Overview of “Mindfulness Meditation Teacher Certification Program” by Jack Kornfield and Tara Brach – 9/24/2018
Transitioning to teaching.
Specific Dharma teachings applied to becoming a teacher.
Why I wanted to teach
Both parents had high anxiety.
Father Electro shock therapy.
Mother had dementia.
When I retired I wanted to help the elderly cope with stresses of aging.
Background before MMTCP.
Tibetan Buddhist background
Dawn Mountain, Khetsun Sanghpo Rinpoche
Dharmata Foundation – Anam Thubten
Houston Dharmata Sangha since 1990
Peer led group – listen to dharma talks
Everyone learned from everyone else.
Started teaching after taking Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction – Teacher Training.
Tibetan Buddhism is less accessible than MBSR or Insight Meditation.
I took around 2004.
Ten-day teacher training
MBSR is a rigid Eight week – 2.5-hour classes
Certification was prohibitively Expensive.
Lacked didactic content. – Class outline provide had one or two of the 8 days with an agenda. Classes mostly – “where do you feel it in your body.”
Expected to follow rigid program that I didn’t think would work in the environments that I am teaching.
First 8 week program at a nursing home did not go well. Nursing environment, length of the course.
Taught at Nursing home, West U Senior Center, HAPS.
Started in 2005
Developed my own content.
Taught a one 4 hour class and students suggested that we form a group.
Kept changing and improving based on questions and feedback.
Mindfulness Teacher Certification Program – MMTCP
Pre-requisite – “Power of Awareness”1
I started the program in May of 2017. The course ends in May of 2019
This is the level of the content that you should be able to teach.
The course is available through Sounds True and is taught several times a year.
It is a pre-requisite to MMTCP.
Several Mentored sessions – Mentors were excellent.
MMTCP is a certification Program
Note “Certification” not teaching. The program certifies that you can teach.
Your teaching is evaluated in two ways:
Twice a month peer meeting.
Once with and once without mentor.
You will see others give talks and learn from their different approaches.
You will be peer reviewed over and over again. This is an effective way to help you grow.
Develop your own 6-hour program and teach it twice.
I did 4 classes of 1.5 hours each at the Jung Center and West U seniors center.
Forces you to
Get out in front of an audience.
Plan a curriculum and get approves.
Review recordings of your class.
Balanced – Challenging yet doable.
Challenging enough that if you can succeed at the program you feel ready to teach.
Easy enough that you can get it done and you do have help from your mentor and peers.
Don’t be afraid. This is not a program to try to flunk you out, but to help you improve.
You will be better at teaching when you finish the program.
A 30 minute audio tape is reviewed by your peers in the mentoring group.
Helped us overcome the fear. Most people felt insecure about beginning to teach mindfulness.
Am I good enough to teach.
Do I know enough to become a teacher?
Will I have the Charisma and Humor and wisdom required to attract students.
The impostor syndrome. Everyone thinks that the other is better than them.
Jack and Tara are outstanding in handling challenging questions. I always tried to figure out how they would answer and they always had a better response.
There was also in the program helpful suggestions and guidelines for answering questions.
“Why did you ask that question”
Let the student know that the question is welcomed and appreciated.
If there is suffering in the question, acknowledge the suffering and be empathetic.
Try not to take it personally and to get defensive.
If you don’t know, be honest.
We had to answer difficult questions in our mentor group sessions.
Example: I love meditation and it is really helpful to me. Unfortunately, my spouse isn’t interested and I can’t get her to start. What should I do.
Set an example for her and behave like a Buddha and it might inspire them.
Each topic that was covered in “Power of Awareness” was reviewed during the MMTCP program with special instructions to teachers about teaching the topics.
Monthly Webinar – One hour with Q&A
Breadth and depth of the Dharma. More detailed than “Power of Awareness”
Excellent set of programs that introduced me to new teachers and approaches to mindfulness and the latest in psychological developments.
Tara Brach – Loving Kindness
Kristen Neff – Self-Compassion.
Rick Hanson – Positive psychology – Savoring Gratitude.
Justin Brewer – Breaking addictions
Christian Wolf – Dealing with pain.
Tara Brach – Inquiry – RAIN
Jack Kornfield – 5 hindrances
Tara Brach – Intentionality
Trudy Goodman – Impact of technology
The Wise Heart – Buddhist Psychology
Covered it with the Sangha book club and excellent combination of western psychology, ancient wisdom and techniques.
