Integrating inner and outer learning
Mapping the territory of our being minds
Mindfulness-based learning involves finding ways into and ways to dwell within a new way of being with and seeing ourselves and our experience. It involves sustained, in-depth training in suspending our habitual ways of thinking and perceiving and in redirecting our awareness to enable us to see freshly. This movement into ‘being’ is the key way in which we shift into being active participants in our experience in ways which intellectual understanding can never achieve. Mindfulness-based learning processes for participants and teachers alike therefore involve developing a deep familiarity with direct experiences emerging within our ‘being’ minds.
Integrating inner work with outer work
Previous knowledge and experience can easily get in the way of learning which emphasises moving into ‘being’. One of the early learnings for many trainees is how to let go of what is known so that this new learning can happen. However, in order to competently teach mindfulness-based approaches in real world settings, the ‘being’ learning needs integration into existing and developing therapeutic and teaching understanding.
Our experience of training phases indicate that early training is best focused around the development of ‘being’ through an immersion in the direct experience of the programme; the next phase of training involves the development of understanding and skill in the elements of the programme and involves a mixture of intellectual/‘doing’ mind activity with ‘being’ elements to encourage integration; and the third phase of training emphasises an integration of these outer learnings with a deeper experience of the ‘being’ elements.
The essence of mindfulness-based approaches is to bring ‘being’ understanding into our ‘doing’ world and this is also at the heart of the process of learning to teach.
Personal commitment to an in-depth, ongoing learning process
Mindfulness-based teacher training requires a particular focus on personal development, with daily mindfulness practice and an ongoing process of inquiry into this and its integration into life at the core of this process.
The inner work of cultivating the ability to be more aware requires a willingness to make this a central aspect of one’s life; a willingness to turn towards that which we are avoiding and to open to the actuality of experience. This can be both profoundly rewarding and challenging.
Working from the heart
Mindfulness-based learning rests within a deep commitment and intention to hold ourselves and others with compassion and to be working from a sense of mutuality and respect for the genius which lies within each person.
In line with this the training process is personal and relational with opportunities built in for trainees to reflect individually with teachers on their learning.
Non-linear training process
The experiential root to teaching mindfulness-based approaches is both the most basic and the most advanced aspect of the training. Development of skills and competency in teaching requires an ongoing ability to be able to engage with learning at this level.