A LETTER FROM PEMA KHANDRO – AFTER MINDFULNESS
It has been a long time since the beginning of the mindfulness movement began. It was catalyzed by groundbreaking early pioneers. For example, John Kabat-Zinn’s Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction programs in the 70’s and his inspiring book, Full Catastrophe Living, which was published in 1990. So much has changed since then. This was before the internet. It was before the internet became integrated with the fabric of our lives. This was before we were talking about the impacts of orientalism and colonialism in the appropriation of Buddhist traditions. This was before we were collectively thinking through the lens of trauma and addressing the question of why it is that we don’t always feel better when we meditate. This was before we were talking about power structures in teacher-student ethics. This was before the #metoo movement in Buddhism and before the collective awakening to racial trauma. This was before we had collectively woken up to the need for racial healing and diversity skills in the meditation class. These are defining concerns that change what the meditation teacher of the future is. It is why I developed the Meditation Instructor Training, with a deep wish to empower meditation teachers to meet the urgent and pressing contexts of our time.
Some things do remain the same since the beginning of the mindfulness movement. The persistent suffering, the emotional dysregulation that dominates a life, and the sense of disembodiment and alienation that can overshadow a life. The power of meditation to stabilize and heal the body and mind is only more and more evident due to so much research. It is clear to me that, perhaps more than ever, there is a great need for meditation instructors who can serve as a soothing balm in these troubled times. But there are all these new questions that must be cared for in the training of new meditation instructors, or they will be ill equipped and underprepared for the great challenges that await.
I originally initiated the Meditation Instructor Training with the intention in mind that Buddhist philosophy and ethics should be kept intact with meditation. As a scholar of Buddhist philosophy, I have long been impressed at how often people who were exposed to mindfulness training also longed to experience the fuller context of Buddhist philosophy and ethics. The curiosity and appetite for that knowledge is unending and I reimagined the training of the meditation instructor to return to that source material. Going beyond the artificial and ethnocentric construct of a secular/religious binary, imperative questions about the context of meditation loom large for meditators. What is meditation for? What is mind? How do we work with emotions? How is our consciousness conditioned by our values and actions? What is the point of meditation? How do the obstacles to meditation relate to our identity, to our body and to our society? These are just a few of the issues that Buddhist philosophy and ethics weigh in on and why I felt that they must be taught in tact with the meditation methods that were shaped by these very concerns.
When Satya and Aruna joined me as co-teachers of the Meditation Instructor Training, we developed the teaching into an online format to make it more accessible to people with full and demanding lives. I felt like we were standing together to face the challenge of nurturing and supporting the meditation instructors of the future. And that commitment has been expressed thoroughly in our new expanded training format.
Now as we are poised to begin our next cohort of training, I am also proud to celebrate that our training addresses those invisible yet overwhelming factors that sit alongside us on the meditation cushion. We are always doing meditation practice in the context of power, sexuality, race, trauma and technology. This is not just a training in techniques, but instead in the robust array of traditional Buddhist meditation practices in tact with philosophy and ethics along with a deep care for how meditation teaching and practice intersects with issues of power, sexuality, race, trauma and technology. We are training the meditation teachers of the future.
The new beginning of this program is good news in a time when it is so easy to be overwhelmed by all the stories of suffering and sorrow that appear in our news feeds every day. I draw encouragement and relief from this beautiful project of creating empowered meditation instructors. It gives me great relief to know that they will be leaders that bring compassion, care and wisdom to a world that so sorely needs it and to know that they will be prepared and ready to meet the turbulent times ahead.
HELP US CHANGE HOW MEDITATION IS TAUGHT
150 Hour Certification Training
Begins March 26, 2022
Learn how to support others in finding the freedom that comes from being able to control one’s own mind.
As people all over the world turn to Buddhist meditation as a source of wisdom, we recognize the need for meditation teachers that are trained to meet the challenges of the future while remaining deeply connected to the robust philosophy, ethics, and practices of Tibetan Buddhism.
Meditation Instructor Training focuses on five forms of meditation, known as calm abiding meditation – Zhine, in Tibetan. The goal is resting in calm space of presence, to train to rest in the wakeful present moment, which is the only constant thing in life. Circumstances and bodies change, everything changes, but the capacity for wakeful presence remains. This is where we can find home, rest, and know exactly what we are.
LOSAR CELEBRATION FOR MEMBERS THIS FRIDAY!
with Pema Khandro and Wonderful Sangha and Friends
Friday March 4
San Francisco 5:30-7pm
New York 8:30-10pm
London March 5 – 1:30am
Australia March 5 – 12:30pm
Nepal March 5 – 7:15am
All members are welcomed for our annual
Tibetan New Year Celebration – Online!
There is so much to look forward to:
- The Member of the year celebration.
- Celebration of Iron Mice who finished Ngondro last year!
- Celebration of those who finished 108 Chod!
- Conversations about what you learned from the pandemic.
- Celebration of accomplishments of the sangha members.
- Buddhist jokes!
- And so much more!!
Iron Mice, please wear black!
Water Tigers, please wear blue!
Members at large, please wear maroon or red!
If you can dress festively, please do so!
If you forget and wear random clothing, no problem!
Registration for the annual Losar celebration is limited to members only, but it is open to all members, new and long-time members. This is a time for the members from all the various programs to reunite and celebrate together. To find out more about member levels and benefits, or to become a member, visit Become a Member.
A Return to Sanity
with Pema Khandro
Self-Paced Course Online
Open Teaching – No Prerequisites
- Buddhist theories about vegetarian lifestyle vs. meat-eating,
- Buddhist perspectives on alcohol and substance use
- Conscious use of sexual energy, Buddhist philosophy about desire
- Handling resources, money and spirituality
- Honesty, and the speech that takes us beyond confusion.
UPCOMING CALENDAR AT A GLANCE
Monthly Programs at 6pm PT / 9pm ET
Every Day – Daily Meditation with Our New Teachers!
Mar 19 – Resting in Dharma Poetry – 1 Day Retreat with Pema Khandro
Mar 28 – Dakini Day Chod w/Pema Khandro