Teaching meditation

The Meditator, modified 9 Years ago at 2/17/13 4:53 AM
Created 9 Years ago at 2/17/13 4:53 AM

Teaching meditation

Posts: 153 Join Date: 5/16/11 Recent Posts
Hi folks

It is a high time I started to teach meditation. I do my meditation Samatha and I would like to teach others. I would like to avoid to do more harm than better. Do you have any suggestion of questions for potential students? Even I am not sure if the questionnaire is enough.

"Questionnaires are now used for Goenka's retreats. He says retreats aren't recommended for people with serious psychiatric disorders as it is unrealistic to expect that Vipassana will cure or alleviate mental problems. Application forms have questions such as, "Do you have, or have you ever had, any mental health problems such as significant depression or anxiety, panic attacks, manic depression, schizophrenia?" There is also a question, "Have you had any previous experience with meditation techniques, therapies, or healing practices?" This particular question allows Goenka to screen out people who practice a spiritual therapy called Reiki. He says there were many cases around the world where mixing Reiki and Vipassana meditation harmed Reiki practitioners to the extent that some of them became mentally imbalanced. Goenka argues that such practices "attempt to alter reality by means of calling on some external force or autosuggestion (such as self-hypnosis). This prevents the practitioner from observing the truth as it is."
But are questionnaires enough? They can hardly screen those people who have undiagnosed psychiatric disorders. They also rely on people telling the truth. People may feel reluctant to fill them out honestly in case they are barred from participating in a retreat. The Icarus Project, a web community supporting those with mental illnesses, regards questionnaires as "arbitrary, intrusive, and discriminatory" and claims that retreat applicants "simply hide their psychiatric history on the application to avoid stigmatization." They also write that people with schizophrenia, borderline personality disorder, or bipolar disorder have not only completed meditation retreats, but discovered that meditation is a valuable recovery tool."

http://www.thehumanist.org/humanist/MaryGarden.html


I will appreciate any comment.
Kind regards
Ivana
Lara D, modified 9 Years ago at 2/17/13 8:56 AM
Created 9 Years ago at 2/17/13 8:56 AM

RE: Teaching meditation

Posts: 54 Join Date: 1/29/13 Recent Posts
You probably won't be able to screen everyone with psychiatric disorders out with a questionnaire. They may not tell the truth or they may not even know especially if they are undiagnosed.

My recommendation would be to conduct an interview process before accepting students. Ask them what they hope to learn or gain from you and gauge from there. If they express sincerity and an eagerness to learn, then that might be all that you need to know. If you want, walk them through the potential pitfalls of practice, how sometimes our "dark stuff" gets dredged up, and how it sometimes gets worse before it gets better. Allowing them to go in with full knowledge and acceptance is probably the best idea.

As with any application process, you'll get the "bad" with the "good". Expect the best, but be prepared for any possibility.
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Joshua, the solitary, modified 9 Years ago at 2/17/13 11:25 AM
Created 9 Years ago at 2/17/13 11:25 AM

RE: Teaching meditation

Posts: 86 Join Date: 9/28/12 Recent Posts
Eastern meditation techniques were never meant to be methods to reduce stress and bring about relaxation.


Beautiful. If only that were more conventionally known we would lose nearly all so-called meditators.

I don't know if it really matters what questions you ask, because you will intuitively see how they are in person and if they are up to it and if they truly desire it.
The Meditator, modified 9 Years ago at 2/18/13 11:43 AM
Created 9 Years ago at 2/18/13 11:43 AM

RE: Teaching meditation

Posts: 153 Join Date: 5/16/11 Recent Posts
Thanks for your replies,
Maybe I should explain more. I suppose I can see if the person got serious problems. I can explain that it could getting worst before better. But they will be always somebody who will try to earn money that he will tell that meditation damaged his health and therefore I would like to have a questionnaire.
Lara D, modified 9 Years ago at 2/18/13 12:24 PM
Created 9 Years ago at 2/18/13 12:24 PM

RE: Teaching meditation

Posts: 54 Join Date: 1/29/13 Recent Posts
The Meditator:
Thanks for your replies,
Maybe I should explain more. I suppose I can see if the person got serious problems. I can explain that it could getting worst before better. But they will be always somebody who will try to earn money that he will tell that meditation damaged his health and therefore I would like to have a questionnaire.

