Want to know how to become a meditation teacher? Training to be the next Thich Nhat Hanh? Want to know if you need to be certified to teach meditation? I’ll cover all that and more in this guide.
Here’s what we’ll be looking at:
- About Meditation Teacher Training Certifications
- Do You Need A Meditation Teacher Training Certification?
- Who Will You Teach?
- What type?
- Learning before you teach
- Contacting other teachers
- Setting Up Your Space
- Materials You Will Need To Teach
- Starting To Teach
Now, here is the good news:
You can succeed as a meditation teacher. Certification can help you along the way if you want to take an instructor training course, but honestly, although they are very helpful they are not strictly necessary. And some are expensive.
Speaking of money. Yes, you can make money teaching meditation. And you can make a difference in your students’ lives. Especially if you’re the type of person who people look for in a teacher.
But let me warn you: When it comes to training to be a meditation teacher, you need to dodge the sharks. Because while a good meditation certification course will help significantly, there are also some dodgy ones.
Let me show you how to become a meditation teacher for real.
Meditation Instructor Training Courses: Good Or Bad?
Today, mindfulness is a lucrative industry. And although there definitely are some amazing courses, there are also some predatory websites charging lofty fees.
Take a look at a few online meditation teacher training courses, and you will find a real mix, everything from life-changing courses to fraudulent ones. The good ones, like the ones I talk about on this site, will not only show you how to teach, they will help you to get your career set-up too. Then there are the dodgy ones, which tell you that you can become a meditation teacher, and all you have to do is pay them a few thousand dollars to learn.
Shockingly, lots of these meditation teacher-training courses don’t even have the qualification to be training you at all!
So-called “meditation teacher training sites” are sometimes run by unqualified people who simply compile a bunch of information from various books and reorganise it into an online course.
Do you need to be certified to teach meditation?
A lot of people have asked me: Do you need to be certified to teach meditation?
This is one of the main things to consider when you’re working out how to become a meditation teacher.
The laws about this vary by country.
In Canada, you do not need to have any kind of official certification.
The main reason to become a certified meditation teacher is that it legitimises your business, and it also makes it much easier to work with insurance companies (which is important). This is different for Transcendental Meditation. Because this practice is trademarked, you are required to take a specific course.
However, for most practices and most countries, you don’t need certification.
That said, you will most definitely benefit from taking a really good meditation teacher training course, and it will help you to legitimise yourself as a teacher.
Therefore, you may want to become a certified meditation teacher if there is a good course available in your country and you can afford it.
For instance, in Australia, there is the Meditation Teachers Association which is a highly reputable organisation. There is no official association in America that I am aware of. Try to find a meditation teacher training certification course near you and one that has a very good background (you will need to research them to be sure).
In most counties you do not need to be certified to teach meditation.
11 Steps To Becoming A Meditation Instructor
1: Choose Your Audience
If you want to teach meditation, training should be based on your eventual audience. In other words, if you want to teach children, focus on that.
Teaching is a business. Like any other business, it has different markets which in turn have different demands.
Teaching children, for instance, is radically different to teaching the elderly, which is radically different to teaching for health reasons, such as in cognitive behavioural therapy.
The first question you must ask yourself, then, is this: Who do you want to teach?
Are you interested in teaching beginners?
If you want to learn to teach meditation to beginners, you will have to have a certain set of skills. You will need to be able to express yourself clearly so that your students can fully understand your teaching.
If so you will need to know practically every aspect of the topic.
Intermediates are looking for people to take them to the next level, to advance their skills.
Teaching children requires a lot of patience, a friendly attitude, and very good communication skills, because, let’s face it, children often do not listen; your ability to teach children will be determined by your ability to communicate with them.
Speaking from a purely business perspective, your target audience is also going to affect your marketing. You will need different business cards, different advertising, and different sources of students depending on your target audience.
So, decide precisely whom you wish to teach. It’s hard to know how to become a meditation teacher until you’ve made this fundamental decision.
