A key difference between meditation teaching and many other kinds of small businesses is that profit is rarely the main motivator. Meditation teachers tend to be altruistic, conscientious, socially aware people who avoid hype. They find greater personal reward from being of service than from making profit.
Our survival depends on our ability to find our place in the economic sense and meditation teachers find themselves needing to be more business savvy in order to thrive and help others. Although it can appear contrary to the altruistic philosophy behind their craft, the more successful the business, the more people can be reached and helped.
Building a vibrant, caring meditation community, specifically designed to share the gift of meditation, can be a rewarding endeavour for all involved. Below are some tips for helping you build a meditation business that gives to others and grows in reach.
Begin a sitting group
Alongside any paid courses, consider starting a sitting group. Meditation is a solitary practice and there are many reasons why students may fall off the path of daily practice. Offering a free or ‘by donation’ sitting group to past and present students is a lovely way to keep people connected to their practice. Even though this may take more of your time, offering a sitting group is a solid way to build and foster a sense of community.
Feed your community by creating opportunities to lift the spirit and build relationships. Consider ways you can add a splash of fun to your meditation community by hosting small meditation events blended with inspiration. For example, meditation combined with storytelling, poetry reading, art, music or film has the potential to deeply touch hearts and help people stay connected to their own meditation journey. Meditation events allow new friendships to blossom and nurture the community you are creating.
Build your brand
Cultivating a business is like helping a child to grow; branding and marketing are the seeds we sow to successfully build pathways, allowing us to spread the gift of meditation to others. ‘Branding’ refers to the way a business presents itself to the world for promotion. Every business, including a meditation business, needs a brand to be successful. Building a website, posting on social media and even the names chosen for courses all directly relate to branding. Building a cohesive, consistent and recognisable brand is an important marketing strategy and can also be fun and creative.
Resist buying into your brand
One thing that sets a meditation teacher’s brand aside from other businesses is that a meditation teacher understands the commercial role of branding without pinning their success on their brand. They know that, even though their brand is an honest representation of their work, their personal identity is not tied into their branding. Unlike the stereotype of the upwardly mobile entrepreneur, a meditation teacher recognizes that their self esteem is not determined by how many followers they have on Twitter or how many likes their posts receive on Facebook. This sense of wholeness outside of their work helps meditation teachers build a healthy attitude to their working life and actually makes promoting their brand more effortless and straightforward.
Get the support of a mentor
Meditation teaching is a relatively new area. In ancient traditions this style of good-works was learnt through apprenticeship, often associated with a greater commitment to a complete philosophical lifestyle. There is a lot to be said for the ongoing benefits of this kind of pathway. Meditation principles may seem very simple but the associated inner process of exploring one’s own consciousness and assisting others to explore theirs is actually highly complex. There is always more to learn. Although a meditation teacher is not a counsellor or psychologist, the work they do deeply impacts others and requires an ongoing commitment to learning as well as the responsibility of duty of care. As a teacher, finding a mentor to support this process can only be beneficial. A mentor can also help a teacher navigate their business choices and assist them to consider new ways to inspire their community. In order to find a mentor, teachers could consider returning to the school or the teacher they trained with and asking them about mentorship. Alternatively, Meditation Australia may be able to assist in to find the right partnership.
As a meditation teacher the benefits of both your business and personal success flow out to others in many ways. It is possible to blend altruistic and philosophical ideals with solid business practices and enjoy the rewards of meditation teaching on all levels. Ideally a meditation teaching business can be economically sustainable and can reach out to a wide audience, providing a sense of community as well as a safe space for learning, personal growth and like minded connection.
Article by Joanna Joustra
Executive, Meditation Australia