Making the Leap From In-Person to Online Teaching: Case Study #2

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Today’s case study highlights finding the confidence to teach very body-based work online and insights into marketing as a teacher from one of our happy alums.

TEACHNOW CASE STUDY #2: Erin Geesaman Rabke, Embodied Life Teacher

I’ve been a teacher of one kind or another for 20 years​ so​ I had​ real​ hesitation about joining TeachNow – did I really need this? I’m so glad I took the jump! So many blessings came through the course…

One was I’ve been wanting to teach online but I’ve been a bit terrified about not being in the room with my students because my work is so body-based.​ I was nervous about not being able to respond to people’s energy on the spot, wondering whether they’d understand me when I wasn’t in the room with them.

I got so much great information, encouragement, and specific suggestions from TeachNow to make the leap, and I did it!​ ​I​n addition to my regular teaching schedule, I​ ran two successful ​online ​courses last year and can’t wait to offer more.

My first online course, The Embody Gratitude Project​, I offered right after TeachNow ended​. I would’ve been thrilled if I’d had 20 people registered and I ended up with close to 100 students! ​The same thing happened with my second online course, The Embody Ease e-course. Close to 100 people from many countries joined me. I got great feedback from my first e-course​s​, and besides my thrill,  I was able to make thousands of dollars more money too!

What Jen calls “living in the gap” probably got me off the fence the most. Teaching NOW rather than “waiting until I’m perfect” (a moment, which of course never arrives.) ​I loved what Parker Palmer shared in his interview about the fact that if we really care about teaching, we’ll often feel as if we’re not living up to our standards. It’s inevitable because we care so much. Now, that’s not a problem that stops me anymore, but I can hold the whole delightfully challenging process of teaching with great compassion and a different, humbling understanding…

Hearing Jen and the many other teachers share their own struggles (as well as skills) really gave me such a sense of “we’re in this together.” I got the importance as a teacher to LOVE my students. So much more is possible when people feel seen and loved – we can’t help but blossom. Intimidating tech-details aside, I can totally “Love them!” and I do. And they feel it.

Another part of TeachNow that worked for me was understanding marketing ​not as “selling” but as an opportunity to educate my peeps. When I shared my authentic enthusiasm for how embodied gratitude practice rocks, it worked! People signed up.

Finally, I found the quality of the community Jen gathered to be simply stunning. There was so little of what I’ve found in so many other courses and online forums I’ve participated in… here people weren’t selling themselves, the guest teachers weren’t holding back their best info until we sign up for their program. People shared with such a sense of generosity and respect. ​​I loved being in the community learning environment and learned a lot from classmate’s posts and Jen’s too – she’s very active and giving. As you probably already know, Jen’s presence is such a transmission in itself.  She gives me great courage to show up wholeheartedly in the love of what I’m sharing, the love of my students, and in my own unique ​and quirky ​way. I can’t say enough good about the course and will be highly recommending it to the many teachers (and wanna-be teachers) I know.

Erin Geesaman Rabke
Embodied Life Teacher
Guild Certified Feldenkrais Practitioner
www.bodyhappy.com

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Erin, way to go! Offering not one but two on-line courses, and so quickly! WEEE!

Now over to you: what’s one way you can authentically share your enthusiasm for what you teach with potential students – today!? Get creative and then share what you do on my Facebook page. Let’s get to know each other.

This is such a juicy conversation, thanks for being in it with me!

Love,

Jen

P.S. See you next week for our complimentary kick-off class. To sign up or share this free!ee class with others, just go here.

Change-Maker Interview with Jennifer Louden

Originally posted as one of Marianne Elliot’s Change-maker interview series.

The change-maker I’m interviewing today is the woman who is teaching me what true servant leadership looks like, and showing me that real authenticity has survived the bastardisation of it’s name and is alive and well.

