Leader Resource 1: Spiritual Guides Meditation
- Gather the group in a circle. Ask everyone to sit on the floor or in a chair, in a comfortable but alert position (legs crossed or tucked under them, and back straight). The "alert" part of this instruction is important to prevent meditators from falling asleep!
- Invite participants to close their eyes and rest their hands on their thighs or fold them on their laps.
- Guide participants to notice the sound and feeling of their own breathing. To encourage steady, relaxed breathing, count for the group slowly, "In, two, three, four ... out, two, three, four." Explain that the breath is the "home base" to which everyone can return if their minds drift to unwanted thoughts during the meditation.
- Ask participants to send their breath into each part of the body, in turn, until the body is fully relaxed. Begin at the top of the head, then move to the muscles of the face, the shoulders, the arms, the hands, the fingers, the belly, the sacrum (the small of the back), the thighs, the calves, and finally, the feet and toes.
- Encourage participants to observe their own thinking by letting each thought go, "seeing" it pass by as a leaf would float by on a river. Invite participants to just notice. Just breathe. Just witness.
- Allow participants to practice this way, in silence, for two or three minutes. Occasionally, softly remind them to return to their breath.
- Introduce and lead the visualization portion of this mediation:
I am now going to lead you to meet one of your life teachers. You may have met this person before, or perhaps your meeting will come in the future. Begin by imagining yourself in a pleasant, comfortable outdoor environment. It is very early in the morning, earlier than you usually wake up, yet you feel rested. Feel the air around you and listen to the soft sounds of birds and small animals moving nearby. Start to walk at a pace that is comfortable for you. Let your surroundings embrace you.
Something pulls you forward. Notice how the scenery begins to change and how the day does not feel as nice as it did a few moments ago. What is wrong? Nothing is; the path you are on has simply become less clear. The trees, foliage, and undergrowth have grown thicker. Instead of walking easily along the path, you now have to find your way. You make a wrong turn and lose the path for a moment, but you come upon it again and continue. You are more cautious than before, and you are not sure what awaits you. You start to think about everything you need to do today, all the decisions you must make, and the people who are depending on you. You wonder, "Should I go back?" Yet you keep walking. You know you must keep going.
Up ahead, you see a shelter, under which someone is standing. The path to that place is clear. You walk forward, and gradually the image of that person comes into focus. Your heart quickens, and you pick up your pace. The person ahead is your guide. Your guide is someone with whom you can always talk about problems or decisions you need to make. This person can help you understand what you must do. As you approach the shelter, the person raises a hand to greet you. The person smiles and your heart relaxes. You are ready to hear what you must hear.
- Allow another minute of silence to pass before gently inviting participants back to open-eyed awareness.