It’s a heated debate right now. How do you teach meditation?
The truth is, in the West, meditation is still a relatively new practice. It is only over the past ten years that meditation has truly come into its own in the west, gradually becoming more and more popular to a point where, now, it is quite a large and potentially lucrative industry.
So lucrative is it, in fact, that there are a great many websites out there that are capitalising on the desire of people like yourself who want to lean how to teach. And because I don’t want you to fall victim to all those fraudulent websites, I recommend that you read this warning about online “meditation training” sites. So be sure to take a look at that either right now or after you finish reading this article.
I am sure you have seen other websites selling “teacher training.” They promise to guide you through the process of becoming a teacher, and they’ll do it all for the low low price of around a thousand dollars. Eeek!
The shocking and somewhat saddening truth that you need to learn, right now, is that the vast majority of these sites are out only to make a quick profit. So called “teacher training sites” are often run by unqualified people who simply compile a bunch of information from various books and reorganise it into a course.
Let me save you a lot of money and a lot of heartache by saying this: do NOT sign up to any online teacher training course. Please. They are invariably woefully inadequate and will not help you to become a teacher; instead, they’ll just pocket your cash.
Okay, so that’s the warning out of the way.
Of course, I am not saying you should not become a meditation teacher. The world needs more teachers and more people meditating in general. I am only saying this: give your money only to a person you can meet in person, who can prove their qualifications, who will genuinely show you how to teach meditation.
That’s the warning out of the way, so let’s get on with it and take a long hard look at the reality of becoming a meditation teacher.
How To Teach Meditation Step 1: Choose Your Audience
Teaching is a business. Like any other business, it has different markets which in turn have different demands.
Teaching meditation to children, for instance, is radically different to teaching the elderly, which is radically different to teaching meditation 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 to?
Do you want to teach meditation to beginners? If so, you will have to have a certain set of skills, the most important skill being the ability to express yourself clearly so that your students can fully understand your teaching.
Do you want to teach intermediate / advanced meditators? Is so you will need to know practically every aspect of meditation. Intermediate meditators are looking for people to take them to the next level, to advance their skills.
Do you want to teach children? 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, be certain to decide precisely whom you wish to teach.
How To Teach Meditation Step 2: What Type of Meditation?
Having decided your target audience you will next need to choose which type of meditation you wish to teach. 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 meditation techniques.
If you are already particularly knowledgeable about a certain type, then logically that is the type you should teach. If you are currently undecided you may wish to take a look at the different types of meditation using the link in the last paragraph.
What Type Of Meditation Will You Teach?
Transcendental Meditation (TM) : This technique is trademarked, meaning it is owned by someone (specifically, Maharishi Mahesh Yogi). TM is something many people are interested in, mostly because of the number of celebrities who advocate the technique. However, to legally teach Transcendental Meditation you must receive certification as a TM teacher, which is rather expensive. You can learn more about Transcendental Meditation here.
Guided Visualisations: In my experience, this is one of the most popular types. Many people don’t want to actually learn, they just want to relax. By guiding a student though a visualisation you essentially give them the opportunity to relax without doing much work. Visualisation is a lot like Hypnotherapy. Both involve usomg the imagination for various results. This is also, in many ways, an easy technique to teach simply because you yourself are in complete control of the meditation, rather than being reliant on the student to focus their minds (if you remember, focussing the mind is not very easy when you are new to meditation). Guided meditations are a very easy choice for both teacher and student.
Zen: In order to teach Zen meditation you will need to know the specific postures that are used to create different results. Students interested in Zen are also going to want to know about the history of Zen, so be sure to brush up on that before beginning. You can learn more about Zen here.
Osho / Dynamic: Osho and dynamic meditation use physical activity, which ranges from dance to walking. Because of its physical nature, there are some risks with dynamic meditation that can affect the business. Because it is possible for someone to injure themselves while practising dynamic meditation, you will need to make sure that whatever meditation 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). You can learn more about dynamic meditation here.
There are many other types of meditation, but you most likely know them already. 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. You might find this guide to the basics of meditation helpful.
How To Teach Meditation Step 3: To Be A Good Teacher, Be A Good Student.
In order to be a teacher you must have been a student.
It is important that you have properly studied before you teach. You wouldn’t want to lean piano from someone who hasn’t leant to play the piano; meditation students want to know that their teacher knows what they are talking about.
Even if you intend to teach just one type of meditation, it is best that you have studied a variety of techniques. After all, it is only natural that a student leaning one type will have some interest about other techniques. If you are unable to discuss other techniques with your students, they are unlikely to take you seriously and thereby unlikely to return for more lessons. 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.
Have you taken the time to properly learn? Have you learnt the various techniques? Have you studied the history? Have you been to seminars or taken lessons with meditation masters? Have you studied under these spiritual gurus? What qualifies you to teach? I’m not challenging you here by the way. But students will ask for your qualifications. And you should be prepared to answer.
Your past experience will become your resume. Your experience gives you credibility as a meditation teacher, helping to create a positive perception of your teaching, equating to your students’ desire to continue to lean 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.
How To Teach Meditation Step 4: Talk To Other Meditation Teachers
There will be other teachers in you area. The vast majority of them (if they have been following their own teachings) will be nice, friendly and helpful people. Make use of them. Ask them for advise, ask them about the business, ask them about how they teach and their techniques, and also ask about the more local aspects of the business.
