Umze Training Program
Open at all times, self paced
What is an umze?
Umze is a Tibetan title used in Bön monasteries for the person responsible for guiding group practices. We have adopted this term within Ligmincha International for our practice group leaders. Ligmincha umzes are authorized to lead specific practices, listed below, after completing their training and being certified. Umzes may also be asked to lead these and other practices during teaching retreats led by a lama or instructor. Umzes may need to give instruction at times to people new to the practices, however umzes are not instructors and do not lead retreats, seminars, or workshops in which they teach practices. Umzes may lead practice retreats, in which participants are already familiar with the practices and are simply practicing together for several sessions or days. Umzes also support their groups through organizing appropriate social activities that encourage and support the group.
Historically, umzes have been appointed directly by Tenzin Wangyal Rinpoche based on his knowledge of the sangha and its members needs and knowledge. As Ligmincha grows, Rinpoche has asked that we formalize our training programs to ensure that all umzes have certain core skills and knowledge. Beginning March 1st, 2020, to become an umze a person must be nominated by their national organization’s leadership (usually a Board of Directors or Council) to go through umze training. To be nominated one should have a consistent daily practice and have actively participated in a local sangha’s practices, or been a Host, for at least three years. In countries where there is no national organization, persons seeking to be an umze may submit a request to Ligmincha International stating their qualifications, training and practices, along with a letter of recommendation from a leader, lama, or instructor within Ligmincha.
Existing Umzes are strongly encouraged to enroll in and complete the training program. All umzes, upon successful completion of the study and certification program will be gifted with a meditation shawl blessed by Rinpoche and with a special insignia.
Required Practices for Umze Certification:
Below are the practices for which umzes-in-training must demonstrate competency in order to graduate:
- Guru Yoga, Refuge, Bodhicitta, Dedication Prayers, in Tibetan and your country’s language
- How to create and maintain a shrine
- How to perform a prostration
- 5- or 7- point sitting posture
- 9 Breaths of Purification
- Tsa Lung (external)
- Using the 3 Doors to enter inner refuge
After graduation, all umzes should continue their training and demonstrate competency in leading the following practices within one year:
- 3 Heart Mantras
- Purification through mantra
- Tenzin Wangyal Rinpoche’s Inner Refuge Prayers
- Invocation of Tapihritsa
- 5 Warrior Syllables
If umzes choose, they may go through optional training to be certified to lead the following practices:
- Invocation of Yeshe Walmo
- Sherap Chamma
- 5 Elements
- Trul Khor
- Six Lokas
- Fivefold Teaching of Dawa Gyaltsen
- Sang Chöd
- Sur Chöd
Components of Umze Training
The umze training program combines online learning and one-on-one sessions with an instructor. The first step is to complete the online learning segments, read the four required books, and complete all the necessary quizzes. Then the trainee will demonstrate their ability to lead the required practices to an instructor, who will provide feedback and suggestions for improvement. The instructor will also review the Ligmincha Code of Conduct and discuss how it applies to group leaders. The instructor must certify the skills and knowledge of the umze-in-training for certification.
How long does it take to complete the training? That will vary, and the instruction is self-paced. The online learning segment takes 12-16 hours. There are about 350 pages of required reading. The demonstrations and feedback with a mentor can take a few weeks to several months.
The Ligmincha affiliates, local sanghas, and Ligmincha International cover all costs to the umze training, so there is no cost to the individual.
Following graduation, the umze will continue with their training, demonstrating their competency in leading the second set of practices above during their apprenticeship year. And, the umze will continue to develop their practice and skills through continuing education and personal retreats.
For a one-year period after graduation, umzes will be mentored by an instructor. During this period the new umze should continue their study and demonstrate competency to their mentor in leading the second group of practices listed above. They will meet quarterly with their mentor to discuss successes and challenges. New umzes will provide their mentors with a two-page written summary of their experiences as an umze before each quarterly meeting. New umzes may contact their mentors at any time by email or phone to request their advice. All writing may be done in one’s native language.
In order to maintain certification umzes need to keep abreast of new developments and practices within Ligmincha International, continue to deepen their practice, and improve upon their skills. These continuing commitments are:
- Commit to a daily meditation practice using the methods taught through Ligmincha International and by Tenzin Wangyal Rinpoche.
- Attend one two-day or longer retreat per year with Tenzin Wangyal Rinpoche, one of our Resident Lamas or Senior Western teachers, if possible. If attendance at an in person retreat is not possible, courses may be taken through LigminchaLearning.com to deepen one’s connection to the teachings and practices of Bön.
- Commit to one or more individual retreats per year of at least three to five days.
- Annually reread one or more of the following: Awakening the Sacred Body; Awakening the Luminous Mind; Healing with Form, Energy and Light; Tibetan Sound Healing; Spontaneous Creativity; or The True Source of Healing.
- Maintain a free subscription to the Ligmincha newsletter, Voice of Clear Light; Ligmincha Europe Magazine; or both. To subscribe see: http://ligmincha.org
- Stay in regular communication with the leadership of any affiliated Ligmincha sangha in one’s country.
- Fill out the umze group survey that will be sent by Ligmincha at the end of each calendar year.
- Take time after each teaching retreat one attends to privately go over the practices with the teacher who led the retreat.
- Study and practice the ngöndro. (encouraged but not required)
- Take advantage of online forums on LigminchaLearning.com designed specifically for umzes and instructors to discuss and share experiences and ask questions.
- Participate in at least one continuing education activity for group leaders per year to stay up to date on the latest best practices and organizational developments. Retreats, online courses and webinars designed specifically for hosts, umzes and instructors will be made available for this purpose.
Umzes play an important role in our community. The training and commitments are significant, but there is great satisfaction and merit in learning how to serve others as a leader within a practice group. Individuals interested in becoming an umze should discuss the opportunities with the Ligmincha leadership team in your country. If there is no organization in your country, please use our contact form to reach Ligmincha International.
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