If you are interested in teaching chakra methods you will need to have an understanding of the science of chakras. You will likely also need to know the other chakra-opening methods, such as gemstones and reiki.
Teaching a class
Teaching a class, as opposed to one-on-one tuition, has its own unique challenges. You will probably have some problem students in the group (people who don’t follow your lead, don’t listen, and talk over you). This can ruin the class for all.
One of the keys to successfully teaching a class is knowing how to control each member of the group, and especially the more challenging members. Tara Brach has a good guide to running a group.
Teaching in school classrooms
Classrooms can present a unique challenge to a teacher. After all, a lot of kids in school do not behave themselves and are not particularly good at sitting still and focusing on their breathing.
One of the keys to teaching meditation in school classrooms is to know how to make it interesting and engaging enough that students will want to listen to you as opposed to tuning you out and messing around on their phones.
If you are already a school educator, you will have the skills necessary for success here. If not, you will definitely want to learn how to control a classroom before you even contemplate teaching in school classrooms!
Teaching mindfulness is, in my opinion, one of the more fun types to teach, and you should definitely consider this option when becoming a meditation teacher.
Teaching mindfulness offers you more options than many other techniques because there are lots of different ways to teach mindfulness (such as mindful eating, mindful writing, mindful breathing and so on).
2: What Type of Meditation?
What type of technique will you teach?
If you want to do meditation teacher training, you need to know what type of practices you want to teach. This decision will be based on your target audience.
Decide who you want to teach. Then decide what type of practices will be best for them.
There are more than 30 types of meditation, and if you include all Buddhist techniques, that number goes to more than 700. That’s a lot of techniques!
If you are already particularly knowledgeable about a certain type of practice, go with that one. If you are currently undecided you may wish to take a look at the different types of practice (refer to the link above).
What Techniques Do You Want To Instruct?
Teaching Guided Meditation:
In my experience, this is one of the most popular types to teach. And there are some courses that specialise in how to teach guided meditation.
Many students don’t want to actually learn, they just want to relax. By becoming a guided meditation teacher you give them the opportunity to relax without actually putting in that much work.
It is easier to teach the guided style than any other technique. The reason is that you yourself are in complete control of the session, rather than being reliant on the student to focus (if you remember, focusing the mind is not very easy when you are new to the practice). Teaching guided sessions is a straightforward choice.
This is a more technical type of teaching. There are lots of different Buddhist meditation teacher training courses, and there are courses that specialise in specific types of Buddhism, such as Zen.
In order to teach Buddhist methods, you will need to know the specific postures that are used to create different results.
Students interested in Buddhist methods will likely want to know the philosophies and the history of Buddhism as well. For this reason, there is a lot to know in order to become a Buddhist meditation teacher, and you will certainly need to do your studying. The sheer popularity of these methods also means that there is a lot of competition.
Two of the most popular option here are a) vipassana, and b) loving-kindness.
Osho / Dynamic:
Osho and dynamic practices use physical activity, which ranges from dance to walking. You will probably want to take Osho meditation teacher training to do this type because it is quite unique and it does require that you give your students precise guidance.
Because of its physical nature, there are some risks with dynamic exercises that can affect the business.
Because it is possible for someone to injure themselves while practising dynamic methods, you will need to make sure that whatever insurance you get covers such injuries (otherwise you could end up on the receiving end of a very hefty lawsuit which will completely obliterate your business).
The above are just a few of the possible options.
Pick the type you wish to teach and focus on that type. If you are teaching beginners, you might instead choose to give basic instruction on a variety of techniques.
3: Learning Your Art
To become a meditation teacher you must have once been a student. You have to learn before you can teach.
It is important that you have properly studied before you teach. You wouldn’t want to learn piano from someone who hasn’t learned to play the piano; students want to know that their teacher knows what they are talking about.
Even if you intend to teach just one type of practice, I recommend that you study a variety of techniques. After all, it is only natural that a student leaning one type will have some interest in other techniques.
