Spirituality is an emerging world in our modern times. From the eyes of the economist, it is an emerging industry and like all forms of business, spirituality comes with its own pitfalls and trappings – even though it’s all about love and light! Imagine that!
I have spent my entire adult life dealing with the spirituality and health industries and as a practitioner, the experience I gained in the realm of healthcare has been invaluable in helping me navigate and serve as a spiritual practitioner. It has also pointed out unhealthy aspects of the world of spirituality that I write about in this article to help you avoid scams, unprofessional behaviours and potentially unhealthy guidance that I have dealt with as both a recipient and as a practitioner trying to help clients deal with the aftermath of unprofessionalism.
As a practitioner and an observer who has observed and seen the unprofessional and (at times) illegal business practices within spirituality, here are my tips to help you avoid the downfalls of the world of spiritual business and to find (or be) an amazing practitioner in true service!
Spiritual Business Pitfall #1: Stealing and gossiping about former business associations
To be honest, in any world involving practitioners or service to others, this is a common behaviour! When a practitioner leaves a business, they gossip about the business, say something negative about it and then try to draw the clients to whatever new business they are working with. It doesn’t matter if they leave of their own volition or are fired. The attempt to hold on to their income as they make a transition often means that they actively engage in stealing clients. Sending messages and emails to clients behind the back of the former ties.
Examples of this often look like labelling former associates or institutions as a cult or pyramid scheme. Trampling the credibility to have clients disengage is a dishonest (and illegal) practice in many cases. As practitioners develop an increasingly personal relationship with their clients, words of harm can damage other businesses and practitioners, all for the sake of survival or greed. I personally know many practitioners who have been damaged by false claims from other practitioners. I also know some of the people who attempted to damage their reputation by falsely claiming they are in a cult and steal clients from behind their backs, trolling their social media accounts and preying upon the people who showed interest.
Reputations, lives and families are destroyed because of these behaviours. And in many cases, the claims made by unscrupulous, dishonest practitioners seeking to make profit are in all actuality false. These kinds of behaviour are potentially libel or slander – crimes that open up to the potential of being sued. Sounds quite counter to what spirituality is all about, doesn’t it?
So, if this is so common, what does it matter to avoid it? As spiritual practitioners, we are supposed to be love and light. To cultivate business and personal success through tearing down others is not right – and if a practitioner engages in that, then they are unable to guide you on how to create love and light in your own life. A practitioner must walk their talk and they cannot guide you where they have not been before. And make no bones about it, this behaviour is stealing. Would you really want to work with a thief? (Or be a thief, if you’re a practitioner?)
Spiritual Business Pitfall #2: Opinion-based “Evidence”
Here is what spirituality is: a process of getting to truth.
Here is what spirituality is not: being in a position of knowing all truths.
I have met a great many practitioners who act like their spirituality puts them in the second position – that it has given them all truths and that they know about everything. The mysteries of being human, being in the physical world and connecting with the spiritual realms are vast. We hardly know anything! Socrates said it best:
“I am the wisest man alive, for I know one thing, and that is that I know nothing.”
The world of spirituality truly is vast, there are many ideologies, theories and teachings to engage with. But I know something that far outnumbers the incredible number of teachings ideologies and theories – opinions. Unfortunately, spirituality has become a world of opinion. And the practitioner who is most convinced of their opinions and can communicate them most successfully becomes the winner. I can’t only blame practitioners for this practice, I have met a good many potential clients who purposely stir the pot for a good spot of drama too.
But spirituality is not only opinions anymore, “psychic ability” has become irrefutable evidence to some and this can be a dangerous practice. I have met a good many people who have become dependent on psychics to make life decisions – a very dis-empowering practice. In a world where we all hold the potential to be psychic, we should be encouraging that in each other – to trust our own intuition!
Now, I hate to break this to you, but not every practitioner out there is honest about what they intuit. Sometimes, they intuit that you lack discernment and that you are a great target for a scam! I cannot tell you how many emails, text messages, phone calls and in-person conversations I have had on the topic of people being taken advantage of by unscrupulous readers because they automatically believe what the reader tells them! Here’s a common example: “Such and such psychic told me that I’m cursed by a jealous co-worker.” As with all forms of evidence, we must be discerning when it comes to accepting or giving validity to “psychic messages”.
Why is this something to pay attention to as a client: psychic ability is not irrefutable and not everyone is discerning enough to know when intuitive advice applies. As a general rule for clients, one of the ways to avoid the pitfalls of conflicting opinions is to find a practitioner you resonate with and stick with them. Take a meditation class or watch them do a talk or host an event. Don’t tell 15 different practitioners your story! You’ll only end up with 15 different opinions and leave yourself open to more confusion than when you started.
