“Who are you?” You might ask, “to be claiming to be a mindfulness teacher”

Hello everyone, hope you had a good summer. Here’s a pic of me last week sitting practice “on the rocks” in the Ardeche – cool way of being in a heat wave?

I still have a brief chance to remind you that the next eight-week mindfulness courses in Ipswich and Woodbridge that I will be teaching starting on Monday,25’th and Tuesday 26’th of September. www.martinwilks.com/the-next-mbct

“Who are you?” You might ask, “to be claiming to be a mindfulness teacher”

Indeed, you might ask the question of anyone offering a mindfulness course. There are suddenly a lot around – and many more in an online form, or as an app.

The thing is, there are as yet no formally recognised training routes, no final qualifications, no official accreditations. Anyone can claim to be a mindfulness teacher – indeed, my facebook feed this morning has just enticed me with “want to offer your own mindfulness trainings – download this free pdf that tells you how” from an outfit called Positive Psychology!

Some professions: lawyers, architects, GP’s are state regulated to attempt to ensure high standards of training and practice – my own is! As a chartered psychologist I was required to undergo many years of post-grad education, supervised practice, scrutiny and inspection. Not so with mindfulness – regardless of my own rigourous & sustained training in mindfulness since the mid 80’s, there’s nothing to stop a reader of that pdf putting some slick marketing together (perhaps it comes with the pdf?) and offering an attractive (cheaper) alternative.

It’s a big investment – doing an 8 week mindfulness course: your time, your money, your commitment to weekly practice. And, potentially, it is a huge, lifelong return on that investment. So how can you ensure that both the teacher and the teachings are authentic?

Most academic routes towards training require an initial 8 week course followed by at least 2 years of formal daily practice development. Various trainer development levels are achieved following on to an MSc. in study and practice that can take up to 6 years. At this level trainees undertake supervision with senior practitioners, and with student peer groups examining their teaching style as they apprentice with recognized teachers. Attendance at 7-10 day silent mindfulness meditation retreats is recommended – at least annually.

Engage in dialogue with a ‘would be’ teacher – it may be difficult to question but an authentic teacher will be able to answer without being defensive. Ask, is the person known to the local community as a mindfulness teacher? Is he/she in supervision?

In Suffolk we have a mindfulness teachers’ peer support group. A chance to recognize and stand-by each others work and develop best practice guidelines – early days, but taking an initiative to safeguard the quality and integrity of teaching this approach to wellbeing about which we all feel so passionate.

What should you pay for an 8 week course? Pay what it is worth to you! That’s no joke – most of my earliest teachings were offered on the basis of dana – the teachings were considered to be priceless and so no price was put upon them, donations were simply invited. That’s challenging in this secular consumerist society – I follow the same practice as I do as a Psychologist offering counselling, psychotherapy, mediation – pitch my fees at the lower end of the market rate and offer flexibility to those who are in genuine financial hardship.

Give me a call?

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