It’s about preparation versus rehearsal
My first exposure to the concept of a ‘meditative preparation’ for working with others – whether in a therapeutic, collegial or educational context – came from Dr. Lawrence Shulman in his notion of sessional “tuning in” to a group prior to each group therapy session.
For Shulman, tuning in is about taking a few minutes beforehand to anticipate and imagine what might be going on with each person and with the group as a whole:
- Was it difficult to get to group because of weather or transit?
- What other competing priorities might people be struggling with?
- How safe are people feeling in the group itself?
- What stage of group development are we at?
- Are people there because they want to come, or because someone else made them attend?
I have found the skill of tuning in to be enormously helpful before leading any group, including conference presentations, trainings and workshops. Intentionally tuning in helps get me focused on the participants, how they’re feeling, and what they are hoping for; versus focused on me and what I am feeling or hoping for! Tuning in puts me squarely in in the “here and now”. It helps me to be 100% present.
Take five minutes before you enter the room to reflect on the above questions. The best five minutes you can possibly spend: think preparation versus rehearsal.