As a survivor of a cult, being raised in a Jehovah’s Witness environment, I would say that I gained enough tools to recognize where there is a misrepresentation or manipulation in the name of the “supposed truth.” Unfortunately, misguidance is found in cults and the spiritual realm of “the enlightened bunch.”
Now, more than ever, I am aware of possible red flags, as I was misled and bypassed during my spiritual and healing journey. However, I have learned from several clients and skeptical individuals that at one point in their lives, they felt skeptical about Reiki healing because they had been misled, deceived, misunderstood, or disregarded by inexperienced holistic practitioners and so-called healers. Consequently, several people have rejected Reiki healing as a whole because of their unfortunate experiences with these practitioners.
Using my own experience as an example
Let's look deeper now into someone who had experienced emotional trauma from a very young age. I was a child who was called the ”devil child” just because I wasn’t obedient and had a strong spirit. It was my father who made me feel that something was wrong with me just because of the way I always questioned him and stood up to his abuse and manipulation. I thought I was not good enough, and when I grew up questioning the world and my surroundings, my questioning became a part of what was deemed a terrible childhood habit.
Spiritual bypassing, referring to the tendency to use spiritual concepts and practices to avoid facing unresolved emotional issues and dismiss psychological wounds, was the perfect way to loop me into this dark cycle of insecurities. The voice in my head telling me, “I am not worthy,” was something that I truly felt and believed in, and it was in keeping with the narrative that was embedded in me throughout my upbringing.
In my early spiritual journey, the external voices were stronger and more valuable than mine, as I doubted my intuition and was filled with insecurities. When anyone was in a position to teach, I projected a power dynamic of their superiority. At times, when their comments or opinions didn’t sit well with me, I would dismiss my feelings because they possessed some greater knowledge. And, if an opportunity arose to express my feelings or moments of doubt, I was made to feel that I was not aligning myself with their teachings. I often received ‘spiritual’ criticism that it was due to my spiritual apprenticeship, that it was my ego that made me doubt. I hadn’t acquired a ‘certain level’ in my spirituality to understand fully. They knew better than me. At least, that was my perception and what I believed in at the time.
I also tended to put anyone who was a teacher or an authority figure on a pedestal because they knew more, or so I thought. This projection was something that always led to deep disappointment. Our healing journey comes with the projection and expectation that the spiritual teacher, yoga, meditation, or healer has the ‘key’ to our healing, and they will lead us to where we need to be. Unfortunately, the reality is that professionals who work as facilitators can often directly influence other people’s lives. Still, they may not even have a deep understanding of trauma and how trauma impacts someone.
In this fast-food society, often so-called healers and self-appointed practitioners are made a few hours after completing an online course.
Some others have a high social media following, which becomes problematic because they are given a false sense of credibility based on their followers.
A stamp of approval from the masses is given, creating a false sense of credibility because these so-called healers may not have the expertise required to work with people who can be highly vulnerable.
The biggest problem is that these so-called healers don’t even realize the profound consequences that their responses may have on someone. When working with people, we need to make sure where the person is in their emotional, mental, and spiritual journey. Sometimes, it means that people must create a team of professionals, whether it be therapists, mentors, naturopaths, holistic practitioners, or energy practitioners, to ensure they care for themselves at all levels. We must question and use discernment in our healing journey to assess the projections and expectations we may have. Healers, coaches, and mentors are human beings; they are imperfect and do not hold our truth. Our truth is unique to us. We are unique expressions of consciousness, and our path will be unique.
Reflecting on my own experience, it would have been much easier for me if I had been guided to look at my trauma in the early stages of my healing journey. Every time something would show up energetically, and I tried to explore the pain, the thoughts, and the emotions that arose, I was misled and dismissed with a pat on my back.
I was welcomed with spiritual jargon in each spiritual bypass, and each time I thought I was closer to healing, the further I was away from it. As an example, I would receive rhetoric that what I was experiencing was “the process of ascension to the 5D world. The ascension you are experiencing is part of the layers you are letting go of, and it is part of your spiritual process because of your purpose to be a healer.” These statements were unhelpful because I was not exploring what I needed to heal. I was dancing around it and forcing these complex emotions to be dismissed. I believe it is not about ‘ascending’ to the 5D world; we have to” arrive,” thereby unveiling and healing our wounds and freeing ourselves of what is holding us back, not by ignoring it or dismissing it. There is no boot camp for enlightenment!
Our most profound wisdom as spiritual teachers comes from our wounds and how we choose to heal them. We must decide to go deeper into self-exploration and self-inquiry, as this will lead us to freedom, spiritual growth, and a path that reconnects us with who we are. Or, we can hide under the fastest and unconscious way of claiming that we transcended all our pain to Divine light even though we barely dug into ourselves. Practicing asanas (posture) makes us highly spiritual, even though asanas is only one of the eight yoga limbs.
Trauma leaks into adulthood. It impacts our perception of self and how we perceive the world. There are conditionings, patterns, and coping mechanisms that we need to understand and release. It is a process and certainly not something we can move through dismissal or by just a few meditation sessions or yoga poses. It takes self-awareness to bring these tools and resources into our lives. What makes it successful is the practice. No teacher can transmute our pain or make us peaceful. Peace is found within, and we are the only ones who have the power to reconnect with our inner peace.
