"How can I help others with mindfulness?"
Mindful.org readers often contact us looking for information and guidance, and we try to answer questions and concerns as best we can. For example, we took this recent email, which seemed emblematic and important, and forwarded it to Diana Winston, the Director of Mindfulness Education at UCLA Semel Institute’s Mindful Awareness Research Center (MARC), for her professional opinion. Diana teaches mindfulness practices to the general public to promote health and well-being. Read her reply below.
I am 62 years old, tired of life without passion. I want to help people cope with the vicissitudes of life and I see endless need for mindfulness teaching and mindful living in hospitals, nursing homes, churches, business... all walks of this stressful world we currently live in. I am a believer in meditation and reconnecting with our true selves. How can I help others learn the mindful techniques and benefits? I need more solid training. I live in Northern Illinois. Where can I inquire as to how I can become a part and play a role in Mindfulness teaching to others? Thank you.
I can certainly understand your desire to bring more meaning into your life and it sounds like you are passionate about mindfulness.
The most important part of sharing mindfulness begins with you. Those of us who share mindfulness need to have a strong personal mindfulness practice. We need to continuously develop it, deepening it through daily meditation practice, study, connecting with others who practice (if that’s possible) and intensive practice forms such as retreat. This is the bottom line. We can’t share mindfulness with others if we’re doing it from an idea or concept about mindfulness, or from a book we’ve read. It must come deeply from within and as we embody it and live it, we teach from an authentic place.
Practically speaking, there are many ways to develop the tools to share mindfulness with others. There are several wonderful training programs out there such as the MBSR professional training program offered by the Center for Mindfulness at the University of Massachusetts. We have a Certificate in Mindfulness Facilitation training, a year-long program here at UCLA, and there are others out there such as programs for learning to teach in schools: The Center for Mindful Inquiry, Mindfulness Education Institute, Mindful Schools, among others.
Do you need to go through a training program to share mindfulness? Certainly people teach on their own once they have a solid personal practice. However, a training program can provide colleagues, mentorship, tools and lots of help and training.
I wish you the best with this!
Jim (and other readers too!): we would also point you to the UMass Center for Mindfulness's "Search MBSR Member in your area." Here you can find MBSR practioners and programs by state and even by country. (Note: the center offers this directory for networking purposes, and they aren't able to vouch for the quality of each individual program. However, only practitioners who have participated in Center for Mindfulness approved training programs are eligible to be included in the directory.)
For more courses, both in-class and online, visit Mindful.org's Resources section.