How to Choose a Meditation Instructor

Here's 4 questions to ask yourself before you choose an instructor. 

A sitting session about to start at the New York Insight Meditation Center. Photograph by Joshua Simpson

If you want to make mindfulness a part of your life, you’ll probably want to consider working with a meditation teacher or instructor. You can even do that online using a video chat format of some kind, but even then the same principles apply.

Learning mindfulness is a relationship. Even if you start with a book, you’re learning from the author. If you and your teacher begin a dialogue, you can dig deeper into your life and be more present for it as it unfolds from moment to moment. That dialogue—much of it held in silence—will help your mindfulness practice unfold more creatively.

But how do you find a person who’s right for you? Here are a few questions to consider.

4 questions to consider when looking for a meditation teacher:

1. Do you have good chemistry with them?

Think about qualities you’d like to develop and see if the instructor embodies them. If you’re going to learn from someone on an ongoing basis, you need to connect strongly.

2. Are they open and accessible?

You want someone who’s relaxed and at ease, who comes across as present, caring, and compassionate. Equally important, you want someone who can work with your schedule.

3. Do they have a deep understanding of the practice?

While it’s important that you and your instructor get along well, it’s also important for them to be credentialed and have a strong personal practice to draw from when teaching.

4. Could they regard you like a friend?

They may not be a “friend” per se, but they’re like one. Friends look in the same direction—not toward each other, but toward what’s best for each person. Can you and the person teaching you communicate at eye level?

This article appeared in the October 2014 issue of Mindful magazine.

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