STANDARDS OF SPIRITUAL FACILITATION, BEING ACCOUNTABLE FOR WHAT YOU DO & TRANSCENDENTAL PERSPECTIVES

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One of the reasons why I don´t take the ´Love is Everything, We are all One, it´s Spirit´s Will´ argument as a default is because it´s so open to abuse. And it´s so easy to walk away from taking responsibility for our actions, with that principle.

Anyone can get away with anything, using that argument. If everything we do is an expression of Spirit – good, bad, ugly, beautiful, etc. – in its Mystery and Ways – then we go into the realms of transcendental acceptance.

Which means that everything is OK. And I mean everything.

Which, to me, is an expression of moral nihilism (you might call it ´enlightened´to the point where morality doesn´t matter, but same difference).

It´s not an incorrect view of the world, by any means – my contention is that it is incomplete.

I´m one of those facilitators who sees the need for greater standards, guidelines and codes of conduct within the section of spiritual aspirants that seek to guide or facilitate others in a formal capacity.

True, we all facilitate one another. But those of us who do this as a vocation or calling should have a set of standards or guidelines that we adhere to.

I´m not talking about certifications, titles or other accolades – but a general sense of – What is Ethical?

Maybe I´m just not at that transcendental level where I can ignore a breach of ethics in the name of Love, Spirit and Destiny – but I´m okay here for now 🙂

Let me give you some context:

We live in a world where you can become a ´Certified Shaman´ through taking an online course. Where you can call yourself a Soul Retrieval or Akashic Facilitator after 50 hours of going to a seminar. Where articles see fit to give you ´11 Steps to becoming an Expert Yogi this Summer` (I´m not kidding).

Dilution of the core content of these disciplines and paths of initiation/facilitation doesn´t even come close to what´s happening. Rather, it´s a process of distortion.

You then see facilitators, healers and yogis – as per their given certificates – go into the world and offer services that they believe they can provide.

And sometimes it helps people. And sometimes it lands them in the nut house.

(Premature activations of the kundalini by instructors who do not have the skillset to asses the client´s state of mind and energetic requirements come to mind, specifically).

As beautiful as the spiritual journey can be, it is a dangerous path to walk if you don´t know what you´re doing. Some of the long-term effects of facilitations gone wrong can (and do) last for years, if not decades.

I´ve come across quite a few of those cases in the work that I do and in my personal circle of family and friends. When you see the ruin that ungrounded spiritual facilitation can bring to a person and their family, it´s very … hard … (for me at least) to look the other way.

Getting back to the earlier argument:

The transcendental argument of ´All is Well, All is Happening as it Should, All is Love, All is Spirit´ lacks the moral content to say … well… this is shite.

People should be held to account if they´re taking the traditions of an older culture, diluting/distorting it and causing harm (often without intention or the knowledge that they do so).

Then again, I´m not claiming to be a Transcendental Being just yet 😛

But what I do see is the transcendental argument used in defence of a lack of standards in spiritual facilitation. Or worse still, a client-shaming approach, i.e. you should have tuned in and used your discernment. Or, it´s all happening as per your Higher Self´s Will, or, it´s your Soul´s Path, Choice or Karma.

I … am not comfortable with that … not in the slightest. My own work comes with a massive trigger warning label where I explain the potential effects to clients before getting into any work with me. Irrespective of how seasoned, experienced, popular, academically certified they may be (or not). I make them understand that what I do has its effects and consequences, where my (and their) responsibility begins and ends.

I also practice discernment in the clients I take on board because I need to be able to gauge whether a person will be able to handle the intensity of my work. And many cannot. It would cause more harm than good to subject someone to work that is of a deeper intensity than what they should/need exposure to.

This was a lesson I learnt the hard way, with a client who had all the external trappings of being a Teacher: a following, titles, etc. It was a very powerful interaction, but one which showed me the need to lay all this stuff out in total clarity, irrespective of who´s doing the listening. She hated her session and the mirror it held up to her, and of course made it all about me and my alleged lack of professionalism and skill. She and I must have had a powerful contract to work through this together as working with her (and her resistance to be seen) made my biological processes go in overdrive.