Jen Louden is a teacher, author, leader, change-maker and friend to many women (and men) all over the world. She was already talking about the importance of self-care while I was still running myself ragged and calling it ‘professional commitment’. She’s known to many as the queen of self-care, and she recently launched the Savor and Serve experiment:

“I’m so curious about the sweet spot where our longing to be happy meets our desire to make a difference I’m devoting a year to exploring it. [This is] the Savor and Serve experiment.” – Jen Louden

1. What is it that breaks your heart? And what are you doing about it?

Today, everything is breaking my heart. There are days like that. Today is one of them. More specifically, is injustice and ignorance. I want people to have a chance to be happy and I want people who have it all to see what a responsibility that is  (by have it all I mean running water, good food, safety, a livelihood). Fairness, sharing, making it better are my themes. What I’m doing about it right now is stewing.  Honestly, raising questions and being uncomfortable. Not letting myself or my readers off the hook.

2. What fills you with joy?

Today, everything. The feel of my dog’s fur, the way my daughter holds up her hand to ban me from her room, the ache in my back, writing this, the left over taste of salad in my mouth, the longing to know, to do, to create, the rain splattering against the window for the million day in a row, the sight of my Moleskin notebook filled with notes from a mediation retreat, being connected to you, yoga yesterday, really it all gives me such joy.

3. What do you do to take care of yourself and make sure your work is personally sustainable?

Honestly, I am, once again, deeply struggling with this. I seem to – over and over again – come to this place where I am not sustaining myself because I am caught in stories about why I can’t. Now, I must say that on the surface, I look like the poster child for self-care. I make myself healthy veggie based meals, I practice yoga and meditation a lot, exercise, get hugs, take the evenings and lots of weekends off, have a loving partnership, spend time with my kid, read boatloads, etc. I take care of myself financially. I ask for help. I go to therapy.

AND I had to admit to myself this morning I’M DEPLETED. Again. It’s so friggin embarrassing but there it is.  I’m going to have to go let go of a lot of stuff in the next 6 weeks so I can go into this depletion deeply and see what is there. That is the call. I hate that with all my being but there you have it. Breaking news.

4. This blog is a kind of a watering hole for people, like me, who have always been more focused on saving the world than caring for ourselves. What have you learned so far in the Savor + Serve experiment that you think we should know?

See #3. I have learned that depletion is here, it’s real, and there is a way I am colluding with it. I have to speak about that, experiment with that and be of service there. I have learned that you can run but it stays right with you. I have learned that the more of service you want to be, the more you need to deal with who you really are, what your issues are.  It’s just like teaching! The best teachers show up as who they are and they use teaching to see themselves, warts and beauty and in between, and grapple with that lovingly.

I have also learned, already, that service could be a great place to hide from myself, and that arrogance is a horrible possibility. “Look at me, look at all I can do!”  That makes me nauseous to say but it’s true. Self-care makes you humble or it helps when service has humbled you.

5. I learned so much from you and Michele in the TeachNow course last year about serving others by being nourished myself. How does the Savor + Serve experiment inform TeachNow, and vice versa?

I gave birth to TeachNow, and was lucky to have Michele (ed: that’s Michele over on the right) there to partner with and bring her brilliance too, a few weeks after I saw I wanted to work more directly with service, that I wanted to do more direct service, and support people in waking up to service. So it was my first “How I could do this” move. So many of us can serve through teaching, through igniting and sharing, and we have to do in a sustainable, self-loving way or we give up. Especially if we are teaching within a system or we are self-employed. We need support on so many levels.

Marianne, we all just aim to be fully alive and be of use in the world. I know a big part of my service is to bring self-acceptance and unmitigated joy to others. I also know if I’m not experiencing it myself, um, no go. So off do that!

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I did the TeachNow course with Jen and Michele last year and found it to be deeply nourishing, supportive and activating. In Jen’s own words, it’s a course in:

“How to step up and do your world-saving work… even if it scares you real, real bad.”

 

This is what I had to say about the course last year:

“TeachNow was exactly what I needed right now as a teacher, as a student and as a human being. Jen and Michele bring such honesty, generosity, wisdom and clarity to their teaching. Their insights into the wonderful, winding path towards becoming a fully embodied teacher, combined with the practical tools they shared, have nourished me and supported me to take the next steps along my own teaching path. This course was everything I had hoped it would be, and more. Thank you. I’ll be back for more!”

