Read This Before Choosing a Meditation Training or Certification
Selecting the right meditation training or certification program isn’t easy.
Whether online or in-person, a garden variety of meditation teacher trainings, meditation coach trainings, and mindfulness teacher trainings are dotting the professional training & certification landscape.
Course or program descriptions often use nebulous language that doesn’t clearly define what’s actually covered.
Even after investing several thousand in a training, many students leave with a head full of information, but no idea how to actually implement meditation into their work…
…or, they lack the confidence to facilitate a guided meditation confidently in public.
Much of the confusion & disappointment surrounding this newly budding field of online and in-person trainings is caused by ambiguity of industry terms and a lack of applicable experience on the part of course/training creators.
Because our society is in dire need of more guided meditation facilitators, I want to take the rest of this article to bring some clarity to some key questions & misunderstood terms.
Here’s what we will clarify:
- What’s the difference between teaching meditation & guided meditation?
- What should I look for in a meditation training curriculum?
- What’s the difference between mindfulness & guided meditation?
- Picking a training that has practical professional application
- What learning format will enable you to actually learn & implement?
What’s the Difference Between Teaching Meditation & Guided Meditation?
Learning to teach meditation & learning to guided meditations are two distinct disciplines, and it’s essential to understand their differences to make an informed choice on what training or certification to invest in.
Whether they desire to lead a group, class, workshop, retreat or even 1-on-1, the vast majority of prospective students are seeking to learn how to guide participants through a meditation experience.
This would fall under the umbrella of learning to lead guided meditations or becoming a guided meditation facilitator, because you are facilitating the experience.
In this case, the audience is simply following your words as you guide the meditation.
Most students desire this skill because they want to directly target guided meditations to solve specific problems for people they work with.
The problem is, many trainings do not teach you how to guide meditations, and instead, focus on creating teachers of meditation.
Courses that teach you how to teach meditation often dedicate large portions of the training to the history of meditation, how to have correct posture, how to follow your breath & other general aspects of meditation.
While these trainings may be interesting, they can often disappoint students who did not intend to get caught up in the frivolous minutiae of culture & religions typically associated with meditation.
Consequently, the time & effort spent on peripheral details often means graduates of these kinds of programs leave without the skills they need to perform a guided meditation.
So, in order to ensure you don’t fall into this all too common trap, let’s discuss what you should look for in a meditation certification or training course’s curriculum.
What Should I Look For In A Meditation Training Curriculum?
The curriculum of an online meditation training or certification program will tell you a lot about whether or not it’s the right fit for you.
First off, you’ll want to ensure the course description specifically & thoroughly describes each week or module.
The meditation industry is plagued by cliché language & terms that sound good, but don’t necessarily contribute to understanding what you are paying for.
Then, you’ll want to confirm that what is covered in the course aligns with what you want to learn.
Many trainings dedicate a lot of time to the religious history of one or two cultures that people typically associate with meditation.
There is nothing wrong with wanting to learn that information, but if your intention is to be able to guide meditations, that kind of content is not relevant.
Lastly, you’ll want to understand if the course is geared towards creating teachers of meditation or creating guided meditation facilitators.
Curriculums focused on creating teachers will often be filled with learning different breathing techniques, postures & other information.
Much of this kind of information can be found in a book, and teaching people how to simply follow their breath has a short list of useful applications.
Curriculums focused on creating guided meditation facilitators will focus much more on learning the performance & applications of guided meditation.
This will include things like vocal coaching, heavy emphasis on how to time & deliver words, and instruction on how to introduce guided meditation into your work.
Instruction on pragmatic applications of meditation is missing in most trainings because many instructors simply lack the experience in that area.
Those that have experience often utilize mindfulness, which has been trending with corporate in-house meditation teachers and also working professionals, like coaches & therapists.
Which brings me to my next point…
What’s the Difference Between Mindfulness and Guided Meditation?
For prospective students of a professional training in mindfulness or guided meditation, it’s vitally important to understand the difference & real world uses of each.
While there is undoubtedly ample research supporting the health & stress relief benefits of mindfulness, by itself, mindfulness lacks much application beyond self-regulation.
This is due to the core tenet of mindfulness, focus. Mindfulness is the based upon strategies & techniques to focus on the present moment.
This is achieved by focusing on the breath, sensations of the body, and observing & labeling thoughts & feelings as they arise, but not engaging with them.
