Last but not least in our workshop series, we focus on dharma workshops, and give an example of a meditation workshop. If you missed our previous post on structuring your workshop, check it out here!
Workshops Centered Around Dharma + Example of a Meditation Workshop
In workshops that focus on the teachings, be clear with what you convey. As the dharma presented will likely be a new concept for your students, be clear with your message. What understanding do you want students to have at the end of the workshop? This message should be developed at the beginning 1/3 of the class. For the remaining 2/3 of the class, put the message and understanding to practice. With new learnings—start basic, practice, build on, practice again, build a little bit more on, and then have one final practice.
For example, if you teach a beginning meditation workshop, take time to first discuss the basic principles behind meditation. This can be philosophy from a tradition around the world—Buddhist, Hindu, Catholic rosary—and affirmations. You can discuss the science behind meditation. You can then discuss the specific technique of mindfulness that students will experience.
The least threatening technique can be to lead the group through a guided meditation. Perhaps describe a scene at the beach or students’ favorite location, and have them fully experience being there—tie in all of their senses. You can then have them discuss their experiences and have a question and answer session.
Next, delve further into focused concentrated meditation techniques. This is taking the mindfulness deeper. Conclude by having students share their experiences with one another. The hope is that, afterward, students can apply mindfulness easily on their own.
In this example meditation workshop, 1/3 of the time is dedicated to teaching skills and 2/3 is for experience. This is a little different because it is a new learning process, so you are building on the teaching, followed by practice. Students go through this learning process twice to practice.
As a teacher, know your limitations. Be clear about your intention of the workshop and organize the structure around that intention. All teachers strive to grow and become better, and there is sometimes a tendency to make information in a workshop packed with fantastic depth. Instead, provide morsels of new information with room for students to practice. Keep yourself from sharing everything that you know. If you give students too much information, they will be overwhelmed. Create an environment that allows students to build on their learning. Ideally, students should take away several skills, apply, and practice them to be able to use them on their own!
What dharma feels close to your heart and how might you convey that to students in a workshop? If you are seeking some clarity, we love this blog post from Glo on what dharma is.