Photo Credit: William Bout
Having experienced the benefits of meditation and mindfulness, do you want to share this wonderful training of the heart and mind, that others may benefit from it? Then become a "guide." A guide is a peer-leader who is able to lead guided meditations to willing participants.
This article shares with you Twelve Tips to help you become a skilled Guide. These tips are all about the mechanics of being a guide. They assume that you will be meditating in an appropriately secluded, quiet, and safe location. As a guide you will want to do whatever is necessary to help create that environment. For example, if indoors, make sure the lights are not so bright they distract the meditators.
Now on to the Twelve Tips!
1. Use a calm, relaxed, and authentic voice.
Let your tone of your voice model the peace, serenity, and calmness that you want those meditating to feel. Speak how you would speak when you are peaceful, calm, and relaxed. Speak how you would speak when sharing an emotionally intimate moment with others.
2. Speak in a slower than normal pace that is natural for you.
You don't want to speak too fast, as this can prevent some of your listeners from understanding you. Nor do you want to speak so slowly that people can't follow the train of your thought. Find a slow, yet normal pace for you. Speak how you might speak if you were in a sacred space.
3. Time yourself with a stop watch.
This will help you keep an appropriate pace. Start a stop watch immediately before you start the meditation and check it at the end of each page to make sure you are keeping pace.
In our PDF and Word document scripts, at the end of each page is a time stamp that approximates what time it should be at that point during the meditation. This helps you keep a wise and balanced pace.
4. Be OK going long.
When reading the script, be mindful of your mental state. If fear or anxiety is present, notice that. Fear and anxiety can show up in the tone and rate of your voice, and this can decrease the effectiveness of the meditation for those present.
A lot of fear and anxiety arises due to concern over ending the meditation on time. One way to let go of that fear is to give yourself permission to go long with the meditation. In other words: do your best to end on time, but don't stress about it if you don't.
5. Take frequent pauses.
These pauses give people time to try to follow your instructions and experience what you are asking them to experience. When using one of our scripts, a double return signifies "take a pause." Listen to our online scripts for examples of how long our pauses are between speaking.
The more experienced the meditators are, the longer the pauses should be and the less you should talk as the meditators will require fewer instructions. Most of our scripts are written for people new to meditation. When beginners meditate, hearing a voice helps reminds them to meditate. Otherwise, they may spend a silent meditation mostly lost in their thoughts and feelings, rather than mindful of those thoughts and feelings.
6. Meditate while giving the meditation.
While guiding the meditation, do your best to follow your own instructions. It is challenging to meditate while giving a meditation, but do your best to remain mindful and connected with your inner peace, kindness, compassion, and joy throughout the meditation. This will vastly improve the quality of your guided meditations.
Being able to meditate while leading a meditation is a skill that you can learn. The next three tips will help you learn this skill.
7. Use a script.
Remaining mindful while thinking and remembering is a challenging skill even for long-time meditators. By reading a script, you can avoid the need to think and remember, thus increasing your ability to remain mindful and meditative during the meditation.
Scripts are available from the Boundless Love Project. Some are on our website, but others can be obtained by contacting us and requesting them.
8. Practice, practice, practice.
No one starts out being a great guide. To be a great guide takes practice.
When learning a new skill, expect to make mistakes. We learn from those mistakes. Devoting time to practicing provides a safe, low-consequence space for your to make those mistakes and learn from them. Give yourself the time to practice. Your abilities will vastly improve from just a handful of practice sessions.
Make your mistakes during practice, so that when you lead other people in meditation, you help give them the full range of benefits that meditation has to offer them.
Leading a guided meditation is a form of public speaking. As such, it may cause an adrenaline spike to flow through you. This adrenaline may cause you to speak with more force, intensity, and speed than is helpful. It can also distort your time perception, causing you to think a brief pause is a long one, ending up in a very rushed meditation that is hard for the meditators to follow.
Practice leading the meditation by yourself and with supportive friends. Channel the energy from any adrenaline and nervousness into being more mindful and focused on what you are doing. Ask your friends for feedback on what was helpful and what you could do to improve their meditative experience.
Practice until you feel confident in your ability to lead a guided meditation with a calm, relaxed, and authentic voice; at a wise pace; and while maintaining a suitable degree of mindfulness.
9. Record your practice sessions and guided meditations and then meditate to them.
Because the adrenaline of performing can distort our perceptions, it is wise to record your meditations and then try to meditate to those recordings.
Meditating to your guided meditations will quickly improve your skills as a guide. As you meditate to your recording, mindfully and lovingly discern what you are did well and what you could improve. This will help you become more mindful of unconscious and distracting behaviors such as speaking too fast, making frequent verbal pauses (ah, umm, so), speaking too quietly, and so on. This will also help you notice your strengths that you can build on.
As you improve with practice, these recordings will show you your improvement, and give you confidence in your abilities to lead a guided meditation.
Of course, many people experience judgmental thoughts while listening to their own recordings. This is normal and nothing to worry about. Simply be mindful of any judgmental thoughts that arise and remember that you are worthy, valuable, and important regardless of your skill and ability to lead a guided meditation.
Also remember that leading a guided mediation is a skill that you can learn. If you are embarrassed by your first attempts, just notice that with a lot of compassion. Then remember that you will improve with practice.
10. Learn how to chant.
For info on how to chant, read the article: Intro to Chanting.
11. Practice using the chime.
You will start and end your meditations by ringing a chime. If you hit it too hard, it can be jarring. If you hit it too softly, it cannot be heard. There is a way to hit it that allows a beautiful, warm note to sing out and linger. Practice learning how to hit it to produce such a note and at the right volume.
12. Keep a glass or bottle of water handy during the meditation.
Nerves and speaking may make your mouth dry. Sip some water in case this happens.
Thank you for your loving desire to share meditation with others. Review this article as often as you need to as you develop your skills as a guide. Post any comments or questions you have below.
We wish you much success in your efforts to serve all life. Thank you!