Saturday, April 2, 2016

More to Learn and Room to Improve

While I’ve taught for quite a long time – more than 30,000 hours spent teaching yoga – I also relish being a student. Recently, I’ve been able to merge the roles of teacher and student, and have come away humbled and inspired.

Within the Tergar Meditation Community, I’ve been a Practice Leader in our local Madison group since its inception. This role has been clearly defined in terms of guiding meditations and following the curriculum that Tergar International has provided us. Among the various hats that I’ve worn within Mingyur Rinpoche’s organization, facilitator has not been one of my roles. Until recently.

Late last year, I was asked to consider training as a Tergar Facilitator. While the Facilitator role does not involve the depth of teaching required of Tergar Instructors, teaching meditation is an element of being a Facilitator within the Tergar community. And while I have taught embodied awareness (yoga) for many years, I have less experience teaching meditation.

In teaching yoga, a baseline of competence is important. It’s entirely too easy to get hurt in yoga, and faulty instruction is a common cause. While I hope no one gets hurt while practicing yoga, given enough time, most yoga injuries generally resolve. But the mind is another matter.

In meditation, practitioners work directly with their minds. And despite all the positive news about meditation, it is possible to fan the flames of anxiety, depression and rumination through inappropriate mental practices. Given the vast complexity of the human mind and its thoughts, feelings and emotions, I think it’s essential that meditation teachers be thoroughly trained.

I appreciate the extent to which Tergar is investing in my training. In addition to regular meetings with my meditation teacher/mentor/friend Cortland Dahl, I’ve recently had the chance to serve as an assistant facilitator at a couple of Joy of Living weekend meditation workshops.

So far, I’ve assisted Cortland and another Tergar Senior Instructor, Myoshin Kelly. It’s been inspiring to watch how deftly they both have responded to tender questions, and humbling to see how much my facilitating can improve.

Our culture can be quick to rubber-stamp endorsements and licenses after a short training, and I find it refreshing to be in an open-ended apprenticeship.

When will I be ready to facilitate Joy of Living events on my own? When I’m ready. And until (and beyond) that time, I am actively seated in the dual roles of meditation teacher and student!


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