Meet Angie Bahner, CMT-200, a graduate of the Midwest Alliance for Mindfulness (MAM) 2022 Mindfulness Teacher Training Certification Program (MTT). Like many people who pursue teacher training around a contemplative practice that resonates for them, Angie found her experience transformational. As a full time college professor, she would like to use her training to develop a curriculum that offers possibilities for learning about mindfulness and engaging in practices within the classroom. She said that the MTT provided her “a rich opportunity to practice mindfulness skills and embody attitudes of mindfulness, which allowed me to be present to what my experience was and more wisely attend to myself and my priorities”. Here is a little bit about her journey:
“I recently saw a reel on Instagram that showed a young boy riding a zipline through a forest, and the caption above the video said: “What it’s like to go on a spiritual journey and do the inner work”. The video started with the child screaming bloody murder as he jumped (was pushed) off the platform, followed by him taking some breaths and saying, “oh wow, this is okay…this is okay…okay, this is pretty cool.” This was followed promptly by more screams as he encountered turns and trees on the journey, only yet to be followed up again by laughing wildly with joy and yelling “THIS IS SO EPIC!”.
While this reel was really cute and also very hilarious, it did also ring really true for me as I reflected on my overall mindfulness journey and making conscious decisions and efforts to become part of a community. Other than already existing communities of friends, family, and work spaces, I hadn’t really joined or become part of a new community in many years, and it definitely felt like jumping off a platform a bit. As my mindfulness practice began many many years ago, it was unfamiliar, and little rough, and a sense of the unknown becoming present. And, at the same time, it was exhilarating to discover new practices which ultimately led to new ways of relating to myself and others, and ultimately in new ways of BEING.
Becoming part of the MAM Teacher Training Program felt like this too! There were individual and shared moments of excitement, nervousness and fear, joy, support, exhaustion, frustration, and growth. All of this happened in the context of a training program that truly embodied principles of mindfulness: trusting emergence, non-judgment, patience, trust, beginner’s mind, and non-striving and letting go. The program was structured in such a way that the content being shared allowed then for true experience and practice IN THE MOMENT in a community setting, which at times brought discomfort, like jumping off a platform into the unknown, and also feeling the joy and exhilaration of true growth. It was an absolute honor and privilege to go on this journey with other human beings amidst all the challenges of life that continued to unfold for all of us through our ten months together. And yet, no matter what was happening in our individual lives, we all persevered and kept practicing and showing up to our lives, ourselves, and the community of learning. It was humbling and awe-inspiring.
One of the most transformational elements for me personally during this training was the focus on embodiment. This is something I have often struggled with my whole life, and I definitely experienced the “zipline” of discomfort and joy as I deepened both my intellectual understanding and lived experience of this concept. Learning key aspects of embodiment, as well the common challenges, was very useful and allowed me to explore more fully inhabiting my own body, more often. This changed and deepened my presence in my own practice, and also in many spheres of my life. I am very grateful for that experience.
I would also very much like to take this opportunity to express my gratitude to the teachers at MAM for the time, energy, effort, thoughtfulness, and love in how this program is constructed and offered. I was often blown away by the depth of knowledge and wisdom of the teachers, and also by their humility and vulnerability in sharing the human aspects of mindfulness teaching by sharing some of their own struggles and questions. There was true modeling of mindfulness attitudes and presence throughout the course of the training. I was able to gain a rich and comprehensive knowledge base, with materials to help continue the learning even as the program ends. But more than just knowledge, this was a truly experiential and embodied training program that allowed me as a participant to get to know myself more deeply, to examine deeper layers within my own mindfulness practices, and to experience and learn NEW practices. Ultimately, this facilitated a growing trust in myself as both a lifelong student of mindfulness as well as in my abilities to share these practices with others. The beauty of this is that also facilitates more trust in myself and in my capacity to handle life in the complicated world.”