Teaching Mindfulness - a few problems
Posted on 21st September 2018 at 12:04
One of the most common mistakes I find in mindfulness teaching is that of teachers giving too much information. On our courses we always say early on that this course is not about information. As a way of saying this I often illustrate this with the use of a vinyl LP record.
I would rather be a vinyl LP than a digital download
I hold up a vinyl LP and ask people if they know what this is. They all do, even the younger students. I ask them what happens when they put the needle onto the record. Some say it crackles, which is true. However, my point is that nothing happens for a few seconds, there is a pause, a gap, just silence. This happens several times between the tracks, there is a pause, then the next track plays. Then we turn over the record and the same thing happens. There is music, then there is a pause. I remember when CDs came out in the 1980s. I remember thinking to myself that the gaps and pauses between the tracks were shorter. However, I didn’t think I was onto anything significant at the time.
Now we have digital music, so what does this mean? We have music without gaps and pauses, we have music without silence between the tracks. Each track goes straight into the next one without a break, like tumbling dominoes. This, I point out represents another change. What I mean is that most of our lives are similar, we live without pauses, we live without silence. Our lives are filled up with activity and our minds are filled with thoughts and ideas, and as a culture we are paying the price.
I point out to our students that this course is going to be more like a vinyl LP record than a digital download. We are going to have pauses and silence - I will say more about theses beautiful and transformative qualities later.
I will not, no matter how much it is expected of me fill my students heads full of words and information. This is not what mindfulness is about. We do of course have to give information but the information we give, needs to make a difference to their lives, it needs to be digestible and not lead them into more mind games and intellectualisation. I would rather give a little information and for that information to have an impact rather than just give lots of facts and unhelpful ideas.
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