It’s time for each of us to take responsibility for the inside work teachers we choose… One of the biggest benefits of meditating regularly is that it’s easier to ride the waves of emotions that otherwise derail us for days. So ‘how dare I’ post a ‘rant’ post? Well, because I’m done with seeing people being lied to about their inner journey. Here’s what tipped me over the edge today.
Udemy is now offering a course, which has had nearly 30,000 students take it, to study to become a Mindfulness Practitioner and Master Teacher for just £9.99. An online course.
Yes, it’s usually £199, but as a Udemy instructor, I know all too well that their favourite habit is to discount life-changing and business-growing and career-transforming courses to less than the price of a pizza, making the whole online training industry a race to the bottom on pricing. This course will be £10 much more often than it’s £200.
What’s The Problem With An Online Meditation Teacher Training Course? Why Do We Need To Choose Our Inside Work Teachers More Carefully?
Here are three reasons why my soap box has been dragged out of its not-so-dusty corner:
1. Without feedback from an experienced teacher, learning is flawed.
“We don’t know what we don’t know.”
On page 273 of Dare to Dream Bigger, I talk about how the motto ‘if at first you don’t succeed, try, try, try again’ is fundamentally flawed and it’s the slowest way to make progress. Why? Because – as Einstein allegedly said – doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results is a sign of insanity.
There’s more to teaching meditation and mindfulness than reciting visualisations from a worksheet – so much more.
How can you give a student detailed feedback on their posture, if no one has ever done it for you? The computer running that online course can’t do it for you.
When teaching meditation and mindfulness, there’s so much more to it than techniques – or even mindset. You need to be able to hold the energetic space, so that students feel safe – the simple act of closing our eyes can make us feel vulnerable. Sitting in silence is something that terrifies many of us. You can’t test a teacher’s ability to do that for their students via an online course.
As an NLP Trainer since 2003, I have been trained in how to teach at both a conscious and subconscious level, helping students to create lasting change, as easily as possible. And the one thing I have seen to be true with every student I have ever taught, with every mentoring client and with myself, is:Practice doesn't make perfect, unless you're getting quality feedback. Click To Tweet
And when leading meditations, the voice you use, the language you use and the pauses you leave are all an essential part of the process. We don’t realise when we’re making mistakes, when we’re learning – otherwise we wouldn’t make them. Without that feedback from a mentor, the quality of teaching risks being much lower than the students deserve. We will pass our ‘bad habits’ on to our students – no matter how well-intentioned we are.
I remember, back in 2008, when I was studying to become a meditation teacher, there was one piece of feedback that transformed the way I teach. It caused me to make a tiny tweak that took me to the next level of teaching. Had it been a computer assessing me, instead of an expert mentor, I would still be making that mistake, without realising.You wouldn't want an amateur teaching your teen to drive, so why trust your inner happiness to someone who was taught by a computer? #meditationteacherClick To Tweet
It is in the feedback that we grow. Practice, without feedback, risks making you better at doing it the wrong way.
2. There’s a world of difference between someone who’s good at something and someone who’s a great teacher.
Unconscious competence is the training world’s way of telling us that we usually don’t consciously know how we do something we’re great at. The so-called ‘learning ladder’ starts with:
- unconscious incompetence – where we don’t realise we don’t know how to do something
- Then we move to conscious incompetence – we are aware we can’t do something and choose whether or not to learn it.
- Then we move to conscious competence – where each step of the ‘doing’ takes effort to remember and apply.
- Finally, we shift into unconscious competence – where the new skill is second nature and we can do it without thinking.
Beyond that is mastery – where we have practised for the mythical 10,000 hours to become truly outstanding at whatever it is we are doing. And somewhere in the middle of that is the ability to teach.
Concert pianists don’t usually make the best teachers. Why? Because to be able to break a technique down into the building blocks that allow a beginner to learn it, you need to become consciously competent again – you need to take your skill out of ‘autopilot’ and be able to figure out both the physical and psychological (and sometimes even – engineer-approved woo woo – energetic) steps that make success inevitable.
During my NLP Trainers’ Training, deconstructing and modelling mastery, to be able to teach it, was one of the core topics we were taught.
I see this daily with high-ticket business programmes, where someone has made lots of money and sells their blueprint to hopeful entrepreneurs who fail to achieve the same level of success. It’s not because the blueprint doesn’t work. It’s because the master hadn’t understood the hidden steps, beliefs and inner shifts they subconsciously created, which led to their success, so they miss them out of the programme.There's a world of difference between a Master and a great Teacher. #meditationteacher #mindfulnessClick To Tweet
As a formally trained meditation, mindfulness and yoga teacher (and the author of two published books on the topic), I am very aware of the responsibility I have towards my students and how to spot and handle any ‘wobble’ someone might have, as a result of the techniques I teach. Meditation, mindfulness and yoga are all designed to bring body and mind (and energy) into harmony – in this moment. For those of us who have thought patterns that have been causing us pain or physical, mental and emotional blocks, those releases can be difficult.
You can’t teach someone how to spot those in an online course.
You certainly can’t test their ability to navigate those choppy waters and keep a student safe, via an online course.
3. A good teacher has done their ‘inside work’.
To be able to hold the space for your meditation and mindfulness students, you need to be a good few steps ahead of them on your own inside work. You need to have been clearing out destructive thought patterns, letting go of old blame and victim stories, grounding your energies daily. You need to be walking your talk. And meaning it.
They are looking to you to lead them.
15+ years of teaching in the personal and spiritual development world have taught me that a teacher cannot take their students past an inner block that they, themselves, have not yet cleared. And, yes, I’m looking in the mirror!
The most important steps on my journey to become a meditation and mindfulness teacher (and a yoga teacher) were those points where my mentor ‘held my head under water’ – where he didn’t let me run from my fears or out-of-date conditioning or negative self-talk. Going right through the centre of those blocks created breakthroughs that made me a happier person and a much better teacher.
No computer course could ever have done that for me.
If you want to learn to study meditation or mindfulness – big happy dance, it’s great! – then I strongly encourage you to find a face-to-face teacher and to ask them the ten questions I wish students would ask me, before they hire me! (Here are my answers).
There are some parts of our inner development that we should never delegate to a computer. #meditationteacher #mindfulness #insideworkClick To Tweet
If you choose an online course – here’s one I prepared earlier – make sure it’s one that includes feedback from a human being, not just a computer. Make it sure it includes some kind of live interaction with the teacher and an accountability peer group. And, even though it’s online, still ask the tutor these ten questions, before signing up.
And if you do want to study to become a meditation and mindfulness teacher, please, please, please do it with an accredited company – one that will give you the feedback you need to become the best teacher you can; one that will support you and encourage you; one that will help you to help your students to create a life-long habit they fall in love with. I recommend the team at Dru Worldwide, where I studied. You can find out more about their courses here.
When everyone else in the world is taking life online, I strongly believe there are some things we should still do face-to-face (even if via the internet) – where that human connection is what creates the magic. And studying mindfulness and meditation – especially to become a teacher – is something you should never have to do on your own.
And I’d love to hear from you:
- Do you agree / disagree with my rant?
- What could we do to make sure we raise the standards with the teachers we choose on our ‘inside work’ journey?
- And what do you look for in a great teacher?
P.S. Want to study meditation and mindfulness with me? Here’s my current workshop list and here is my interactive online how to meditate course – or you could read 52 Mindful Moments or the 28 Day Meditation Challenge.