Leading and participating in GROUP Meditations
A few hints.
1. Go (much) slower than you think is necessary. (Especially if you have fire and air signs prominent! -- If you are a real careful slow type, maybe speed up a bit – you are trying to do ‘the greatest good for the greatest many’. After a meditation, ask how it went, too fast, too slow, and you’ll soon adapt ‘well enough’ for the majority’s needs. That is what you want to match.)
2. Give subtle but audible clues to your group before you begin a mantram -- such as a somehwat audible inhale ... (beware over-emphasizing this, but the listeners NEED SOME preparation or CLUE of when you are about to start, or they will be left behind, and you’ll lose the potency of having everyone begin with you, especially if there is a starting group mantram which they need to participate in.)
3. Then ... begin the first word v e r y s l o w l y ... (listen to the group to see if they are with you.).
-- for those in the group, endeavour to follow the leader's pacing, without judgment and without losing your attention from the spirit of the process. Speak softly, not drowning out his or her voice. Just remember: in following, follow, quietly. In leading, slow and clear and with intent. This will take all of us a good amount of time to get used to each other, but eventually it will ALL be worth it. Trust me.
4. Ensure you are audible enough. For most SPEAK UP AND PROJECT -- (however, if you have been told (!) that you speak too loudly, modulate to a lower than conversational tone, if in doubt, before beginning, simply speak and ask everyone if you are too loud or soft, if they can hear you, and allow them to suggest you speak up or more softly if – during the meditation – you are inaudible or deafening. Better to have a slight ‘administrative pause’ in the meditaiton, and then calmly recover, than no one be able to hear you at all!)
5. Enunciate and articulate v e r y clearly. Do not mumble, and be aware of your accents and especially when we have 'foreign ears'. New Zealanders especially tend to bury their "r". (If you would like some listening and speaking practice, ask me and we can have a little session.) If you do this, it will probably feel like you are over-emphasizing the words, and that the consonants are too sharp -- that will be just about right. This is NOT about speaking "dramatically", it is simply about speaking "with consciousness" (and consonants!). You can even smile when you speak, especially if it is about joy. Use emotional QUALITY in your voice, that puts ENERGY across. There is no need for monotone droning, and that is counterproductive to the actual dynamics of most all meditative work.
6. Familiarize yourself with the form of the meditation ahead of time!!!!! You must have grasped it 'as a formula', and get to know it enough ‘well enough’ before you can lead others in unfamiliar territory.) Go there. And then, if you need or want to ‘read’ it while ‘doing it’, that can be fine, but at least KNOW it. Over time, you may adapt the instruction to essentials, especially once a group gets to know itself and its own rhythm and needs. You give the ‘group’ enough clues, but verbally you may be able to cut this down to no more than the essential transitions or whatever they need to stay with the ENERGY.
7. On the OM's ... (visualize or) 'place' your consciousness IN the relevant visualized element of the meditation (e.g. crown chakra, 'towards humanity', etc.) -- THEN let the sound be evoked. Try to make an OM in a range that most in the group can hit -- neither too low nor too high.
For those in the group: If you are talented you may do harmonics to the leader's OM, but in general, what works best (for groups in early days at least) is everyone trying to hit the same note, in a mid-range, and do the same note on each OM (of any series of 3, e.g.) Doing OM's is not toning -- if you are practiced in doing some brillances or toning -- ensure this is complementary to the group field, and not about you doing 'your sound' or putting your voice into the field.
Concentrate on the energy and intent of it, and if in doubt, be a bit quieter with it until you can't hear any difference between your sound and 'the group sound'. Then you can bring up some volume, if it would 'benefit the group totality'. We'll read about the Word OM later ... so just ignore the esoterics of why you are doing it -- but basically it is about creating a funnel of energy ...