knows......I'll be interested to see if they actually ask me anything or if I never here from them again about it. No skin off my nose. Just thought it'd be nice to share the benefits I have received from meditation.

    Earthninja
  • SpinyNormanSpinyNorman It's still all old bollocks Veteran

    How about running something outside work? Like a meditation group? Maybe at home?

    I had all sorts of problems with Health and bleedin' Safety last time I tried to hire a room for my Buddhist group, they wanted me to provide insurance cover, despite already having their own.

    I said "What, you mean in case somebody sues me for making them feel more peaceful?!"

    Bunks
  • federicafederica seeker of the clear blue sky Its better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than to speak out and remove all doubt Moderator

    What is it we say about "Intention is All"...?

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