What exactly is the TeachNow program?

We will be talking a lot more about teaching in our next session of TeachNow, which will open for enrollment on March 19th.

Want to see what it’s all about? Join me for a free sampler class on March 19th at 5pm PT/8pm ET. You’ll learn 7 immediately useful teaching tips + get two free guides, including A Quick and Fab Guide to Content Creation – no more content creation overwhelm!

Sign up for the call right here.

 

My Creative Life: Jennifer Louden

This interview was originally published on MyCreativeLife.com by Susannah Conway.

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Have you met Jen Louden? She’s the best-selling author of six books, a teacher, retreat leader and all-round powerhouse of kindness and honesty. Jen beams such wonderful energy into the world and you only have to watch one of her videos to know she does everything with integrity and care (which is why i love her so.) Last year I signed up for her fantastic TeachNow* class and I’ll be doing it again this month – as my path as a teacher grows and expands, learning from Jen and Michelle was exactly what I needed — highly recommended!

So with that said, please welcome the luminous Jen Louden to the stand…

SC: Did you always know you’d teach and write? How did this path begin for you, Jen?

JL: If you ask my family, they would say I’ve been telling people what to do since I started talking – maybe before. I’m fairly insufferable.

I’m passionate about helping and I’m over-the-moon passionate about creating. Besides love, it’s what makes life worth living for me.

So I always knew I would create but not how or what. It’s been difficult – and most days still is – to find the right form. I was drawn to art, photography and film-making as a kid but truly, I sucked, even though I made it through USC film school. That is where I discovered writing, and from there, teaching. So that’s where I play these days!

SC: Could you describe a typical day?

JL: Snuggle with the sweetheart. Snuggle with sweetheart and the little doodle dogs.

Drink some healthy stuff (E3Live and kefir) then off to my studio for asana and meditation and chanting – 5 days a week, not usually on the weekends, like to be a goof off then.

Then quick email check in because there are often little emergencies to deal with. Black tea with stevia, more water, and work until I take Lilly, my 16 year old, to school. I use that as a break to get off the computer and into creative work when I get back – but sometimes, okay, often, I cheat and have to peel myself off Twitter and email an hour later.  I spend the day writing, teaching, creating content for my Savor & Serve Cafe, banging my head up against the wall, telling people about my work, and not getting out in the world enough.

Exercise happens somewhere in there most days – I suffer immediately if I don’t move my body. I’m usually cooked by 4 and need a long break, then do email again in the evening after dinner.

Evenings are mostly about helping with homework and reading!

SC: How do you prepare yourself before leading a retreat? I imagine they must take a lot out of you!

JL: What takes a lot out of me is trying to be someone I’m not. Truly, when I can settle in to being utterly myself and not think I’m supposed to be wise or know it all, I have a blast.

I’m about to lead a new retreat at Kripalu, Stepping into the Shero’s Journey, and that is going to require some real digging and research. I always always start with me on the couch in the studio with my journal. What do I know that I want to share? What stories do I have?

Then I start thinking about who do I want to interview? What books do I want to revisit?

Then I start writing bits down on post it notes and looking for a flow. I think in modules – so I might teach Conditions of Enoughness (lecture) then an exercise (so people can get it) then a way to “dump their baskets” or share what they’ve learned. I also consider different learning styles – it’s so easy as a teacher to fall into teaching the way you like to learn and forget there are other learning styles, like visual learners or auditory or kinesthetic.

I also spend time in meditation blessing the women who are coming and asking what they need, and then I’m sure to rest rest rest the day before~

SC: I’m so inspired by your new Savor & Serve Experiment! Could you share with us what inspired this new direction?

JL: Longing. Longing to make a more direct difference. Longing to face into the fact our planet is in deep shit and we all need to find our way to help. Longing to know my life matters. Longing to be fully engaged in what I’m doing. Longing to say to the women who have followed me for years, “Self-care is essential but so is world care. We must do both. We can do both!” But since I have no idea how to do both, especially the save the world part, I made it an experiment.