This reduces stress & anxiety by how it affects the brain’s mutually exclusive attention networks, the Task Positive Network & the Default Mode Network.
The Task Positive Network (TPN) is the neural network we use when we are focusing and executing a singular task.
The Default Mode Network (DMN) is the neural network we use when we imagine, daydream, problem solve & contemplate, however, it is also the same network we use when we ruminate, worry & use our imagination dysphorically.
By focusing on the breath, body & the objectification of thought, we activate the TPN, and because these networks can not operate simultaneously, mindfulness enables us to quiet the negative self-talk & anxiety producing rumination of the DMN.
Guided meditation has the same physiological benefits, as every guided meditation begins similar to mindfulness meditations by focusing on the breath and sensations of the body to shift our neurochemical & neuroelectrical activity.
However, the major difference is that pure mindfulness stays exclusively TPN dominant for the entire meditation, while guided meditation utilizes the DMN in the middle of the meditation.
So, what does that mean?
In guided meditation, the meditator is encouraged to utilize their imagination, after they have reduced their physiological levels of stress.
This enables the facilitator to focus their participant’s imagination on a specific topic to help them solve a problem, gain insight or shift their perspective.
In mindfulness, meditative contemplation is not the objective, and it’s main application is to reduce stress & anxiety by avoiding the thoughts that produce them.
While this is an effective tactic in the moment, it doesn’t teach the participants methods or give them the tools to self-regulate in the future, and has been a proven demotivator in a professional setting.
The very fact that guided meditation facilitators are trained on how to utilize the imagination & encourage deep, thoughtful reflection means that the professional applications of their skill set is virtually limitless, while mindfulness applications are limited & quickly become monotonous for both the participants & the facilitator.
Picking a Meditation Training With Practical Professional Applications
Professional application & novelty are vital for someone seeking to spend several thousand dollars on a training and get a return on their investment.
Given what we just covered in the section above, you can go ahead and cross off any training that exclusively focuses on mindfulness from your list.
Additionally, it’s important to remind you that many meditation teacher trainings, which focus heavily on meditation techniques of breathing, the culture surrounding meditation, etc., are really just mindfulness courses.
This is because they don’t teach the art of facilitating a meditation experience, they only teach you how to show others how to follow their breath.
…an instructor who has been professionally utilizing guided meditation for many years.
Additionally, you’ll want to make sure that the instructor’s experience is relevant to you.
For instance, are you a coach, therapist or practitioner seeking to implement guided meditation into your sessions to improve your effectiveness with your clients?
Those skill sets are quite different, so you will want to make sure that the person teaching the course has experience in the area you desire to pursue in your own business.
The problem with finding such a training comes back to the fact that instructors with that kind of experience are not common.
Even if they were common, there is one last issue with many trainings that would still have to be overcome, finding a course that is in the correct format for you to learn.
What Training Format Will Enable You Learn and Implement?
No one enjoys spending money on something you don’t end up using.
Unfortunately, this is more common than not when it comes to professional trainings, and especially common when it comes to meditation trainings.
Online meditation trainings often are too hard to vet & don’t provide enough opportunity to ask the many questions that indubitably will arise over the course of your training.
In person trainings often don’t have enough time to cover the amount of material necessary to produce confident & competent guided meditation facilitators, and leave you with no one to ask questions after the training is complete.
The best option is likely somewhere in the middle…
A hybrid online guided meditation training course, with an in-person certification for those who graduate, and a vibrant online community of facilitators.
The online format allows the adequate amount of time and information to be divulged, and more easily enables the student to fit the training into their busy schedule, while the online community creates a space for the student to practice, hone their skills & ask questions directly to the instructor.
Essentially, you will want to find a course that doesn’t just leave you after teaching the HOW TO, but sticks with you during and after you implement guided meditation into your work to answer the questions surrounding WHAT TO DO WHEN.
I hope this article helped clarify the gray area surrounding the budding, but vitally important, field of guided meditation training.
There are many options out there, and I hope that you now have the information you need to make the best investment possible of your time & attention.
Lastly, I hope that the investment you choose to make enables you to positively impact the lives of others. Guided meditation facilitators are in dire need in today’s world, and it’s people like you who have what it takes to make a difference.
When you’re ready to choose a certification program, read my blog rating The 7 Best Meditation Teacher Trainings in 2021.