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How To Trust Your Spiritual Teacher

click here for a free psychic reading at PsychicAccess.comIf you have a spiritual teacher, how do you know you can trust her? Weren’t you told to trust yourself first? Wait, how do you know you can trust your therapist, or even your doctor? Especially with all the sexual assault cases coming to light these days, it is scary to think that someone who is supposed to be your protector, care-giver, or mentor will use that position to manipulate you into a situation that is abusive, sometime violently abusive. Thinking about this can be horrifying, but so is not thinking about it.

What about the idea ‘trust yourself’? The problem with just trusting yourself is that if you grew up in an alcoholic, drug-abusing, violent family, or in some of the more subtle dysfunctional family dynamics, such as having a narcissistic or wounded parent, your radar for self-care is damaged. You do not yet have the skills to discern what is healthy for you. Your brain and nervous system is literally wired for dysfunction as your default normal setting. This means you will choose the dysfunction you know, because it is all you know. You will seek out an alcoholic lover; or you will find jobs with narcissistic bosses, for example.

The mediocre teacher tells. The good teacher explains. The superior teacher demonstrates. The great teacher inspires ~ William Arthur Ward

Once healed through recovery work, these challenges will still exist, however they will now be challenges for you to learn, rather than you making self-destructive choices, because you are in denial or have not re-educated yourself to make other choices that are better for your self-care.

On another level for those who consider themselves 5th Dimension (and above) beings, or those who believe themselves to be walk-ins, and so on, might have concurrent lives bleeding through and also affecting this life.

Until you have some recovery and healing under your belt, so to speak, how do you get to this place, out of the dysfunction and into making healthier and safer choices? And what do you do in the meantime? There is no easy answer.

In the beginning if you are coming out of denial and have begun to realize that you grew up with extreme abuse, or extreme dysfunction in your family of origin, you will be raw. The tendency is to latch onto something, anything, anyone, as a lifeline. This is often a cop-out in the alternative spiritual community. It is easier to blame it on your Astrological chart and Chakras, and to dabble in essential oils and crystals, than to dive into proper Shadow work. To escape a painful past, and an even more painful awakening, some prefer to talk to their angels or spirit guides. No problem with this unless, in my opinion, you then stay there, as a form of avoidance rather than a stage of healing. This is often why people join cults. Running to something or someone is often really running away from pain. And predators and perpetrators can read this ‘run-away’ energy like a hawk, and will welcome you in with open arms. So will dark spirit entities.

When you first awaken, or come out of denial, you will be very fragile and unstable. Honestly the safest route is a 12-Step group or any other healing group with not just one leader. A facilitator yes, leader, no. Why? Because there is not just one person in charge, which means there is no one to latch onto you, or for you to latch on to and then later hate because she does not (and cannot) become your savior. With groups there is not only one person with power and an agenda.

The teacher’s task is to initiate the learning process and then get out of the way ~ John Warren

If you decide to work with a therapist or a teacher or healer, add a support group to your recovery work, in order to ensure you are safe. Abusers survive in secrecy only. Many abusers pose as priests, group leaders, and new age prophets or ‘gifted gurus’ each claiming no accountability except to God or Spirit. What a scam. When no one talks to each other, in the darkness, individuals (either sick or with an agenda) will prey on you.

If you go to a group you can talk about anything. You learn, as they say in 12-Step, by hearing others share their “experience, strength, and hope.” No one is there to impress you with their expertise, degrees, gifts, or powers. You will be with peers, not experts. Keeping secrets, feeling special by being recognized as ‘someone special’ by someone in power is a sure avenue for predators. And if you are wounded, you are desperate to feel special or at least ‘normal,’ and this desperation makes one easy prey.

Moving on in your journey of healing it becomes different. Once you are on a path of healing, or awakening, there is another turning point to look for and pay attention to. Unless you are in an ashram following Bhakti teachings, a huge turning point to pay attention to is if your mentor or leader offers you endless acknowledgment (often called support), affirmations, being positive, and so on. After the pain, comes the pleasure. After being lost, you want to be ‘found,’ discovered, recognized, encouraged and praised. Yes, all of that is a wonderful and necessary part of healing and growing, but it is only a part of healing. Going to yoga, getting affirmed, praised, acknowledged, yes, do it all. However remain mindful, as with everything that can get out of balance and turn into a ‘feel good festival’ and actually risk developing a kind of survivor narcissism.

The feel good industries (and they are industries now) attract a different kind of predator. Some are benign, some not so much. The billion dollar industries that sell ‘feel good,’ and ‘you can do it,’ and ‘you deserve,’ and ‘you have gifts or talents, are just looking to sell to people who need to ‘feel good’ and are, at least in the moment, unable to generate feeling good about themselves from the inside out. The feel good industries are filled with and often led by the walking wounded who need to feel good by making you feel good. Then your adoration or praise of their ability to make you feel good fills their emptiness (or ego). This neediness can become predatory. In fact, this is how cults get started. Getting feel good vibes from the outside is not wrong, but it can become out of balance and then it is destructive.