SC: What one thing could we do right now to savor our lives more?

JL: Stop trying to change anything about this very moment. Stop judging anything about this very moment. Stop thinking that you will do this when you are done with whatever you are thinking you will do next. Do it now. (I just did.)

Second thing to do – breath directly into your heart. Right now. Feel the longing to be intimate with yourself and life. Feel how overwhelming and tender that longing is and rest there. Even for 2 seconds.

SC: What and who inspires you? Please share some hot links 🙂

JL: You do! [Susannah Conway] You are so talented and full of beauty. I took Unravelling just to watch your videos. My daughter (she’s 16) inspires me – she’s doesn’t bend to peer pressure. Amazing. Desiree Adaway is a new friend who inspires me. Jody Williams, who won the Nobel Peace Prize for her work on banning land mines, blows me away. Pema Chodron, because she’s like me but way smarter and more enlightened. My friend Elizabeth Lesser in this TED talk Take the Other to Lunch. My sweetheart Bob, who works hard for the planet everyday.

SC: What is the message you want to share with the world? (In other words, what do you consider to be your life’s work?)

JL: Be kind to yourself and share that kindness with the world – and – it really is possible to be whole and at peace – yes, really, and thus it really is possible to change the world.

SC: What are you working on next?

JL: Besides my Savor & Serve Experiment, this month I’m leading TeachNow again with Michele Lisenbury Christensen. It’s all about how to teach with more ease and joy, and it’s also about finding your voice and your power, and sharing it. It’s about changing the world through sharing what you love – and doing that in a way that brings you alive. It includes 6 recorded classes, 5 live integration calls, work sheets, homework, videos, guided meditations, and something like 28+ master teacher interviews with people like Sharon Salzburg, Parker Palmer, Mark Nepo, Cheri Huber, Meg Wheatley, Elizabeth Lesser – really great stuff.

The program starts March 24th with a free class on where you are on the teacher’s path, how to give yourself the full permission you need to teach, and lots more. It’s not a sales spiel, it’s the actual first class. The people who took it last time – 120 – loved it and many had been teaching for years, and some had never taught. And people actually used the materials, and did the work – love that!

SC: You’re having a dinner party and can invite six famous people from the past or present – who would you choose and why?

JL:
Buddha – I want transmission!
Jesus – What do you think of Christianity?
Hildegard of Bingen – So what’s it like to be so creative?
Homer – How the heck did you remember those epics?
Cleopatra – Teach me some strategy, baby.

Okay, weird but I’d be happy at that party. But then again, I’m happy at most any party, especially one with you, Susannah. Thanks for inviting me to yours!

* * * * *

Isn’t she awesome? Thank you for sharing your wisdom with us today, Jen!

What exactly is the TeachNow program?

We will be talking a lot more about teaching in our next session of TeachNow, which will open for enrollment on March 19th.

Want to see what it’s all about? Join me for a free sampler class on March 19th at 5pm PT/8pm ET. You’ll learn 7 immediately useful teaching tips + get two free guides, including A Quick and Fab Guide to Content Creation – no more content creation overwhelm!

Sign up for the call right here.

 

Tara Sophia Mohr interviews Jen Louden for The Huffington Post

This article was originally published in The Huffington Post by Tara Mohr.

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Jennifer Louden is one of my favorite personal growth teachers. The best-selling author of six books, Jen’s work is soulful, courageous, and wise. Recently, Jen has embarked on an important new project that she calls the Savor and Serve experiment. Savor and Serve is an exploration into how we can dedicate ourselves to serving the world while also savoring life.

One of the ways she’s working on this mission of supporting others in service is through TeachNow, an online course she co-created with Michele Lisenbury Christensen. TeachNow is about teaching — but not just for professional educators. It’s about how all of us can claim our role as teachers more fully and more confidently, and share our knowledge with those who need it.

I recently interviewed Jen, and we discussed why we need teachers now more than ever, how we can overcome self-doubt in our teaching, what qualifies us as “ready to teach,” and much more.

When we hear the word “teacher,” many of us think of professional, full-time educators — like kindergarten teachers or the high school math teachers. You embrace a much more expansive definition. Who do you include in the tribe of teachers?