If you are unable to discuss other techniques with your students, they are unlikely to take you seriously and they probably won’t return for another lesson. Finding a student can be hard work, so it’s just as well that you do everything to ensure that any student you find wants to return for more lessons. Knowing your subject thoroughly is a huge part of this.
Make Sure You’re Actually Ready For Meditation Teacher Training
If you want to teach meditation, make sure you know your stuff.
Have you learnt the various techniques? Have you studied the history of the practice? Have you been to seminars or taken lessons with masters? Have you studied under spiritual gurus? What qualifies you to teach?
Students will ask what makes you qualified to teach meditation. Certification is one possible answer. Years of personal practice is another. Just be sure that you yourself know why you are the right person for the job.
Your past experience will become your resume.
Your experience gives you credibility as a teacher. It helps to create a positive perception of your teaching, equating to your students’ desire to continue to learn from you. The only way to ensure repeat visits from a student, and thereby to steadily increase your business, is to make sure that you know what you are talking about.
4: Train Yourself By Talking To Other Teachers
There will be other teachers in your area. The vast majority of them (if they have been following their own teachings) will be nice, friendly and helpful people. Get to know them.
Ask other teachers these questions:
- General advice
- What type of practises they teach
- What they’ve learned about teaching
- What meditation teacher certifications they have, if any
- Whether they are interested in working together or cross-promoting
Take one of their lessons. You will learn a ton. And they will appreciate it It shows interest. It gives them a return. They receive a bit of cash. And you receive a lot of leaning. It’s a fair trade.
By reaching out to other teachers in your area you also get to learn about +your local scene.
This is also a great way to find some students. Perhaps there is a Zen teacher who has a student who is interested in learning about Transcendental Meditation; they could refer their student to you, if you have TM teacher training (which is required), and in exchange, you could refer your students who are interested in Zen to them. Mutual benefit and everyone is happy.
5: Meditation Teacher Certification options
In most countries, there is no legal requirement to become a certified meditation teacher.
However, there are many benefits of certification, most notably that it proves your validity to potential clients.
Some courses are great, too. For instance, the University of Toronto’s meditation teacher training course is excellent (check it out here).
That said, play it smart when choosing a course, especially if you want to do an online meditation teacher training course.
I started this article by warning you about many websites online that offer certification. This is an important warning. If you do not do your research, if you do not learn about the different options for certification, you will end up choosing incorrectly, and you will waste your money.
Take time to learn about the different types of meditation certification programs and find out if one of them is particularly valuable to you—is there a meditation teacher training course that specifically caters to the type of practise you wish to teach? Great! Get certified, prove yourself to students and give your business validity.
One of the good things about taking a course, even if it’s an online meditation teacher training course, is that it will help you to find coverage [How To Choose Insurance].
You are going to need to find coverage before beginning to teach. If you do not, you could end up in trouble.
The good news about coverage for meditation teachers is that it is easy to get and it is cheap.
When I called up the company to workout my own meditation teacher coverage, I was simply asked to document the type of tuition and experiences I have (eg. had I gone to seminars, taken courses, had experience in teaching, read books, etc.).
Compared to many other holistic teaching positions, finding coverage for meditation teachers is very easy.
7: Create A Space (Or Find One)
To become a meditation teacher you will have to find or create a Zen space.
People want to learn in a space that is relaxing and therapeutic. You need to make sure that the space you provide for your students is relaxing and looks the part. Get statues, paintings, maybe a water feature, etc. Make sure the space looks great.
Remember, students will only return for a second lesson if they enjoyed the first. And a huge part of enjoying the lesson is being in the right space.
So remember while you’re paying for that online meditation teacher training course: You need to save money for your space, too.
Your spatial requirements will vary based on the group size that you want to teach.
If you’re teaching 10-15 people, you’re probably going to need a hall. If you’re teaching to individuals, you can probably do it in your home.
You can also offer to teach at the student’s home, but there are setbacks to this. Many people aren’t comfortable with the idea of having a stranger come over to teach them; many don’t have the right space; and, of course, if you need to travel it’ll take time and money. It’s a lot easier if you have the right space set up in your own home or in a local facility.
