In July 2006 Pauline McKinnon, Founding Director of the Stillness Meditation Therapy Centre, raised the issues of registration and recognition of meditation teachers with a State Member of Parliament who was interested, but emphatic that government would not support various disparate meditation organisations. It was strongly recommended that a national meditation association be established to demonstrate professionalism, ethics and quality in meditation instruction, and to oversee the creation of appropriate regulations governing recognised meditation teachers.
To take these ideas further, Pauline met with Dr Craig Hassed (Monash University) whose interest lead to a subsequent meeting with Dr Ian Gawler (Founder of the Gawler Foundation) and Prof Rob Moodie (then of VicHealth). At this point, having formed a group of enthusiastic and like-minded individuals around Pauline’s brainchild, an initial Steering Committee was formed. Further meetings explored the feasibility, aims and structure of developing such an organisation. The original objective, to develop standards around the therapeutic teaching of meditation, was then expanded to include standards for the teaching of meditation in a spiritual or personal development context.
In May 2008 an inaugural meeting of the Australian Teachers of Meditation Association (ATMA) was held to float the concept and seek expressions of interest in such an association. So positive was the response that soon after an interim board was formed, which took the development of ATMA forward until its inaugural General Meeting and formation of a Board in November 2009. Throughout the continuing development of ATMA (now the Meditation Association of Australia), it will remain important for it to be informed by and relevant to a broad base of respected meditation practitioners and organisations.
In February 2015, after 6 years of steady growth, the members voted to adopt a broader mission for the association. In practical terms, this meant extending ATMA’s purposes beyond serving meditation teaching to also directly serving the wider community of meditators.
A wider Vision, Mission and Purpose and an updated Rules of Association came into being, along with a range of initiatives to develop the effectiveness and responsiveness of the association.