Breathwork, meditation, and yoga are incredible tools to help us reground ourselves and build awareness. It is a daily practice that assists us physically, emotionally, and spiritually. Still, we must go to the root cause to heal, not mask the symptoms or dismiss our emotional pain. We need to release our trauma and suppressed emotions to experience sustainable health. We need to feel so we can heal.
In my personal experience and the experience of others, I worked with, when the professionals did not work enough on themselves and were not aware of their own emotional baggage, misleading and bypassing were most likely to occur.
I remember years ago, when I took my Trauma Counselling course, my facilitator, who had close to 30 years of experience with trauma, took a significant amount of time to explain to her students how this course was going to be emotionally charged. She explained that whether we wanted it or not, what we would be exposed to would trigger us emotionally. It would mirror something to us. She urged us to do our inner work because working with trauma would undoubtedly be difficult, and to be in service to others, we need to look at our needs and our healing. I can assure you that I had days where I ended green, sick to my stomach, and I cried for release. I saw my mother’s trauma and the generational trauma of my family through many cases that we observed during my course. I understood the coping mechanisms I had created to survive. For the very first time, I felt deeply compassionate for the little me, who hadn’t had her basic needs met as a child and who had suffered so much at such a young age. I hadn’t done enough work or given her the attention needed to heal.
That was when I realized the misguidance and the lack of knowledge of many of my spiritual teachers. They were masking it behind their spiritual jargon and projected hierarchy. Instead of empowering me to break free, they saw my insecurities and fed them back to me. Everything started shifting in my life when I started questioning. That is when I found my answers and stepped into my power.
Empowering vs. Disempowering
A while ago, I started working with someone well-educated and had guided her through her healing journey years ago. She had been working with a counsellor, who also used yoga and other holistic approaches in her practice. This client had insecurities, had no sense of self, and didn’t know what self-love and self-acceptance were. She could barely look at herself to the point where it affected her professionally.
As we started our coaching sessions, she shared with me that she was repeatedly told that whenever she spoke of her lack of self-love, she was told that she was too attached to her ego and needed to detach herself from it. This criticism made her unable to share her emotions and communicate what she was going through simply because it made her feel wrong.
Unfortunately, bypassing avoidance can happen in the spiritual journey due to the teacher's misperception or misconception. For example, emotions like anger are described as “lower vibrational energy,” so people are often told to be grateful and positive. They are told that anger is wrong and a toxic emotion. However, anger is part of our emotions. It shows us something about ourselves or our lives, and dismissing or suppressing it is toxic. It is precious to learn to “listen to our emotions, even the unpleasant ones,” as Brené Brown, American author and researcher, explains.
The ego is not bad per se; it is a person’s sense of self. When someone has a massive ego and cannot manage it, it affects how they are with others and the world because they feel superior and always right; this person is considered to be self-centred. It is very different when someone functions only from their ego and is egoistic. Then, it is toxic.
Now, in this particular case, of someone with NO sense of self, of someone who suffered childhood trauma, of someone who was betrayed and hurt, this woman didn’t like what she saw in the mirror; she didn’t know or experience self-love, and she was told that she was in her ego. This misguidance is bypassing and misleading her. It just steered her deeper into a dark cycle and kept her powerless, confused, and even more insecure.
Do you see what I see?
There is much more to say about this, but I will conclude for today.
When a child starts to crawl, we don’t expect them to run, do we? They must first learn to stand, take their first steps, and they will eventually run; our spiritual journey is the same.
Let’s look at a journey of steady steps instead of a running race.
It is an ongoing journey of dedication to self-exploration.
For the people starting or on their healing journey, know there is “no one-size-fits-all.” You need to commit yourself to your self-exploration and your inner work.
Your spiritual path will look different than others, than your teachers, and that is fine! If any teacher makes you feel wrong and needs you to follow a certain way, or if you cannot trust them and feel uncomfortable, then please take a moment to ask yourself if it is worth it to find someone else. You need to find someone who empowers you to stand on your own awareness; you have the answers within! You are resourceful and whole!
YOU CAN’T FAIL AT BEING WHO YOU ARE BECAUSE THERE IS NO ONE LIKE YOU!!
To the ones working and facilitating others in their journeys, please commit yourself to your continuous healing journey; we are constantly learning and growing. There are so many layers to release in our own healing; it is an ongoing journey.
Let’s stay in our lane of expertise. If we are not the right person to work with, let us remain humble and send that person to another skilled professional who might help them better. It has nothing to do with our abilities or limitations. It has to do with recognizing the needs of the person. Their needs have to come first at all times.
Let’s create a foundation with people, understand where they are in their lives, and have a complete understanding, keeping in mind that we can steer people wrong. We can wrongly impact peoples' lives and re-traumatize them, especially when people are desperately in pain and are seeking answers. We are NOT to tell them what to do. We are only to guide them to reconnect with themselves and find their own answers. After all, wholeness is who we are, isn’t it?