2015 M4 Teacher Training Graduates

We are proud to celebrate our 10th anniversary of Teacher Training and welcome our 2015 cohort of mindfulness teachers who completed the M4 training requirements in the first full 3-day training retreat. Congratulations to all and we look forward to an on-going sharing in your insights and great work! Many thanks as well to our coach teachers, Brittany Glynn, Lakshmi Sundaram, Sheila Robertson, and Jessie Bossé.

 

2015 TTR Group

Mindfulness training retreat with Mark Coleman & Mary Elliott at UoToronto

Mastering Mindfulness – Personally and Professionally with Mark Coleman

Fall Training October 20-24th 2014 (8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.)

Hart House, University of Toronto

This multi tiered mindfulness training program explores mindfulness theory, practice and teacher development. It is intended for those working in healthcare and while it is suitable for those working in any healthcare setting, it was designed to be particularly suitable for those working with the medically ill. Part 1 is for healthcare professionals wishing to use mindfulness for their own well being, deepen their own mindfulness practice; enhance therapeutic presence and communication with patients; and those wanting to begin to utilize mindfulness based techniques with clients. For those wanting to move on to teaching mindfulness-based groups and introduce mindfulness techniques to patients, it provides the foundational base for the Part 2 and 3 (Spring and Fall 2015) of the course which provides more in – depth training on how to teach mindfulness techniques and practices.

Objectives: Part 1 – Practitioner Training – Foundations of Teaching

  • To deepen the practitioner’s understanding of the ways in which mindfulness intervention can enhance health care; including healthcare provider self care, improved presence and communication with patients and as an intervention to improve both personal and patient well-being.
  • Through experiential learning methods participants will deepen their personal practice of mindfulness, learn how to cultivate awareness, train attention, and understand how mindfulness supports presence, compassion and resiliency in every aspect of life.
  • Participants will explore the benefit of enhanced presence and its impact on self, patient interaction and the hospital environment.
  • Attendees will have a better understanding of the foundational roots of mindfulness practices.

Faculty

Mark Coleman MA is the founder of the Mindfulness Institute and a senior teacher at Spirit Rock Meditation Center, California. He teaches mindfulness workshops, courses, and retreats internationally, including trainings for Proctor & Gamble, Gap, Facebook, US Bank, Google, Prana and for UC Berkeley and UCSF University. He is a trainer at Search Inside Yourself Leadership Institute (SIYLI) developed at Google. He holds a Masters degree in Clinical Psychology. Mark is the author of Awake in the Wild : Mindfulness in Nature as a Path of Self-Discovery and Poems from the Wild (www.awakeinthewild.com). He is the co-creator Mindful Healthcare: C.P.R. (Compassion, Presences and Resilience) Training for Health Providers.

Mary Elliott, MD, FRCP (C), has worked as a consulting psychiatrist and psychotherapist at Princess Margaret Cancer Centre, University Health Network, University of Toronto for the past 25 years. She now runs the Mindful Healthcare program at Princess Margaret. She is the co-creator of Mindful Healthcare: C.P.R. (Compassion, Presences and Resilience) Training for Health Providers.

Part 1 – Practitioner Training – Foundations of Teaching

Cost: $500.00. Scholarships available. Generous support from the Corrigan Family Fund.

Optional Part 2 – Teacher Training –

Foundations in Teaching Spring 2015 with mentorship opportunities for those enrolling in Part 2.

To register contact: sherene.tay@uhn.ca

Or call 416-946-2897

Credible Teachers of Mindfulness: How can you know?

Mindfulness-Based programs have become the go-to treatment around the world and their popularity has made treatment more accessible in many ways. Despite the popularity or maybe because of it, several articles have argued against mindfulness because it  (1) seems to be the fix-it for many ills, (2) doesn’t stay true to its Buddhist roots and (3) understates its “dark side”. There is concern that mindfulness therapies and programs are often sold as much better than the traditional methods of treating depression, anxiety, and other psychological disorders. Such concerns were supported when a recent study showed that statistically mindfulness-based therapies (MBTs) have a moderate effect when studied in comparison with wait-list controls and when participants are compared to their pre-post scores. More than that, MBTs are not better than traditional cognitive behavioural therapy or pharmacological treatments. The deepest concern however relates to the qualifications of those who teach mindfulness as more and more programs are offered by individuals and groups with little or no training in mindfulness concepts and approaches.

