Are you considering Meditation Training to deepen your practice or maybe to expand your teaching skills? Not sure which program is right for you? Read on; here's everything you need to know!
As you already know, meditation has the ability to heal, inspire and transform lives. Its popularity has skyrocketed so much in the past five years that the words "Meditation" and "Mindfulness" are now common vernacular not only in yoga studios but boardrooms, schools, and family rooms. People turn to the practice for stress relief, self-awareness, emotional control, better focus, slowing the aging process, and many other proven benefits.
Whether you’ve been sitting on your cushion for months or for years, if you're looking to deepen your practice, learn about philosophy and science, or have a desire to lead others, teacher training could be for you. However, with the influx of so many different trainings being offered coupled with very little oversight of the industry, trying to navigate this field can feel like the wild wild west.
When I first started practicing meditation in early 2000, there were very few opportunities to study meditation and no options for teacher training. After my first Yoga Teacher Training, I was thirsty to learn more as I knew there was more to yoga than just asana. I traveled through Asia on a quest for greater understanding and embodiment of the practice. In Japan, I stayed with Buddhist monks, where I experienced the healing powers of chanting, mindfulness, silence, and walking meditation. In ashrams throughout India, I was introduced to meditation for extended periods of time and an understanding of the ancient history of this sacred practice. Back in the states, I studied with as many master teachers as I could find, including Deepak Chopra, Sharon Salzburg, Jack Kornfield, Tara Brach, and Jon Kabat Zinn.
Over the past decade, there became a greater demand for quality meditation programs. In 2014, I developed my first Meditation Training when my yoga students were looking to go beyond handstands and backbends and dive deeper into their practice. I eventually expanded this program to yoga studios, corporations, meditation studios, and eventually teaching training online. My students have extended beyond yoga teachers to a diverse group of students, from parents to HR managers, health care workers, police officers, and others looking to discover the immense benefits of meditation.
Because of this greater demand, mindfulness and meditation programs are popping up more frequently than ever. It is lovely to have more options to choose from, but with little oversight of the industry, not every program is authentic and created equal. My intention is to help you navigate what program is right for you.
While every program is different, here’s what you’re likely to learn:
Things to consider:
Hours: Be sure the program is transparent with how you will be spending your time. Most programs will advertise the number of hours you will receive in their training. This may seem clear cut; however, some schools include the hours outside of the classroom. For example, if a program is advertising a "100 Hour Program," but it's only 12 weeks for 2 hours a week, you are only getting 24 hours of instruction. The remaining 76 hours will be self-study. Self-study is essential, but if you're comparing programs, a 40-hour program may actually offer you more of a learning experience and be more cost-effective than the 100-hour program.
Certifications: While there are many certifications out there, there is no governing Meditation Teacher Training organization. So how do you know if your program's credentials are legit? Here are three ways to ensure a credible program and certification:
1) Yoga Alliance. I have found that the Yoga Alliance (albeit not perfect) is still the most credible organization. Be sure the school or program you choose is a designated YACEP (Yoga Alliance Continuing Education Provider), or the Lead Teacher is registered as an E-RYT.
2) Yoga International. Choose courses offered through Yoga International www.yogainternational.com from incredibly talented teachers to receive CEU’s and Certification.
3) Senior Teachers. Some teachers who have been in the field for 30+ years, such as Jack Kornfield, Tara Brach, or Sharon Salzberg, have their own reputable certification credentials.
Length and Location: To determine what's best for you, think about your current situation as it relates to work, family, social life, and how you could fit Teacher Training into your schedule. The program will most likely be a commitment of not only time and money but also energy. This can be one of the most meaningful and profound times in your life when you come together with like-minded people and dig deep into self-exploration. Give yourself the gift and commitment of uninterrupted time to receive the most from your training. From Bali to Zoom, from 2 years to 4-day Immersions, the options are endless.
Instructors: Take the time to inquire about who they have studied with and where they got their training. Have they studied in India, the birthplace of meditation? Find out who created the program and their backgrounds. Do they have some training in yoga, science, MBSR, or Buddhism? Mindfulness meditation is very popular right now, but it's not a watered-down version of meditation that doesn’t require a knowledge of science and philosophy. If the instructor just took one online class in Expanding Consciousness, then you might want to stop the conversation. They should be able to give you a clear indication of their lineage. For example, they should know if the training is inspired by MBSR, Buddhism, Yoga lineage, Cognitive Based Therapy (to name a few).
The bottom line is that there are many wonderful meditation programs for you to choose from.
Do your research and be on your way to a transformative experience. Meditation Teacher Training is the beginning of a lifetime journey within!