How to Run a Great First Meeting
SET THE SPACE—A PRACTICE IN ITSELF
Before your group arrives, spend a few minutes in the space where you will convene. Consider if there are enough comfortable seats for everyone. Determine if it is quiet and clean enough. Close your eyes and check-in with yourself. How are you feeling? Are you excited, nervous, neutral? Notice your sensations and thoughts.
STRUCTURE AND DURATION
Consider using the Guiding Questions in Appendix B of the Learning Circle Toolkit for more guidance on moderating or questions to help spark conversation around the structure and duration of your gatherings.
USING THE “ARC” STRUCTURE FOR YOUR MEETINGS
Start: Use the first part of the gathering as a quick check-in and reminder of the group’s agreements. Spend a minute or two (we recommend using a timer) on each person. Use it as an opportunity to tell stories, hear from one another, and establish connection and intimacy. A great way to seed the check-ins is by asking, “What is happening for you on the cushion and in daily life? Do you see any connections between the two?”
Study: This is the time to explore the teachings. Consider discussing an excerpt from a book, watching the weekly videos from the Namchak eCourse, or doing a meditation practice together (See Discussion Content and Questions section for more ideas.)
End: Wind down by noting the emerging questions from the group. If you haven’t yet, spend 5 to 10 minutes in a seated practice. Ask group members to reflect upon the impact of the session and how they feel.
Come to an agreement on what’s to be done for the next meeting. Will people read a specific chapter in the book or watch an eCourse video? If there were emerging questions, consider working on them in the interim and bring ideas back to the group.
Close by reading the dedication of merit as one voice, followed by a moment of silence.
Dedication of Merit
By the power of this compassionate practice,
May suffering be transformed to peace.
May the hearts of all beings be open,
And their wisdom radiate from within.
The sample agendas below incorporate the “arc” method and allow for some flexibility depending on the group’s preferences.
We have created a lesson plan that you can use for your first meeting: First Learning Circle Meeting Agenda.