Empowerment Through Teaching : A Reflection on Meditation Teacher Training

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A particular tone befits the halfway point of just about any group undertaking. There’s no more of the “getting to know you” dance. People surprise you, you surprise yourself. Familiarity creeps into the equation: familiarity with the space, the vocal inflections of your companions, etc. It’s a bit like a warm hug, one that also comes with an uptick in responsibility. 

At this point in our meditation teacher training with Nalanda Institute for Contemplative Science, The Path, and Pure Yoga, everyone has already become a teacher. Through teach back assignments, each student has taught a meditation to a small group in the class, as well as recorded a virtual meditation. This exercise creates a beautiful shift in our sense of agency. Many of us, myself included, have already taught in other settings. But something about taking on that role within the container of our class adds another layer to the space we’ve created. And that space is one of empowerment.

The student - teacher dynamic has always fascinated me. There can be a tendency to place your teachers on a pedestal. Sometimes people revere or even fall in love with their teachers, not realizing it’s an ideal they’ve created. The teacher is human, the teacher is a lot like the student, likely having experienced many of the same foibles as the student, but having learned from them (hopefully). The student might think the teacher is perfect, unaware of the path that brought that teacher to their initial desire to teach. 

We’ve all taught now and received feedback from one another. It’s been one of the most rewarding experiences of my life, to have highly conscious, intelligent peers reviewing my work. Some slip into the role seamlessly. Others are afraid, but teach with more finesse than they realize. It’s a fascinating process. When someone steps into the role and does a good job, it gives me confidence as well, because you see the work that happened during rehearsal, not just the performance.

Written reflections on our teach backs have also brought my teaching to a new level. Though I’d taught before, I’d never been assigned a reason to write about my experience as a teacher. Sure, I’ve thought about it a lot (re: too much), but putting pen to paper opens you up to a new level of self-discovery.

We’ve made progress, but there’s also a sense that there’s so much more to learn. And I can’t wait.