The Definitive Guide To Becoming a Meditation and Mindfulness Teacher
6 min read. This article will take you through the journey of becoming a meditation teacher and what it may involve. We will explore how meditation teaching is a natural inclination to share the upliftment, personal understanding and joys of your own practice with others. We will also explore some of the things that are required to become a successful meditation teacher.
If you are reading this article then you are probably considering becoming a Meditation Teacher.
Ask any meditation teacher and they will most likely tell you there is nothing else they would rather be doing. It is truly a job to love.
A Meditation Teaching career is a vocation, not just a job. What I love most about it is that it enables us to help ourselves and feel good whilst we are supporting others.
Most meditation teachers are drawn to this work from personal experience. Some have recently discovered meditation and feel profoundly supported by their practice and excited about the possibilities that this opens for them. Whilst others have been practicing for many years and now feel drawn to share and teach. Many of us are prompted to explore meditation during or after a crisis. This is when the support routes we usually use no longer work, and the crisis can be a catalyst for doing things differently.
So, where do you start? With your own practice of course!
Create space for meditation
Like any part of our lives, meditation takes time and space. Most of us are very busy and it can sometimes feel like a struggle to carve out that space. However, this space is needed.
As we delve into meditation, and deepen our practice, a vast inner world opens up to us, step by step. In order to manage this transition and welcome that depth, we need a safe time and place.
Think of how it feels to walk into a space that makes you feel comfortable and relaxed. Ahhhh – you automatically start to let go and move into another state of mind.
This space can be a physical space in your home or office, but it doesn’t have to be. It can be a psychological space that you create by listening to a particular audio or lighting a particular candle, or simply sitting on your meditation cushion.
Creating space through repetition
This space is created by the repetitive ritual of sitting and meditating. The regular act of going within becomes a familiar act that we can look forward to. A space within which you feel held, safe and relaxed. A space that welcomes you no matter where you are at, how frazzled, stressed, sad, angry or happy you feel; where it’s ok to cry. A space of complete acceptance and ok’ness. What a comforting and supportive space to have in our lives!
As we experience the benefits of the presence of such a holding space, we can appreciate the value of what we give to others in our meditation space. As you hold this space for yourself – you will be able to hold this space for others too.
When we are ready to create a space in which to hold a mediation group or class, the physical space will simply be an extension of what you have already inwardly created. It really doesn’t matter whether this space is in a meditation or yoga studio, in a community hall, in a corporate environment, in a school or even online. The essence and the holding is the foundation of meditation teaching. 
Use the space for your own self-care and self-support
Meditation Australia’s motto is “Meditation as an integral part of life”. This is something that I relish in my personal practice. The exploration of meditation techniques and other self-care tools that complement meditation. For me, these include movement, yoga, journaling, nutrition, rest and all the elements that create a holistic self-care routine.
The ongoing practice of awareness, monitoring, adapting and renewing this routine is what self-care involves. This is real nurturing. Taking good care of ourselves on a physical, mental, emotional and spiritual level. This job will continue until we die!
If we want to navigate life in a way that brings us what we want and helps us navigate the challenges that arise, then we need to attend to “parenting” ourselves; doing what we need to (or the best we can) to meet our needs in a way that is healthy and supportive. This creates a deep sense of self-sufficiency and allows to feel more secure in ourselves (just like a child would if they had a caring and attentive parent). Self-compassion and self-awareness play key roles in this process. Without self-compassion we may drive ourselves too hard and set unrealistic standards. Self-awareness illuminates how we are feeling and what we may need. I find that routine journalling really helps with this.
Use journalling as a tool to connect to your needs
Two daily questions that I recommend for a basic journaling practice are: How do I feel? and what do I need? These questions help to build both self-compassion and self-awareness.
Meditation and journalling are ideal tools for responsive nurturing. It gives us the opportunity to ground and centre ourselves and step out of the merry-go-round of life in order to seek clarity and peace. Some people like to use the same meditation technique each sitting. Some like to vary according to what they need. There is no right or wrong here. It’s about what feels good to you.
Through your personal practice you will gain valuable experience in:
- What works and what doesn’t work in your self-support routine and especially in your meditation practice
- Which techniques are useful for certain challenges or states of mind
- Understanding the nuances of the techniques that you practice
- Understanding the effects of variables such as length of practice, technique, types of music used, times of day etc.
- Integrating practice into living: managing challenges, enhancing positive mood states, noticing the impact on everyday tasks
Opening to the thrill of the ride
The word thrill might sound a bit odd when it comes to meditation. However, I see meditation as the tool and navigating life and what we find within as the ride.