Okay, so now what? If you are working with a teacher, therapist, or healer, that is new to you and you are coming out of deep pain, I suggest that first off you have a support group, preferably a recovery group, rather than just friends who have no experience or training in recovery. Friends are typically incapable of telling you things that are hard to say. They don’t want to lose the friendship or have no training or abilities to handle the blow-back that can come with saying something controversial to someone they love or care about and don’t want to lose.

True teachers use themselves as bridges over which they invite their students to cross; then, having facilitated their crossing, joyfully collapse, encouraging them to create bridges of their own ~ Nikos Kazantzakis

Second, slow down and take your time, with everything. You will feel fear. Sometimes that fear is real, sometimes it is demons and old patterns inside of you that are terrorizing you because recovery, growth, and healing, is scary and all kinds of resistance will come up. For example, statistically, women who live with men who beat them up, sending them to the emergency room or hospital, typically go back to the abusive relationship on an average seven times before being able to actually leave for good and start recovery.

People tend to make a U-turn when faced with recovery and can in fact run away from a teacher, therapist, or healer, and back to dysfunction, alcohol abuse, and so on. This is when a support group can be super helpful. They can help you stay even, help you to find courage. They have been through what you are going through and are on the other side. They can help you stay clear about others you are working with, such as a spiritual teacher. They can help you discern if those helping you are abusive or it is just your fears coming up and chasing you away from a mentor or helper. Again, slow down. Ask lots of questions. Meditate. Breathe.

Finally, if you are working with an individual teacher or healer, and all s/=he does is make you feel good, that is a red flag. Recovery, in fact life and any kind of healing, is not all about just feeling good. Someone who continually makes you feel good and tells you they love you when you are paying her, may be someone with a wounded ego, or even, worst case scenario, a narcissistic personality disorder, who needs others to adore them… and to keep paying them or coming to their classes.

A teacher’s job is to make you strong – strong enough to self-soothe; strong enough to not be dependent on others telling you that you are wonderful or needing others to feed you endless accolades; strong enough to withstand criticism or boundaries set by others. This doesn’t happen by you following orders, or doing mindless rituals that you are told to do, nor should you be stroked with endless affirmations and acknowledgments.

To help you get strong inside, a teacher will stir you up and allow you to pull away to take some time to consider what is happening. They will not threaten you with consequences if you pull away or not do as you are told. In fact a teacher of the Light will encourage you to fight back, argue, pull away and not be a sheep. And there will never be consequences or threats of consequences if you argue back, or if you choose to leave, or leave and come back.

Teachers affect eternity; no one can tell where their influence stops ~ Henry Brooks Adams

Another red flag to look out for is if you leave a teacher, without a good closing session or discussion. If you just cut the cord and leave with no discussion there is a really good chance that are you are running away in avoidance and fear, not moving on with your growth. The challenge is being able to maintain a balance between managing your fear, your desire to run away from healing and using your fear and avoidance to criticize and blame your teacher as a way for you to justify running back into familiar dysfunction. There is not much you can do about this except to slow down, and have a spiritual practice of meditation, so you can listen to Divine Guidance, and hopefully have a support group of experienced people in your life.

In the long run, notice if someone is making you stronger, or making you more dependent on getting her attention and approval. Notice if they challenge you once in a while and stand their ground, as you try to get them to take it back or make you feel better, or if you threaten them with anger, or leaving. When healing, people often manipulate like crazy to ‘people please.’ They can’t help doing that, it is what they learned under abuse; make people love you so you don’t get hurt. A good teacher will ask you to complement yourself, to note your own progress rather than do that for you, which would rob you of learning the skills to care for and love yourself.

A good teacher will not treat you like a victim and offer condolences, but will hand you a cane and ask you to get out of the wheelchair. Yes, process your pain, but then look at what the Universe sent to you so you could expand, learn, grow, and get strong. You can cry, but get out of the wheelchair. This will not be comfortable.

So, if your teacher sometimes pisses you off, stirs you up, gives you space, doesn’t insist you come back, can handle your temper tantrums and your screams and manipulations (that you are a victim and “can’t do it”), and doesn’t hand out complements like candy, you just might have a good one.

About The Author: Nonna

Nonna lives in Southern California, and is a professor of psychology and a teacher of psychic development, energy work and meditation, who has recently finished her PhD. She has been a counselor for both humans and animals for thirty years, removing energy blocks through her expertise in the spiritual arts. She also has numerous years of study and practice with classic psychological therapeutic models, family work, twelve-step processes, nutritional and body/mind/spirit healing, complementary, alternative, and quantum medicine. Nonna is brilliant at unearthing the gems in every client's soul and polishing them to a fine finish. To release your own soul's sparkle, contact Nonna at

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