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Ask the Expert : Why should I choose an accredited mindfulness teacher?

Karen Barr - Mindfulness Trainer

This article’s expert is Certified Trainer and Executive Coach

Karen Barr




“I am looking to receive some mindfulness training.  Why is it important to choose an accredited mindfulness teacher?”


As we move into 2017 Mindfulness continues to be the big buzz in wellbeing.  However, as with any ‘next big thing’, there are many people jumping on the mindfulness teaching bandwagon thinking they can teach others after reading a book about it or attending a short course. I recently heard that a large consultancy had brought in a mindfulness teacher who had given the attendees colouring books! This misses the point of mindfulness entirely.

A fully accredited teacher adheres to “The UK Guidelines for Mindfulness Teachers” and to understand why it is important to choose an accredited teacher, let me explain what the guidelines entail.

  1. Complete a Mindfulness Teacher Training programme offered by an accredited provider
    After completing a standard 8 week mindfulness course my own teacher training was with the Mindfulness Association. This training included two weekends of teacher training practice, followed by a 5-day assessment and accreditation course. During this time, we learnt the techniques of mindfulness as well as the principles behind them and the key learning points for each session. The 5-day assessment course was a nerve-racking (mindfully of course!) delivery of sections of the course to colleagues and assessors.
  2. Commitment to a personal regular mindfulness practice
    Mindfulness is a life skill rather than a tool that we can pick up or drop, and just like learning to drive, taking the course is only the start. Therefore, it makes sense that anyone teaching mindfulness ‘walks the talk’. My own mindfulness practice is an hour a day of meditation but like everyone else, it can be difficult to fit it in some days. On days when I am very busy, I can still find 10 minutes to sit in stillness. I have learnt through experience how powerful mindfulness can be for managing stress and building resilience and because it has been a powerful catalyst in my life I make it a priority.
  3. Ongoing Supervision
    Through regular mindfulness practice, we are learning to manage and regulate our emotions. The first stage of this is becoming self-aware. Once we are aware of our habitual habit patterns of reacting/responding, difficult emotions such as anger or anxiety can arise – actually they were always there but we are now becoming aware of them. As a mindfulness teacher, we must be able to support people while they are learning to manage these emotions, and having a supervisor allows us the opportunity to discuss any issues that arise for us. However to be clear, mindfulness is not therapy but it can be therapeutic.
  4. Continuous Professional Development
    Most people understand the need for CPD, and mindfulness teachers are no different. CPD for mindfulness teachers is usually a retreat which includes some teaching components and periods of silence. My own CPD this year was a 10 day silent retreat with a teaching module in the evening. For me, this was the equivalent of a mental triathlon. Absolutely no talking for 10 days – it was tough! However, I have come away from it with new mental clarity, a deeper sense of overall calmness and a renewed enthusiasm for daily practice and teaching. These are all the things I wish for my participants, so it makes sense that I do this for myself too.Mindfulness is very much a lifestyle and a way of being rather than just a course you take, and if you allow it, it can have far reaching benefits for you in terms of how you live your life and relate to others, so it is important that you learn from people who are committed to genuinely living that life too.


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