Elisha Goldstein, writing for the magazine Mindfulness, re-stated some of these issues that constitute a “mindfulness backlash” in his recent blog post which claimed that there is little evidence for a backlash. What stands out in his discussion about the issues facing programs that offer mindfulness is the emphasis on trusting that “skilled mindfulness teachers” will neither over-sell the treatment scope and that “credible teachers” will walk participants through their misunderstanding of what is mindfulness. Goldstein goes on to say – even more emphatically – that it is important to seek out teachers who are well-trained. He adds a link to finding qualified teachers via the Center for Mindfulness at the University of Massachusetts, the birthplace of Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR).

What is left unsaid however is that the focus of all discussions and debates of mindfulness programs are anchored in the original one, Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR). This particular program was developed by Jon Kabat-Zinn and the acronym has taken on an iconic status much like the terms Xerox or Kleenex. When most professionals discuss mindfulness programs they are typically referring to MBSR unless it is clear from the outset that the topic is related to Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT). This assumption leads to confusion because MBSR, while being the original, is not the only mindfulness treatment program.

Does it matter? Absolutely. While most programs have a similar format (8-10 weeks, groups, meditation and yoga, etc.), significant aspects of the program will differ. Even more than that, the type of training and confirmation of skills of the teacher will differ considerably. And since Goldstein makes a very good point that we need to find credible teachers, it is important to note that not all qualified mindfulness teachers will have been trained in MBSR itself.

Recently, the Center for Mindfulness at the University of Massachusetts (CFM-UMass; the home base for MBSR and training of MBSR teachers) announced a format of teacher training that includes training those who will train teachers. While it’s perfectly understandable that CFM-UMass has taken a firm stand in cultivating MBSR teachers, this move is not without its detractors. However, it will filter those who have been teaching without full training at CFM-UMass and passing their programs off as MBSR. Nevertheless, this raises a difficult issue for those who have been trained in approaches that are not MBSR but which are legitimate approaches; the cachet of the term MBSR now takes on a more serious tone because many identify it as THE treatment program and may be confused by others.

That being the case, it is important to know that there are a number of other training centres that train teachers for mindfulness programs.

The M4 Program, Ottawa Mindfulness Clinic. The M4 (includes Mindfulness-Based Symptom Management; MBSM) training is in-depth and takes as long as a year. It requires applicants to have a clear rationale for wanting the training and expects a high level of participation. They attend the 8-week program as participants and do twice the expected formal and informal practices. They must attend a silent retreat in the year of their training. Current research and topics in mindfulness treatments are researched especially in their area of interest of specialization. They attend a training in the specifics of the delivering the program and in cultivating teacher qualities. Before teaching the M4 potential teachers must teach under supervision (qualification level) and then teach for 3 sessions with senior teachers in the clinic for Certification.

MBSR, University of Massachusetts, Center for Mindfulness. This is the original MBSR program and the training is extensive.

MBCT, The Centre for Mindfulness Studies. The training in MBCT is offered through various forms of study and teacher development. This program is supported by the Factor-Inwentash Faculty of Social Work (University of Toronto) which offers a certificate in MBCT.

MiCBT, Mindfulness integrated Cognitive Behaviour Therapy. An approach to mindfulness that weaves together Western psychology with Eastern principles of mindfulness. Training is comprehensive and a graduate diploma is offered for teachers.

Applied Mindfulness Meditation, Faculty of Social Work, University of Toronto. This program offers what is likely one of the most extensive trainings in mindfulness, meditation, and all its attendant components.

Training in the UK. This website lists various programs that train mindfulness teachers, including MBCT teachers. Rebecca Crane and her colleagues at Bangor University have also developed a teaching assessment protocol for the cultivation of mindfulness teachers which is a gold standard for any teacher who is dedicated to cultivating their skills.

Mindful Self-Compassion, Center for Mindful Self-Compassion. Developed by Christopher Germer and Kristin Neff, Mindful Self-Compassion (MSC) has developed a following in the last year as the teacher training becomes more available globally.

