People often ask me as a meditation coach, trainer, and the founder of suraflow.org, “Sura, How to lead a meditation class? What’s the best way?” These days, people are drawn to meditation classes and meditation coaches. They are drawn to this field because of how they have been helped and how they can help others. It may have even changed their lives. They feel called to host a circle, class, or group. I usually respond with a simple question:
What’s your intention for leading a meditation class?
Why may seem like a rhetorical question, but take some time to think it through. Identify and connect to a deeper meaning when you create a meditation class because it can be challenging. A higher purpose will anchor and ground you, giving you the confidence you need to move forward when things aren’t certain. It takes courage to start a meditation group and that courage will carry you through the ups and downs you will face. Maybe it is the sense of connection you feel through meditation or the way you can help others.
What matters most is what works best for you. Find a good time when you are not stressed and can make it every week. That is the best time for you to set up your class.
Taking into consideration the higher purpose for your meditation circle and who it is for will help you decide when to offer it: once a week? twice a week? once a month? A busy professional and a parent with young kids might be able to meet at different times of the day. That will also help you decide for how long to meet (30 minutes? 1 hour?) and how long your circle will last (6 weeks? 12 weeks?).
The most important thing is that you’re consistent and that you show up every week. For professionals, you may find that lunch breaks, after work, and weekends are the primary times available. For busy moms, you will need to consider if kids are in school or if you offer your class at times when a partner is home from work to watch the kids.
After identifying your intention for starting a meditation class and when you are available, think about who you want to serve. Who are your people? Who will be in your group?
You will want the circle to be open to everyone and for them to feel accepted. However, it will help if you can let people know how they’re going to benefit from this experience so they can see if it is for them. For example, you could identify your meditation circle for healing, stress reduction, or working through painful experiences. You can offer a meditation circle for busy professionals, moms needing a break, or anyone needing to step away from the challenges of life on the weekend. Those who most identify with the group of people you describe will be naturally drawn to your class more than others.
Part of your marketing should also include benefits—what people are going to receive through the circle experience. How are they going to be changed? What will they learn? What can they practically take away to implement on their own?
The name of your circle matters too. You can communicate your purpose and who it is for even in the title of your class or group. Be sure to include whether it is a beginner level or for all levels. So your class could be Young Professionals Beginner’s Guide to Stress Reduction or Mom’s Break Away to Find Inner Peace for All Levels. The more information you include, the more you will answer people’s questions ahead of time.
Find a good space where it’s quiet, contained, and peaceful so that people feel good in the space. You should also feel good in your hosting space. Communicate your location and details of how they can get in touch with you—or even sign up—especially if you’re going to charge for your circle. Most meditation classes are somewhere between $15 and $24. Are you going to offer a package? Others communicate that the circle is free plus a donation. But your space will be part of that decision, according to whether you are renting the space.
Money is often stressful for people. If you are taking in money, it is best to do so at the door and not in your space where your circle will meet. Plan ahead who is going to handle the payment or registration. It is even better if people can register by paying online through PayPal or Venmo. It is better for you not to handle all of these details yourself right before you’re going to host. You want your attention to focus on setting the tone for the sacred space where you are meeting. See if you can make that part seamless so you can focus.
Now, since the beginning of the COVID pandemic, so many meditation circles have moved online successfully and are likely to stay there. This development opens up a plethora of options for meditation across digital platforms.
To learn more, please check our blog on “How to Take Your Work Online and Expand Your Business“
Set the tone for your circle each week. Make sure not only that you show up each time but that you come early to set up your space and welcome people. That communicates that the circle is important to you and that the people there are important as well. You might burn a candle or incense to set the mood for your space, but if you’re burning any scented products, I recommend seeking permission from your group first to ensure there are no allergies. Music also helps set the mood for people as they enter and begin to relax. Online you can set the mood and tone of your circle through music and background images that are relaxing and peaceful.
Plan the rhythm and structure you’d like to create in your circle. Think of something that’s fun and joyful for you, as somebody who’s leading and facilitating. If it’s something that you love, that you yourself are passionate about, that’s really going to shine through and touch the people you’re connecting with. When developing your structure, think of what you have enjoyed in other classes and why.
