When Devon and I first started doing online meditation coaching a couple years ago, we set up a model where people paid a flat rate. We've always worked on an implicit scholarship assumption - anyone who couldn't afford the rate would get the rate they could afford.
And it went like this for a while.
Then Devon started teaching at Spirit Rock and Insight Meditation Society. And once she started teaching there, students started asking her for coaching sessions. SR and IMS run on a donation model (you pay for your room and board, then offer donation to the teachers). So it seemed logical to offer coaching on a donation basis to those students who had come through the SR/IMS pipeline.
So at that point we were running two different models.
1. Flat rate with scholarship option.
Then we noticed something: It feels a lot better to offer coaching by donation. And so eventually we moved all our coaching to the donation model.
Why's that feel better?
Well, maybe it's because we've stepped out of a transactional space.
In a transactional space - which is, of course, the bedrock of our global economy - you receive a service and you pay a set price for that service. The market dictates the price. Or, put another way, people charge the most they can and then go buy the stuff they want.
In terms of the mindfulness movement, what that means is that people who are the most credentialed, or have published the most books, or have put the most money into advertising, get the most money.
Nothing wrong with that, necessarily. It's just how the market works. Mindfulness has been commodified. And there's no going back.
Or is there?
This is an honest question we're asking: Is it possible step out of the transactional space and simply offer meditation instruction? Will we be able to pay rent and buy health care? Groceries are really important to us.
And, taking it one step further, could we step out of the transactional space when we offer workshops?
How would that even work?
We don't know. It might not work. But I think we're committed to the experiment. And we'd love to hear from any of you who have found ways to offer meditation - or anything else - in ways that feel fully in line with your values.
All the best,