Find the Right Teacher Training
Without a gold standard or overarching certifying body for meditation teacher trainings, it can be difficult to know where to begin. How can you evaluate the various programs and decide which ones are offering high value?
I believe the foundation of any good course is the instructor, who should have extensive training and deep experience in the course material. Instructors should not only be accomplished meditators but also have substantial experience actually teaching meditation. They should understand the language and culture of the Eastern spiritual traditions and be able to literally and figuratively translate the material in a way that can be understood by Western students.
The Key Elements of a Meditation Teacher Training
Finding a good instructor is the first step to identifying the right program, but there’s more to it than that. I’ve come up with a dozen elements that I think every well-designed course should contain. Here’s what to look for:
1. A mix of traditional academic learning and experiential instruction.
2. A long-term format so that students have plenty of time to learn the material and to make meaningful progress in their personal meditation practice.
3. Comprehensive written course materials as well as outside readings to enable students to learn at their own pace.
4. Class projects and written exams for students to demonstrate their mastery of course materials.
5. Support for students in maintaining a daily meditation practice.
6. Opportunities for students to practice teaching both within the course structure and outside in the community.
7. Access for students to remote learning technologies such as Zoom so they can participate from the comfort of their own home. International students should be able to access the program in multiple time zones all over the world. Classes should be recorded and accessible at times convenient to the student in case they miss a class. Students should be able to view a class multiple times if needed.
8. An online forum for students to communicate with other students and their instructor, so they can ask questions and share relevant materials.
9. Opportunities for students to earn continuing education units in their area of professional practice, when possible.
10. A certification upon completion of all course requirements.
11. Access to an affordable program that offers flexibility in terms of payment arrangements. Students with lesser financial means should have access to scholarship programs. Access to comprehensive meditation instruction and teacher training must not be limited to those who have significant disposable income. It must be available in every country and community worldwide.
12. A mechanism for giving back to the community. Ideally, the program will help support and sustain the Eastern spiritual traditions that created the profound practices of meditation that now benefit millions of people all over the world.
If the meditation teacher training you’re considering has all these elements facilitated by an instructor who walks the talk, it’s likely to be a good experience — as long as you’re willing to put in the time and focus needed to reap the benefits.
Michael Hess teaches the Discovering Mind Meditation Teacher Training program, a yearlong comprehensive course on the theory and practice of meditation.
Header photo: skynesher/Getty Images