I’ve had a lot of emails recently from people asking how they become mindfulness teachers or tutors so I thought it might be useful to give you a bit of an overview.
What is a mindfulness teacher?
So the first thing to say is that mindfulness isn’t a regulated profession, so you don’t actually have to have any qualifications to set up as a mindfulness teacher, to run workshops or offer one to one mindfulness sessions.
There are many people, like me, who came into mindfulness in other ways. I am a professionally qualified coach. For almost four years, I have been running mindfulness peer support sessions, and completed an 8 week course and an in-depth one year mindfulness course too. In my career I have delivered workshops for years, so built the skills needed to offer relevant and (hopefully) interesting workshops.
People who come to teach mindfulness come from all different backgrounds; teachers , yoga instructors, previous executives, tutors of adult learning, meditation practitioners, bin men (and women). You name it. The richness of experience and the learned experience, knowledge and understanding you gain of mindfulness are the keys to being a good teacher.
Mindfulness teacher listings
That said there is a UK network listing for mindfulness teachers that you can apply to be registered for.
To apply to be on this you have to have taught two of the 8 week courses in a mindfulness discipline under a qualified supervisor as well as having undergone a mindfulness teacher training course.
Which brings me to an important point…
You need to do an eight week course yourself!
If you haven’t experienced an eight week course, you cannot understand what you’re teaching. I’d encourage you to go on at least a couple, as different teachers have different styles and there’s different forms of eight week courses:
MBSR – This is mindful based stress reduction, and focuses on learning how to let thoughts go non judgementally, building up the practice of meditation and being with difficult sensations.
MBCT – Mindfulness based cognitive therapy is similar to MBSR but focuses more on negative thinking , low mood and changing habits and thinking with a focus on reducing depression.
There are other versions of the eight week course; MBLC (mindfulness based living course), MBCP(mindfulness based childbirth and parenting), and MBRP (mindfulness based relapse prevention) but these are specialised courses.
The two main courses in the UK are the MBSR and the MBCT. To find a local course click here.
Then you need to practice
Unless you practice, it’s very hard to support students or course participants if you do not understand how difficult it is to motivate yourself on a daily basis. When you’re feeling too crappy to get into meditation, or working out how to let difficult thoughts go, or be with difficult emotions.
You really need to have a few years experience in practicing mindfulness and the challenges of living mindfully all the time to be able to support others to undertake this. Being mindful everyday is a habit and it’s not always easy. You might get a good routine going in meditation and then have a difficult time a time work and lose it in a few days.
You may experience really difficult times in your life and find it incredibly hard to bring self compassion to those. Until you have learnt how to do this, even if you can’t claim to be an expert (who can?) then how can’t you advise others to do this?
The point is none of us have all the answers. We are all stumbling around this game of life, trying to work out how it works, but once you have good habits built in and you think about mindfulness and living mindfully EVERY day then you’re ready your to help others.
Mindfulness is more than meditation, more than breathing exercises, or mindful movement. Its a way of life that’s allows you to better manage your emotions, to bring compassion to yourself and to difficult times.
It allows you to create resilience where there wasn’t any before. It is pretty powerful stuff.
So what can you do to become a teacher?
Once you’ve done the eight week course and practiced your heart out, if you want to go down the formal teaching route, there are a number of organisations who offer mindfulness teacher training.
This is the route to take if you want to get onto the mindfulness teacher listings I mentioned above and the only way to be able to get accepted onto them.
If this isn’t possible for you, or you want to offer mindfulness as part of a wider spectrum for example within the workplace, or as a coach, then I would recommend taking an advanced mindfulness course, and perhaps getting some voluntary experience as an assistant on an 8 week course. Or you could set up your own programme or peer support like I did.
Giving people the gift of mindfulness is one of the greatest things you can do in life – whether you do that as a teacher, within the remit of your current job, or in another way. It’s giving people the ability to appreciate their life as it is now. To accept it as it is, to be able to practice gratitude, to bring kindness and compassion to themselves and others. It helps them to learn about meditation and it’s benefits. That’s pretty great job!
Good luck on your mindfulness teaching journey!