Even the most prepared mindfulness facilitator can get the jitters when leading a live, guided meditation. Even facilitators who have job roles where they often speak or present in meetings can suffer from their nerves.
The most common reason I hear from nervous facilitators are "Mindfulness and meditation are such personal practices to me, so to stand up in front of others makes me nervous."
Regardless of the reason for the nervousness, it sure feels unpleasant! And so much so, that it may hold a facilitator back from leading sessions.
I'm naturally a quiet, rather private person, and I certainly used to face nervousness just before leading a group - whether the audience had 10 or 1,000 people.
Typical self-talk that happens sounds rather like this:
"I'm nervous, what if I don't lead well or people don't respond well to what I do?", or,
"I'm doing this at my workplace and I have a certain workplace image. I worry about what my co-workers may think of me talking about mindfulness."
Here are my top three suggestions I offer to facilitators that get a very positive response (these can actually apply to many other situations in your life):
Reframe your nervousness. Instead of thinking "I'm nervous", turn that around and instead think "This is an adventure! This is exciting!" As you feel the sensations of nervousness (butterflies in stomach, dry mouth, sweaty palms, etc.) turn these feelings into adventure and excitement. Tell yourself "Wow, how lucky am I to be doing this? This is quite an adventure and so exciting!" This can make facilitating exciting and fun, instead of fear-inducing.
Allow the flow. Assuming that you've been trained to be a facilitator and you have the necessary skills, simply allow your 'presentation' to flow through you out to the audience. So in other words, you know what to do, you know how to do it, so let yourself 'off the hook' and simply trust that your delivery will flow easily. See yourself as a vessel and let it flow.
"Feel the fear and do it anyway!" If you can't quite shake the nervousness, then this is a perfect opportunity to practice mindfulness -- notice your nervousness, acknowledge it, don't judge yourself and accept what you feel. Then, feel the fear and do it anyway! Feeling nervousness doesn't need to be a negative thing. Just carry on! And notice how you feel when the session is done. More often than not, you'll feel immense joy in knowing that you've helped people, and there's no need to be nervous.
And don't forget the obvious - take a moment to ground and center yourself. Breathe. Use the moment to transition and get yourself in to the right headspace.
Participants are so appreciative of what you do for them, so enjoy the experience. Also, it is not your responsibility that people come away from a session with a 'good' experience. You are there to guide and to offer, and their experience will be whatever it is.
When you facilitate, you are providing a compassionate service to others.
Approach this with self-compassion and lightness.
Feel the joy of helping others, and thank you for doing so!
~Wendy Quan, Founder, The Calm Monkey