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Episode 72 How To Teach Meditation in Sessions: Solo Episode by Chris McDonald
Episode 7220th July 2022 • The Holistic Counseling Podcast • Chris McDonald, LCMHCS
00:00:00 00:33:35

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Are you ready to integrate meditation into your practice? Are you unsure about how to start teaching clients how to meditate? 


  • What is meditation? 1:16
  • Figuring out the best way to teach meditation 5:25
  • What is Concentrative Meditation 11:38
  • What is Mindfulness Meditation? 19:35

What Is Meditation?

  • What meditation is NOT!
  • Overcoming obstacles by being consistent in your meditation practice
  • Engaging in the present moment without trying to change anything
  • What is the importance of meditation and the benefits from it

 Figuring Out The Best Way To Teach Meditation

  • The importance of setting up an invitation to your clients
  • Setting up the appropriate space for you and your client to begin the meditation process
  • Finding and practicing the appropriate voice for each client during guided meditation
  • Why it is important to let go of any projected outcome in guided meditation

What Is Concentrative Meditation?

  • Integrating sound into concentrative meditation
  • Teaching clients to use their breath as an anchor in concentrative meditation
  • Techniques for using Mantra in meditation
  • How to use an image in concentrative meditation

What Is Mindfulness Meditation?

  • What is “Noting?”
  • Noticing our thoughts without judgment
  • Using imagery in mindfulness meditation
  • Mindfulness meditation walkthrough


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Episode 72 How to Teach Clients Meditation in Sessions

Welcome to the holistic counseling podcast, where you discover diverse wellness modalities, advice on growing your integrative practice and grow confidence in being your unique self. I'm your host, Chris McDonald. I'm so glad you're here for the journey.

This is the holistic counseling podcast. I'm your host, Chris McDonald. Welcome to today's episode. This is going to be a solo episode and I'm going to divide it into two parts. So today's part will be an introduction to meditation. The benefits, the basics of setting it up with clients as well. Some skills on getting started for teaching meditation, because I know in my focus groups, thanks to all those who participated by the.

Um, I did learn that some of you are interested in teaching meditation, but just are kind of unsure how to get started. So hopefully this can be just the start for you to give you a little bit of background, to get things rolling. And I will end today's episode with a brief mindfulness meditation, so you can experience it.

And also just know that that meditation, you can use it as your own practice with it so that you can give it to your clients as well. So let's just dive right in. I thought we'd start first at the very beginning. A very good place to start. Right? so what is meditation? You hear that word a lot. One thing I will tell you, it is not meditation is not trying to clear your mind.

I know I have most of my clients that come in and they'll say, oh, I just sat down and tried to meditate, but I couldn't do it. I can't clear my mind. I keep having thoughts. Very common experience. Yes. You have thoughts. You will always have thoughts. Even the most pronoun famous meditators still have thoughts that come up.

practice, you will have less [:

The more you do it, the less us at com, but I will teach you today. Of how to teach clients what to do with those thoughts. So that's the difference, but just going back to the initial questions, what is meditation? So it's that focused attention. It's not just sitting there doing nothing. So there is some skills that you can use with this, some different strategies to help you be able to teach clients as well as developing your own practice.

So it encourages that heightened state of awareness, really tuning in to what is coming up in the present moment, engaging the present moment, seeing what's there without trying to change anything without a desired income. I think that's a common misnomer too, that people wanna feel a certain way or have something happen or geez.

Did I reach enlightenment yeah. So, but it is going into it without desired income. Seeing what comes up, that is all right. So we have a couple other ways you can do it too, is the concentrative meditation, which I'll get more into that, which is focusing on one thing while tuning out the external world or experience and trying to get to that higher state of being.

And I'll talk to you a little bit about that or the mindfulness meditation, which is focused more. On the present moment. So let's think about this for AMO. So what is the importance of meditation? Why should we teach this to clients? This is the best part. It is research based and I know our ethical guidelines say that we should be using research based interventions.

And of course, meditation has lots and loads of history of research. Just to give you a little bit, we could do a whole episode on the benefits. Here are some of the benefits. So decreased anxiety, stress management, manage symptoms of depression, of course, is not gonna make depression go away, but it can allow clients to manage the symptoms a little bit better.