It took me a while to recover from that experience and the deep wounds it cut into me. For a long time, I blamed myself (as I tend to) and tried reaching out to her, only to be shamed over and over again. I blamed my body/energy field that took a beating from her resistance and intense force of denial. And I kept wondering what I did wrong and why I reacted to her energy the way I did. If I should stop what I was doing. If I was causing harm. If I was totally deluded, as she claimed I was. If I was not good enough.

The shift came for me when I realized what my mistake was. And to find that I had to look at the situation through the energetic eye, rather than the physical one.

My mistake was not practising that discernment in the beginning. I was too taken by the external trappings at that point of time. Else I´d have known she was not ready for the work I did. Of course when I tried to explain this … it made her go feral. (Yeah, I was a lot more naive then … )

The experience made me a far better facilitator, and one even more confident in what I did – once my ego-mind got past the external trappings (of following, title, labels) – and began to look at her – and me – at the energy level. If I had to look at her chart again today, I´d still have done the same reading of it as I did before.

I now hold a far more specific, focused energetic space than I did before – and readings are getting even deeper than before.

To be fair, at the time, I was walking away from a deeply narcissistic, emotionally abusive woman I had considered my mentor for many years. In retrospect, the clarity of self I achieved through this interaction helped me see that situation very, very clearly. And to eventually break myself away from it.

But the only reason why I reflected and learnt so deeply from this experience was because I took it seriously – and did not wave it off as ´her fault / client shaming´ or as ´the way of the Mystery´ *woo woo, cue mystical sound effects / X-Files theme song*.

I looked at it as a real human interaction and sought to hold myself as accountable as possible. And that is where my growth process came from. And yielded fruit.

So yes – that transcendental perspective of – everything happens for a cause/reason is valid. But it only has meaning when we look for one through a framework that brings it back to the Earth-Plane.

And that … dynamic tension is what, I believe, each and every facilitator who walks this world (and many others) would benefit from engaging with – if they do not do so already.

Tip: Work with Sodalite – it´ll help you discern your clients´ (and your own) energies before going into sessions <3

Blessings,

Priestess Bairavee Balasubramaniam PhD
The Sky Priestess

Terms of Use and Sharing: Feel free to use the Share button on FB or Reblog on WordPress for personal, noncommercial or educational use with all links intact. If you are an organization, institution or individual seeking to use this material for promotional purposes, please ask first. If wanting to include this information into your workshop materials or written work, please cite accordingly. All information provided, be it through sessions conducted or this post is non-liable and is not intended to replace professional legal, medical, psychological, psychiatric and/or financial counsel.

Image: Sodalite peg.jpg by Tillman at English Wikipedia (Transferred from en.wikipedia to Commons.) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Post © Bairavee Balasubramaniam, 2016. All rights reserved. Please do not use or reproduce without permission. See Terms of Use and Sharing above.

QUESTIONS FOR THE STUDENT, QUESTIONS FOR THE TEACHER / FACILITATOR – AND WHAT DO THEY ALL REFLECT?

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Finding a teacher that is balanced and experienced in what you want to learn is important. But from the teacher/facilitator´s perspective, finding a student who has the capacity (i.e. energy-body) to handle what you have to say or do – is equally important.
It doesn´t matter what subject, skill, philosophy or perspective you´re a teacher or facilitator of. It can be astrology, tantra, kundalini work, shadow work, priest/essing – the same thing applies.
Now this applies more to to one-to-one cases or small group sessions. It saves both student and teacher a lot of time if both take a little time to suss out the energy-body of the other.

From the student´s perspective, the following questions apply:

– – Does this teacher have the knowledge I want?

Be specific in what you want to know and ask the teacher if they specialize in what you´re looking for. Someone who gets offended by the question is probably not someone you want to work with.

– – Is that what s/he is offering to teach or facilitate for me?

Again, specifics help.

