Leading a Meditation

Discussion of meditation in the Mahayana and Vajrayana traditions.

Leading a Meditation

Postby AdmiralJim » Sun Dec 16, 2012 12:35 am

Hi guys,
Quite unexpectedly I have been asked to lead a meditation for the last yoga class of the year by my yoga teacher. I have never lead a meditation class and am seeking advice on what type of meditation I should lead given the time of year I thought metta bhavana might be apporopriate but I do not practise it regularly preferring Chenrezig puja. So any advice would be appreciated and please be quick as it is this Monday. I am more comfortable with mindfulness but I don't think it fits the season.
I don't know where we are going but it will be nice when we get there
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Re: Leading a Meditation

Postby PadmaVonSamba » Sun Dec 16, 2012 12:50 am

Considering it's a yoga class,
in that context,
what exactly does "lead a meditation" mean?
Do they want you to come up with some sort of pleasantly relaxing visualization or something?

You need to be more specific about what they are expecting from you,
or if others have been asked to "lead a meditation" to describe what they have done.

The problem reminds me of being a guest at someone's house for dinner
and being asked to "say the blessing".
what does it mean?

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Re: Leading a Meditation

Postby plwk » Sun Dec 16, 2012 1:05 am

I think most people may appreciate the Anapanasati, Mindfulness of Breathing, related to both our own life force and a common way of calming down the mind and relaxing the body as well.

The main text and some sample guides here , here and here
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Re: Leading a Meditation

Postby lowlydog » Sun Dec 16, 2012 1:17 am

You could practice radiating metta to the class, as you guide them into relaxing the parts of the body for about ten minutes or so, then have them start observation of the breath, just becoming aware of the fact that they are breathing in and out for 20 minutes or so. You could end with 5 minutes of metta. This would probably be enough for beginners.

:smile:
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Re: Leading a Meditation

Postby AdmiralJim » Sun Dec 16, 2012 1:18 am

The teacher isn't expecting anything from me that is part of the problem I guess. Usually the meditation is a relaxing visualisation but I feel I have been asked so they can experience something different and also I am the only one who has been asked to lead a meditation.
I don't know where we are going but it will be nice when we get there
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Re: Leading a Meditation

Postby Johnny Dangerous » Sun Dec 16, 2012 1:51 am

if you can successfully get people new to focus on the breath as an object for ten minutes or so, you've more than done your job. Of course there's always the fear that it won't be "enough" for people, but that's not really the point.

Make sure they understand the point is not to stop their minds or have opinions and feelings, but rather to let their minds, sense phenomena, whatever just happen and continually return to the breath. I know for people with no experience at all who have asked me about things, the weirdest part to them is that they have to just sit there and let their mind "happen" instead of trying to control it, it's the most valuable thing you could teach people with no meditation experience it seems like.

Tricky though, maybe it's like minimalist music, the simpler the technique, the more it takes someone with the mojo to really teach it - just do your best and good luck!!
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Re: Leading a Meditation

Postby greentara » Sun Dec 16, 2012 2:06 am

admiral, Do you honestly not see the irony of the situation? As Padma says 'the problem reminds me of being a guest at someone's house for dinner
and being asked to "say the blessing".
what does it mean?'
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Re: Leading a Meditation

Postby kirtu » Sun Dec 16, 2012 2:07 am

Nonsectarian tonglen (so tonglen without Buddhist elements), or a general metta meditation or breath mediation would probably be best. Chenrezig or any specifically Buddhist meditation wouldn't be appropriate unless you were specifically asked.

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Re: Leading a Meditation

Postby anjali » Sun Dec 16, 2012 2:40 am

Hi AJ,

What a wonderful opportunity for you and your class. Especially since it is a first meditation for the class. My suggestion for a short meditation.

5 minutes of watching the breath to relax and focus.
6 minutes of prayerful visualization:

1. Ask them to visualize everyone in the room. Give them a moment and ask them to silently repeat the prayer (if the word "prayer" would be off-putting, use the word "affirmation" instead):
May we be free from suffering and the root of suffering.
May we enjoy happiness and the root of happiness.


2. Then ask them to visualize the surrounding region of people. Give them a moment to visualize, then silently repeat the prayer/affirmation:
May they be free from suffering and the root of suffering.
May they enjoy happiness and the root of happiness.

3. Then ask them to visualize everyone in the nation. Then repeat:
May they free from suffering and the root of suffering.
May they enjoy happiness and the root of happiness.

4. Ask them to visualize everyone in the world. The repeat:
May they be free from suffering and the root of suffering.
May they enjoy happiness and the root of happiness.


5. Ask them to expand out to all beings in the universe. Repeat:
May they be free from suffering and the root of suffering.
May they enjoy happiness and the root of happiness.

6. Give them a moment, then return back to breath for one minute or so. Then conclude.

If you wish, you might want to add one additional line to the prayer:
May they dwell in peace, free from passion, aggression and prejudice.
All things are unworthy of clinging to (sabbe dhammā nâla abhinivesāyā). --Shakyamuni Buddha
If there is clinging, you do not have the view. --Drakpa Gyaltsen
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Re: Leading a Meditation

Postby lobster » Sun Dec 16, 2012 10:25 am

Anjali's suggestion is good.
Maybe you could give everyone a candle and get them to bring attention to the flame. That is quite Christmassy and yogic.

