Many of our groups include a special time of holy sharing. For many of us, this is the time that binds us as a community of love. As our groups increase in size, we need to be especially sensitive to each other. Here are some guidelines for effective sharing.
When you are speaking:
- Be spiritual. Remember this is a spiritual community, not a therapy group.
- Be concise. We have about one minute total for each person. If you go over, you are using somebody else’s time. In addition, a point made concisely is more effective and memorable than a point made in a rambling discourse.
- Be real. Speak from your heart, not from your ego.
- Be relevant. Focus on the readings, the Lectio, or on how what somebody else said impacted you.
- Be positive. Bring positive energy into the group. If you are discussing something negative in your life, focus on how you are trying to respond in a positive way.
When you are listening:
- Be a loving witness.
- Loving presence is the best response to a deep sharing. It comes from the heart. Advice is the worst response. It comes from the ego.
When there is silence:
- Embrace the silence. Use the times of silence to experience our connection. These times are precious.
- Honor the silence. When somebody has finished speaking, allow a time of silence so that people can focus on what was said. A good rule of thumb is to allow at least three breaths of silence after a speaker has finished before you start speaking.
Things to avoid
- Intellectualizing. Avoid talking about what other teachers have said. Avoid quoting from books. Avoid discussing what you learned in class. Avoid terminology that others may not know. Focus on what you are feeling right now. In practice, most of us find it hard to know when we are intellectualizing, and most of us slip over the line at one point or another. Just do your best.
- Amplifying. Avoid amplifying on what others have said. Instead share about your own feelings. When you amplify on what somebody else has said, you give the impression that what the first person said was incomplete.
- You, we, he, she statements. Be wary of making any statements that have “you”, “we”, “she”, or “he” in them. Most, if not all, statements should be “I” statements. The most impactful sharings are those that are “i” sharings and “we/you/she/he” sharings are rarely as impactful
- Repetition. Often somebody makes a great point but then repeats it several times with minor variations. Or has an interesting personal story but then repeats the same story in meeting after meeting. Either of these diminishes the impact of the sharing and uses up time that somebody else could use for something they have never shared.
- Proselytizing. Proselytizing is inappropriate and not allowed.
- Using the “chat” feature of Zoom. When you are chatting, you are not listening to the person talking. In addition, the chat flag is distracting to those who are trying to listen to the person talking.
Keep in mind
Meditation Chapel is not a psychological counseling service. People who need help dealing with psychological issues should be encouraged to seek professional help elsewhere. If somebody is bringing psychological issues into the meditation session, the facilitator should remind them that this is not the place to deal with these issues, or, if necessary, mute the person.
When you first start meditating with us, you might just observe for a few sessions. This will give you time to see how the group dynamics work and better understand the role of attentive listening in the time we call holy sharing.
Don’t take this as carved in stone. These are guidelines. Think about them and consider how you can incorporate them into your time of sharing. Be gentle with yourself if you think you have violated these guidelines. Be gentle with others whom you think have violated these guidelines. Meditation Chapel is a laboratory of love and we are all learning how to do this together.
The photo is by GPE/Stephan Bachenhelmer and made available through Creative Commons and Flickr. Some rights may be reserved.