7 Tips for Guided Meditation Classes
August 01, 2023
What comes to mind when you imagine a successful meditation session? Is it perfect silence? Excellent posture? Peaceful thoughts? While each of these can be a byproduct of a healthy, sustained mindfulness practice, they certainly aren’t pre-requisites for guided meditation classes or entry to a meditation center. While there are plenty of apps to help you meditate on your own, the physical presence of a certified teacher and a committed group of participants ensures you will have the opportunity to ask questions, receive individual help, and build a community of like-minded folks.
7 Tips for Guided Mindfulness Meditation in a Class Setting
Guided meditation classes are a wonderful way to stay on track during a meditative session. Here are seven tips to take with you to the mat.
Cultivate a Beginner’s Mind
Ego has no place in meditation classes. That statement sounds wonderful, right? Unfortunately, none of us is without an ego… so what do we about that?
Putting the concept of “Shoshin” or “beginner’s mind” into practice can help us replace a spirit of arrogance with one of curiosity in our meditative practice. Essentially, beginner’s mind seeks to always return to the mentality of a humble student instead of leaning on the preconceived notions of our experience. By practicing this, we open ourselves up to more discovery and enjoyment (Muse).
Comparison is another ego-related trap. Making value judgements about the differences between yourself and other individuals in a guided meditation class can be a tempting distraction sometimes. Ultimately, however, this practice can prove destructive. While learning from and appreciating another’s practice and ability level is natural and fine, we distance ourselves from the sacred work of the moment when we slip into comparison with delusions of what we or others could or should be like.
Rest Assured, You Aren’t Doing it Wrong
Meditation may be harder for some than others, but that doesn’t mean anyone is incapable of meditating. If solo meditation sounds too daunting, guided mindfulness meditation may be a useful tool.
While meditating, it may feel like you can’t control your thoughts. Like you’re constantly distracted by every little thing. Will my daughter make friends this year in school? What should I have for lunch after this? When is Shark Week again…? Congratulations on being a human being. This is 100% normal. Reminding ourselves to return to that ever-elusive breath is what this practice is all about. If anything, a distracted mind shows us just how much we need to cultivate a mindfulness practice.
Visualize Your Airflow
Athletes know all about the value of positive visualization. When it comes to meditation, we can use visualization to be more present. By simply envisioning the cyclical pathway of oxygen intake and exhalation, we can more easily connect to the moment and to the meditation process.
Focus on Achieving… Nothing
“Non-striving” often proves a tricky concept in the Western world. We tend to like our results over here, but the truth is that this approach to both solo and guided mindfulness meditation can be detrimental. Placing all of our focus on achieving a specific result will actually take us away from the heart of meditation, which encourages us to accept unfolding thoughts and stimuli exactly as they are without seeking to change anything.
Why make things harder on yourself by ignoring the needs of your body? After all, this should be a holistic practice that facilitates a stronger mind-body dynamic. Ignoring your body is not the goal of meditation classes.
Some meditation center environments may encourage certain postures over others, but sitting in full lotus for an hour is NOT for everyone. Sitting in this way, if you wish to pursue it, will probably take some practice.
In the meantime, grab a comfy meditation mat and sit in a way that ensures your back stays straight but not rigid. Some folks even lie on their backs. The key here is not to worry about sitting in any particular way so much as to sit in a way that doesn’t obstruct attention or wakefulness.
You Can Always Adjust
Discomfort in your knee? Persevering through it can be an option in meditation classes, but if if it’s more than minor discomfort, that’s a different story. Meditation should never be painful. You can (and should) shift your position if you’re ever in real pain.
The group aspect of meditation classes can give rise to feelings of inferiority, conformity, and fear — fear of making a sound or movement that isn’t perfectly in sync with what others are doing. But remember… we must resist the urge to compare!
Adjusting your body is a perfectly reasonable thing to do in meditation classes, so please always do what feels right to you in this area.