:meditate:
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Re: Leading a Meditation

Postby Azidonis » Sun Dec 16, 2012 6:36 pm

I don't get it. :/
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Re: Leading a Meditation

Postby BuddhaSoup » Sun Dec 16, 2012 6:47 pm

anjali wrote:Hi AJ,

What a wonderful opportunity for you and your class. Especially since it is a first meditation for the class. My suggestion for a short meditation.

5 minutes of watching the breath to relax and focus.
6 minutes of prayerful visualization:

1. Ask them to visualize everyone in the room. Give them a moment and ask them to silently repeat the prayer (if the word "prayer" would be off-putting, use the word "affirmation" instead):
May we be free from suffering and the root of suffering.
May we enjoy happiness and the root of happiness.


2. Then ask them to visualize the surrounding region of people. Give them a moment to visualize, then silently repeat the prayer/affirmation:
May they be free from suffering and the root of suffering.
May they enjoy happiness and the root of happiness.


3. Then ask them to visualize everyone in the nation. Then repeat:
May they free from suffering and the root of suffering.
May they enjoy happiness and the root of happiness.

4. Ask them to visualize everyone in the world. The repeat:
May they be free from suffering and the root of suffering.
May they enjoy happiness and the root of happiness.


5. Ask them to expand out to all beings in the universe. Repeat:
May they be free from suffering and the root of suffering.
May they enjoy happiness and the root of happiness.

6. Give them a moment, then return back to breath for one minute or so. Then conclude.

If you wish, you might want to add one additional line to the prayer:
May they dwell in peace, free from passion, aggression and prejudice.


:good:

At the risk of adding more salt to an already excellent soup from Anjali, one can add at the beginning a Metta affirmation for oneself, and maybe in the middle part an affirmation for Metta or wellbeing for one's 'enemies' or those that pose challenges in one's life.
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Re: Leading a Meditation

Postby songhill » Sun Dec 16, 2012 6:52 pm

How about counting breaths?
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Re: Leading a Meditation

Postby anjali » Sun Dec 16, 2012 7:09 pm

BuddhaSoup wrote:
anjali wrote:Hi AJ,

What a wonderful opportunity for you and your class. Especially since it is a first meditation for the class. My suggestion for a short meditation.

5 minutes of watching the breath to relax and focus.
6 minutes of prayerful visualization:

1. Ask them to visualize everyone in the room. Give them a moment and ask them to silently repeat the prayer (if the word "prayer" would be off-putting, use the word "affirmation" instead):
May we be free from suffering and the root of suffering.
May we enjoy happiness and the root of happiness.


2. Then ask them to visualize the surrounding region of people. Give them a moment to visualize, then silently repeat the prayer/affirmation:
May they be free from suffering and the root of suffering.
May they enjoy happiness and the root of happiness.


3. Then ask them to visualize everyone in the nation. Then repeat:
May they free from suffering and the root of suffering.
May they enjoy happiness and the root of happiness.

4. Ask them to visualize everyone in the world. The repeat:
May they be free from suffering and the root of suffering.
May they enjoy happiness and the root of happiness.


5. Ask them to expand out to all beings in the universe. Repeat:
May they be free from suffering and the root of suffering.
May they enjoy happiness and the root of happiness.

6. Give them a moment, then return back to breath for one minute or so. Then conclude.

If you wish, you might want to add one additional line to the prayer:
May they dwell in peace, free from passion, aggression and prejudice.


:good:

At the risk of adding more salt to an already excellent soup from Anjali, one can add at the beginning a Metta affirmation for oneself, and maybe in the middle part an affirmation for Metta or wellbeing for one's 'enemies' or those that pose challenges in one's life.


Wow. I can't believe I forgot to add that. Yes, I would definitely amend by adding, at the beginning, a focus on oneself with the affirmation:
May I be free from suffering and the root of suffering.
May I enjoy happiness and the root of happiness.


The amount of time you have available will determine how much you spend on each part. At the end of a yoga class, if you have 10 minutes for meditation you are doing pretty good. I've seen classes where it usually ends with a few minutes in corpse pose and watching the breath.

The affirmation of {self, those present, community, nation, world, universe} can be done easily in 4 minutes--you can extend it of course. Also, time for watching the breath can be as long or short as desired. So, you have a lot of flexibility for any time constraints you may have.

Best wishes on whatever you decide!
All things are unworthy of clinging to (sabbe dhammā nâla abhinivesāyā). --Shakyamuni Buddha
If there is clinging, you do not have the view. --Drakpa Gyaltsen
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Re: Leading a Meditation

Postby AdmiralJim » Sun Dec 16, 2012 9:23 pm

Hi guys,
Thanks for your suggestions - anjali in particular. I have twenty minutes for the meditation at the end, so plenty of time.
I don't know where we are going but it will be nice when we get there
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