Utilizing meditation as a super-tool for working with what presents in life is a completely enthralling journey. No matter what presents in life, alongside other interventions, meditation is the ultimate companion.
Once we set the intention to go to the next level in our lives (whether that means becoming a meditation teacher or another aspect of taking a leap forward), feelings and memories are stimulated in our system in response to that intention.
Part of the ride means traversing whatever internal and external challenges arise in this process. Despite the inherent challenge, this is where your meditation practice, mentoring and training can come to the fore. Like Joseph Campbell’s hero’s journey, where we need to “slay our dragons” as it were. That may mean holding with compassion whatever is in us that needs holding and healing. This is when you will become most intimate with how your meditation practice and other lifestyle practices can really support you. These experiences contribute heavily to our “Why”; that is why we want to become a meditation teacher – because we have the lived experience of using these tools to help us thrive.
Start the conversation
In order to undertake this journey, all we really need to do is start taking the first steps – researching courses, organising finances if needed, seeking co-operation from family members if needed. These first steps get the ball rolling, and then we get “on the seat” and begin.
I speak to a lot of people that are considering enrolling in our courses. Many want to know exactly where they will be at the end. Whilst it is useful to have some idea, the journey of becoming allows so much to open and unfold that you may be surprised just where you end up. There are some lovely examples of this in our graduate stories. Rachael Kable and Felicity Carson are two Meditation Teacher Graduates that come to mind.
Befriending feelings – A great life skill
Tara Brach talks about the process of “Attending to and Befriending” our feelings. Jack Kornfield refers to the One Seat as the place where “we create the compassionate space that allows for the arising of all things: sorrows, loneliness, shame, desire, regret, frustration, happiness.”
There is a common misconception that meditation enables us to “rise above” feelings. Whilst it helps us move into the position of the “observer” of our thoughts and feelings, at the end of the day, feelings are feelings. To try and deny them or push them away is simply against the grain of nature – so it will never work, in fact it can actually increase our stress and be detrimental to our wellbeing.
This is something I am passionate about. With a background in holistic living counselling and psychology, and of course the biggest teacher; life experience, I have a strong appreciation for the value of attending to what we are feeling in ways that support us and keep our emotional energy moving. In my courses I teach journaling, grounding meditation, One Seat Meditation, and so much more.
Of course, there are times when feelings can become overwhelming or too heavy, and we need some breathing space. Physical movement as well as mindful time in nature are ideal ways to shift emotional energy and create some clarity.
A learning experience that befriends your feelings
The certificate courses are now accompanied by almost 10 electives, all of which attempt to hone the skill of befriending our feelings. For example, The Mindfulness and Buddhist Psychology elective teaches self-compassion and loving-kindness practices. I also look at movement practices that support our emotional energy. In the meditation teaching area, I devote a section of one of the Session 4 to learning how to guide meditation in such a way that feelings feel safe and ok. I also devote a section in Session 7 to handling students with special needs when their emotions feel out of control.
This is an important area in meditation teaching. In my experience emotions can potentially trigger resistance and sometimes old trauma can be stimulated. As meditation teachers, we need to feel equipped to manage these things in the moment. We need to know when to refer people for therapeutic support.
Pema Chodron says that as we do more of this work, and bring less resistance to our emotions, letting them wash over us like waves on the shore, the waves feels smaller and smaller. We still feel, but with much less suffering.
One of our graduates Bronwyn, began her journey with us at an emotional time and found opening to her feelings through meditation and journalling to be a great support. You can read her graduate story here.
Honour where you have come from
Those who know me now would have trouble believing that I once worked in radio and comedy and that I ran a fashion wholesaling business for 7 years. Sound irrelevant?
Comedy was part of my therapy and the business management skills I learnt from the wholesale business have served me so well in running ACMM. A drawn-out and very challenging divorce was a huge teacher and the catalyst for so much of my personal development, meditation and healing. Everything has played a part in bringing me to where I am now.
The beautiful thing about meditation teaching is that it is such an open arena. You can create a business or teaching practice that embraces and includes all of you. Frida Soerensen has used her meditation qualifications to open her own Wellbeing Centre that helps her community in the Philippines. Another graduate, Amy Benn, has drawn on her nursing background and combined meditation teaching to create WholeHeart Magazine to help nurses manage the stress of their jobs and workplace.
So becoming a Meditation Teacher is not just about reinventing your career. It can sometimes be about synthesizing what is useful from the past and repurposing skills to create something wholly unique. This makes your marketing a cinch as you will be carving out a niche that feels like the right fit. You will know exactly who you are speaking to and what you have to offer.
