Awake in the Wild Teacher Training in North America

January – October 2023

The Awake in the Wild Teacher Training is an apprenticeship training in guiding contemplative nature practice, inspired by wisdom teachings from the Buddhist tradition, by Mark Coleman’s book Awake in the Wild (AITW) and by the wilderness retreats led by Mark for more than two decades across the Americas. Nature meditation brings mindful awareness practices into the outdoors as a support for presence, connection, and insight. Mark is excited to share this cherished work with a group of dedicated nature meditation practitioners that will give them tools to begin to share similar practices with others.

The Awake in the Wild Teacher Training is for people who care deeply about the earth, who have a strong Dharma / meditation practice and who take that contemplative presence into the outdoors. Equally important, it is for those who feel called to take people deep into nature with a spirit of reverence and contemplation.

This program will have four residential retreats with Mark in California, the western states or Mexico. There will also be monthly online tutorials, personal nature-based work and a teaching practicum.

The 2023 Awake in the Wild Teacher Training program will run from January through October 2023.

Awake in the Wild Teacher Training Informational Zoom Session

Click on the image to watch the informational session that originally ran live on Zoom on May 11th. Here Mark talks about the Awake in the Wild Teacher Training and answers questions.

“I joined the first AITW Teacher Training because I appreciated Mark as a teacher and I already had, what I felt was, a deep connection to nature. I wanted to help others use nature to support them in their lives. But, through the experience of the AITW training, I found this training has really connected me to nature and to all living things on this earth more than all my years of backpacking and hiking in nature had done. I found the experience to be profound in how it expanded my relationship to the earth and how I share that relationship with others. I would recommend AITW Teacher Training to anyone with a love for both nature and Mindfulness.”

Christine Lustik, graduate of the AitW Teacher Training

“The Awake in the Wild Teacher Training has been a great way to deepen my practice and connection to nature. It has become a way of being that influences not only my professional life but my life.”

Dorthe Djernis, graduate of the AitW Teacher Training

“I use these practices to help my own students cultivate mindful connection to the Earth and to find their own meaningful place in the natural world.

This practice has taught me to look more closely at flowers, listen more attentively to the chirping of birds and insects, feel the subtle touch of the wind on my skin, and feel more vibrantly alive in each moment.”

Topher Stephens, graduate of the AitW Teacher Training

Awake in the Wild Teacher Training Course Overview

Awake in the Wild Teacher Training Course Details

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This in-depth apprenticeship training in nature-based mindful contemplative practice trains you to:

  • Skillfully teach guided mindfulness in nature practices
  • Prepare for the unique challenges in facilitating meditation programs in nature
  • Create and facilitate immersive nature meditation programs
  • Teach Awake in the Wild classes, daylong and weekend programs

This one year training includes:

  • Four week-long, immersive study retreats in nature
  • Monthly online tutorials
  • A rich collegial learning community of peers
  • Studying mindfulness-based nature meditation
  • Practice teaching nature-based meditations
  • Mentoring and supervision with Mark and faculty
Mark Coleman Teaching

The Awake in the Wild Teacher Training will be organized under an apprenticeship model. This means that Mark will be sharing his heart and soul’s knowledge of nature-based meditation as a way to inspire your own creativity and nature-based work. Upon successful completion of the course, you may teach nature-based meditation practices and we encourage you to be creatively inspired by Mark’s practices and content.

If, after gaining experience teaching nature-based meditation workshops and courses, you would like to become a certified AITW facilitator, you are encouraged to apply for authorization that may require apprenticing with Mark.

As you can see, this is a different model than a typical teacher training and we feel it will best support the work to thrive – based on creative empowerment and learning by apprenticing.

This training will take place over one year including 4 Awake in the Wild immersion retreats. It will include:

  • Multiple immersions in the Awake in the Wild experience
  • Orientation to teaching foundational and in-depth nature-based meditation practices
  • Applications of contemplative practice in the wild to daily life
  • Nuts and bolts of organizing and holding a nature meditation course
  • Exploring the key elements of a AITW course which includes cultivating the areas of silence, meditation, community, wilderness awareness, inquiry, mindfulness and love
  • Learning how to teach nature-based practices in multiple formats
  • Understanding issues of diversity and cultural sensitivity to different populations
  • Integrate issues relating to the climate / ecological crisis in the context from a mindfulness and compassionate perspective


