Most of my first-time students have one question: What happens in meditation class.
They’ve read some articles about mindfulness. Some have tried an app. And some know the basics. Others admit that they have absolutely no idea what to expect in meditation class, which is why I am so happy to be writing this guide.
I’m writing this as a way to introduce meditation for first-time practitioners so you know what to expect from an online meditation class.
What Happens in Meditation Class?
To give a brief description of a meditation class. You enter the studio or connect with your teacher online. First, if your teacher is any good, they will want to know a little about you, especially regarding your experience meditating. They may ask you what you want to get out of it and your reasons for taking your first class. Those are the good meditation teachers.
If your teacher is not so good (read: inexperienced) they will simply expect you to sit down, close your eyes and focus on your breath. Many will give a simple guided meditation. They will use a script designed to help you relax (for instance, imagining you’re on a beach). These scripts are usually the same for all their students. However, this isn’t really meditation at all.
If your teacher is good, they will explain how meditation works. And they will tell you about the type of techniques they are going to teach you. For your first meditation class, most teachers will give you a simple breathing exercise.
First-time meditation lessons are usually breath-based
You sit down and listen to your teacher. They explain how to breathe mindfully so you can have your first mindful experience. They will probably tell you to watch your breath moving in through your nose and then out through your mouth, and to aim for a mindful attitude of non-judgmental awareness.
After this, they will generally lead you through the process. The lesson typically lasts about thirty minutes, which is enough time for a ten-minute introduction and chat and then twenty minutes of practise, which is what most teachers (and researchers) recommend.
At the end of your first class, you will likely be more relaxed than you were at the beginning. This is because of the effects of meditation on the mind and body. It promotes parasympathetic nervous system activity, reduces amygdala and sympathetic nervous system activity, and balances cortisol, according to Harvard. The result is that you feel relaxed.
A good teacher will then, hopefully, instruct you on how to continue your first meditation training week.
That’s what happens in most first meditation classes. But it’s not what happens in my classes, as my students are very aware.
So let me explain what happens in my meditation classes for beginners.
What happens in my meditation classes for first-time students
When I give beginners meditation classes, I have a few goals:
1) to make sure you know how to meditate property by the end of the session,
2) to make sure I give you the perfect technique for your individual needs,
3) to make sure you get the most out of your first meditation session.
When I begin a meditation class, I spend some time getting to know you. We chat about your lifestyle, about what’s been happening in your mind (stress, recurring thoughts, etc.), and what you would like to get out of the practice (both in terms of your first meditation class and long-term).
After our chat, I decide on the perfect technique for you. Most teachers do not do this because the majority of meditation teachers only know one or two methods. Buddhist teachers know Buddhist techniques; yoga teachers know yogic techniques and so on.
I then use my fifteen years of experience in more than thirty types of meditation to choose the best method for you.
Once we decide on your first meditation technique, I then discuss why it’s a great method for you and what you will get out of it. After this, it’s time for your first session.
When I give students their first session, I do two things. First, I give them everything they need to know to be successful. Secondly, I give them tips and techniques to help them achieve the ideal mental state (whether that be relaxation, confidence, happiness, or however they would like to feel).
What happens in my meditation classes next is that we work on your posture a little bit. Now I’m not one of those hardcore types who demand that you sit in Lotus position. Honestly, I usually suggest that my first-time students just sit in a comfy chair. However, we do discuss posture because it is important to have good posture when meditating.
Next, I give you a mudra. Mudras are hand gestures that use acupressure points in the hands to create certain states of mind. They are used in yoga, Buddhism, Hinduism, and many other spiritual systems. If it’s your first experience, I will usually go with Gyan mudra because it is a wonderful mudra to help create a relaxed and calm state of mind. You know, the perfect way that you want to feel in your first meditation class.
So now we have discussed what you want to get out of it, we together have found the perfect technique for you, and we have worked on your posture just a little bit to make sure you’re sitting correctly and comfortably.
Now it’s time for us to meditate together.
When it comes to teaching you your first meditation technique, I make sure I explain absolutely everything so that by the end of the lesson, you are one-hundred per cent confident about how to meditate correctly.
I give you instructions before you start meditating and also some pointers while you are meditating. For those who are interested, I also explain the neuroscience of how the technique works. For instance, If I’m helping a first-time meditation student with their emotions, I will explain that meditation strengthens the limbic system, which is the part of the brain responsible for emotional processing. But that’s only if you are interested in the science. If not, we will scratch over it.
While you’re meditating, I also watch your body language and your breathing so that we can do breathwork if we need to (this helps with relaxation and concentration).
Other than that, you continue your first meditation experience for around twenty minutes. And by that time, you feel happy and relaxed and grateful that you started meditating!
After your first meditation experience, we have a friendly chat, and I give you valuable tips and pointers for how to continue to meditate. And that’s it!
What makes me unique as a meditation teacher is how carefully I listen to you and cater to you on every step of our journey together.
Does that sound good? Do you feel excited to start meditating? Sign up for an online meditation lesson today.
Paul Harrison is a passionate meditation teacher who believes in genuine, authentic meditation. He has more than 15 years experience in meditation and mindfulness. He studied meditation in beautiful Oxford, UK, and Hamilton Ontario Canada, and earned his degree at Staffordshire University.
“My goal is to provide the most authentic meditation sessions so you can harness the power of your own mind for personal transformation” – Paul Harrison