Meditation Teacher Training Dos And Don'ts
Updated: Feb 26, 2021
Meditation teacher training is one of the most rewarding things you can embark on - but you want to make sure you’re doing it right. When you become a meditation teacher, you can change the lives of countless people, including yourself.
As a meditation teacher and founder of the world’s first drop in meditation studio, I have taught thousands of people to meditate, and hired hundreds of teachers for both our in-person studio and our online guided meditation training course. Between my colleague davidji and I, we’ve trained thousands globally to become a meditation teacher via what many have called the best meditation teacher training program in the US. Needless to say, we’ve seen it all.
So here’s what to avoid - and what to focus on - as you go through meditation instructor trainings.
How To Thrive In Meditation Teacher Training And Beyond
While understanding the science, techniques, and history of meditation is essential to becoming a meditation teacher, it’s the details that take your practice from average to great! Here are our top meditation training Do’s and Don’ts.
DON’T talk nonstop throughout the entire session. This is the number one worst thing a meditation teacher can do, and it’s something our meditation coaches at Unplug try to help new teachers avoid. It’s important to leave time for students to get deep into their meditation sessions without the sound of your voice.
DO meditate before you teach. This is a huge one. You’re not there to meditate along with your students, you’re there to hold space and be present. I can’t tell you how many times in meditation teacher trainings I’ve seen a teacher with her eyes closed during the session, oblivious to the fact that students were raising their hands trying to get her attention. Make sure you do your own meditation before beginning the session, so you’re in the right mental space to lead. After all, you have to walk the walk if you are going to talk the talk.
DON’T read from a script. With so many meditation sessions going remote these days, and online meditation training becoming especially common, you might be tempted to read from a script off camera. Don’t do it! Even if students’ eyes are closed and they don’t see you reading, they will notice that your words aren’t coming from the heart. Instead, think about what you want to say beforehand and share those sentiments in your own voice. It’s okay to use classic meditation concepts in your sessions, but never plagiarize. Modernize and personalize it. Make it your own.
DO let your personality shine through, but DON’T make it about yourself. A great meditation instructor focuses on creating a great experience for the client. Students love to learn from a person who brings their own unique energy to the session, but now is not the time to share your life story. The focus should be on your students and how they are feeling. Listen more than you speak - even when the session is virtual! - and ask your students questions that are relevant to their lives.
DON’T begin sentences with, “I want you to…” This is a common phrase used by many instructors (I even slip and say it sometimes), especially in the early stages of meditation teacher training. But it can make the student feel barked at and controlled. Instead, lead with “we” or “let’s” when giving instructions. For example, instead of saying “I want you to close your eyes,” try “let’s close our eyes.” It makes a big difference!
DO share your teaching moment at the beginning of the session. If you have a lesson or piece of wisdom you want to share, offer it at the beginning of the meditation, not in the middle. If you teach in the middle of your meditation, you will bring participants out of their practice and into their heads. You want students to feel free to focus deeply, and they can use your words as beginning guidance.
DON’T wing it when you’re just starting out. So many new instructors who are straight out of mindfulness teacher training go into sessions without a plan. They know the basics of how to lead a guided meditation, so they usually intend to feel the energy of the room and go from there - but the reality is that you might misread that energy. Or you might accidentally create stressful energy yourself because you’re panicking about not knowing what to say! Instead, consider in advance what lessons you want them to leave class with. Think tweetable soundbites and ah-ha moments that will stay in your students’ minds long after they’ve left the meditation studio.
DO ask positive questions. If you’re worried about students being uncomfortable, don’t lead with the negative tone by asking if they’re in pain or unhappy. Instead, leave things open-ended by simply asking how they’re feeling. They can fill in the blanks from there.
DON’T get carried away by unexpected sounds. We all live in a world with traffic, construction, coughing, loud candy wrappers, and a million other noise distractions. And that’s okay! If an unexpected sound pops up during your session, just flow with it. The reality is that only about half of your students are likely to hear the sound anyway, especially if they’re deep into meditation. So instead of apologizing for the traffic noise outside your window, simply say “if you notice a sound, let it flow.”
DO check your voice. We cover this one a lot when we teach people how to become a certified meditation instructor because it's so important. Make sure you’re not speaking so softly that half of your students have to strain to hear you! And be sure to double check that your music is not louder than you are.
DON’T mute yourself during virtual meditations. Before you begin, triple check that you’re not accidentally on mute. Your students want to get present with you!
DO be present. Whether you're still learning in meditation teacher training programs or leading a class all on your own, bring a positive, in-the-moment attitude with you to the session. Make sure students feel comfortable approaching you with questions or concerns and know that they are in a safe space.
DON’T let them see you stress, and don’t doubt yourself as a teacher. You can do this! At Unplug, we know that many budding guided meditation facilitators might start meditation teacher training feeling unsure of themselves. And that’s normal! But as you gain experience and your teaching skills grow, your confidence will grow too. Before you know it, you’ll be feeling like a lifelong pro - and your students will feel your confidence radiate.