Wednesday, February 1, 2012

The Process of Becoming a Spiritual Teacher

I am occasionally asked about how to become a spiritual teacher, the path I took to becoming a spiritual teacher, and an assortment of other questions. It's a series of questions that I expect to hear more of as time goes on and more of the next generation of spiritual teachers rolls out of bed and wonders what in the world is happening. Nonetheless, there are some things that are a process as a teacher and somethings that simply are. In your heart, you already know if you're a teacher or not. It's right there inside. Some of you may be excited; some of you may be scared; and some of you may have more emotions than you know what to do with. So here are some thoughts about what the path to becoming a spiritual teacher is like.

If you are interested in being mentored as a spiritual teacher or healer by me, here are some details on that path:

Jim Tolles' Spiritual Teacher Mentorship Program

You Are What You Are
One of the big lessons on the spiritual path is that you are what you are. In your heart, you know exactly what you are. You may be most fulfilled as a mother or as a lover of nature or as a tour guide to Switzerland. Some of you are simply here to be. That's it. You have no other agenda, so you are very much free to take on just about any role that you want. The point is that you already know. Perhaps it's been layered under a pile of fear and confusion, but as you pull away those lies, it becomes clearer and clearer what you are at your core.

For the spiritual teachers, you know you're here to teach, but it is important to appreciate that you will teach in a way that is true and becoming to you. You will not teach like me. Perhaps some of you will have similarities, but you will not teach exactly the same way. That will be a point that I make to some of the future mentees that I take on to teach how to do work as spiritual teachers (This isn't something that I'm currently doing, however). You will need to discover your own style as well as appreciate your own strengths and weaknesses.

Many Trees in the Forest: All Are Sacred
In my blog post called "What Is a Spiritual Teacher?" I talk about different levels of teachers and different focuses that they may have (the mind, heart, psychic, or body). The point isn't so much to create a hierarchy as to create an understanding of the different types of teachers out there. You don't all have to be like Eckhart Tolle or Don Miguel Ruiz or [Insert your current favorite spiritual teacher here]. As I mentioned above, you can't. It's impossible. You're not them. You're you, and you're going to have a certain way of sharing and offering to students that is all your own. It's like the different trees in the forest. What they offer to the forest and environment around them is extremely different from tree to tree. The great redwood provides enormous shelter to many of the beings around it with its huge stature and great boughs. It also holds a great piece of the Earth with its roots and stabilizes the environment around it in that way. The peach tree does not do these things. Instead, it nourishes people and animals with its sweet fruits that it assiduously spends all spring and summer growing. Both are very important, and both have amazing things to offer.

But consider what would happen if the peach tree suddenly decided it should be the redwood or if the redwood thought it should be the peach tree? The peach tree would spurn its fruit and struggle and strive to grow taller and delve its roots out farther and deeper. Meanwhile, the great redwood would twist and bend and slouch and clump to try to stand at the level of the peach tree and toil endlessly to produce edible fruits, but none would taste right. And all in the forest would wonder why these two beautiful trees were so utterly confused.

Expanding Your Natural Gifts
As I am writing this, the assumption is that I speaking to people who are doing their own work. As spiritual teachers, you can't take care of anyone else unless you take care of yourself. If you've been following this blog closely, you'll notice that I haven't posted much in the last month and a half. That was part of me taking care of myself, and if you truly are called to teach, you will be your first and primary student to care for before you expand your boughs to support others.

But in doing your work to expand, fill with light, and dissolve the veils of untruths that may still yet bind you, your natural gifts are coming up. They are guiding you in the ways that you need to go and towards all the things that you need to do. Becoming what you are isn't a struggle, although initially there are some challenging points for all of us because of the density and falsity that we've absorbed into ourselves. We have to get that out. Otherwise, our paths are easily perverted by those agendas, and the fewer agendas (especially the desire to help) that you have, the more pure and clear your teaching can be as well as being aligned with your natural gifts.

Knowing Your Limits
Not everyone who comes to you should be taught by you. Sometimes, this is part of the tests of the universe to see if we can discern the appropriateness of teaching. Some people aren't ready for you. Some people you aren't ready to teach, and in truth, the deeper guidance that we have will always be teaching and healing at the deepest level if we're tuned in. So if you say that you cannot teach someone at this time and it comes from your inner guidance, teaching is actually still happening. The ego thinks that it has to prove something or act a certain way and see physical results. There's a lot of immaturity running around these days in spiritual teachers. We're not here to solve problems. We're here to be ourselves, and to be ourselves means to listen to that core inner guidance within us. If we stop listening, pain and suffering can quickly arise for us and the others we're teaching. This statement isn't meant to scare you. But it is meant to caution you about the importance of doing your own work and staying present to the messages that you receive. Because oftentimes I've found that craziest and weirdest stuff I've been guided to do has been the most accurate and influential of anything I might have rationally thought of.

No Where to Go as a Spiritual Teacher
You have no where special that you need to go to do your teaching. Every corner of the Earth needs it. Now, you may feel called or guided to go some place, and that's perfect. Trust that guidance, but for any remaining ego that thinks it needs to set up shop in an ashram, just know that that's not necessary. Some of you may not always be as in-tune with your inner guidance, and to those of you, I really encourage you to keep up your work. I encourage you to keep going with self-care and self-work until you truly feel like you're about to burst if you don't do the spiritual teaching. This isn't a race, and there's a lot of internal leg-work that has to happen so that you'll be in integrity and so that you can maintain your energy, body, mind, and emotional health. This is very demanding stuff, and it's not a path that should be taken lightly or as a way to save the world. But most of you know that anyway. I figure I'm preaching to the choir right now, but it never hurts as a reminder.

Establishing a Spiritual Practice: When the Teacher Is Ready, the Students Will Appear
If it's not time for you to teach, you won't be able to lasso a student to save your life. My experience is that students pretty much started appearing almost as soon as I announced on my blog that I'm a spiritual teacher. My doors weren't kicked down by students, but they appeared. And for you, you're going to have as many students with whatever issues they have as you're ready to be with those students and those types of issues. That's part of why doing your work is so key. There's just so many people who think they have to teach or heal the minute they've had even a flavor of truth or a brief spiritual opening. But they quickly get into trouble or get drained, and then they can't give to anyone. And they don't know what's happening. Well, they got going a little too quickly before they had their own foundation set. It's always good to finish building your own home before inviting people into it. But once it is built, then you have to figure out just how open the doors should be. You may be surprised just how many people want to come in when you're ready to the be the amazing and beautiful teacher that you are.
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