JL: My friend and co-creator of TeachNow, Michele Lisenbury Christensen came up with this great definition: ‘A teacher is anybody who shares ideas, energy, information with others for the sake of serving.’ I love love love this.

The obvious truth is the rate of complexity and change in our lives is requiring us to be students far more than even before — as in daily. Therefore, life is also calling many of us to be teachers — to share what we have learned, and are learning.

When you add the need to change the world, if we’re going to get to hang around as a species, you really see the call to teach. If you know how to make good compost or grow veggies in your front yard or get along with people who are ‘different,’ I need to learn from you. Or if you know how to use Facebook, I need to learn from you.

It’s vital that we have a new vision of teaching and learning, one that knows no boundaries and is deeply connected with our hearts as well as our minds.

I’m so struck by your insight that we need to learn more than ever before, and that there is therefore a unique need for teaching during our era. So many of us feel called to teach something — but we let self-doubt and insecurity get the best of us. How can we overcome that and actually start teaching?

JL: Accept that you will never know everything about your subject or everything your students need to know. Embrace the words “I don’t know” as your favorite.

Consider that the conversation that arises with your students, the space where you come together, is where the real learning happens. Concentrate on being someone who can be in that conversation, show up honestly, and share what you know without attachment to your students getting it.

Accept that you will very rarely teach the way or what you imagine — this is the creative gap we all have to live in. You see yourself sharing your information so perfectly… and then you teach… and things never go the way you planned. That simple gap can make people think, ‘I’m not ready.’ Not so!

Instead, have mercy with yourself, and then look for simple ways to close the gap but don’t think that means it won’t happen again! It will, just in other places or ways.

Finally, no one else can give you permission to teach but yourself. No one. I’ve worked with people who have been ordained by spiritual masters, people who have multiple Ph.D’s, people who can spout all the Latin names of plants, and they still don’t think they are ready to teach. They weren’t until they accepted the responsibility to teach, and gave themselves the inner authority. You can’t wait for someone else to tap you on the shoulder. Even if they do, you won’t believe them. It is, once again, like all else in life, an inside job.

Your concept of “the gap” is so powerful — that our job as teachers is not to get it all right but to be willing to stand in the gap between who we are as teachers and who we aspire to be. Can you say more about “the gap?”

JL: I said a little bit before and I’ll add what the wonderful teacher of teachers Parker Palmer says in The Courage to Teach, ‘…the courage to teach is the courage to keep one’s heart open in those very moments when the heart is asked to hold more than it is able so that the teacher and students and subject can be woven into the fabric of community that learning, and living, requires.’

The gap for me is keeping my heart open… how I do and how I don’t. For example, I could be teaching a retreat and become afraid that people aren’t going to get what they need. I can, in the moment, that’s the key, go into trying to control the teaching experience to ‘produce’ those results (gag) or I can stop, breathe, ground my body, and open my heart to the students, look at them, and see what they need, either by asking them or simply checking in myself, ‘What needs to be offered now?’

That is being in the gap. It’s about experiencing the groundlessness of the teaching moment instead of hiding in self-doubt or hardening yourself by being a know-it-all or sticking to your material. It’s terrifying and so wonderful.

So if we are called to teach even when we aren’t the teachers we want to be yet, when teaching feels groundless and even scary, how can an aspiring teacher know if they are ready to teach?

JL: Do you find yourself teaching in line at the bank, at parties, in conversation with your best friend? Do you find yourself looping around learning yet one more thing about your subject because you can’t help yourself? Do you have a hard, or impossible, time not sharing what you know? Good signs.

Can you put yourself in your students’ shoes with their concerns and fears? All students are afraid to fail, to look dumb, to not know. Can you create an environment where they feel a bit less, or a lot less, afraid? That is the most crucial frame for teaching — no learning can happen without that. If you are too afraid of what you don’t know to do that, you aren’t ready.

Will you regret not sharing what you know if you died tomorrow? If the answer is yes, then what else do you feel you need to know to get started? Hint: probably nothing. Make a list of what you feel you need to know to get started, and then share it with a friend. Does he or she agree?

