‘This may indeed be a pivotal moment for our species to come to our senses … mobilising in the mainstream world … the power of mindfulness” Jon Kabat-Zinn
On the first day of a mindfulness teacher training I look around the room. I see a circle of people who are each on the brink of developing a new potential within themselves, the potential to teach the wisdom of mindfulness to others. It gives me goose-bumps to imagine that in a year or two that potential will be travelling out into the world reaching many people and places.
Personally, I’m so grateful to have found work that has authenticity and humanity at its heart. All around me I see work situations which promote attitudes, lifestyles and values that create cycles of suffering, degrading individual, collective and ecological wellbeing.
Like many who decide to teach I had found mindfulness to be the answer to my prayers and the answer to questions that I had been brewing throughout my adult life. Crucially for me, it was also the one thing that laid down a workable path through chronic pain, when nothing else had helped. As I trod this path, I gradually rebuilt my life and my inner world from the bottom up, discovering a new way of being that was able to remove some of the causes of the pain and accommodate the remaining pain. In this way my pain changed from being devastating to being meaningful.
So much of the suffering in society (like my chronic pain) comes from a lack of understanding of the human mind, body and heart. If only it could become normal to learn this humane intelligence from the beginning, maybe the world could be the different place that Jon Kabat-Zinn believes it could be. Becoming a mindfulness teacher means that we can give ourselves to this worthy project and contribute what we can.
I believe the world needs mindfulness and it needs mindfulness teachers with genuine, thorough, in depth training. Brief, superficial training misses and therefore cannot transmit the true wisdom of mindfulness. Human beings on a mass scale need to learn and embody new ways of being in a graduated, long-term way. Genuine mindfulness enables us to whittle away at unhelpful habits and attitudes to ourselves, our relationships, to work, to society and to the environment. Grandiose Kabat-Zinn’s mission may sound, but we’ve got to start somewhere!
Training to be a mindfulness teacher is one of the best things I have ever done. It enabled me to turn my own arduous journey through chronic pain into an initiation and a training. Many people who train to teach do so because they want to share the amazing benefits of mindfulness that they have experienced themselves, with others. This was true for me. What could be more fulfilling!
While I learned to teach mindfulness, I had to continue to practice like my life depended on it, still suffering a lot with pain, but I knew that this was grist for the mill. Not only was I learning the skills, techniques and theory for teaching skills, but I was being seasoned and matured by my struggles and this I knew would be the deepest source of my readiness to teach. There can’t be many professions where your biggest challenge becomes your greatest qualification!
Training to teach accelerated my own practice. It put me right on the crest of the wave of the moment and I had to rely on being present as my ballast, not just quietly and privately but in a group setting. My practice was my ground when I felt under intense pressure, leading practices and conducting inquiries with my peers for the first time. The learning atmosphere was compassionate, but still all my patterns of perfectionism and avoiding failure kicked in and I had to find ways to remain present, be kind to myself and continue. What a challenge! And what a profound learning! And the group had an incredible feeling of powerful compassionate fellowship, which is a rare thing to find. After benefitting from this compassionate fellowship as a participant learning mindfulness, then as a teacher learning to teach, we can finally have the privilege of facilitating this kind of group experience for new mindfulness participants.
I think we all need the wisdom of mindfulness more than ever right now and I hope you will join us on the teacher training and become part of this movement, offering sanity in a chaotic world.