– – What do I expect to learn or benefit from the experience?

Ditto. The clearer you are about this upfront, the better it will be for both student and teacher.

– – Is this teacher coming from the right place (Heart or Spirit Centered, etc.)?

That is a harder one to suss out. Take the time to learn a little more about your intended teacher/facilitator and raise questions in a respectful way.

– – Why does s/he do what they do?

A complex question. Some teachers work in the public eye, others in private – and all for motivations that resonate with they own soul´s karma, or needs of learning and unlearning.
That being said, if you feel that your teacher has no other interest in you beyond making you their piggy bank, source of ego-bolstering – or worse – some kind of sycophant – head in the opposite direction …. and keep on walking.
When you find teachers who want to draw you into their organization, their world (in which they sit in a hierarchy) – you face a more complex set of questions to navigate.
Ideally, (and I find this when I am drawn to others, and when others are drawn to me) – there is an instant ´click´, and you know that someone just does something because that is what they are. No other agendas. Try not to project any unto them either 🙂

– – Why am I drawn to this teacher, and not others?

The recommendation of a friend? Was the closest in the area? Why this person, in particular – and at this time?
– – Do I like their work?
– – Do I trust him/her to teach or facilitate with integrity and competence?

– – How do I honor the energy exchange and the teacher/facilitator´s boundaries?

For some it´s barter, for others it´s money, for some it´s nothing at all. As long as the teacher works with either from an inner code that resonates with you, go for it. I´ve seen some who work with cash without issue, and others who are deeply hung up on their own wounds and issues when working without exchange. You just cannot generalize.
I use a mixture and follow my own flow. I suspect others do the same. There are some people I could not (and would not) want to take anything from, and others I know a ´free´ session would not do much for. It´s about the honoring of energy – and that does change the terms of the dynamic when un-met.
Tune in, and see what you feel. Bear in mind though, that spiritual services and facilitations are grossly undervalued (still) owing to far deeper and older collective programs we´ve been told to imbibe. That is a different story for a different time.
That being said, when you´ve got ´that click´ with someone and have a deep sense of trust in what they do – trust them equally to value their work in an appropriate way. That´s what I do when I chose to work with someone.
Many facilitators can organize a payment plan for you if money becomes an issue. If in doubt, ask – and if it´s a fair request – a decent facilitator will help you work something out. And if it´s not, they´ll call you out on it 😉

Can I handle what this person has to say or teach?

Be honest with yourself. The better the facilitator, the better the mirror s/he becomes.
And allow the facilitator (if so inclined) to make the same assessment before starting their work with you.
( I´ve seen it a few times now, when the image a person has of themselves in their headspace does not match up with their energetic reality. And that makes for ´interesting´ sessions – part of the work, really – but it helps to know it before beginning.)

And from the teacher´s perspective, these questions:

– – Why do I do what I do?

Deep question, but one that is useful to return to from time to time. Always be cautious of your inner games of projection. It helps to sit with other facilitators whom you can bounce off from.

– – What do people think I do?

Not the same as the first. Be clear on who you are in cases where you may feel misinterpreted or projected upon (be in in a flattering or unflattering light).
This is why I have an article posted up called ´Why What I Do Isn’t For Everyone (a.k.a something to read before booking a session with me)´- and if anything that has really helped me represent my energy and the work I do with clarity.
It clears up a lot of this discussion from my end and gives those who want to work with me a chance to think about their expectations -and if the two match.

Is this student ready to hear what I have to say, or learn what I have to teach?

If you´re not willing to make that call, especially if you do very deep or heavy energetic-work – reconsider your profession.

I kid you not.

 

I´ve seen too many cases where over-eager teachers have activated stuff in their student, leading to years and years of energy burnout or imbalance – especially when it involves the kundalini, or deeper forms of shadow-working.

