Who doesn’t want to shorten their learning curve when they’re learning a new skill, right? But research from a Harvard Professor suggests that we’ve been going about it the wrong way, that our traditional models of learning are inhibiting our progress. Practice makes perfect? Apparently not. If you’re learning a new skill, Ellen Langer’s innovative approach to mindful learning may be just what you’re looking for. Here’s why mindful learning will shorten your learning curve.
What to look for when choosing a mindfulness teacher, course or coach
You’ve been interested in mindfulness for a while and decided to give it a try. It’s now time to find a course. But amidst all of the advertising and the hype, how do you know what to look for, from a mindfulness teacher, a course or a coach? Here’s our step by step guide to choosing the right mindfulness teacher for you.
- Committed to good practice? Is your prospective teacher committed to the UK Network for Mindfulness-Based Teachers Good Practice Guidelines for teaching mindfulness? The UK Network was developed to promote good practice in teaching mindfulness. Teaching Mindfulness in the UK is unregulated and the Network is an attempt to address this. Qualified teachers who have demonstrated that they meet the UK Good Practice Guidelines for Mindfulness Based Teachers will be registered on the UK Network Listing https://www.mindfulness-network.org/listingspagenew.php This means that they have been verified as suitably trained, committed to continuous professional development, hold insurance and receive regular supervision.
- Your teacher has a regular Mindfulness Practice. You wouldn’t go to a gym and expect to find a personal trainer who had never exercised. You certainly wouldn’t choose them to show you how to train your body. The same is true of your mindfulness teacher. Training your brain is no different to training your body. It’s ok to ask them about their own practice, how long they’ve been meditating and whether they practice on a regular basis. Standard advice is that mindfulness teachers should have been practicing for at least two years before they teach others.
- Retreats. All teachers should have a regular daily practice and attend one retreat a year as a minimum. You need someone who has walked the path themselves before they can lead you.
- Do they have a qualification? Has your mindfulness teacher attended a Level 1 and Level 2 Mindfulness Teacher Training programme? Whilst this doesn’t demonstrate competence it does demonstrate a commitment to professional development. Ask them where they trained and who with. Find out about their credentials; who have they worked with? How many courses have they run? Solo or alone? Don’t feel bashful, a good teacher won’t mind answering your questions. It’s important that your teacher is following a framework when teaching, all of the research evidence is based upon courses led by qualified teachers delivering a structured Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) or Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) programmes.
- Do they undertake regular supervision? It’s important that teachers have supervision on a regular basis. Your teacher should be able to tell you who their supervisor is and how often they meet. This is necessary for regular reflective practice as well as the safety of everyone involved.
- How do you ensure you’re up to date? All Mindfulness teachers should maintain continuous professional development in the form of workshops, peer evaluation and keeping up to date with the latest research. A teacher who has their own teachers recognises that we are all on a mindful journey, however long we’ve been practicing.
- Do they practice what they preach? Known as embodiment this simply means that they demonstrate mindfulness in the way they behave towards you and others. Look for someone who displays a consistency in actions and words. An authentic Mindfulness teacher will walk their talk. They’ll treat you with respect and compassion rather than use sessions as a platform for their own ego. Asking why they have chosen to teach Mindfulness and what motivates them to practice can provide valuable information.
Are they a good fit for you? Notice how you feel around your teacher. Listen to your intuition. Do they seem authentic? Do you feel that they have genuine humility and are there to serve you and others in the group? If it doesn’t feel right, find another teacher. Use your judgement, you’ll know when you find a teacher that is right for you.
We love to talk about all things mindful at Positive Change Guru. Check out our forthcoming events or get in touch to find out more about our suite of courses and discuss bespoke mindfulness at work training for your organisation.
Positive Change Guru’s Mindfulness at Work expert, Gill Thackray, is registered with the UK Network for Mindfulness-Based Teachers Good Practice Guidelines for teaching mindfulness. She has also studied Mindfulness with Aberdeen University, Bangor University, Dr Patrizia Collard and Google’s SIYLI Programme. She is currently researching Mindfulness, Leadership and Compassion at Aberdeen University.