Public group meditations...?

General discussion of issues related to Theravada Meditation, e.g. meditation postures, developing a regular sitting practice, skillfully relating to difficulties and hindrances, etc.

Public group meditations...?

Postby Benediction » Sun May 05, 2013 1:01 am

I have the urge to spread meditation while simultaneously seeking a community. I had the idea to begin a group meditation in my area and open it to the public, inviting my friends and family. However, many of them do not have a practice of their own and this would inevitably require that someone teaches them a process of meditation.
I am, in this current existence, not an experienced meditator. I am young and have not been practicing for a long time. I am not liberated. Yet I feel I understand Vipassana meditation well enough, through retreats and personal practice, to describe Anapana meditation.
But I am unsure. I have had some suggest that it is a wonderful idea and should be pursued to its fullest, and others who warn me of the dangers of teaching any practice before I am very attained. Right now, I am thinking to begin the group meditations and simply feel it out as it continues. To make sure that I am understood to be recounting experiences gained through the "little" practice I've done thus far and that I am paraphrasing my teachings in Goenkaji's Vipassana retreats.
What do you think?

Thank you deeply.
Peace and love,
Greg
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Re: Public group meditations...?

Postby Monkey Mind » Sun May 05, 2013 1:54 am

I think your commitment to Mr. Goenka is to not attempt to teach that type of meditation. He fervently believes that technique cannot be taught in less than 10 days. I agree.

When my workplace asked me to lead a beginners meditation group, and considering the above mentioned commitment, I solved the problem by using recorded guided meditations from respected teachers. This was "good enough" for most beginners. If someone started asking difficult questions about technique, I had a list of reference material, and I encouraged them to do their own research. (I included the 10-day retreats on my list, as well as some other meditation teachers.) That took me out of the role of teacher.

PS- there are some good threads here that answer this same question, but the forum's search feature is busted. Maybe someone else can find the link?
"As I am, so are others;
as others are, so am I."
Having thus identified self and others,
harm no one nor have them harmed.

Sutta Nipāta 3.710
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Re: Public group meditations...?

Postby James the Giant » Sun May 05, 2013 3:15 am

To make sure that I am understood to be recounting experiences gained through the "little" practice I've done thus far and that I am paraphrasing my teachings in Goenkaji's Vipassana retreats.

No, don't. Just don't.

Start a meditation group, but you should refuse to teach.
Make it clear to the group that although you are organising it, you have little experience and you should not be looked to as a source of wisdom. Watch out, it's seductive and ego-boosting to have beginners asking you questions, and seeing you as some sort of experienced guy.
Until you're very experienced that's what I definitely recommend.
Tell them to find a book, or together listen to a recorded How To Meditate teaching, recorded by a proper experienced teacher.
To be honest, a basic recording from someone experienced, is better than a real live instructions from someone who has not done years of meditation.
There are plenty online... for example on Dharma Seed there are sixteen pages of MP3's when you search for "meditation instructions"
http://www.dharmaseed.org/talks/?search=instructions+meditation&sort=-rec_date

Best of luck, and I hope you create an awesome group!
Then,
saturated with joy,
you will put an end to suffering and stress.
SN 9.11
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Re: Public group meditations...?

Postby Ben » Sun May 05, 2013 3:21 am

I agree with what Monkey Mind and James has said. You shouldn't be teaching what SN Goenka has taught you unless he has authorized you to teach it.
Furthermore, your lack of experience and understanding will be a significant problem for yourself and others.
IMHO, concentrate on your own practice, live an exemplary life in the Dhamma - that alone will do more to propagate the sasana than anything else you can do at this stage..
kind regards,

Ben
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Re: Public group meditations...?

Postby Benediction » Sun May 05, 2013 3:35 am

Thank you for your replies! I will hold the groups but I will make it very clear I am not a teacher nor a source of meditative wisdom. Of those who have no idea how to meditate, I will direct them to a 10-day Vipassana retreat or something similar in nature.
Your suggestions mirrored my heart's thoughts. Yet, I wonder as to a solution for those who have no experience with meditation and do not want to go to a retreat. Where can I point them to? I have not found any concise and clear instructions of meditation (not that I've looked very hard.) At least something that will get them started relatively quickly. <-- I have complex thoughts about this statement - a projection of my attachments and desire...difficult to flesh the thoughts out in writing. I think you'll have similar thoughts as you read it.
Maybe I'm looking for something that isn't necessarily what I want. Perhaps just living as best of an example as I can is the proper route and I shouldn't try to lead others to meditate at all. It's an interesting and "dangerous" attachment: to help others.

Thank you so much.
:group: :namaste:
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Re: Public group meditations...?