Tip for being a better practitioner: don’t argue with what other practitioners have done. Always approach your clients honestly based on your training and perspective and give them a course of action. Let them discern if your services are for them or not. And if you find that a client is trying to get you into a battle of philosophies, tell them that as a professional you cannot comment on the work of others without consulting the other practitioner first. Practitioners aren’t always honest, and clients aren’t always honest either.
Spiritual Business Pitfall #3: Lack of credibility
Here is where I am going to say things that go entirely counter to most of spirituality and there will likely be many people who hate on me for it. A vast majority of spiritual practitioners, readers, healers, etc. lack credibility. Spirituality has managed to become one of those realms where someone with no training or extended learning can become a practitioner.
In the High Vibe culture of today, identifying with something can make you just that. No training or education is necessary. But would you entrust your life in the hands of a surgeon with no training? Would you drive over a long, high bridge constructed by an engineer without education? Generally, not! In fact, we like to entrust our safety and well-being to people who demonstrate expertise – and that only comes through the right knowledge and consistent, dedicated practice.
If you identify as a healer, great! Find a system that works and pour yourself into it! Study, practice, gain the necessary experience you need to truly serve others! There are many people who label or style themselves as healers or shamans without having done any prior work. Not only is this arrogant, but without proper training, these people could cause damage to the energy fields of the very people who put themselves into their hands. This also applies to spiritual coaching or spiritual guidance! A practitioner cannot take you somewhere they have not been themselves! They can’t guide you out of a broken heart if theirs is still broken! They can’t help you rise out of depression if they are in the dumps too! And they can’t help you deal with anxiety if they’ve never conquered it themselves!
I regularly meet people who are hesitant to work with spiritual practitioners because they’ve gone to see the $20 psychic – and walked out scared because they were told they’re cursed only to figure out that it was a scam when the psychic demanded thousands of dollars to break the curse. Chances are, if you haven’t killed anyone or brought about great disastrous ruin to entire families then there isn’t really anyone who hates you enough to go about the hard work of cursing you.
Even the premise of someone offering deep spiritual guidance for so little as $20 (or even for nothing) is a really big hint that they are not legitimate in what they do. To truly serve others means to continue evolving yourself, and I have yet to meet a practitioner who can do so by only charging $20 per client. The low price (or no price at all) is an indication that the practitioner does not have confidence in what they do. If there was legitimacy, training and competence behind what they did, they would charge more. Why do doctors charge so much? Think of the expertise they’ve had to acquire through years of education and direct experience!
At the Modern Mystery School, the practitioners charge for their time and services. They have invested in their training, often hopping onto planes and travelling long distances to learn, practice or attend the Professional Integration Days (yearly recertifications) that are hosted in Toronto, Canada. There is a process to becoming a practitioner in this tradition and it involves healing yourself first. After clearing your own hurt and trauma to a significant degree, you can then begin the process of facilitating healing for others.
For years, religious figures were respected because they took their studies and religious training seriously and so their spiritual advice was trusted. With the High Vibe culture, and the ability to call yourself something because you identify with it, the legitimacy of spirituality, spiritual figures, healers and shamans is compromised.
Why legitimacy matters as a client: You wouldn’t hire someone who identifies as a dentist to fix your teeth or as a roofer to repair leaks in your roof. If you did and it went wrong, you would call them frauds or scammers. Spirituality is no different. A practitioner’s training and education matters and sorry, being internet “educated” or having attended the “university of YouTube” does not count. Look for someone who has worked with coaches, has read the books of old and respects their tradition/lineage. The time they have spent developing their expertise will translate to the results that you see.
Why legitimacy matters as a practitioner: some of you will have read this and will be angry at me for saying what is written above – doesn’t make it any less true. Many practitioners out there (this very well includes you), have good hearts and the desire to serve others. That’s great and I applaud you for it! Take yourself to the next level though, invest in your ability to serve others. Time, effort, money – all of it is necessary to develop yourself so that you do no harm! Human beings have an amazing spiritual anatomy and if you don’t know what you’re doing, the possibility of hurting or harming their structure is there! And none of you want to do that!
As I said in the beginning, there are so many layers within the world of spirituality and spiritual business that truly do need to be cleaned up. Cleaned up so that those who are genuinely trained and capable can fulfill their desire to serve. Cleaned up so that those who are genuinely seeking healing can find the transformation and empowerment that they are searching for. Cleaned up so that spirituality can be viewed as something truthful and powerful to turn to and valued for the tools that it can provide.
It takes cooperation from both clients and practitioners to make this happen. Every time you hand money over to a practitioner, you are voting for them to continue in the same manner. So, stop giving scammers your $20 bill, stop participating in debates about which spiritual opinion is more correct, and stop buying into and throwing around damaging labels like cult, pyramid schemes, brain washing and mind control.
If we can all do this together, then we can clean up how spirituality functions in our modern society and ensure that the experiences and practices of it are positive, growth-inducing and empowering for everyone.