Awakening Joy

Teacher Training - Description


James Introduces the Teacher Training Program

Letter from James as to Why He is Offering a Training

Dear Friends,

If you’re looking for a way to make a positive contribution in these challenging times, I want to let you know about the Awakening Joy Teacher Training I’ll be offering again this year. 

If you’ve already taken the course and think you might enjoy sharing it with others, consider applying to the training. I think that you will find the process fulfilling, as you develop or hone your skills to share practices that will make a difference in people’s lives. 

The teacher training is one of the most rewarding things that I’ve ever done. There are now Awakening Joy Teachers sharing the material with others in Australia, Ireland, Canada, Brazil, UK, Germany, France, Israel and the US on their own (with certification) and having their own income streams. Check out the graduates' testimonials and view the list of Certified Awakening Joy Teachers.

The AJ certified teachers write to me about how rewarding it is to lead their own classes and share the material.  Recently an AJ Teacher in Ireland, who’s in the middle of running it as a 10-week course,  wrote: 

Just in from week 8 of Awakening Joy with the current group…It’s been a great experience so far. They are really experiencing the benefits and I’m so happy for them…a number were experiencing significant life challenges…It’s just so wonderful to go in every Monday night and to see and feel the difference – it really does feel so joyful. Every Monday evening is a bright spot in the darkening winter. 

If you successfully complete the training you will too will become a certified Awakening Joy Instructor. You will be authorized to use and share the materials with others (giving credit to Awakening Joy and James), lead groups, classes and daylong workshops. Exceptions are engaging in public outreach online or through social media that would in some way compete with my offering of the course, including not putting the full course online. (It's fine to offer the program through online participation, if people have their own personal list or private group.)  You will be allowed to use the Awakening Joy brand and you will be authorized to charge or not charge for taking people through the course.

There are several reasons I am encouraging others to share this material:

  1. After many decades of teaching, I can attest to the adage that those who teach learn the material best of all. As you deepen your familiarity with the principles they will become embodied understanding and will be expressed through you in a more refined and different way than when you take the course as a participant.
  1. As I say in the chapter on intention, when we widen our intention in the spirit of contribution to others there is a greater experience of joy. Martin Seligman notes in his book, Authentic Happiness, that the greatest happiness comes from contributing to the welfare of others.
  1. I see this course as more than just a nice thing to share with friends. At this time in our world we need as much consciousness and goodness as we can create. A good friend of mine, a leader in the environmental movement once told me that these teachings of consciousness are the key to human beings developing a lifesaving relationship to the planet.
  1. As it is said in some wisdom teachings, sharing consciousness with like-minded friends is the greatest support for our own development.
  1. What better way to develop more joy, happiness and fulfillment than to share these principles with friends, relatives and others?
  1. I strongly believe in the rippling effect of passing on goodness. Those who will be on the receiving end of your sharing will also be passing those principles on to everyone they meet. Goodness is contagious. And the way I see it the more consciousness we create in the world the more it just keeps getting passed on.

I’m very happy to share this material with quality and qualified people. I love helping to bring out the best in others. It’s been one of my favorite parts of all the teaching I’ve done over the years. I created two programs at Spirit Rock that have shown me the power of believing in others. The Community Dharma Leaders program (CDL) has developed hundreds of leaders sharing the principles that we teach at Spirit Rock with communities all over the world. I also created and wrote the guidelines for the Kalyana Mitta (KM) or Spiritual Friends Network, which spawned hundreds of small peer-led groups. The thought that in leading this training I can help create a network of leaders who can support many more people in cultivating greater joy and consciousness in the world using the AJ materials brings me great happiness. Thank you for your interest.

May you be happy,
James Baraz


Elements of the Awakening Joy Training Program

1 - Principles of Presenting Material Effectively

We’ll explore pedagogical elements regarding skillful presentation of the 10 Steps including:

  • Creating a safe, supportive space that allows participants to get in touch with their own wisdom
  • How to lead guided meditations
  • Setting up engaging experiential exercises for each step and harvesting the information
  • Salient information: The basic principles within each step and the most important points to communicate.

 2 - Teaching Role – Issues of Identification and Projection

There are common challenges when in a leadership role. We’ll explore these common experiences and how to work skillfully with them as our own practice.

  • Identification with the teacher role:
    Can be negative
     - “Who am I to be sharing this stuff? Am I good enough? Will they like me? What if they find out I’m not an expert?”
    Can be positive - “Wow, look at me, leading this group! I’m pretty good at this! They must really think I’m an expert! It feels really great to have everyone looking up to me!”

  • Projection from others can be challenging too:
    Negative - “Who do you think you are?” Feelings of jealousy, resentment or subtle/overt undermining can occur.
    Positive - “I think I’ve found my teacher! Wow, you’re amazing!”

 3 - How to Bring Out the Best in Others

One the main principles of being a good leader is learning how to draw out the wisdom of the group participants. Some people are introverted, others are extroverted. Some have low self-esteem, others think they know it all. We’ll explore how to instill confidence, humility and create a connected feeling of group support.

 4 - Mentorship by James

Trainees will participate in regular 90-minute video calls conducted throughout the course every other week. You will meet with James and other trainees discussing the art of teaching and presenting the material, discussing the process of leading a group and presenting the course material and questions as they come up.

