Continuing Ed Committee
by Priya Lori Kenney
Based on a conversation with Rukmini Abbruzzi
Our Continuing Education Committee became necessary due to the expansion of our professional trainings, as well as the fact that many of the teachers that Swami Nirmalananda trained have not had support since 2003. Our Continuing Education Committee came into existence In November of 2011. Their charge is twofold:
- To create a support program for our certified meditation teachers
- To develop standards for certified meditation teachers that will ensure and support the integrity of their teaching.
Members of the Continuing Education Committee include Kamala (Michelle) Gross, Niranjan (Nathan) Matanich, Kirsten Hale, Cayla Allen, Shantadevi (Serene) White, Tanmayee (Theresa) Reynolds and Yogeshwaree (Lissa) Fountain. These sevites are starting from the ground up, to set policies and standards that will work effectively for all our certified meditation teachers, with the committee including teachers who did their training in different years and under the different syllabi (see below).
Our meditation teacher programs include:
MTT (Meditation Teacher Training) — the 10-day training to certify teachers to teach a 3-week Intro to Meditation Course. From 2003-2009, the training featured a “Survey Syllabus,” with the 2011 training featuring a “Mantra Syllabus.” The change came about due to Swamiji’s initiation, so she can now bring the full power of the mantra teachings to us. She says, “I held back in the earlier MTT trainings, because I had not yet been appointed,” while now she is bringing the full depth of grace to these trainings.
MTT Upgrade — this training is for certified meditation teachers who want to upgrade from the Survey Syllabus to the Mantra Syllabus. While the MTT Upgrade bridges the difference between the syllabi, Swamiji wants to reassure teachers that this is not a requirement. She says, “You are already trained and certified, and you teach a wonderful course to your students. This new training in no way invalidates your previous training or certificate.” The depth of the new training is only for those who want it.
MGL (Meditation Group Leader) — this training empowers certified meditation teachers to lead regular meditation groups, drawing on the power of grace that flows through the svaroopavidya tradition, so they in essence set up Ashram “satellites” around the globe.
Leading Short Meditations — this new course prepares certified meditation teachers to lead short meditations for weekend workshops or other groups.
The development of standards supports teachers in their work, as it provides a roadmap and a natural path for development. The committee plans to establish basic standards in the next six months.
Continuing Education Committee: Article 2 - Support for Meditation Teachers
by Maria Sichel
Based on a conversation with Kamala (Michelle) Gross
“When you take a Meditation Teacher Training, you deepen your own experiences, you learn how to speak about those experiences, and how to teach others. It is from this place of understanding— the ability to be inside and outside at the same time,” says Kamala, “that the Continuing Education Committee is grounding their work.”
The Committee, which is charged with the mission of supporting Meditation Teachers and providing Standards for Continuing Education, is putting together the structure and standards that will support existing and future generations of Meditation Teachers.
The Committee, which meets via conference call, has completed four calls so far. They have already developed a pretty good outline at this point.
“The group is working closely with Swami and looking at options,” shares Kamala, who serves as the Chair of the Committee. “I am the group leader, someone to set the tone and keep the conversation going,” Kamala describes.
Support - “We really want everyone to feel included,” explains Kamala. “The committee is putting together a system of support that will be inclusive of Meditation Teachers who have entered into this role at various times, through either Master Yoga or the Ashram.”
Although the ideas from the group are still in the “crock pot” and stewing, Kamala was able to share a few of the ideas that she feels the committee is excited about.
“One of the supports that Swami has proposed for Meditation Teachers is a ‘Question and Answer Forum’,” says Kamala. “This would provide a place to ask questions for Meditation Teachers.”
“Another idea that the committee is excited about is a Meditation Teacher Workshop. This would be a place for all the teachers to come together and share, be with Swami, work on our teaching talks, share about our experiences, deepen our practice and help us become better teachers. It would create community and be fun!”
Standards - The Committee is also looking at Standards for Meditation Teachers. “This will include some kind of Continuing Education program,” says Kamala. “It is nice for teachers to know ahead of time what the criteria is for staying current with their certification.” The Committee is trying to make this as reasonable and inclusive as possible given the diversity of Meditation Teachers and their training and experience.
For example, some teachers have come to Meditation through Master Yoga and teaching Svaroopa® yoga, but in the future teachers may come through Svaroopa® Vidya Ashram and want only to teach Meditation. So the committee is laying the ground work for support and standards for these various options.
Kamala continues, “We are also aware that this is a growing and living tradition. It is important for teachers to stay in the flow of grace. Honoring the teachings and at the same time recognizing that it is a professional organization; we have to have standards that keep everyone from drifting.”
The Committee’s work will continue, resulting in some recommendations to Swami Nirmalananda, who will work with the group to finalize the program. Kamala concludes, “The Committee’s work is all in service of supporting Meditation Teachers to deepen their own experiences and be able to communicate to the world, as well.”