It is probably only fair that if you are going to be asking a teacher for help, that you try out their lessons at least once. This shows interest and, of course, gives them a return: they receive a bit of cash, 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 leaning about Transcendental Meditation; they could refer their student to you, if you have experience of TM, and in exchange you could refer your students who are interested in Zen, to them. Mutual benefit, and everyone is happy.
How To Teach Meditation Step 5: Certification
There is no legal requirement (at least in my country) to have a certification in order to teach meditation. However, there are many benefits of certification, most notably that it proves your validity to potential clients.
I started this article by warning you about many websites online that offer meditation 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 will waste your money.
Take time to learn about the different types of certification and find out if one of them is particularly valuable to you—is there a certification which specifically caters for the type of meditation you wish to teach? Great! Get certified, prove yourself to students and give your business validity.
Insurance: You are going to need to find insurance before beginning to teach meditation. If you do not, you could very well end up with an accident that leads to a lawsuit which completely destroys your business.
The good news about insurance for teaching meditation is that it is easy to get and it is cheap. You do not need a specific certificate or any specific qualifications to get insurance. When I called up the insurance company to workout my own insurance, I was simply asked to document the type of tuition and experiences I myself have (eg. had I gone to seminars, taken courses, had experience in teaching, read book, etc.). Compared to many other holistic teaching positions, finding insurance for meditation teaching is very easy.
How To Teach Meditation Step 6: Create A Meditation Space (Or Find One)
People want to learn meditation in a space that is relaxing and therapeutic. You need to make sure that the meditation space you provide for your students is relaxing and looks the part. Put statues out, paintings, maybe a water feature, etc. Make sure the space looks great. Basically, do everything I’ve suggested in this guide to creating a meditation space.
This is truly important for a variety of reasons. First off, no one wants to learn meditation in a dump. It’s just not conducive to relaxation or to focusing the mind.
Secondly, when it comes to those all important repeat lessons (which is where your money will come from), people will only return to you if they enjoyed the first lesson, and a huge part of enjoying the lesson is being in the right space.
That doesn’t mean that you have to spend a ton of money. You don’t need to higher the Ritz. You just need a relaxing, peaceful, quiet space.
Your spatial requirements will vary based on the group size that you want to teach. If you’re teaching to 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 strange come over to teach them meditation; 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.
How To Teach Meditation Step 7: Materials
Depending on the type of meditation that you are going to teach, you will need specific materials. 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 meditation music. In fact you will probably need all these meditation products. So. Time to go shopping, I guess.
If you’re going to be teaching Osho meditation or Zen meditation you will need mats for both yourself and your student 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 meditation you teach your will definitely need a meditation 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 don’t think that a regular chair will do. Your branding is important. And for good branding you need the right image, part of which is having the right products).
Other materials that you may need include a mala (selling these can net you extra profit), singing bowls, statues and so on. You might not end up actually using these materials in the actual lesson, but simply having them their 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 that you have the right sort of lighting. Meditation should always be practiced in correct lighting. Too much light can create headaches and distract the mind, while too dim lighting could cause fatigue; neither is conducive to high quality instruction.
How To Teach Meditation Step 8: Marketing
Of course, you are going to need to market your business. 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 meditation you want to teach.
Always keep in mind the audience and their demands.
If, for instance, you are teaching meditation purely for health, your marketing materials should show an individual who is clearly healthy (hopefully yourself), or should convey health in some other ways, through the use of iconography and symbolism, for instance.
Your marketing materials should also make your target audience clear. No eighty year old is going to be interested in a business card that is clearly marketed to teenagers, or vice versa.
So, the marketing materials that you use should reflect the type of meditation you teach, your target audience, and should also convey what the student is going to get out of your tuition. Are you teaching the elderly breathing so they can relax and be happier? Then make sure your marketing materials shows an elderly person doing breathing meditation and looking relaxed.
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.
Order in bulk too; it’s cheaper and saves you time in the long run.
How To Teach Meditation Step 9: Advertise
There are two key types of meditation that you should make use of. The first is word of mouth—probably the most important type of advertising. Tell your friends, you 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 lean 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 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 lucky you could end up with some excellent free advertising.
Websites offer advertising 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).
Websites obviously cater to a wider audience and a lot of their readership will be completely irrelevant to you. However, you can always contact the webmaster and ask if they can run a “Geo-localised ad” for you. This is an ad which only goes out to a specific area. For instance, if you’re teaching meditation in Canada you can ask for a geo-target ad to be shown in Canada only; this saves you money as your ad will only be displayed to people in your country or local region.
How to teach meditation Step 10: Start Smal
You need to make sure that your tuition is high quality. You want your students to talk about you in a positive light. 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, so that you can be certain to always provide quality tuition.
Not only does this help to make sure that people talk about your business in a positive light, but it’s also good karma.
The last thing you want is to end a meditation lesson thinking that you did a bad job. That destroys your confidence and demotivates you. Sure, you get some money, but in my experience the type of person who wants to teach meditation is a highly moral individual who places the concern of others above themselves. “My religion is kindness” said the Dalai Lama. Kindness to your students means valuing their time and money and giving them a darned good lesson. By keeping your business small at the beginning, you make sure you’ve got the time and energy to truly provide your students with an excellent spot of meditation tuition.
I wish you the best of luck. You can succeed in this. And I would love to hear how you get on. Leave a comment.