Postby tiltbillings » Sun May 05, 2013 3:44 am

Benediction wrote:Thank you for your replies! I will hold the groups but I will make it very clear I am not a teacher nor a source of meditative wisdom. Of those who have no idea how to meditate, I will direct them to a 10-day Vipassana retreat or something similar in nature.
Your suggestions mirrored my heart's thoughts. Yet, I wonder as to a solution for those who have no experience with meditation and do not want to go to a retreat. Where can I point them to? I have not found any concise and clear instructions of meditation (not that I've looked very hard.) At least something that will get them started relatively quickly. <-- I have complex thoughts about this statement - a projection of my attachments and desire...difficult to flesh the thoughts out in writing. I think you'll have similar thoughts as you read it.
Maybe I'm looking for something that isn't necessarily what I want. Perhaps just living as best of an example as I can is the proper route and I shouldn't try to lead others to meditate at all. It's an interesting and "dangerous" attachment: to help others.

Thank you so much.
:group: :namaste:
Why do you want to do this?
This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond.
SN I, 38.

Ar scáth a chéile a mhaireas na daoine.
People live in one another’s shelter.

"We eat cold eels and think distant thoughts." -- Jack Johnson
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Re: Public group meditations...?

Postby Benediction » Sun May 05, 2013 4:13 am

Thank you for asking this question.

I have a powerful desire to help others. In part I am attached to the pleasant feelings that arise through that medium of helping others. I see meditation as a powerful tool and I want to share the tool. I am in an area where there are many teenagers (I am a teenager) that are extremely misled. I think that a group of this nature would, in one case or another, help those who would come develop self honesty and awareness. Also, meditating with a group is helpful to me and having a community of practitioners is also.

The more I write and flesh out these feelings, the more I see how born they are of ego (heh.) A lot of "iness." Yet how does one actively spread meditation? Living as a role model is wonderful; I try every moment to develop awareness and morality, but...I want to do something. There aren't wholesome resources that are actively calling young adult's or anyone's attention to this tool in a good way. I don't want to hold a group meditation that is marred with my own feelings of egoism and desire. I don't even know if it would be, but maybe it's impossible for it not to be. Especially if<-- my own practice is with desire. Furthermore, how do I even talk to someone about meditation that's not fraught with hosts of "ego" pitfalls and traps? Perhaps the answer is not to talk about it at all. Intellectualization of these things seems to inevitably involve egocentrism and opinions. Is my desire to help others another desire to be transcended? I have rid myself of many desires, many attachments in the past six months, but in a way I have strengthened this one. Should I work to let go of it? How do I help others without attachment? Living as a role model? Should I simply drop this matter altogether, focus on "liberating" myself, and if I am to succeed, then address this once again? All the while living as a role model? I know these questions can't be answered absolutely in terms of myself, but I would really love your thoughts.

Thanks again (so much) for asking this question. This is a discussion I really needed to have. I am so happy I found this resource.

:jedi: :namaste:

[edit] Oh. Sorry for the "stream of consciousness." :D <3
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Re: Public group meditations...?

Postby tiltbillings » Sun May 05, 2013 5:04 am

Benediction wrote:I have rid myself of many desires, many attachments in the past six months
Maybe. You might be surprised at what still lurks around the edges and just out of sight.

I would suggest taking a bit more time to both learn and practice the Dhamma before trying to teach others
This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond.
SN I, 38.

Ar scáth a chéile a mhaireas na daoine.
People live in one another’s shelter.

"We eat cold eels and think distant thoughts." -- Jack Johnson
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Re: Public group meditations...?

Postby Dan74 » Sun May 05, 2013 8:52 am

Benediction wrote:Thank you for asking this question.

I have a powerful desire to help others. In part I am attached to the pleasant feelings that arise through that medium of helping others. I see meditation as a powerful tool and I want to share the tool. I am in an area where there are many teenagers (I am a teenager) that are extremely misled. I think that a group of this nature would, in one case or another, help those who would come develop self honesty and awareness. Also, meditating with a group is helpful to me and having a community of practitioners is also.

The more I write and flesh out these feelings, the more I see how born they are of ego (heh.) A lot of "iness." Yet how does one actively spread meditation? Living as a role model is wonderful; I try every moment to develop awareness and morality, but...I want to do something. There aren't wholesome resources that are actively calling young adult's or anyone's attention to this tool in a good way. I don't want to hold a group meditation that is marred with my own feelings of egoism and desire. I don't even know if it would be, but maybe it's impossible for it not to be. Especially if<-- my own practice is with desire. Furthermore, how do I even talk to someone about meditation that's not fraught with hosts of "ego" pitfalls and traps? Perhaps the answer is not to talk about it at all. Intellectualization of these things seems to inevitably involve egocentrism and opinions. Is my desire to help others another desire to be transcended? I have rid myself of many desires, many attachments in the past six months, but in a way I have strengthened this one. Should I work to let go of it? How do I help others without attachment? Living as a role model? Should I simply drop this matter altogether, focus on "liberating" myself, and if I am to succeed, then address this once again? All the while living as a role model? I know these questions can't be answered absolutely in terms of myself, but I would really love your thoughts.

Thanks again (so much) for asking this question. This is a discussion I really needed to have. I am so happy I found this resource.

:jedi: :namaste:

[edit] Oh. Sorry for the "stream of consciousness." :D <3


I think the desire to help others is a good thing and you should not try to squash it, but consider what the best outlet for it is.

You could volunteer at the retreats, volunteer where help is needed and share the Dhamma through your good actions.

In any case, all the best!
_/|\_
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