How to Lead a Meditation Class: Class Format
When considering the logistics of how to lead a meditation class, think of the format of hosting a circle as having a beginning, middle, and end. As you structure your session and teach meditation techniques and tools, plan your meetings consistently each time. Teach the same techniques and tools every week. That’s the way people learn—through repetition and practice. Structure and familiarity bring comfort to your circle experience, no matter what age group you are leading.
Start of the Class
Introduce yourself briefly. You may give a brief introduction, also known as a dharma talk. You can focus on a theme for that day’s meditation. If you’re building upon a theme each week, this is the time to introduce it, to focus everyone’s thinking. You might also read poetry or from a book, such as ancient texts. You will find it beneficial to talk with your clients about what inspires them, and this may help give you ideas of other sources for this time.
Your middle section will be a guided meditation. Focus on those tools and practices that you want to emphasize. Let your participants know from the beginning how long the meditation is going to last, how much of it will be guided, and how much of it will be silence. That way people can relax if they know what to expect. Remind them what is next as you transition from one portion of the guided meditation to the next.
Have some consistency in your meditation guidance. If you’re teaching awareness meditation, always have that element of awareness throughout your meditation practice. Set them up with their posture, eye gaze, connecting them to their breath, and helping them feel grounded in their body. Practice the same meditation prompts or cues each week. You can always build upon these basic techniques down the line, but practicing the same techniques allows your participants to develop their core practice.
How to End the Meditation Class
Always have a consistent close to the practice. A singing bowl, for example, is a wonderful way to awaken the senses and invite a close. You might say the same words each time as well: “Your guided meditation is complete. Let’s take the energy from this guided practice and invite it into our hearts, into the center of our being, and send it as blessings to everyone.” Consistency is the key.
Many times, I find that it is helpful to also have a space for discussion. You can invite anyone to share what their experience was like or if they have any questions. It opens up the space for connection and community. Some like to set time for that space. Others like it to be open, where people can get up, talk to each other, or can stay in that circle format. It’s a way for people to integrate when they’re able to share about their sacred experiences in a safe space. It allows them to integrate their meditation experience and embody it. Often, this time will help people talk through topics that arise from part of their guided meditation.
My advice to you is to come with an open heart. That means starting each group with no expectations or attachments to how your circle needs to be. Begin with your pure intention and what you’d like to create with your community. If only one person comes, that’s okay. It really doesn’t matter what those numbers are. What matters is that you show up, that you stay dedicated, that you commit to the process and practice.
Sometimes it takes time to build a class or circle. What’s required is patience, perseverance, humility, and faith. Remember these qualities, how important they are, and they’ll give you the strength and resilience to have the confidence to keep inviting people. Be open to having a new experience every time, no matter who shows up. We all start somewhere. Stay true to your intention and you’ll soon discover the joy of hosting meditation groups.
“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.” Margaret Mead
Frequently Asked Questions
How do I Start a Meditation Practice?
Consider the who, what, when, where, why, and how of starting a meditation practice.
- Who: Decide who your class is for.
- What: Clearly identify what others will be learning and the benefits derived from your class.
- When: When is the best time for you? Who else might be available at this time?
- Where: You decide, in person or online.
- Why: Know your heart for this meditation practice.
- How: Plan to welcome participants each week and lead through the beginning, middle, and end of each session.
What do You Say During Meditation?
- Start of the class: Introduce yourself briefly and give a dharma talk that focuses on a theme for that day’s meditation to focus everyone’s thinking.
- Middle of the class: Your middle section will be a guided meditation. Let your participants know from the beginning how long the meditations are going to last, how much of it will be guided, and how much of it will be silence. Remind them what is next as you transition them from one portion of the guided meditation to the next. Have consistency in your meditation guidance. Practice the same meditation prompts or cues each week.
- End of the class: Always have a consistent close to the practice where you say a similar ending. Invite others to discuss what they experienced afterwards and thank them for attending.
This is the best way to teach a meditation class.
How to Prepare a Guided Meditation?
After learning how to teach a meditation class, many want to know how to write their own guided meditations. Guided meditation can come simply from your own practice. For me, it started with an inner-pull, along with knowing there were people who could benefit from my help. When you know help is needed, as it is in many places in the world, you may feel the call to show up and share some meditation techniques. This is how I started teaching meditation and how you can too.
To find out more, check out our LIBERATE course. We learn how to develop our own guided meditations. Much of the work we cover is centered on healing and how to offer healing through meditation. This is the unique aspect of our training, the integration of coaching, healing, and meditation.