What I've found in my practice is decreased reactivity. It takes a lot more to get me riled up. So even same triggers that used to get me going. It would take a lot more to get me activated in my nervous system. Improve. Decrease blood pressure. And that's a test you can always do with meditation too, is, um, just noticing too, even your heart rate, what is your heart rate before meditation?

You can check during and after increase self-awareness and for those clients that have ADHD, or if you do . It helps with focused attention. There's so many benefits and research also says, as far as brain based that you have more gray matter volume in brains, they've found in their research for those that do it for extended periods of time.

They did look at people doing it for 20 years, but the benefits can happen. What I've read with research within two weeks. That's pretty awesome. What does that mean? More gray matter volume in the brain. It it's all over the brain too, is what they found. This translates to more positive emotions, which of course we all want that emotional stability and that increased focus in our everyday living who doesn't want those benefits.

Right. So just keeping that in mind. Wow. Let's think about that. All those benefits for our clients to have really helping 'em, but how do we do this? So if you are a newbie, which is totally cool, and I'm glad you're here and still listening, it does take. Some time to get used to this and figure out the best way to teach somebody.

Cuz of course you can do it yourself, but if you've never taught someone, I know it can feel a little unsettling, a little awkward, unstable as you're trying to do this and figur it out. And the first part is to start your own practice meditation practice. I'm not gonna get. Into that today, cuz that would be a whole other discussion that is gonna be next week's episode.

So that's something that I've developed for myself, the consistent personal practice, cuz most people do get into that mode of just doing it. Oh, I'm having a bad day. Let me meditate, which is fine. I'm glad you're meditating. Trust me. I think it's so helpful, but the more consistent, the better the result.

So just tune in next week for that. So let. Let's get back to, how do we set this up with clients? And let's say you have a client who has a lot of anxiety, have difficulty relaxing, very restless, tense muscles. They really are not totally connected to their body. We set it up with an invitation, just like in yoga, we set things up so that clients are invited to do this.

They're not required. We can't say we will meditate today. so we have to really make this an invitation. And here's an example for you, cuz I know from hearing from a lot of listeners, like how do you say this to them? How do you invite them? One way I do that. Of course, using your counseling skills. I know you've been struggling a lot with managing your anxiety.

I know we've tried some different strategies. Would you be open to learning how to do meditation to help manage your symptoms? Period. Question mark. That's it. So you don't have to get into long explanations and they'll either be like, eh, I don't know. Or no. And then move on or you could also, if they do say no.

Can you tell me a little bit more about that? And maybe they do have, I can't do it. I've tried it. Would you like to try a different kind? We could just experiment using that word experiment, I think is so helpful. We're just experiment. We're just giving it a go and see just for a few minutes. And if they don't and if they're really set, of course, we don't wanna push things on clients.


[00:07:52] Cause you don't wanna be. Too close to them. Hopefully if you have enough space to separate from them and just ask them too. I I've asked that when I was [00:08:00] in physical sessions, now I'm all virtual, but is this enough space between us? Where would you feel more comfortable? Would you rather sit in another seat?

Sit on the floor, lay on the floor. That's a possibility. Now the goal of meditation is not to go to sleep unless you're actually doing a sleep meditation. The goal is to be seated with a straight spine so that you can have that focused awareness, cuz otherwise you will fall asleep. Not saying I never fall asleep meditation.

Sometimes I do. If I'm over tired, but that's not the goal. So normal everyday meditation is to be in that awareness space and that's by seated. So just allow them to figure out where would I feel most comfortable and settled in this room and just be open if they wanna sit on the floor. That's cool. Or at a cushion, cuz some people don't wanna sit in the chair or maybe they wanna sit in your desk chair.


But some people, like I said, whatever works for them. So I'm not gonna get too structured with this, that they have to be seated with feet on the floor, cuz that may not work for them. So feet on the floor or sit across legging spine straight. You can also do some joint rotations, have them roll their shoulders back, get comfortable, noticing their spine, noticing their body.

And their breath using that grounding, the start, just that presence of mind and making it trauma informed. You can say, you can close your eyes for this, or if you wanna leave your eyes open, looking gently at the floor. Some people, especially those with severe trauma or PTSD may not be comfortable with keeping their eyes closed and watch your voice.


