Isabell Britsch is a YCTT graduate yoga and meditation teacher. She leads the Yogacampus 100hour Meditation Teacher Training program with Graham Burns, and next week kicks off the new year with her course 'Cultivating presence: foundational principles of meditation', for newcomers to meditation, as a livestream at The Life Centre Online.
Isabell, tell us about your course?
A long time ago I found my way to meditation. I actually found meditation before I found yoga, on retreats that I would go away and do from time to time. In between those retreats I didn't practice regularly, and what I try to teach on this course is what I would teach my younger self, about developing a daily meditation practice and staying with your spiritual work consistently, over time. I'll tell you more about it in four parts - the what, the why, the how and the who.
Firstly, I help participants on this course to understand what meditation is and what it isn't. We bust the myths together, and clarify how simple it can be to start practicing the art of meditation. We highlight all the limiting factors that exist in our beliefs and ideas about meditation, and diffuse them so we can begin our practice in our everyday life. People often believe that you have to sit on the floor, that you must have a straight back, that your mind must be completely still and calm or you're just not good enough to start trying... and none of that is true. We simply begin to open up the process of noticing and awareness, and go from there.
Secondly, we look at different approaches and different ways of starting out. We realise that we can start anytime, anywhere, and we examine what that means for our practice and how we might begin. We start to listen to sounds, rather than thoughts, and we reframe what we usually see as distractions as perfect portals through which we can start meditating. We see that the entrypoint is always now, with whatever that contains, and that there can be many anchor points to support our practice. Finally we look at the impact on our life of being able to meditate anywhere.
Then we deepen the process by looking at why we should meditate - given the plethora of other activities pulling on our attention like watching Netflix. A lot of people have tried meditation and then lost their way with it. Distractions can be everywhere. Some people have tried it and failed many many times, or experienced issues with leg or back pain. Many people cite boredom as their chief reason for not continuing. We look into each of these things and ask what is our relationship with them - what is our relationship to boredom, for instance... and we unwrap the mystery of meditation from there.
This course is for anyone who is curious about meditation - not just absolute beginners but anyone who falls into the aforementioned categories. A lot of people dabble and they dabble for a long time - this course is for dabblers who want to go through that inflection point and become committed meditators! Typically people are lacking in a structure through which they can understand meditation, which means no solid foundation upon which to build a consistent practice - this course gives them that solid base. Maybe people also come to the course who have a yoga practice and want more, or are experiencing ill health, or have loved ones who are unwell. Others have a simple curiosity about how this ancient spiritual practice can help them. All are welcome.