You are going to need to have all the most important tools.
The exact tools may vary depending on the type of practice you’re teaching. If you’re giving guided visualisations, for instance, you are going to need a way of playing music. Yes, your iPhone and speakers will do the trick, but does that look professional? Probably not. And you might also need some amazing music.
If you’re going to be teaching Osho or Zen you will need mats for both yourself and your students to use. Not only is it more comfortable, but should a student get injured, and you need your insurance company to cover, the insurer is going to want to know that you had everything set up properly—let’s be honest, insurers will do anything in their power to avoid paying out; don’t give them an excuse not to honour their agreement.
Regardless of what type of techniques you teach, you will definitely want a cushion. Some of your students will want to sit down from time to time (do not expect them to sit on the floor or stand up. And besides, you want to look great. Take pride in your branding by making your space look amazing).
Other materials that you may need include a mala (selling these can net you an extra profit), Tibetan singing bowls, Buddha statues and so on. You might not end up actually using these materials in the actual lesson, but simply having them there for the student to see provides the right sort of image, helping to validate your business in the eyes of your clients.
Also, make sure you have the right sort of lighting. Meditative exercises should always be practised in proper lighting. Too much light can create headaches and distract the mind. Too dim lighting could cause fatigue.
- As a professional online marketer, I am happy to help you with this. Read my guide to using WordPress.
If you’re a creative person you’ll love marketing.
You’re going to need business cards, perhaps flyers or brochures, and other marketing materials.
The design of these materials is important and will be determined by your target audience and by the type of practice you want to teach.
Always keep in mind the audience and their needs.
If, for instance, you are teaching purely for health, your marketing materials should show an individual who is clearly healthy (hopefully yourself) or convey health in other ways, through the use of iconography and symbolism, for instance.
Your marketing materials should clearly show your target audience. Marketing to Zoomers? Make sure your marketing reflects that.
The marketing materials that you use should reflect:
- the type of practice you teach
- your target audience
- what the student is going to get out of your tuition.
Are you teaching elderly people to do breathing techniques? Then show that in your marketing materials.
Obviously, it should go without saying, that you need to put your details on the card: your phone number, address, your name, and the name of your business.
Pro tip: Order marketing materials in bulk. It’s cheaper and saves you time in the long run.
There are two key types of advertising that you should make use of.
1: Word of mouth
Word of mouth
Tell your friends, your family, your colleagues, and everyone else that you are teaching meditation.
Give them your marketing materials.
People who are close to you will want to help you.
You may find that a friend or family member either wants to learn to meditate themselves or knows someone who does; that’s your first and most important client right there. Give that one client the best lesson ever and they’ll talk about it, word will spread, and, with a little bit of luck, you’ll have a successful business on your hands.
The second type of advertising is via the media.
Grab your local newspapers, call their advertising department and find out how much it costs for an ad.
It may or may not be worth it depending on price and readership.
There is an alternative to this.
If you, like myself, happen to be a writer, find some way of making your business a news story. You could put on a local event, or you could just share an interesting story. Write it up, send it to the editor, and if you’re a good writer and a little luck you could end up with some excellent free advertising.
Websites offer advertising opportunities too (this site included. We offer advertising in the precise niche you want to work in, so trust me you definitely want to take a look at our advertising opportunities). Leave a comment below and I will respond to you ASAP.
11: Start Small
You want to be the best meditation teacher ever, right? You want your students raving about you. The best way to do that is to make sure that you only start with a few students, or with a number that you can easily manage.
Build your audience gradually. That way you can be certain always to provide quality tuition.
Start with just a few students. Pour your love and passion into every lesson. Leave your students thinking “Damn! That was amaze-balls.” That way, you will be proud of yourself. And your students will love you (and talk about you, which will get you referrals).
I hope you have enjoyed this guide to becoming a meditation teacher. I’d love to hear your thoughts. You might also like to read my article on how to be a yoga instructor.
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