Because then you kind of stuck, right? or it doesn't sound right as you read it out loud, it sounds different than when you read it in your mind. But using that calm, soothing voice to try to find that soothing voice in practice, practice with a partner friend, recording yourself too, and play it back, cuz then you can discover, Ooh.

I don't sound so good here or I'm rushing and you don't wanna rush through this. Oh, I'm anxious about teaching my client meditation. I'm just gonna go as fast as I can. cause your energy is gonna impact their energy. So again, that co-regulation the more that you can stay calm in this cuz of course there might be a little nervous and that is something you can also explore them on the invitation.


[00:11:21] I have to stop all my thoughts and clear my mind, or I have to have some kind of projected outcome letting that go. And a lot of it is letting go, letting go of how you think it should be letting go of how your breathing should be and seeing what is. So two types of meditation that I think are helpful in therapy.


[00:12:09] That really soothing, calm music that just puts you in a nice soothing, quiet mood. Just play that. And the only thing you have to say to a client is just listen to the music that is it. And they can always come back to their sensations in their body if they want, but just hear the music. See what comes.


[00:12:53] Some of those white noise machines that also have different sounds like the sound of the ocean. If that's soothing [00:13:00] or maybe play some of the sounds, the sounds of crickets that would drive me crazy. But some people may like that. A thunderstorm doesn't matter what the sound is, as long as it is soothing to them.


[00:13:31] There's lots of ways to focus with the breath. Sometimes it's just following the breath. We don't have to change it. And just start with, just notice where your breath is today. Is it more in your chest or your belly? Now? See if you can follow your breath as your chest rises on the inhale falls on the exhale.


[00:14:13] and notice the tip of your nose. Notice the air coming in through the nose and out


[00:14:50] We'll just start with three minutes today following your breath. And it can be just listening to the sound of your breath on the inhale and XLE. [00:15:00] If you don't wanna do the anchor can be just tuning into one part of their body. Even if you don't wanna do the belly, it could be the ribs expanding on the inhale, falling on the exhale, or if they'd rather count, if their mind is very active and busy, just counting.


[00:15:54] So a mantra can be a short phrase or word just to get them present and to [00:16:00] stay with it. Cuz sometimes using sound or breath is gonna be too much or from a trauma informed lens can be too much. So using a mantra can help keep them engaged in the present moment and give their mind something to do. So one mantra could be, I am love, so hum, which means translated.


[00:16:51] So on the inhale home on the exhale. And just tell them to keep rolling with that. Keep [00:17:00] going. And you're gonna set a timer and, oh, that's the other piece I forgot to mention. So you can use a timer or use a Tibetan singing bowl to start the meditation session and let them know that you'll gently tap or have a timer at the end.


[00:17:35] This is how I started with meditation. It really helped me to get focused and just allowed the exterior world to kind of fade away. So I could get back into my internal world. I used to think about the moon at night and try to picture a beautiful scene of a full moon, barely a cloud in the sky, seeing the colors.


[00:18:27] What does it mean to them? Does that feel like an object that soothes them or calms them? So, because of course you don't wanna suggest something that could be triggering for them. That's that defeats the whole purpose. And if they're not sure what they wanna use, just have, 'em sit with it for a. So I'm gonna have you sit for a moment and just think about what would be a soothing image, an object or something in nature that you would like to bring up into your mind and you phrase it like that, and just [00:19:00] give space, be quiet for a bit, and just show them that you can allow that space for them.


[00:19:24] So I hope that helps with some of the concentrative meditation ideas. There's so many ways to do this, but I do recommend trying sound first and moving on to breath and then mantra. So what is mindfulness meditation? That is mostly what I've been trained in is focusing on the present moment to all that arises with noticing bodily sensations, any thoughts that come up feelings, even if you hear like a dog barking, a lawnmower.


[00:20:18] I'm gonna name it, planning. And then I, my stomach grumbles. Hungry. So it's just labeling the different experiences that come up. It could be maybe I'm having back pain. So pain would be a label. Just bringing it back to that present moment without judgment. And that's another thing to stay tuned in with man mindfulness meditation is you wanna teach clients not to judge themselves, cuz a lot will get into that habit of Ugh, I'm thinking again, those there's those thoughts.


[00:21:12] I'm gonna let that go. I'm a teacher. How to do that in a second and another way that you can teach clients. And again, as I got ready for today's episode, I realized, holy cow, there are so many components to this, more than I thought. It's one of those things. I think once you've done something for a long time, when you go to teach it, you're like, wow, I really do know more than I thought with this topic.


