Skillset to teach Mindfulness
People are more aware of Mindfulness than ever before, possibly as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic. There has also been a sharp interest from people seeking to teach mindfulness in an outdoor setting, as an add-on to their existing service-user provision.
What’s alarming is the lack of awareness from these people who seem to believe they just need a few pointers, a few scripts and that’s all they need for teaching mindfulness. I hope this post explains the issues to be aware of.
It’s quite usual that people who attend Mindfulness sessions, taught by a qualified teacher, are either referred by a clinician or are self-referred. The Mindfulness teacher, prior to the start of the session(s), will require pre-disclosure of any psychological or emotional issues and go to some length to ensure there are no contra-indications.
If people attend Mindfulness sessions within a less clinical ‘lifestyle’ setting, e.g. a Forest School for Adults and the teacher does not carry out in-depth interviews prior to the session(s), the Practitioner is effectively working ‘blind’ and therein lies potential issues.
What’s your skill-set?
Although you might think the needs of a non-clinical group are going to be less demanding than a more formal clinical groups, that isn’t the case. All non-clinical really means is that the participants have not pre-disclosed clinical needs. That’s not to say they don’t wish to, but maybe they don’t know they have clinical needs.
It’s not uncommon for psychological or emotional issues to resurface for participants during Mindfulness meditation exercises, even for those attending who feel they have no real ‘issues’ to deal with.
Actually, teaching in non-clinical or lifestyle settings can be more demanding than teaching in a clinical environment. So, those wanting to deliver mindfulness based activities to service-users need to consider their own skill-set carefully in relation to what mindfulness based activities they ask people to engage with as part of their provision.
Simple sensory activities such as inviting people to slow down to notice sounds they hear in nature is one thing, but inviting people to engage with scripted meditations to encourage them to connect more deeply with nature and themselves is something else entirely
Wellbeing in Nature courses
Training designed to suit your needs
Support and signposting
Service-user sessions that involve delivery of formal meditations should be led by a qualified Mindfulness teacher and/or Counsellor with relevant experience.
Anyone leading mindfulness sessions needs to be aware of issues that can arise for service-users. They also need to be knowledgeable and confident in appropriately supporting people and in relation to signposting.
Particularly, as a result of the Pandemic, there are many traumatised people seeking solace. People who perhaps haven’t admitted to themselves that perhaps formal counselling would be the best way forward. Maybe they can’t access, or can’t afford a counsellor? Maybe they want to pursue an ‘alternative’ way to help ease their suffering.
Pursuing nature based pathways to wellbeing are becoming increasingly sought after. Engaging with some kind of mindfulness in an outdoor session is often seen as a way to dip a toe into mindfulness to see if it ‘works’.
It’s natural for unqualified people to seek to include mindfulness-themed content if there’s a market for it. However, dismissing the need to be responsible is irresponsible.
Please be strongly advised, you should not consider delivering Mindfulness sessions if you are not appropriately qualified to do so.
Mindfulness in Nature
In my opinion, pursuing Mindfulness in Nature shouldn’t involve scripted meditations at all. Sessions should be more about encouraging people to explore why we as humans have such a deep seated affinity with the natural world.
In itself, learning about and engaging with nature provides a simple way to practice being in the present moment – a very mindful activity. Guiding people to slow down and really connect with nature, noticing far more than they might usually do, is harder than you might think. But, it is in the slowing down and the noticing that delivers the mindful experiences, linked to cultivating greater awareness of the benefits of practicing being fully in the present moment.
These types of activities help people experience a sense of connection to their evolutionary past, when co-existing with nature was more of an integral part of day to day life. Generally, when people really connect with nature they feel it delivers a soothing balm to their senses. They feel ‘at home’, can find it easier to regulate emotions and experience other wellbeing related benefits. Such activities can be labelled Mindfulness in Nature
The Mindfulness in Nature course we run aims to inform you to make sound judgements in relation to adults or children being invited to engage with mindfulness activities in an outdoor setting.
The training will deepen your understanding about Mindfulness in general and hopefully, in the future, you may decide to go on and qualify as a Mindfulness Teacher, something I can thoroughly recommend.
I hope this post has helped explain why, before you offer mindfulness, in any form, to your service-users, you need to learn to walk the walk before you start to talk the talk, to ensure you do no harm.