THE most common request I get on email is ‘I’m really inspired/interested in mindfulness can you tell me how I can teach it?’ Or ‘my boss wants me to teach mindfulness can you tell me what to do…’
So I’ve decided to write this blog post so I can have an easily available answer and not have to write a new answer every week 🙂
Firstly, I like to point out my sincere belief that mindfulness is not a tool or technique that we teach (though there are lots of mindfulness tools and techniques you can use) it is a path or a way of life. It’s more like a vocation and it goes into every aspect of your life – in a good way! My teacher Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh, often referred to as ‘the father of mindfulness’ pointed this out in a lecture he gave in Plum Village in June 2014. I heard it from him first hand he said clearly ‘mindfulness is not a tool or a technique it is a path, a way of life and it should be taught as such.’
Those who know say mindfulness is not taught it is caught. People ‘catch’ the practice from the teachers practice – in the mindfulness world it’s referred to as embodiment. Teachers must embody the practice. This doesn’t mean you need to be a ‘perfect’ practioner but a sincere one. When you see a great or even a good mindfulness teacher you can tell it comes from their very being – not their knowledge of book, tools and techniques, as helpful as the little tools and life hacks are (and I do teach them all the time). If you are not a practioner your students or clients will not learn mindfulness from you and they will go away thinking it’s not all it’s cracked up to be – and that would be a shame. I am actually quite shocked by the number of people who just start practising and want to teach… it really does take time, it’s not a quick fix to a new career path. SO:
- The first requirement in becoming a mindfulness teacher is to be a mindfulness practitioner. (If you want to become a teacher ideally you will have had a daily meditation practice for at least two years.)
- All respectable mindfulness teacher training courses will require you to have completed an 8-week mindfulness course with a qualified teacher (like the Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction -MBSR ones I offer – the next one starts on the 10 April 2019 – please message me for an application form if interested www.immeasurableminds.co.uk/classes for information)
Although over 30 of my former students are now teaching mindfulness in one form or another I (Immeasurable Minds) DO NOT currently offer mindfulness teacher training. For a really good teacher training experience you should be exposed to more than one teacher. All teachers have different inspirations and practices which widen your own understanding. You need to do further training in addition to the 8-week course. Working with people’s hearts minds and emotions should not be taken lightly.
To do a one-week course then set yourself up as a teacher (many people have done this and there is nothing to stop you) is irresponsible (imo) and doomed to fail.
The UK good practice guidelines for mindfulness teachers state that as a minimum you should complete a training course lasting more than one year, attend regular silent retreats and have regular supervision. Not only will follow these guidelines support your integrity as a teacher they will help ensure your success. Always look for a teacher who follows the UK Good Practice Guidelines for Mindfulness Teachers.
I follow all the good practice guidelines for mindfulness teachers you can see my official Be Mindful listing here . I am also a member of the UK Network for Mindfulness-Based Teacher Training Organisations and the Mindfulness Teachers Network Ireland. I am also also a qualified mindfulness supervisor. I am continuously training to keep myself up to date with the whole field of wellbeing and the mind/body and I love to attend regular retreats! (as well as run them.)
Where do I go to do my mindfulness teacher training?
I did my training with the Centre for Mindfulness Research and Practice at Bangor University, Wales. When I started studying mindfulness it was the closest place to Belfast that was offering mindfulness teacher training (fly to Liverpool, drive down or get the boat to Holyhead from Dublin), but now you can learn in Dublin! I wish I could have studied there. If you want to do a Masters like I did you can go to University College Dublin (UCD) and complete it in two years without a desertion! (amazing – it took me 5 years part-time and I had to do a dissertation). It’s becoming so accessible it is wonderful!
But you don’t have to be an academic to be a mindfulness teacher, in fact I think sometimes this goes against the practice as we get too in our heads. It is actually a practical and vocational subject. So, I highly recommend the Dublin City Centre based teacher training course with mindfulness.ie. The teachers who teach this course are wonderful (Josephine Lynch was my first mentor and inspired me to go to Bangor to study) and they also teach on the UCD Masters course. Both courses offer really good quality, high standard training and will give you the confidence to teach and share the practice as part of your work or as full-time mindfulness teacher.
You can also train to teach mindfulness at Oxford, Exeter and Aberdeen Universities (please google these) and I’m sure many other Universities are also offering similar training. I also recommend teacher training with the BreathWorks as I admire the organisation and many of its teachers though I have not completed their training.
I trained to teach mindful self-compassion with the Centre for Mindful Self-Compassion who run teacher training retreats throughout Europe.
Teaching mindfulness to children
If you want to teach children it’s actually even easier! You should still be a practioner as kids can pick up if you’re just teaching from the head or reading notes but the process is much easier. Do the 8-week programme and then apply for a 4 or 5 day children’s teacher training course. I really recommend the mindfulness in schools project. I have completed both their .b (mindfulness for teens) and paws.b (mindfulness for 7-11) courses and so have many of my students. Their courses are highly researched and endorsed by schools for effectiveness.
Lastly we really do need more mindfulness practioners in this crazy world. I wish you lots of luck and success on your journey.