8 Competencies of a Meditation Teacher To be skillful in guiding others in meditation, it is useful to be intimate with:
• Indriya Shakti - Sensibility
• Instinctual Wisdom
• Elemental Adptability
• Mandala of Desires
• Rhythm & Pulsation
• Honoring Individuality
• Repertoire - A Range of Techniques
• Living in Both Worlds
1. Indriya Shakti or Sensibility. The ability to recognize and utilize the senses as gateways into meditation: inner and outer hearing, touch, motion, balance, joint position, oxygen sensing, vision, smell and taste. This is the Indriya Mandala.
2. Instinctual Wisdom. The instincts is a name we give to the self-healing, self-evolving, powerful innate wisdom impulses of life: homing, exploring, trail making, gathering, nesting, resting, feeding, communing with nature, bonding, mating, protecting. During meditation, pranashakti fluctuates between these instinctive modes as needed, every few seconds or minutes. A skillful meditation teacher embraces all the instincts as they inspire and balance each other.
3. Elemental Adaptability. The elements or Tattvas are the field in which the senses and instincts play. Each element - space, fire, earth, air, water – feeds us, delights us, sustains us, purifies us, and inspires. This is the Tattva Mandala. A meditation teacher needs to be intimate with earth, air, fire, water, and space as they are revealed by each of the senses and engaged by each instinct.
4. Embracing Desire. The senses, instincts and elements play through our bodies in impulses we call Desires. This is Kama Mandala, the rich mosaic of desiring energy-impulses continually streaming through the body. Skill in meditation includes accepting the gift and revelation of desire and emotion, and the ability to ride the motion into essence.
5. Utilizing Rhythm. The senses, instincts, and desires pulsate in rhythms and cycles. The periodicity ranges from many times a second, to several times a minute, to hourly (ultradian), daily (circadian), and seasonal. The body is always dancing to these natural rhythms and each is a different flow into meditation.
6. Honoring Individuality is a form of respect and ethics, and a key to effectiveness. A skilled meditation guide accepts individuality in herself and others as a gift beyond price. The teacher senses individuality and customizes the practice to support the individual's unique body, heart, relationships, and talents.
7. Repertoire. A meditation guide needs a repertoire of 4 to 8 basic meditations - her version of the classics - that she is intimate with and can adapt to any situation. These usually include practices with movement (mudra) , breath (pranayama), sound (mantra), visualization (yantra), balance, touch, and a selection of the instincts and elements. Teaching meditation then becomes a process of inviting people to delight in their inner riches.
8. Live fully in both worlds. A meditation guide needs to live in embodied subtle sensitivity, combined with expressiveness - someone who is thriving in meditation and daily life. Then teaching is a song you are singing for the delight of it, a feast you are serving because your garden is overflowing. This is living in both worlds, ubhayatra loka. Ubhayatra (both places) loka (world).
We will spend the weekend delighting in these Eight Competencies. The workshop is a skills lab, in which we alternate a few minutes of theory with many minutes of practice. Throughout, you will get a chance to practice Laghu Hasta - light handedness in practice and teaching.
The English word "meditation" encompasses four limbs of Yoga - pratyahara, dharana, dhyana, and samadhi. Attention flows through these inner asanas spontaneously and naturally when the richness of the senses, instincts and elements are available. A meditation teacher needs to be perceptive and supple to cooperate with life's impulse toward enlightenment.