Report Published on August 2022
Topic: A Report on Level 2: Authentic Relationships 2022 KRI Online Program
By Ardaas Singh
KRI ran an online Authentic Relationships Level Two Teacher Training in July 2022. This training was following the one in March, on Mind and Meditation, where we introduced several changes in our pedagogical model. In this July training we made some changes according to the conclusions from the previous one, and here is the report on the results.
Format used in March and proposed changes
The main idea behind the changes we introduced in March is to make the L2 a stepping stone between the L1 where students are well supervised and guided by the trainers in their path to becoming teachers, and the L3 where there are no leaders and the growth happens in the Sanghat consciousness of the peer meetings. With the idea of promoting sanghat consciousness, self-initiation and taking personal responsibility for their maturity, the main changes that we introduced in March were:
- Sadhana was led by the trainers the 1st day, and led by the trainees the following days, according to their working groups (organized by language and time zone to facilitate their meetings).
- Every day of the training was organized as: Sadhana + 6h classes in the main group + 2h compulsory meetings in their small group to do some guided work including the reading/watching of the Yogi Bhajan lecture of the day + discussion of some questions regarding the lecture and the teachings presented that day.
We had excellent feedback from the trainees, which combined with our experience as trainers we came up with several points to modify in the July training. These are the points that we implemented:
- A new L2 training with the same topic was opened specifically for South East Asia, which made it much easier to be mindful of everyone’s time zones.
- We were much more explicit about the specific format of the course, particularly in regards to the small group work meetings. It was stated quite clearly in the website, plus we mentioned it in the welcoming emails as people registered, so as to minimize surprises.
- On the first day we also dedicated more time to explain the idea behind these changes, the motivation towards having much more group work, and give some general guidance on how to conduct these meetings. We talked about the value of seva and community consciousness and we asked them to relate to each other as peers, to not try to “teach” the others, be a healer, or counselor, or try to fix their problems. It’s about sharing and finding wisdom in the process, with no one leader guiding the groups. We encouraged them to take notes of their process, and write down any important realization and/or questions that arose.
- We introduced a new start of the day. We called it a Yogi Tea Session and it was the first half an hour of the day (after Sadhana & breakfast). In these sessions we joined 2-3 working groups with 1 trainer. These sessions served a few purposes. On one hand, it was an opportunity to do a check-in on the trainees to talk about what came up during their working group meetings. Since they were in smaller groups rather than the big group, they felt more at ease to open up and share, even some people who otherwise stay silent during the whole training and we don’t get to hear their voices. On the other hand, it was an opportunity to meet each trainer more personally (we were rotating), which is an important sharing moment that often happens during the breaks and meals in the face-to-face trainings and is somewhat lacking in online ones. The yogi tea session was more like sharing a tea together than an actual teaching time, where the trainer was delivering content.
Similarly to the training in March, the students preferred this model of 6+2 hours, in comparison to the traditional 8 hour altogether in one big group. We have feedback data for 32 of the 40 trainees from the course. In this feedback, 23 trainees preferred this new format of 6+2h, while only 2 trainees preferred the classical of 8h in a big group, and with 7 people preferred to do a mixture of including the Yogi Bhajan lecture in the big group and having only one hour of working group meetings, so 7+1.
Regarding the Yogi Bhajan videos, some trainees felt it was an important part of the course while others expressed feeling it was a “waste of time”. This is a common theme we find in the feedback of these L2 courses, after the Yogi Bhajan allegations. We found that giving them the option to watch the dvd or read the lecture, but to do the meditation together in their working group was the best approach. We received feedback that this way they can prioritize how much discussion they want to have on the lecture.
The small group time was very appreciated by most, with many comments on how important it was for their process, and how they supported each other on delicate matters. Most groups felt the intimacy necessary to open up and be vulnerable, while we noticed in one group, the participants did not find that harmony and did the bare minimum, though with no great drama or conflicts. The training was on relationships after all, so it would be natural that this would arise in their working groups, but overall they seemed to manage it quite well on their own, with just some feedback on our side during the Yogi Tea Sessions (on what we were observing).
Addressing the Yogi Tea sessions, they were undoubtedly the winners in our feedback polls. Everybody loved them, with not a single criticism and much praise. Everybody felt it was a great start of the day and enjoyed feeling closer to the trainers. It was also a good barometer for us to give insight into how they are doing much more personally. We would later meet, the team of trainers, to talk about these sessions and what was shared, and it helped us greatly to adapt the material and deliver it in a much more effective manner. We believe another consequence of this is that the pacing of the training got adapted to the needs of the trainees, and so the feedback we got from them was also that it felt just right for most of them.
One more thing we found very important is that we as trainers reflect the sense of Sanghat we expect them to find in themselves. With that aim in mind, and as a preparation for the training, the team of trainers met every week for an hour during the previous 10 weeks. It was an opportunity to talk about the most important topics of the module, share what we know about them and make sure we are on the same page, come up with new interesting and artistic ideas on how to deliver them, and more importantly to get to know each other and grow as a team. We believe that our closeness and camaraderie could be felt across the screen.
Conclusions and considerations for the next training
We feel that we now have a good working model that does not need many changes. For the next year’s training we will continue with the current format of 6+2 h, great emphasis on small group work, sadhanas guided by the trainees and Yogi Tea Sessions to start the day.
We did observe a few things, though, that we need to consider for next round:
- Online trainings are very heavy on zoom hours. To be in front of the screen for 2 1/2 h of Sadhana, plus 6h of class, plus 2h of peer meetings, can be quite challenging for many trainees. For the next year we need to tell them in advance what to expect, and to inspire and encourage them to be up to the challenge. We cannot reduce it any further in terms of online hours, but we can give them some extra motivation, and possibly include some extra pranayam or short kriya or another practice to help make it easier.
- In this round of level 2 we noticed that some of the trainees really struggled with leading sadhana. We had: japjis pronounced in what seemed a completely different language from Gurmukhi, tuning ins where it didn’t belong, non-aerobic kriyas taught as an aerobic class (changing breathing patterns and other strange modifications), strong physical demanding kriyas with no relaxation afterwards, and so on. It is particularly troubling where for example we had to ask the person leading to include a relaxation and they expressed their utter surprise and clearly not understanding why we needed one. This showed not only a lack of experience in attending sadhana, but even a lack of understanding of the importance of relaxation as a part of a kriya. Talking to the trainees afterwards we even had some tell us they had just never been to a sadhana before. This was frankly shocking to us and we realized that this is an issue that should have been thoroughly covered in level 1, but in any case, since this is level 2 it falls within our responsibility to make sure these basic concepts are understood. For the next training we feel it would be necessary to include some feedback on the day’s sadhana within the schedule. It is going to be difficult to fit it within the already short 6h for class, but we feel it is a necessary addition. We also plan on giving more support materials, like an intro video. We just cannot ignore these shortcomings and hope they get fixed by simply getting more experience teaching.
All in all, we feel we have obtained good feedback and the training was very successful. We will observe and keep in contact with the trainees during the following 90 days and take notes on more ways to improve future trainings.
Just as the last report, we hope the results of this project are of interest to our community of trainers in the ATA. We would love to receive your feedback and to apply it to create an even stronger model and to raise the bar on how to deliver these teachings. So, please do contact us with your ideas on how to improve these trainings.
Many blessings to all.