[00:21:56] So I think it would be very hard to teach meditation if you've not done [00:22:00] it yourself. So again, that will be next week's episode. So mindfulness meditation can be not. It could be Sensa noticing, sensation, a feeling comes up anxiety. Let me sit with that anxiety. See how that settles just being, or one way I was taught mindfulness meditation is with imagery.


[00:22:44] And if you're at home, just see if you can find a quiet spot, if you can put headphones on, I think that's helpful, earbuds, whatever, and just allow yourself to get comfortable. Finding that meditation position that's comfortable for you. You can sit on a cushion or in a [00:23:00] chair feet on the floor. If you'd like, or sit cross-legged, you can have your hands on your lap.


[00:23:29] So just notice before we start your hands, if they're feeling tense are relaxed, notice the air around you, how it feels on your skin. Does it feel warm or cool or neutral? We're just tuning in before we start,


[00:24:24] So on this journey, imagine that you're walking through the woods. So warm, soothing day, it's not too hot, not too cold. You listen to your feet as they hit the earth in a soft walking stride, not rushing. Comfortable pace, feeling your arms as they swing back and forth, you feel the breeze on your face, breeze, through your hair, feeling the sun warm, you [00:25:00] noticing the blue sky above.


[00:25:30] You notice the sky again, the clouds just floating by. And eventually come to a small waterfall to the right. So you VE gently off the path and go to this waterfall. You notice the beautiful water coming down, the rocks, the sounds of it, feeling your feet on the earth, connected supporting you, [00:26:00] smelling the fresh air.


[00:26:31] Floating on down into the stream all the way down the mountain until you can't see it anymore. And you come back to your breathing


[00:27:23] And you go back to your breath. This could happen even a hundred times when you meditate and just accepting that's okay. Just noticing the thought without judgment, letting it go and just connect back to your anchor. Maybe you notice your anger with your breath is in your belly with the rise and fall of your breath or in your chest, or maybe through your nose.


[00:28:06] And you notice any sensations that are coming up for you as you sit by this waterfall, what emotions arise? What other sounds do you hear? Are there any objects around you? Take a look around


[00:28:41] You try to take it all in memorizing it, knowing that you can always come back to this space in your mind, this comfortable place. Anytime you need to, to take a one minute vacation. Now you decide to stand up and come back to the [00:29:00] space you're in walking back down the mountain in peace, tranquility groundedness, and again, noticing the breeze on your face.


[00:29:29] noticing any sounds in the room you're in reconnecting, feeling the ground beneath you, supporting you, tuning into those hands. Again, noticing if they're clenched or relaxed. Noticing your shoulders, try to soften your shoulders. If they feel tense at all. And when you're ready, gently blinking your eyes open [00:30:00] and notice how you feel.


[00:30:15] What objects? I hope that was helpful. That's my favorite mindfulness meditation. And of course, one thing that I've done a lot with clients is I will experience a meditation on like insight timer, the app, or other meditations through YouTube. And I will. Learn it, but then put my own, spin on it to teach clients.


[00:30:55] And just remember you have a lot to give you have your own experiences. Your [00:31:00] own creative brain that you can tap into for this. But if the thought of creating your own is too much. That's okay too. There are guided scripts available. That's how I started actually printing one out or reading it from your computer is totally fine.


[00:31:35] So that's what you don't wanna do. You wanna make sure that you're engaged, that you really are connecting with it? Using a lot of pauses. If you notice, I did that with that meditation, nice pacing and noticing the time cuz what you don't wanna do is only give yourself, you know, four minutes and it's almost the end of the session.


[00:32:10] Cause if you're not comfortable with meditation, you're not ready to teach it. Just keep that in mind as well. I hope this was helpful for you. And like I said, I hope you can tune in next week where I'll be discussing how to create your own personal meditation practice. And I wanna thank you so much for being a listener and tuning in today, but I still need your help.


[00:32:52] The more positive ratings reviews we get, the more people we can reach. Just keep that in mind. And this again is Chris McDonald sending [00:33:00] each one of you much light and low. Until next time, take care. Thanks for listening to the holistic counseling podcast. Ready to engage with other holistic counselors.