Each week I am now going to do a Moving Forward segment on my blog. This is where I discuss solution based possibilities towards making certain spaces in the world of wellness, yoga and mediation better in terms of equity, equality, inclusion and in true alignment with what these practices actually are, at their heart.
In this week’s Moving Forward I focus on two things that would greatly benefit the yoga, meditation and wellness world better:
I just got done having a conversation with someone at Insight Timer that I think is important to share and a prime example of what I am talking about.
I am a teacher on the app and a regular user. I love it and yet, I have been hesitant of late to schedule any more live sessions and upload any more of my own meditations.
As a teacher, you sign up, create a profile and can upload content that you have created until your heart’s content. You can also schedule live sessions, where people can join you for a meditation, talk or yoga class via their live stream portal. During the session, people are welcome to donate at any time and click a bell like feature to subscribe to your profile so they are alerted when new content is uploaded.
Here is what I love: there are literally thousands of amazing teachers on this app who have offerings of all kinds, much of it for free. You also have the option to purchase a Member Plus subscription within the app to have an all access pass to any of the classes and content that are more in depth. I currently have one myself (more on that in a moment). That being said, you could certainly never purchase a subscription and still have plenty of content available to you, at any time of the day or night. I am completely for making practices more accessible. I think it’s important that there are generous offerings all over the place to help navigate mental and emotional health through practices like mediation. I am a big fan of that and in truth, I love being able to offer it as an option in the midst of my own paid offerings. I would love to put myself on the Insight Timer app schedule regularly so anyone who can’t do my own subscription services, could drop in and donate if they can that day, but no worries if they cannot. I also am a huge believer in having access to more than one teacher because one huge problem in spiritual practices these days is that we tend to adhere to one person’s perspective, get wrapped up in it and quickly forget that there are so many other rich and valuable practices and teachers out there to explore. Diversifying who we learn from, matters.
However. One of the rules of their community guidelines is that you are not allowed to promote or speak about anything outside of the content that you have on the Insight Timer app. Meaning that I cannot share my website or any of the many other classes, workshops or programs that I am charging for, for anyone who may be interested to purchase. I also have free services, such as this blog that I also cannot promote. Now if I were an employee, or possibly (maybe) even being paid a fee to teach that class in the first place, I might understand this to a degree. Again, maybe. But the mere fact that I am taking my time (remember that’s a resource), energy and content and placing it on their app for their direct benefit, yet whether or not I make any money, depending on how much people donate is completely up in the air. To date I have made a total of $31.29 and I have 10 meditations available and done about six live sessions. I have no idea how many of those people have an actual subscription simply because none of that actually gets put in the pockets of the teacher, or at least a teacher of my level. It’s very possible that there are a lot of teachers who put a lot of time, effort and energy in and do see a big return on their investment. But that is actually an even bigger problem.
When I shared this concern with Insight Timer, the first response was to say that it was based on my performance, sharing content and then increasing the number of followers I have. They suggested that I upload more meditations (more work) and share them on my different social media accounts (more time) to gain more followers and attract more people to use their platform. So I want to be clear about something, when they say it’s based on performance...what they actually mean is my performance of how good I am at social media. Not at my performance as a meditation teacher. One thing I know is that I am a damn good teacher and I think it’s highly unfair to lump the two of those factors in as if they are not two very different things.
I want to be very clear that I am not anti-Insight Timer and my intention is not to take them down. This is not a practice that is unique to them. I can’t tell you how many free classes I have taught for big chain stores or trainings I have attended at studios for entire days worth of time under the guise of getting more “knowledge”. This has been a big and overriding problem in the yoga and wellness world for a very long time where teachers are asked to give of their time and effort generously for some kind of promised promotion or gain that can’t actually be guaranteed.
I want to create a solution. A first step in that is creating awareness specifically around Insight Timer and anyone who uses this app, which I know are a lot of people. It is important that you know that most teachers do not get paid by the app itself, but rather make only what gets donated. To not be able to promote oneself as an independent contractor and teacher, who works insanely hard at making her livelihood feels incredibly wrong. To be asked to work harder to bring people to the app itself and bring in new content for them, with absolutely no guarantee of income and a complete inability to share what other offerings we do have, also feels wrong.
Here are some other solution based things to consider:
I am grateful to She who had the conversation with me today and told me that my concerns will be brought up to the development team. But I am also going to make sure that this truly happens and that a change is considered because I want to be part of a solution that keeps practices accessible for the students and equitable for every teacher who pours their heart and soul into creating good and valuable content because without us, Insight Timer wouldn't be the #1 free app for sleep, anxiety and stress.
For now, I am remaining on the app because this isn't a boycott. I am hoping that the powers that be will simply consider an allowance for more autonomous promotion, transparency and sustainability that will benefit everyone involved. There is more than enough to go around and I believe that if we work together instead of only being out for ourselves, everyone will actually be better off.
Making yoga, meditation and wellness more accessible for all is a must. So is making it sustainable for the teachers who shoulder the bulk of the effort put forth at the benefit of the studio, company and spaces that profit off our work.
Have a thought about this? I welcome your comments below!
For full transparency, I am sharing the conversation I had with She today:
is a Mama, Wife, Yoga and Meditation Teacher, Coach, Writer and Activist. You can read more about her here.