Making Buddhism accessible to our culture.
A Path with Heart
A Lamp in the Darkness
The Art of Forgiveness, Lovingkindness, and Peace
No Time Like the Present
Lovingkindness: The Revolutionary Art of Happiness
Full Catastrophe Living
When Things Fall Apart
Clinician’s Guide to Teaching Mindfulness, Chapters 1, 3 & 4
Mind Changing Brain Changing Mind: The Dharma and Neuroscience
The logistics of the program were extremely well thought out:
Mentoring groups gave us a chance to coach each other.
Having a mentor was quality control and provided excellent dharma advice.
Having 3 retreats helped us get to know our mentoring group better and connect with others.
The practicum gave us a chance to practice.
Pre-requisite – “Power of Awareness” helped us understand the content before we had to learn to teach that content.
Impact of program on me
Have a much broader understanding
Have Wide variety of resources
Talks, books, class notes, webinars
Guided meditations – learned a lot from my peers
Particularly sensitive to questions.
Just see myself as a catalyst or conduit of others people wisdom.
Humbling – The more I know the more I don’t know.
Completely change my level of understanding and helped me in my personal practice.
When I knew I would have to teach the material, I studied it with much more diligence.
Transitioning to Teaching – Book Club / Peer led groups
If you want to
Help spread the dharma.
Learn from others.
Teamwork – study
100 people take a test. They randomly break down the class into 20 groups of 5 people. The lowest score of any of the groups was higher than the highest score of any individual.
Lesson: If you decide to teach expect and enjoy that you will learn from your students and don’t feel like a failure that you don’t know more than everyone else.
Peer groups can rotate the teaching responsibility.
Peer groups are powerful ways of learning a topic.
Should be first step to teaching. You are teaching others with much less pressure.
If you are interested in teaching but don’t have the time or money join IMH Book Club or Travis’s study group.
Best way to be a good teacher is to be an excellent student.
Be prepared for each meeting. Read the readings. Outline them. Learn a summary view of the material that you could use later. Keep your notes for future teachings.
Attitude / The dharma applies to teaching also.
A journey of a thousand miles begins with the first step.
A good traveler has no fixed plans and is not intent on arriving.
Teaching is a long journey – so is becoming a practitioner
Tara and Jack talked about their insecurities when they first started teaching.
Some people didn’t like their talks.
Didn’t have the right answer for every question
Conscious and unconscious dimension to everything we do.
Conscious motivation should be to help others.
Unconscious there are other things. Might be a desire (desire is what leads to suffering)
To be heard, respected, special and admired
Danger – It can turn into an eqo trip.
Fear of public speaking.
When people walk out of the room, when there is a small audience you will feel bad.
Every failure is an opportunity to learn.
Sometimes the people leaving have nothing to do with you.
Don’t take it personally.
You are not evil, you are human if you have these desires.
Constructive Attitude – intentionality
If you can just help one person than the effort is worth it.
Personal growth. Becoming the best practitioner, you can become is a foundation for teaching. You help yourself by sincerely trying to help others.
Be really active in all of your dharma training.
Take notes, review them.
Listen as though you knew you would have to teach it tomorrow.
You are sharing ancient wisdom techniques. They work and have worked but they are not for everyone and don’t take it personally if people aren’t interested.
The program was designed to help everyone become better teachers. It is a two year opportunity for growth. (Don’t look at it as a two year test). If you were a perfect teacher you wouldn’t be in the program.)
Mentor and peer reviews help you grow.
Embody the dharma
Daily meditation practice.
Really open your heart to everyone.
Daily review do metta for all of my students
Humility – When you don’t know an answer be honest about it. Accepting your limitation will help others accept theirs.
Changed my perspective as a student.
Out of fear of failure I strived for a deeper understanding of the material.
Do not be afraid to ask questions. Someone may ask that question of you.
Making sure that I understood.
Review what you heard with the aspiration that you will remember.
Tip – Next time you take a class test yourself to see if you learned it well enough to teach.
Make an outline.
RAIN- Evolving – Depth
Where do you feel it in the body?
What is it really about? What really underlies the emotion?
A good traveler has no fixed plans and is not intent on arriving. – Lao-Tzu