Regular video calls with accepted trainees will take place from 1300 to 1430 (1:00 PM to 2:30 PM) California time (GMT/UTC-8) every other Monday, starting January 22, 2024 and ending June 17, 2024.

You can find the full Trainee Conference Call Schedule on the left side menu.)

Time Conversion Tool - Convert any time and geographic indicator to your location.

 5 - Small Group Peer Community of Trainees

As part of the training you will be encouraged to participate in a small peer group as you go through the training with others. Through mutual support you can learn from each other. More information on Peer Group formation will be presented during the intial phase of the training in February.

 6 -Sharing the Training with a Practice Partner

You’ll be encouraged to share your experience with another person in the training. That way you can support each other, learn from each other and give each other feedback as to what is working or not working in your sharing of the materials. You will be able to find a Practice Partner either through Peer Group formation or through the conference calls with James.

 7 - Supportive Material

We will provide other material such as pictures, quotes, poems and other information to support you in giving engaging presentations.

 8 - Authorization

If, in the opinion of Awakening Joy, it appears that you have not met our requirements and standards you will not be guaranteed certification. In order to be certified by James and Awakening Joy to share this material you must complete the following:

  • Demonstrate that you’ve successfully led a group through the course and the materials. Ideally, your group would be formed and ready to begin with everyone by the course starting date at the end of January. However if that is not possible, your group should be formed by March 1. There may be exceptions on a case by case basis if, for example, you cannot start teaching with a prison group because of restrictions by the institution.
  • Submit a final paper on your experience in leading the group including what you’ve learned, the highlights and challenges you’ve had and how you intend to apply the training.

  • Along with your own evaluation of the teacher training, you will be asked to submit feedback from the group members at the end of the course. The group members' feedback survey will ask about their overall experience being in your group, what they’ve learned / benefited from, as well as the challenges they experienced being in the group. Group Members will be asked to evaluate you as a leader.

 9 - Cost of the Training

The fee for the training is $600. In addition to training support, as outlined above, this will entitle you to access all same course materials that all course participants in your practicum group will receive as they go through the course. In other words, the $600 includes enrollment in the 2024 course.


Information about the Groups You Will Practice Teaching

Forming the Group You Will Practice Teaching

The best way to learn how to share the Awakening Joy principles and practices is first hand experience. In order to get this practical experience as part of the training, you will be expected to lead a group and go through the AJ material together with them.

Ideally, your group would be formed and ready to begin with everyone by the course starting date at the end of January. However if that is not possible, your group should be formed by March 1 (unless otherwise given permission by James). Your group will be a bit behind the rest of us but will still benefit from being on the trainee calls and mentor pods as you lead the group through the material. Those  not able to have a group by March 1st can lead their groups at a later time not in sync with the course participants. Those starting their groups late still welcome to attend at all training and mentor calls to benefit from hearing other trainees' experience. 

There are a few different possible ways to form a group:

  1. Forming a Group with Friends
    The simplest and perhaps most fun method is to invite friends, relatives and/or colleagues from your circle to go through the material together. You already have a bond of friendship and trust. Supporting each other in more well-being will deepen that connection. You will likely be more able to be just yourself and not have thoughts of needing to prove anything to anybody. You will also be more easily able to ask for and hear feedback as to what works and what doesn’t in your leading the group. The best way to develop your skills is getting honest, kind feedback.

    Members of your group can sign up to take the course and receive the materials online with everyone. We suggest they can sign up for the group rate of $249. However, as is the policy for the course, we don’t want finances to get in the way of participation. If someone wants to be in your group and budget is a consideration they can offer a lower amount that can work for them by emailing

  2. Forming a Group through an Organization You Know
    Many people have shared the material with a group they’re associated with. If you are a member of a church they might appreciate being part of your Awakening Joy group. This has been a common venue for many groups. Senior Centers or Retirement communities have also had leaders come in and share the material with great success.

    You might consider sharing the material with other groups that could benefit from and appreciate your generosity. As I mention in the Introduction to the paperback edition of Awakening Joy, a number of people have led groups for prison inmates with great success. If you choose to lead a group like that, the members will not have online access to the material and obviously won’t be able to sign up for the course, see the class recordings or receive the other online materials. But I would be delighted if you led such a group. If you share the materials with other underserved communities, that would be most welcome. These groups, of course, would have any course fees waived.

  3. Leading a Group of Current Online Course Participants
    Course participants in the 2024 course will have the opportunity to join a group led by people who, like you, have signed up to get trained to share the material. If you do not wish to form your own group from the above options, you can post your group in the Trainee Led Groups document. Share any relevant information about yourself, what motivates you and what your vision is for leading a group. People can get a sense of who you are and sign up to be a member of your cyberspace group. I’ve led small groups online and they can be very effective. When your group is filled you can simply inform Admin. I suggest groups be no more than seven or eight members, including yourself.

    ***Note that success finding group this 3rd way can be iffy, as it depends on current course enrollees willingness to participate.

 Policies and Expectations for the Group You Will Practice Teaching

  1. Members of your group will be expected to participate with a genuine commitment to do the program to the best of their ability. They will be asked to show up for the group meetings, unless some emergency prevents them from doing so. Mutual commitment makes for a strong group where people are really supporting each other.

  2. Group members will be asked to give an evaluation of the group at the end of the course so you can learn and we can feel confident in your ability to skillfully lead groups.

Still interested?

Fill out the Teacher Training Application on the Thinkific platform.