Finally, do you know enough to do no harm? Are you teaching something that, without proper grounding, context, or support, could hurt people or foster ignorance? Most people who fall into this category would either not ask, ‘Am I ready?’ nor read this last section, so you are probably okay, but ask yourself anyway.

Mostly, “ready” is an inner state of self-trust and not an absence of doubt or fear. Remember that.

You also speak a lot about one’s “lineage” as a teacher. “Lineage” was a word I never thought much about until I hear you speaking about it. In your view, what is included in a teacher’s lineage, and how should we be using that lineage?

JL: People who have a spiritual or intellectual tradition see themselves as having a line of teachers behind them whom they are learning from, leaning on. In many Buddhist traditions, for example, that lineage is unbroken. Your teacher had a teacher who had a teacher… It gives you a real sense of something to stand upon — you aren’t in it alone.

Since I don’t teach a particular tradition, I always thought I didn’t have a lineage. That made me feel very flimsy. But when we taught TeachNow, we played with an exercise for everybody to find their lineage — who have they learned from, been shaped by, depended upon? That was so empowering for me.

When you see whose shoulders you stand on, and you allow yourself to humbly acknowledge that you did not spring fully formed as a teacher from thin air or that you have to hide your influences because you are not worthy, you gain tremendous dignity and strength as a teacher. It’s also a wonderful place to receive inspiration — you can have imaginary conversations about what your teachers would have you teach or how; problem solve; ask for blessings. You can get ideas for additional learning experiences. You feel loved.

You are a beloved teacher and retreat leader. What are a few of the tools or ideas that have most helped you as a teacher?

JL: I don’t think of myself as beloved, more like just another bozo on the bus, to quote activist and clown Wavy Gravy, who is driven to share what she learns.

That is why my biggest teaching tool is creating safety. I’m afraid too of being a bozo, but I am so I want everybody else to feel safe being a bozo! Permission is my biggest gift as a teacher, based on acceptance of my very flawed humanity.

Another one is giving people things to do. I am a big wiggle worm and cannot stand to sit still. One year at the writer’s retreat I lead, some of the gals lampooned me and it was hysterical to watch how often I fidgeted. I include movement and body-based learning. Now that makes some people super uncomfortable and it doesn’t always work, and sometimes, it’s the most powerful thing that happens in an entire retreat.

Last vital tool for me: long ago, a friend in Santa Barbara saw me speak and told me afterwards how useful it was if people had a chance to share their takeaways, how they were affected. I had been afraid to do that because I was afraid of being connected to the audience, vulnerable, and also that there were not any takeaways! She helped me learn that it’s essential that students get to give back to the teacher in some way, to close the loop. It’s not a sign of arrogance on our part as in, ‘Tell me how you love me!’ but as a way for participants to grasp their learning and to reflect their gratitude.

Why did you want to create the TeachNow course?

JL: Three reasons: a dear friend was finally accepting the call to teach. I saw him as one of my teachers and I was amazed he didn’t see himself that way. So I thought, ‘How many people like him need help to step into teaching’ I do so love to help.

Then there is the essential truth I spent far too much of the last 20 years suffering as teacher. Thinking I was alone in my suffering and not knowing there was help available. I wanted to draw some of that help together, and give people permission to link their inner life their teaching life, because that is where the juice is — not in technique. Finally, I know teaching can help save the world — from how to cook greens, to how to protest big US banks, to how to parent. So I’m all for helping teachers teach!

Jennifer Louden is a best-selling author and the creator of the Savor and Serve experiment. Check out her website to learn more about her TeachNow course.

What exactly is the TeachNow program?

We will be talking a lot more about teaching in our next session of TeachNow, which will open for enrollment on March 19th.

Want to see what it’s all about? Join me for a free sampler class on March 19th at 5pm PT/8pm ET. You’ll learn 7 immediately useful teaching tips + get two free guides, including A Quick and Fab Guide to Content Creation – no more content creation overwhelm!

Sign up for the call right here.