Venturing into the world of self-development can be an overwhelming and intimidating place. Not in the last place because you feel judged or threatened by other people’s spiritual ‘progress’ and whatever that means. In the beginning every spiritual teacher can spark your inner fire or maybe none of them truly resonate with you. So how do you find a spiritual teacher that inspires you, lifts you up and guides you to your own inner wisdom?
You might have made a decision to work on self-development on a conscious level, an event could have triggered you or you’ve always been interested in spiritual practices. Whatever brought you to this place of learning and growing, it can be challenging to find someone who speaks your mind and gets what you’re going through.
My first yoga teacher here in Thailand said: “As a good teacher I need to give you the tools to embark on your own healing journey. To empower you so that you can go off on your own, without needing me.” At that time I wasn’t even thinking about becoming a teacher myself but his words have always stayed with me. As I was diving deeper into my own spiritual journey I kept hearing his words. Whenever I noticed I was trying to force myself to finish that book or trying to implement certain steps only to find myself abandoning them before I could have made them my own – I would question whether or not this is empowering or disempowering.
Fear of Change or Misalignment
I truly believe each spiritual teacher has an abundance of wisdom and their teachings true, but we also have to keep in mind that what they share is their truth. The same for me, what I share here is my truth and it’s up to you to see if that is aligned with your own inner truth. This still doesn’t take care of the fact that it’s challenging to get to the core of their teachings and determine whether or not it’s a fit.
One important thing we have to take into consideration is the fear of change. A great practice when you unsure whether or not this teaching resonates with you is to start observing the sensation in your body. Are you excited to read and learn more? Are you eager to dive in and discover all the nuggets of wisdom? Your body most likely will feel relaxed, your mind is focused and your breathing is steady.
This doesn’t mean that you can’t feel uncomfortable when you’re in the middle of a transformation. I would even go out and say it should feel at least a little bit uncomfortable. As long as it’s not draining you and leaving you almost paralyzed taking the next step. Learning more about your inner workings should be a joyful process with the occasional curveball to keep you on track, but it should never feel like an extra on your to-do list.
Spiritual Teacher Overwhelm
For some people there are simply too many inspiring teachers around. In all of their teachings is something you resonate with. How can you start distinguishing between which lesson is right for you at this moment? I have a few points that help me get through this overwhelm
- Before even looking into spiritual teachers, ask yourself what is it that you want to learn? This might not be the easiest question to answer. Find a topic you want to learn more about. Is it meditation, yoga philosophy, astrology, journaling, mindfulness, forgiveness. The list goes on so take a moment to go within and ask yourself where you need the most guidance with at the moment.
- In my experience I need something that personally connects us in order to get the most out of the teachings. Whether that is a life experience such as living abroad or being a mother, as long as I can connect with their personal story. When their teachings are rooted in their own experiences it makes their guidance so much more profound. They share their journey which in return inspires me to take action in my own life rather than coming from a place of simply sharing their material.
- When a teacher comes highly recommended don’t lose yourself in their guru status. Just because everybody adores their teaching doesn’t mean you have to. Ask yourself if their teachings are aligned with your journey
- Don’t be afraid to walk away from a teacher. Just because you like their teachings doesn’t mean it automatically aligns with the phase of the journey your in. I’ve walked away from teachers before only to end up with them later in my journey. I had to put their knowledge aside until I was ready for it. A spiritual teacher is there to guide you and at a certain point to part ways with you.
Not everybody goes through this whole process when they find a new spiritual teacher but I believe it’s important to always be mindful if your teacher is still inspiring you or that you’ve outgrown their guidance. Do you still feel the spiritual overwhelm? You’re going to love this podcast episode I did: Episode 30: How to Navigate Spiritual Overwhelm with Sam Goldsmith, where we discussed how to stay true to yourself and your inner voice while learning for others.
In my opinion, you should always feel empowered by your teacher. You can look forward to their next book, article or publication as long as you don’t depend on their next step. A true spiritual teacher empowers and gives you the tools necessary to transform and evolve.