The practice of meditation is becoming society's go-to antidote to stress. More people are incorporating mindfulness into their daily routines to create more peace, clarity, and balance in their lives. Even corporations such as Google, Apple, Nike, Yahoo, and HBO are promoting meditation in the workplace as a way to increase productivity, improve employee morale, and ultimately, enhance their bottom line.
Meditation is no longer only found in obscure self-help books, ashrams, and retreats. The practice of mindfulness is now being taught in schools, businesses, professional sports teams, and in our integrative healthcare systems.
First Things First
When you first set out to learn meditation, it's important to find both a technique and a teacher best suited for you. The practice of meditation is simple, and yet, as with anything new, some guidance is needed. There are experiences that can (and will) happen that will likely be new for you, and that will inevitably generate feelings of curiosity and confusion. This should be viewed as a positive development. It's important to be mentored by someone who has their own daily practice and is trained to teach others how to meditate.
Why You Need a Meditation Teacher
When you begin, you may feel like you're having too many thoughts while you're sitting in meditation, which can cause you to think that you’re not doing it right. Or, you may notice a tendency to fidget or become anxious while meditating and assume that you’re not cut out for the practice.
For some, there may be uncomfortable physical sensations or emotions that arise, which might seem counterproductive—and a good reason to quit meditating. These things (and more) are normal.
A meditation teacher is there to guide you along. Having a meditation teacher will greatly increase your chances of developing an enjoyable and fruitful practice.
What to Look for in a Meditation Teacher
1. Someone who is a trained and certified meditation teacher.
Someone who is specifically trained—and experienced in—teaching meditation to others will help set you up for success. There’s a big difference between someone who can lead others through meditation and someone who is a certified instructor in meditation. You want a teacher who knows the in's and out's of meditation, who can answer your questions and help you connect more deeply to your own internal wisdom, and who can guide you safely through challenges as they arise.
Get to know your potential meditation teacher. Interview them. Take the time to inquire about who they studied with, how long they have been practicing, and where they got their training. If you're new to meditation entirely, see if you can find someone who is cross-trained or educated in different modalities to guide you in whichever technique is best suited for you. Or, explore different styles of meditation and then source a teacher who is specifically educated and experienced in the technique you most prefer.
2. Someone who meditates daily.
The benefits of meditation are cumulative. One may experience a deeper sense of peace and connection within just a few minutes or a few days of starting a meditation practice. Physiological, lifestyle, and spiritual benefits begin to show up with consistent practice and, with that, come transformation on the physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual levels.
Someone who meditates regularly will radiate qualities of kindness, compassion, love, balance, and equanimity. You want to learn from someone who exemplifies these qualities, and who is practicing (daily) what they teach.
3. Someone who you resonate with.
There are many people around the globe who are trained to teach meditation, who have their own daily practice, and who are incredible and well-meaning individuals. It's essential that you find someone who you feel connected to, safe with, and enjoy learning from.
Be selective with who you choose. You’re the best investment you will ever make, so be sure you're affiliating yourself with the right meditation teacher. This will create a much more enjoyable learning experience.
4. Someone who is open to various styles of meditation.
There are about as many forms of meditation as there are styles of yoga asana and brands of clothing. There is silent meditation, mantra-based meditation, guided meditation, visual meditation, walking meditation, mindfulness meditation, and so much more.
No one particular style of meditation is more important, or more effective than another. The style of meditation that is right for you may not be the style of meditation that is right for, or preferred by, another person. When selecting a meditation teacher, it's necessary to work with someone who doesn't hold a righteous position on one technique. You want to learn with someone who has a high level of integrity and who is open and supportive of many styles.
5. Someone who inspires you to live your life at the highest level.
The purpose of meditation is to reconnect to who you truly are and to help you live a more purposeful, happy, joyful, and fulfilling life.
When looking for the meditation teacher who is right for you, take some time to learn about them. Ask your prospective teachers questions about their journey, their experiences before they began meditating, and how their life has been transformed as a result of having a spiritual practice. Your spiritual teacher should be someone who inspires you to be the very best version of yourself. They should encourage you to reach your highest potential, and help you evolve into a happier, more loving, peaceful, and balanced person.
This is an exciting time. You're embarking on a new journey in your life. Take some time to carefully reflect on where you are in your life right now, and where you would like to be. Consider your immediate environment, your physical body, your emotional and mental states, your relationships, your goals, and your highest vision for your life. Do some journaling about what you may want to let go of and what you want to create in your life. Then set out to find the meditation teacher who is right for you and begin this journey.