  • This is not a Wilderness Guide Training (all AITW retreats are accompanied by a certified wilderness guide)
  • This is not a mindfulness teacher training. (Applicants are expected to have a pre-existing thorough understanding of mindfulness meditation and preferably have had some experience in teaching/facilitation)
  • To teach AITW intensive silent retreats longer than a weekend, this requires individual approval from Mark. Apprenticeship for this is available on an individual basis with Mark post-graduation

Minimum three years regular meditation practice (mindfulness based)
One silent mindfulness / meditation retreats of 5-7 days or longer
Extensive experience being in nature

Mark Coleman Teaching

There will be 4 week-long teaching retreats throughout the year of the training. These retreats are where you will receive the bulk of your training from Mark and where Mark will be preparing you for the next phase of the training.

These retreats will take place in locations in the U.S. and Mexico. They may involve tent camping or staying in rustic cabins or lodges.

January 16 – 22, 2023
Baja Mountains of Mexico
Options for Casitas/Cabins or Camping

April 10 – 16, 2023
Pilot Hill, CA

July 10 – 16, 2023
The retreat dates and location for this training retreat are yet to be finalized.

October 2 – 8, 2023
Ward, CO
Lodge or Camping

Tuition is $6,250, which does not include the costs associated with each retreat. The retreats will cost roughly $350-750 each, depending on location and your choice of accommodations–tent camping will be less expensive than cabin choices–excluding travel costs.

Monthly payment plans are available. If you think you might be in need a custom payment plan, please visit the FAQ section below to see options.

FAQs about the Awake in the Wild Teacher Training

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In general the time requirements increase as the training progresses and you move closer to holding your own Awake in the Wild retreat for your practicum.

You can divide up the year into three segments, each one bookended by the week-long intensive trainings. These retreats are where you will receive the bulk of your training from Mark and where Mark will be preparing you for the next phase of the training. Though we do record sections of the training by audio and video for you to review afterward, missing even one will severely hamper your learning process. You are expected to attend every one.

After the retreats, there will be one-hour online group meetings with Mark each month to discuss teaching topics and for the group to ask questions. You’ll be encouraged to meet with your fellow student-teachers–both through the trainings’ member-only website and directly–to discuss homework assignments and issues that come up in your own teaching: a support group that will hopefully last much longer than the training. As for those homework assignments, below is a general timeline of the homework assignments to help you better gauge the workload.

Book Readings

Retreat 1 – Intensive Training Week – January 2023

Between Retreats – January – April 2023
Online Meetings Once a Month (1 hour)
Book Reading
Group Meetings (Number and Amount in Hands of Your Group)

Retreat 2 – Intensive Training Week – April 2023

Between Retreats – April 2023 – July 2023
Online Meetings Once a Month (1 hour)
Book Reading
Short Meditation Video
Group Meetings (Number and Amount in Hands of Your Group)

Retreat 3 – Intensive Training Week – July 2023

Between Retreats – July 2023 – October 2023
Online Meetings Once a Month (1 hour)
Practicum and Teaching Video (of you doing your practicum – roughly 10 minutes of teaching a meditation topic followed by a 5 minute Q&A)
Two Essays

Retreat 4 – Intensive Training Week and Graduation – October 2023

The total tuition cost is $6,250. This does not include travel, books, supplies or the lodging and food costs of the four training retreats, which will be roughly $300-750 each on average (the higher end of that scale is for single accommodations in a cabin).

The retreat payment costs are due within two weeks of the conclusion of each retreat.

Payment plans are available.

If the original payment schedule is a financial burden, we can extend your payment plan as described below.

Option 1:

A $1,000 non-refundable deposit is required to reserve your place in the course. Then, $700 will be due a month after your deposit. Starting the month after your $700 payment, a monthly payment of $650 will be due every month for the next 7 months. As a sign of your commitment to the training, instead of sending a check every month, you would send in your installment payments as postdated checks when you send in your deposit. The checks will be deposited as they become payable.

You may also pay by credit card or PayPal, but you will be charged a 3.2% or 4% respectively processing fee for each installment payment.

If this payment plan would not work within your budget, you do have another option.

Option 2:

For those with greater financial need, Mark asks that you submit two – three paragraphs describing your financial situation. Along with this statement you should also submit a payment plan proposal of your own that will work within your budget. Mark will review your statement and proposal with your application to evaluate whether it is acceptable.

Photo by Chad Madden

You will be camping during the majority of the retreats, either in tents or simple cabins. Below is a list of recommended items, particularly for the first retreat.

