More and more people want to learn how to practice mindfulness meditation. This is wonderful, really, because the practice brings many benefits directly to individuals and, through them, to society at large.
And, as demand increases so too does supply. As a result, there are more and more opportunities for learning mindfulness, both in secular and spiritual contexts. This is wonderful, too, but not so simple.
Meeting demand carefully and responsibly is complicated, and brings to mind a particularly thorny set of issues.
- Who should be teaching mindfulness meditation?
There are no simple answers for these questions, but I'd like to offer a few suggestions for consideration:
- Look for consistency: When you find a new mindfulness teacher, be sure to evaluate whether the person embodies the teachings. Put differently, does the teacher practice meditation as well as provide instruction on specific techniques? A mindfulness teacher who isn't particularly mindful won't help you, and neither will someone who speaks in generalities and leaves you feeling nice but dull. Unfortunately, there are plenty of examples of unmindful teachers and you'll know them when you encounter them. They are profoundly dishonest and their lack of integrity is their problem -- not yours. Look elsewhere, when a so-called mindfulness teacher, or even someone who simply "teaches mindfulness," fails to demonstrate mindfulness in their actions, communication and presence.
In sum: pay attention when you pursue or encounter a mindfulness teacher. Notice how you feel, inside yourself, during the experience. Apply situational awareness and notice what's happening around you and with other people. If you feel at ease, within yourself and in the larger setting, and your critical mind is satisfied, then investigate further. If not, go elsewhere. You have options.
One final point: if you are teaching mindfulness, notice your response to this blog post. If these words resonate with you (or simply don't stick) then continue with your teaching. But, if you feel anger or defensiveness in response, then I challenge you to re-evaluate your intentions and motivations. It's a simple test: if your conscience is clear, nothing here will fluster or annoy you. But if it does, you shouldn't be teaching mindfulness.