In May 2015 the Gaia House Teacher Council launched a Community Dharma Leaders (CDL) training programme in the UK.
Interest in Insight Meditation and Dharma practice has grown steadily over the three decades since we began running retreats at Gaia House. For a number of years, many local groups have regularly run sitting days and other activities around the country and we have been hearing regularly from many practitioners of their real desire and need for more locally-based support for practice in their daily lives. In response to this we have begun training a number of senior Dharma students to enable them to offer service to their local sangha or community.
Participants are nominated by Gaia House teachers who know them well, and who are confident that they can be of service in the role of leading Dharma practice in their community. The training will support these senior students to share their love and knowledge of the Dharma with new and existing practitioners, in communities (geographic or otherwise) where they are connected and involved in an ongoing way, and to provide facilitation and leadership functions within those sanghas, if needed.
The training includes a broad framework of Dharma study and training for Dharma service, and requires a minimum of 18 months mentoring and participation in at least one residential training week.
Each participant is being mentored by an established Gaia House teacher. When that teacher feels they are ready, the trainee will be encouraged to begin offering some form of introductory meditation courses, as part of completing the requirements for their training and development, under the supervision of that teacher.
On completing the training programme, CDLs will be authorised by the Gaia House Teacher Council to offer basic instruction in meditation and guidance in the Dharma teachings, including classes and day-long retreats, in their locality or community, on a dana basis.
After graduation, we envision that CDLs will continue to have a connection with their mentor, however, the Gaia House Teacher Council will hold overall responsibility for CDLs and will be the point of reference if any concerns arise concerning a participant or graduate of the programme.
We are confident that their service will be a valuable support for ongoing and deepening Dharma practice outside of retreats, and where access to Dharma teachers is limited.
Catherine, Yanai and Jenny,
The CDL organising group, on behalf of the Gaia House Teacher Council