If you are worried about someone taking legal action against you, maybe you should consult with a lawyer. Maybe there is a waiver form that you can have people sign.
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Tommy M, modified 9 Years ago at 2/18/13 6:14 PM
Created 9 Years ago at 2/18/13 6:14 PM

RE: Teaching meditation

Posts: 1199 Join Date: 11/12/10 Recent Posts
Without wanting to sound like I'm questioning your abilities, have you considered whether or not you have the skills, experience and know-how of the ins and outs involved in the techniques you're considering teaching? Giving advice on a website is one thing, taking on students is something else entirely and should be given serious consideration.
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The Xzanth, modified 9 Years ago at 2/18/13 8:16 PM
Created 9 Years ago at 2/18/13 8:16 PM

RE: Teaching meditation

Posts: 71 Join Date: 12/28/12 Recent Posts
I've wondered the same thing (regarding myself). I would only be qualified to instruct until a certain point. I have, as for as I understand, not experienced stream entry yet. I am not sure that I would be able to fruitfully instruct someone further along the path than I. I could coach and encourage but I suspect that coming from a relatively more unbalanced mind even such 'instructing' could be a nuisance.

That being said introducing people to a technique is a feasible option (for me) as long as I make it clear to both my students and myself that I am still just walking the beginning of the path. It would also be necessary to be willing to share my resources with my students.

After stream entry I don't think I would experience the same reticence,
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Dream Walker, modified 9 Years ago at 2/19/13 1:47 AM
Created 9 Years ago at 2/19/13 1:47 AM

RE: Teaching meditation

Posts: 1478 Join Date: 1/18/12 Recent Posts
In mctb Daniel mentions being second path before being considered ready to teach. I believe that was from the burmese teacher he had. You may wish to consider this. emoticon it seems like a high standard but the further you get up the mountain the more you can see and explain.
Be Free Now, modified 9 Years ago at 2/19/13 2:59 AM
Created 9 Years ago at 2/19/13 2:59 AM

RE: Teaching meditation

Posts: 61 Join Date: 2/4/12 Recent Posts
My first spiritual teacher said, "If you want to teach, you aren't ready."
The Meditator, modified 9 Years ago at 2/19/13 1:40 PM
Created 9 Years ago at 2/19/13 1:38 PM

RE: Teaching meditation

Posts: 153 Join Date: 5/16/11 Recent Posts
Thanks for your all your suggestion that it is about a level of my meditation. I want to do my meditation and I have to feed myself. I do not know another way to earn money. I do not want to be a guru in front whom others people bent.
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katy steger,thru11615 with thanks, modified 9 Years ago at 2/19/13 6:16 PM
Created 9 Years ago at 2/19/13 3:02 PM

RE: Teaching meditation

Posts: 1740 Join Date: 10/1/11 Recent Posts
Hi Ivana,

I wish you a lot of good luck and practice. My only thought is about how one becomes more of a target of judgement as a teacher. Just having a meditative practice can make one a target: I hid mine for about two years. While the additional (and unsought) scrutiny pulls up more sincerity, more effort, more challenge, it's sometimes a pain in the derriere just like it is for anyone to be judged closely. A teacher is much more of a target... [edit: I don't teach meditation! And I currently don't teach anything else either.]

I do not know another way to earn money.
I would look closely at this rational.

This, I think, becomes a familiar topic for many practitioners. As such it becomes an area which teachers have to contend with in their students. However you resolve this would show up in students. People very often go to their pastors, rabbis, imams, dharma teachers for practical help with work challenges -- to know the practical application of their spiritual/personal practices. So what you do with yourself here would reflect as in/utility with any students.

Also, taking money for dharma is a huge topic. So when we read about various teachers doing very simple income work --- I think it was Suzuki Roshi (Cuke) that ran a laundry mat at the outset --- and how every tradition teaches its aspirants to avoid debt (spinoza ground glass and refused big payments/invitations I think)... well, it relates to that source-o'-money thing.

Best wishes however you proceed.
The Meditator, modified 9 Years ago at 2/20/13 4:21 AM
Created 9 Years ago at 2/20/13 4:21 AM

RE: Teaching meditation

Posts: 153 Join Date: 5/16/11 Recent Posts
Thanks Katy,
one week ago my friend asked why I do not teach if I want it. I thought about it. I tried to be honest with myself. And all above were my exuses for it.
But there are good point above to talk with a lawyer that I will be sure that everybody will not sue me.

But really I thank you everybody for your reply because I feel they were honest.

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