UCSD Mindfulness-Based Professional Training Institute. For training in various mindfulness-based programs such as Mindfulness-Based Relapse Prevention, Mindful Eating, etc.

Institute for Meditation and Psychotherapy offers a certificate program in mindfulness and psychotherapy. The founding practitioners include Paul Fulton, Christopher Germer, Ronald Siegel, Trudy Goodman – all well-regarded in the field of meditation and clinical psychology.

If you intend to take a mindfulness program, ask the sticky questions. It’s your health and your wellbeing. Be informed. The program may not be MBSR. And it may be something valid and well-supported in its own right.

 

2014 Teacher Training Graduates

Graduates of M4 Teacher Training - Foundational Level

Graduates of M4 Teacher Training – Foundational Level

 

Please welcome our new graduates of the Ottawa Mindfulness Clinic M4 Program Teacher Training (Level I – Foundations of Mindfulness).

It was an amazing weekend filled with flooded out rental rooms and air conditioners that struggled with the heat! This weekend retreat capped the participants hard work that, in some cases, took a year of study and practice. These graduates have completed the 8-week M4 program, researched and reviewed the current issues in mindfulness treatments, attended silent retreats, and developed practice in the program fundamentals of a mindfulness program. In this retreat, they will have practiced the essentials of a mindfulness program including incorporating ethics into a mindfulness curriculum.

A deep bow of gratitude to our senior teachers (Level II – Certified) who helped with the training.

 

An Ethical Path to Compassionate Community: The fire in the heart of mindfulness

(This is a transcript of talk given at the inaugural meeting of Mindfulness Ottawa, Ottawa ON 2012 November 21.  The preliminary section on “laying down the path by walking” has been excluded.)

Let me share here what we have distilled out of 10 years of our path – what Zen teacher Suzuki Roshi calls “one continuous mistake.”

 

 

 

Mindfulness-Based Interventions are composed of three components:

1 – Contemplative practices, in particular sitting, walking, lying down meditations;

2 –Buddhist insight that experience can be perceived in this moment through our six senses, is knowable, and constructed or an emergent property of a myriad of sensations[1]; and

3 – Western psychological theories that propose experiential avoidance is the root of our psychological difficulties.

These three components underlie the various forms of Mindfulness-Based Interventions (MBIs).  Specific programming may hold one or the other of these components in the foreground but that’s a reflection of the individual intent of the program.  This model is not just about what we do in teaching mindfulness skills; it is also about who we are. Furthermore, it applies to us as individual teachers of mindfulness practices and – most important – as an evolving community of practitioners.  

First, to evolve from our complex history and emerge as beings open to intimate connections, we – as teachers of mindfulness – are called upon to cultivate a contemplative life, engaging in practices that steady us in the face of personal and professional challenges.

Second, to co-create a community that is supportive and compassionate, we need to examine our experience and relinquish our perceptions that we are separate from one another.  We need to begin to see ourselves as emergent properties of an innumerable set of interactions.  This, more than anything else, calls forth the practice of sila or ethics.  It is not a call for moral constraints or moral code but of a considered approach to what brings us mutual care and encouragement.  I’ll expand on that in a moment.

Third, we are not immune to our own tendencies to experiential avoidance.  As health care providers, we have both personal and professional agendas that set our intentions when we teach.  We have our fears of disappointing, not meeting expectations, feeling insecure. 

We slide into adaptations when we are uncertain of the impact of what we are doing.  And, this is our work: to face our own nature and be intimate with it.  To bring best practice to our work, we begin by reaching deep into our professional training – whatever that may be – and stepping out from there.  We remember – the meaning of sati or mindfulness – that our love for this mindful path arises from our passion for what we already do for others.

Now, let me return to ethics, the fire in the heart of mindfulness:

Laying down the path to community is a challenging one.  Laying down the path to a compassionate community can be both challenging and threatening to many who may see it as mushy tree-hugging. 

In Buddhist philosophy, ethics is made up of compassionate action, discerning livelihood, and compassionate communication.  However, in a market economy, it is a challenge to turn away from our survival-derived impulses to competitiveness, ownership, and exclusion. Continue reading