What better way to start a new career? So exciting!
Your experiences shape your uniqueness as a meditation teacher
I’m guessing that most people who want to become a meditation teacher do so because they feel a calling to help others. Being a meditation teacher is a vocation that works on many levels. The end teaching with your students is only the face of a multi-faceted personal and professional learning journey that is lifelong.
Treating life as a training ground means that you will never be short of training material. I have found that each personal challenge I have encountered has pushed me deeper into my practice. This is often in desperation for a solution and support.
It’s in those times that I have really delved deeply into a practice. And in doing so, uncovered the golden treasure trove of benefits. These experiences always renew and refresh my teaching, giving me so much to draw from.
Your life is the curriculum to become a meditation teacher
The beauty about life as the curriculum is that the learning is holistic and experiential. That kind of learning is embedded in who you are. Reading books affirms what you have experienced, giving it validation and confirmation. However, it’s really in the lived experience of experimentation and practice that our teaching blossoms.
This doesn’t mean that we need to share all our woes with our students, this should be done judiciously. It means that we share the resulting wisdom and compassion. It’s where we can document the process to inform how we design the curriculum for our teaching. It can potentially be a lovely point of connection to share some aspects of your life with students. This allowance for vulnerability prevents any unrealistic expectations of you as a teacher. We are all human and fallible.
As a teacher, you have the opportunity to grow from your work in so many ways. A key aspect to this is to use challenges as opportunities for growth. When you have someone in your life that triggers strong emotions for you, especially a student, this is the perfect time to reflect on and support what has been triggered. In what way are they like you? What are the feelings involved? When have you felt like this before? You may find that journaling and reflection are enough, or you may need the support of a mentor. Either way, resolving the triggers within yourself is key to resolving the outer problem in a lasting way.
Dare to create a grand vision
I remember participating in an activity in a workshop where I was asked to describe my ideal life. Other people in my group wanted this or that, usually one or two things. My life was really challenging at that time so I felt like I had nothing more to lose. So, I went for it and made a huge list of everything that I wanted to create in my life. People looked kind of surprised and commented: “ You really want it all!” Well, that was in 2002. It’s now 2020 and most, if not all of it has come true. Actually, so much more has been added to it that I never expected (especially the success of ACMM). Dare, dream and set the intention – even if people laugh or don’t understand. You will be amazed at what can happen for you.
Quality mentoring and training
Once you have made the decision to become a meditation teacher, find a course that really speaks to your values. It’s important that it feels like the right fit. Meditation Australia , The National Peak Body for Meditation Teachers, contains a list of recognised training providers.
Nothing replaces working with a good mentor. Ensure that the course is well structured and in-depth. It is really important the course teaches you to write your own meditation scripts and teaching programs rather than giving you scripts and templates. Working with templates only will really limit what and where you can teach. ACMM courses teach you to develop your own programs and deliver meditations with or without a script, which is the top level of what you can achieve with one to one mentoring. Our graduates emerge as confident meditation teachers.
I also recommend you attend meditation retreats and workshops, and attend meditation groups and classes. Also, read positive material and continue to be inspired.
Working with a mentor or regularly working within a group with a good teacher keeps you at the edge of yourself and pushes you beyond your any self-imposed limitations. This ensures that you continue to grow and don’t lose heart when you meet obstacles – and we all do.
Bring together the elements of a successful business
To succeed as a teacher, some administration and marketing skills will be needed.
Your new (or newly enhanced) business will need structure, record keeping, the proper legal set up such as Business Registration, an ABN and Insurance. We have written an article that covers some of these business essentials for Meditation Teachers entitled How to Start Your Meditation Business. Your accountant is the best person to go to for this advice.
You may also like to get started on your Marketing in house. We are blessed to work with a fantastic Marketing Consultant Belinda Kelsey who has written a very informative article titled How to Start Marketing Your Meditation Business. This article helps you understand how to develop your brand identity and write a marketing plan. There is also information on some DIY marketing tools that will help you manage your marketing efficiently, so that you can spend time on teaching meditation.
Becoming a meditation teacher is a journey you will never regret
What an exciting and life-changing journey you are embarking on!
There is so much to love about being a Meditation Teacher. It is a vocation that is full of creativity, connection, joy, warmth, compassion and love. The people I have come across in this work are truly inspirational and a complete joy to work with. If I had to find a downside it is that I sometimes get very busy. Hardly something to complain about in business! Lucky I have meditation for those times 😊
If this article has inspired you to become a meditation teacher, I urge you to take a further look at the certified courses offered at ACMM, where you can download a Prospectus
Founder and Principal of ACMM