By Karuna Beaver
I love leading Yoga Philosophy Discussion Groups. When I trained as a Discussion Group Leader several years ago, I learned valuable listening skills and more. I learned how these discussions bring my students together. They deepen their relationships as well as their understanding of yoga’s teachings.
Leading the group is like conducting an orchestra. While the conductor stands in front of the group, his or her job is to set the pace and bring out the highlights of the music. Conducting requires a good ear, a great sense of timing and an ability to let the various players shine.
When you lead a Discussion Group, a keen ear is essential. Listening is at the heart of this group process. Listening, deeply listening, is a skill that can’t be overestimated. It’s important to put your own agenda aside and hear what people are saying. By doing so, you allow the group to hear other’s comments and respond. The discussion begins to roll.
Discussion groups are just that — discussions. They’re about inspiring participants to participate! The training taught me how to serve as moderator, how to handle any controversy or even long silences. Swamiji says, “You put your ears on your heart.” Now you listen differently, making space for people to reflect on what they’ve said and share meaningfully with others. You give them an opportunity to give voice to the light of Consciousness arising within.
With that participation comes insight. Discussions center around Swami Nirmalananda’s contemplation articles, with 25 years of monthly articles available online. Participants in discussion groups dive into the teachings, to learn and grow. I’ve seen people be amazed at the level of their understanding. I’ve been amazed, too. I have learned so much from them, as they have listened deeply to their own inner knowing. As the discussions have taken my students to a whole new level, the process has taken me deeper into my Self at the same time.