What to Look for in a Teacher

Meditation is challenging, and the obstacles that arise in practice can be hard for a non-practitioner to understand. This can make difficult meditative experiences quite isolating. For most of us (and I am no exception), at some point it becomes essential to find a trusted guide.

These guides come in many forms, with many labels. When it works, a one-on-one relationship can turn obstacles into opportunities and help you to see and trust the way forward. Since finding a teacher is more than just examining a list of credentials, I've compiled a list of things I look for and feel for...

  • Someone who is authentic and sincere in their presentation.
  • Someone who encourages me to be my authentic self, and accepts me as I am.
  • Someone who teaches from a place that is not egoic.
  • Someone who is consistently kind.
  • Someone who uses language that naturally clicks for me without much translation.
  • Someone who helps me trust my own experience.
  • Someone I get along with.
  • Someone who has an active practice of their own.
  • Someone who teaches from direct experience, and not just from the prescriptions of others.
  • Someone who is far enough ahead of me on the path that they can offer meaningful guidance, but not so far ahead that I won't be able to understand it.
  • Someone who embodies what they are teaching.
  • Someone who is relatively available and easy-to-reach.
  • Someone who has a balanced relationship with money and isn't prohibitively expensive.
  • Someone who's approach is relevant to my life and goals.
  • Someone who's practice strategies lead to improvements in my thinking, behavior and emotional life.
  • Someone who is honest about their own weaknesses.
  • Someone who really knows what they are talking about.
  • Someone who has impeccable ethics.
  • Someone I trust and with whom I feel safe.