On your head:
wool hat
baseball cap, sun hat, or visor

On the top:
2 polypropylene shirts
3 t-shirts
fleece or down jacket
warm sweater for the cold nights

On the bottom:
2 nylon long pants
warm pants or thermal layer for evenings / mornings

On your feet:
2 pair wool socks
2 pair socks
hiking boots
shoes for wearing in camp

For camping:
floor tarp for tent
sleeping bag
sleeping pad / thermarest
camping pillow – can be found at camp stores

For meditation:
Zafu or thermarest back jack  (that your thermarest fits into – that’s what I use and its very comfortable)

Important Miscellaneous Items
small day pack for carrying lunch, water, etc. during day hikes
personal toiletries (toothbrush, toothpaste, lip balm, etc.)
bio-degradable soap
flashlight – headlamp is ideal
cup, silverware, bowl & plate
small towel
sun block
water bottle
journal / pens
bug spray / repellent
spare batteries for headlamp

personal snacks – bars / trail mix etc.
personal teas
any special dietary foods you may need​

The costs for the retreat are to cover the rental of the location, food, supplies and any provided lodging. Since the retreats will be at different locations and we are uncertain how many people will be in the training, plus some locations allow for different types of accommodations (for example, single room, double room, or camping), the retreat costs are estimated to begin with, roughly in the $350-750 range.

Photo by Charles Black

After you have completed the training, you will be invited to affiliate with Awake in the Wild, much like you would do with any professional or medical association. Affiliation will allow you to network with other graduates of the training and include 4 online group meetings with Mark to help you continue expanding your practice and ask questions that may have come up in your teachings. You will also be offered the opportunity to enroll in online and in-person alumni retreats. The cost of affiliation is currently $150.

The apprenticeship with Mark Coleman lasts from 1-2 years, depending on how often you would be able to assist with Mark’s retreats, and is by invitation upon completion of the Awake in the Wild Teacher Training. It is an unpaid apprenticeship, but you would gain a wealth of knowledge as you assist Mark.

Depending on the retreat locations, there would be the travel and potentially some lodging costs associated with the retreats you would be apprenticing on. There would be no other fees involved.

Remaining Questions?

Email Jen at

To Apply

The application asks specifics on your meditation practice, your retreat experiences, your teaching experiences, and your intentions in taking the training.

The application period for the 2023 North American-Based Awake in the Wild Teacher Training is now closed. To learn about the 2023-2034 Awake in the Wild Teacher Training based in Europe, click here.

The next North American-Based Awake in the Wild Teacher Training based in North America will start in the fall of 2024. The application period for this training will open up in the spring of 2023.

“When we attune to nature with sensitivity, we can see just how connected we are. We are always in relationship; we just rarely notice it. From this perspective, everything on this earth, from the spring rains that provide fresh drinking water to the warmth of the sun, is an open-hearted, generous offering.”

Mark Coleman, from Awake in the Wild: Mindfulness in Nature as a Path of Self-Discovery

“In my own life, the combination of mindfulness and time in the wilderness has greatly increased my capacity for joy. Awareness practices taught me how to pay attention and how to wake up to the beautiful world around me. Practicing mindfulness outdoors has exposed me to a deep well of abundant happiness. It is this joy that has inspired me to lead others into the wilderness. It is too much to keep all to myself, and it feels natural to share the joy and blessings of nature.”

Mark Coleman, from Awake in the Wild: Mindfulness in Nature as a Path of Self-Discovery

“Nature is a nurturing environment in which we can begin to open up to emotions that have long been repressed. The spaciousness and openness we feel when we look at the ocean or walk in the mountains can give us a larger container to hold any difficult inner experience.”

Mark Coleman, from Awake in the Wild: Mindfulness in Nature as a Path of Self-Discovery

“Oscillating our attention between our inner feelings and the outward tranquility of the natural world can prevent us from becoming so overwhelmed by our emotions, and support us in staying balanced even in the midst of great difficulty.”

Mark Coleman, from Awake in the Wild: Mindfulness in Nature as a Path of Self-Discovery

“Opening our awareness to the natural world can bring us a balanced perspective between life’s agonies and its ecstasies. When we turn our attention to the beauty of the wild, both outside and inside ourselves, even in the midst of city life, the core of our being comes alive with joy and vitality.”

Mark Coleman, from Awake in the Wild: Mindfulness in Nature as a Path of Self-Discovery