You’re standing in front of a class full of students and your hands are shaking.
You love mindfulness practice.
You’ve been meditating for years.
But it’s so dang hard to get up there and teach!
Part of you wants to crawl back under your meditation blanket and hide – but the bigger part of you knows you want to be there.
How can you build the confidence you need?
14 Tips to Boost Confidence as a Mindfulness Teacher
Salomeh G., iBme Teacher Training Graduate
1. Encourage Yourself
Think of how you would encourage a dear friend or loved one – then direct that energy towards yourself. Take a moment to appreciate your intentions, efforts + your willingness to take risks. Play around with soothing, uplifting phrases like “you’ve got this! You’re going to do great! You don’t have to be perfect.” You can also try doing a self-compassion or loving-kindness practice before you teach.
2. Get Grounded
Take a few moments to drop in before you start teaching. Each person has a different way of doing this – find what works for you! Maybe it’s closing your eyes and breathing for a few moments when you start. Maybe it’s cracking jokes. Whatever helps you feel relaxed and grounded is the way to go!
3. Nervous? Say it!
Do you feel jittery or anxious when you get up to teach? Share it with your students! Vulnerability builds confidence and opens up the space for people to feel more connected and receptive to what you’re saying – because it shows you’re trustworthy. Naming what’s real and alive for you in the moment takes the pressure off and gives everyone permission to show up in an authentic way. Practice what you preach!
4. Get Excited to Mess Up
Flip fear on its head! Become playful + lighthearted about your mistakes. Suddenly, you become bigger than your fears. Embrace and expect yourself to be imperfect – and remember that it’s part of the process. Think of mistakes as learning opportunities that point you in the direction of your own growth.
5. Check your Bias
Most likely, you’re your own worst critic. Become aware of your tendencies and shift how you’re paying attention. Notice – am I selectively picking out and focusing on what went “wrong?” Can I shift what I’m paying attention to and get a more balanced view of myself? One way to do this is to build a practice of noting positive aspects to counteract a critical bias.
6. Ask for Feedback from People you Trust
Get feedback from people who can hold you with tenderness and give you real-time, honest feedback. Approach it with an open, non-judgmental mind – rather than thinking of feedback as a “test” – and use feedback as a way to get more information to see how things are landing. Ask questions like, “How did that land? What was your experience of my teaching? What’s one thing that worked well for you – and why? What’s one thing that didn’t work well for you – and why?” Getting feedback from people you trust will give you a broader perspective on your teaching.
7. Embrace Where You’re At
It’s easy to look at a teacher you admire and think, “that’s how I’m supposed to be.” But remember that it’s ok for you to be exactly where you are. You’re doing the best you can with where you are right now – and that’s ok! Give yourself permission to show up as you are, in this moment, and remember that you are enough.
8. Find What Works for You
Every teacher has a different style of preparing to teach. Try things out and see what supports your growth. Do you like to write out your meditations beforehand, or do you prefer to improvise? Do you need to record + listen to yourself teach? Does it help you to read or hear other people’s meditations? Play with it and find what works for you.
9. Lean into What you Know
Remember – you already know more than enough! You have a huge pool of wisdom and experience to draw from, so use it! Don’t be afraid to draw on stories and observations from your own life – as well as formal training. It’s all relevant!
10. … and Give Yourself Permission to Not Know.
Don’t know? No problem. You don’t need to know everything and that’s ok. Honesty and humility are key – with yourself and with your students. This takes the pressure off you to be the “expert” and builds a sense of trust, because it shows students you’re still learning, too.
11. Practice, Practice Practice
Especially if you’re shy or nervous, you might feel reserved about jumping in. Many mindfulness teachers are introverts at heart! But the more you do it, the easier it will be. When you have an opportunity to practice, go for it! Have a friend who wants to start meditating? Try guiding them for 5 minutes. Take baby step moments to build up to where you want to be.
Put on music! Do a victory dance! Give yourself a hug. It’s party time! Celebration is just as important (if not more important!) as constructive feedback. It generates positive momentum that inspires you to keep going. Make it a practice to write down or share out-loud your “wins” with friends and colleagues after you teach.
13. Love your Students
If you feel self-conscious in front of a group, try loving your “audience”. Imagine your students are dear friends or family members. Offer them kindness and well-wishes. See the beauty in their faces. Tap into their strength and their vulnerability. This shifts anxious attention off of you and makes you feel more connected to the group.
14. Join the iBme Mindfulness Teacher Training Program
Don’t take our word for it! Here’s what iBme TT alumni have to say about how the program has helped them. Early Decision + Scholarship Applications due Dec 31st. Learn More + Apply Here.
“The practice teachings helped me develop the confidence that I needed to bring this out into my community. I’ve been meditating for years, but it’s one thing to sit and meditate and another thing to actually go out and teach. The program content was multidisciplinary + holistic – incorporating everything from body awareness to play in the learning cycle. It’s experiential learning, as well as the fundamental sitting practice.”
– John B., Educator, Consultant
“This teacher training gave me the confidence, clarity and optimism I needed to create my own path as a mindfulness educator. It facilitated a deep, introspective kind of learning for me – helping me explore core questions about why I want to teach mindfulness to young adults specifically, deepening my sense of purpose and clarifying my personal and professional aspirations. That clarity and resolve has been the fuel that’s gotten me through the hurdles of the past two years, working in a field that still feels emergent and is sometimes met with skepticism or resistance by those who aren’t familiar with mindfulness practice and its benefits.”
– Nina B., Mindfulness Director at Mindfulness Director Initiative + Director of Wellness at Harvard College
“This program basically created my life as a teacher of mindfulness. It was a great opportunity to go very very deep – in getting to know who I am, how I relate with other people, how the world works, how the brain works . . . It’s given me this wealth of knowledge. It’s made me be able to be present + be a resource for young people.”
– Ingrid K., Teacher
“I’ve grown so much through this program. Thank you for guiding me to become a stronger, more grounded mindfulness practitioner, and for teaching me how to bring this to others. I feel so lucky. The courageous, authentic, compassionate vulnerability that you modeled created an amazing container.”
– Gary N., Social emotional learning coordinator
Interested? Check our Teacher Training page to learn more and apply. Apply by Dec 31st for Early Decision and Scholarship Applications.