Included you will find tips on how to prepare yourself, being familiar with the meditation you propose leading, knowing what makes it work for you, how to introduce the idea to your friend or client, and more.
There is no need to skip this section if you yourself are not a meditator! Having said that, it’s certainly a plus if you have had some experience of meditation; it means you both know what it has to offer and also the path that can take one ‘inside’. Anyway, you may well find that guiding another in meditation is easier and more natural than you thought.
If you are inexperienced, find a few minutes to participate in a pre–recorded guided meditation first. The ‘4-Step Let-go’ is a perfect place to start. By following the suggestions you can have a taste of what it is to be relaxed and yet awake inside, watching – just as if you are an observer – the various passing sensations of your body and the thoughts and feelings. Having experienced it for yourself, you’ll have an idea of how to introduce that method and similar ones to another person. For example you might say, “I’ve found a very simple way to relax and find a place of calmness inside. I think you might like it.” Or: “There’s a way to unhook yourself from your mind and from your moods; it can even help when you’re in pain. I’ve tried it – would you like to give it a go?”
Then, either the person might listen to it themselves or prefer you to guide them. If the latter is the case, before doing that, take time for yourself to listen to the meditation again. This time, while you are led into the space of relaxation and inner silence, notice what factors enhance the process.
These might include…
* Your being in a place where you can be undisturbed for the duration. Also: your having a comfortable position, either sitting or lying down, and being warm or cool enough
* Certain aspects of the way the meditation is presented, such as
– The tone, the pitch and the quality of the voice(s)
– The slow rate at which the voice(s) speak
– The pauses, the small gaps where there is just the music
– The wording, the repetition of some words, and the use of metaphors and images
– The music that provides a backdrop; that supports without being intrusive; that is slow and suggests spaciousness
– The way the meditation starts and finishes. That is, at the beginning, the gentle invitation to close your eyes and just relax. And at the end, a gentle suggestion that you can ‘return’ slowly.
Being aware of such points will help you in guiding someone else.
You can find the text for the 4-Step Let-go here to read online or print off as a pdf.
What’s important in guiding another in meditation…
It’s important that
* The person wants to have you guide them into meditation!
* They are comfortable i.e. physically and psychologically. That is, they are not hungry or wanting to use the toilet. There is nothing preoccupying them that could be a distraction and they have the time to spare.
* You choose a method that you are familiar with and in which the wording is simple.
* You use ambient music. Melodic music, and/or music that includes words tends to engage the mind, just when one wants to let it go! Ambient music provides a spacious sort of feeling that is conducive to moving beyond the reaches of the noisy mind.
If the person has a favourite ambient track, you can use that. Then that particular track should be used just for meditation. In this way, over time an association is formed between you and your voice, the music and the other’s state of relaxation and peace. Then, even if you are not present and the person listens to the music, they can move into the same state as when you guided them.
… and What’s not important!
It’s not important if
* The person occasionally changes position or opens their eyes during the process. Meditation is not against movement! And: they may be moving because of discomfort or pain, so you can gently ask if that’s so and help them adjust their position if need be. They may open their eyes because this is a new process to them and they need to reassure themselves by reconnecting outwardly. By and by, as they settle into the process, a tendency to move or to open their eyes may subside. Meanwhile, the point is to avoid making them feel that they are ‘not doing it right’.
* They don’t catch all the words. The meditation is less about the actual words and more about the overall effect that all the factors create (see above) when combined.
* They fall asleep. That’s perfectly natural, especially when someone is first introduced to meditation. We associate being comfortable, closing our eyes and not doing anything with becoming unconscious, so it’s understandable if they drift off here and there or fall deeply asleep. Even if the person appears asleep, on a deeper level they may be benefitting from the meditation.
Knowing that that could happen, before you start, reassure them that while it’s good to remain conscious, it’s also okay if they drift off. Check before you start that if they are asleep when the meditation is over and you are leaving, would they prefer to be woken or left to sleep?
Tips for you:
*If the word ‘meditation’ is not appropriate – for example, an elderly person may not understand it or have a misconception about it – simply introduce what you are doing as a ‘guided relaxation’. Let them know that you are going to be gently helping them to relax and to feel calm.
* If you are relaxed and calm as you guide the person, chances are that they will start to feel like that too. That’s because a kind of ‘tuning–into’ each other or ‘rapport’ naturally happens by and by. You may find, for example, that you both start breathing at the same pace as each other. For more suggestions on how to create good rapport see In-Rapport Skills.here.
* Regarding the breathing: as you become more relaxed with guiding the person, and you attune your own breathing to theirs, pace your words and phrases so that you speak on their out breath.
* It may be reassuring to touch the person gently; however, your intention to reassure may also be felt as intrusive: meditation is such a delicate and private space! Unless you are sure it is welcome, ask the person first, for example, saying, ‘I wonder how you would feel if I were to just lightly touch your arm?’
* When it’s appropriate (i.e. not pouncing on them the minute the meditation is over!), ask the person for feedback, firstly about the meditation itself. For example: ‘How was that for you?’ (That’s a better way of asking than a ‘direct’ question that only needs a yes/no response, such as: ‘Did you like the meditation?’ Or, ‘Did the meditation work for you?’) A ‘how’ or ‘what’ question is more open–ended and invites a fuller response. It also doesn’t contain any suggestion as to how you would like the person to respond.
* Ask for feedback about how you led the meditation. You might ask: ‘How was the pace at which I was speaking? How easy was it to hear me? What about the choice of music?’ ‘I wonder how we could make this even more relaxing…’
* Once the person knows the stages, they can meditate alone, with or without music**. Then they have a very significant resource and one which they can access even when you are not there.
** See our resource list of music to meditate by.