You may have completed a Mindfulness teacher training or advised to start a group as part of the training.
You have engaged in an exploration of mind/body/spirit, attended yoga classes, sessions with a psychotherapist, taught in education, have skills to handle relationships, home and work situations, attended Buddhist inspired retreats, spent time in solitude in remote nature for days or lived in other cultures.
In confident moments, you sense you have sufficient life experience to teach a mindfulness class. Your experience of the benefits of working on yourself show in daily life. The benefits include a reduction of stress, greater peace of mind, a growing ability to manage change, to create change and an ability to oversee challenging situations.
You experience calm and insight in daily life.
Not perfectly, obviously. There is a sense of developing as a human being. and applying wisdom to your daily life.
The wish to share the benefits with others arise. Such steps reveal a willingness to step into the role of a mindfulness teacher/facilitator.
Then doubt arises in the mind. The doubt easily gains more credence than the original intention and inner authority to start a class.
- How can I know if I have enough clarity to start teaching?
- Is it clarity waiting for months or longer to teach?
- Should I only practice Mindfulness and drop the idea of teaching?
- Am I deluding myself in thinking I am ready to teach?
- What if I start teaching and I freeze up?
- Is the desire to teach a means to boost my ego?
- Is the issue about finding meaning in my life?
- Do I need more experience, more training?
- Who am I to run a group?
In my observation, it is a minority of people who have the quiet confidence, without hesitation, to start teaching. The overwhelming majority experience one or more of the above doubts about stepping fully into the role of a mindfulness teacher.
I recall in the 1970s my two teachers, Ajahn Dhammadharo and Ajahn Buddhadasa. encouraged me to teach Dharma, including mindfulness, to Westerners. I hesitated. Who am I (aged 30, English) to follow in the footsteps of two of Thailand’s most illustrious Abbots/Dharma Teachers in the Buddhist tradition?
I trusted in the voice of authority of the two teachers rather than identify with the doubt in my mind.
This week, I gave two people in the MTTC extra words of support to teach Mindfulness. One person emailed me who has postponed starting a class. She is now taking the step to starting a weekly class. She emailed:
“It is good sometimes to have a voice of authority telling you what you know is true, but what you don’t hear very often.”
The other person offered her first mindfulness class some hours after we spoke. She said: “After we spoke about best ways to use the hour for mindfulness, I felt more at ease. The class went brilliantly well.”
Go to a voice of authority on Mindfulness. Talk on your phone/skype or email a senior Mindfulness teacher. You might need to hear such a voice.
Setting a Price for a 60-minute class.
The second useful step means taking the risk to start a class. Experience takes priority over speculation about how it would be to run a class.
You may wish to make a registration cost per person. If you are renting a space, you may need to factor in the cost.
In the UK, the cost might be £10 per hour per person or £5.00 per hour per participant – depending on numbers, plus room hire. You might offer a scholarship for low income. Can you give a scholarship for one in 10 people? Can you invite people to give a little extra to support those in a low income – student, single parents, unemployed, retired on a state pension?
You might offer on donation. This requires a short talk, as people often think it is a tip towards a coffee, with a couple of coins dropped into a bowl, or nothing at all. Your talk will explain the value of such support and your trust in the kindness of participants rather than payment-for-services model. Teaching requires preparation before and after the actual session.
You might offer a weekly 60-minute class for six weeks with initial payment for services. Cost could be £50.00 for six sessions or £10.00 for each session. You might experiment with a donation-based model or a combination approach. These are some of the considerations for a mindfulness teacher.
15 Tips for Consideration when Teaching
Questions may arise from within. What am I going to say? What am I going to do with a small group for an hour?
- Sit in a circle unless it is a large group.
- Introduce yourself. My name is….I am trained in Mindfulness …I have been engaged in looking into my experience for …years for insight and
- Ask the participants clockwise for three points of information – her or his name, where he or she lives and any specific motivation or interest for attending the class. Make sure you state each person keeps their response short.
- Five – 10-minute talk. Warm, friendly, short sentences in unhurried speech. Keep it practical. Mindfulness becomes a meditation, as we settle into a quietly sustained mindfulness. Relaxation develops practice, not use of willpower and pressure to be in the moment
- After short talk, go direct to practice. Sit tall, Upright posture. Do not lean into back of chair unless back problems. Both feet flat on the ground. Hands in lap or on knees. Relaxed mindfulness of breath or body scan. Around 15 minutes. Offer precise and clear instructions or a guided
- Ask participants about their experience. You could go anti-clockwise. Or pick people out to speak. If no response, refer to questions and answer them.
- People stand and stretch for a minute or two.
- After short break, walking in a circle. 10-15 minutes. Mindfulness one step at a time Experience contact of feet with the group and energy of whole body moving. Keep head upright rather than looking down.
- Participants can share experience.
- 5-10-minute standing meditation.
- Then another short sharing/question and answers
- Give a summary of sitting, walking, standing. Express appreciation for the group.
- Say a little about the next week. With extra exercise next week -such as reclining posture on a yoga mat or mindful drinking a glass of fresh water etc.
- If people have questions from daily life about the practice, then to bring them to the next meeting.
- Send participants an email after further summary and use in daily life with reminder of time, date and location.
Mindfulness gives a precious service to people.
Christopher Titmuss is the founder of the Mindfulness Teacher Training Course (MTTC).
He is the author of three books on Mindfulness.