Certain teachings or traditions have prerequsities that both teacher or student must fulfill before beginning their explorations. In an age where a couple of days of a course can give you a certificate that says ´ Kundalini Yoga Instructor´ or ´ Akashic Healer´ — those requirements are not being met, en masse.
I know I´m going to be touching a nerve with this, but it´s needed.
Call me judgemental if you like, but no holds barred here.
I find that in the rush to become a teacher or facilitator, more and more individuals have the paperwork that says so – but without the skillset required.
And with it one of the most important lessons:

Sometimes the best teaching you can do is to simply say – no. I don´t think this is a fit for you at this time. Or no, I´m not the right person for you to work with.

There are of course teachers who lord that over their students due to their own insecurities – but that is a different kettle of fish. In that case, student – reconsider your teacher! (or .. run, run, fast!)

– – Why does the student seek this knowledge or experience?

Let´s say you teach hypnotism and have a student whom you know will use it for an unethical purpose. The ball is in your court. You make your choices with the knowledge that your wisdom may be misused. And the karma that comes with that. Another thing to consider.

– – Why have they come to me, specifically, at this time?

Was it a case of need, or long-standing interest in your work? Were you the closest / most easily accessible facilitator? Those questions play a role in gauging the depth of interest and investment your student will make in the energetic exchange between the two of you.
– – What expectations does this student have of me, and are they realistic?
– – Do I have the energy or other resources this student or session will require of me?

– – Am I the right person to fit their needs and level of development? If not, do I know others who might be?

It´s useful to have a network of buddy-facilitators you can direct people to if this is the case. 🙂
– – Is this student able or willing to honor fair terms of exchange and the nature of my work and energy? Are my terms, indeed, fair?
– – Do I have alternative methods of exchange/payment/barter, if appropriate?
– – Can I articulate my needs and boundaries in a way where I will not be exploited?
(Same goes for the student.)

Am I able to honor the energy and level of knowledge this student brings and to build upon it in a useful, balanced way?

That last question is a little tricky, particularly if your mode of working is more Kali-esque (i.e. creation through destruction, rebirth through the breaking down of the old). So, your understanding of ´balance´ would be expressed differently from a teacher who was gentler – not necessarily less powerful, just using a different modality.
Whatever your understanding of balance is and the ways you take to arrive at it – ask yourself if it is what your student needs, and if it something they can work with and benefit from. Let your student know the general dynamic of the process in advance. 
Food for thought. You might also want to refer to previous articles of mine that address the student-teacher dynamic and the topic of spiritual facilitation, in different ways:

  • Wounded Healer, Wounded Teacher: Questions for Reflection – http://wp.me/p4OUNS-EV
  • Standards of Spiritual Facilitation: The Story of the Would-Be Surgeon who never went to Medical School – http://wp.me/p4OUNS-ks
  • Standards of Spiritual Facilitation: Being Accountable for what you do & Transcendental Perspectives – http://wp.me/p4OUNS-1iV
  • On False Teachers, and False Students and the Narcissistic Games of Projection between the two – http://wp.me/p4OUNS-11O
  • The Many Roads we take to Spirit (an astrological piece on Pisces-Sagittarius, but the archetypes hold true) – http://wp.me/p4OUNS-kV
  • And my own piece for people who want to work with me – Why What I Do Isn’t For Everyone (a.k.a something to read before booking a session with me) – http://wp.me/p4OUNS-I9
I am planning to put it all together as a book, and hope you will support that effort. Please cite accordingly if using this in your teaching/instructional materials.
And – if there´s some other aspect of the teacher / faciltator – student dynamic you´d like to see more about, do let me know and I´ll see what I can do.

Blessings, Love and Hugs!

Post © Bairavee Balasubramaniam, 2016.
Image: HealBleedingWoman.jpg – Christ healing a bleeding woman
Photo from Catacombes of Rome Source: http://campus.belmont.edu/honors/CatPix/womanblood.jpg — (I wonder what kind of bleeding it was…hmm..)
Terms of Use and Sharing: Feel free to use the Share button on FB or Reblog on WordPress for personal, noncommercial or educational use with all links intact. If you are an organization, insitution or individual seeking to use this material for promotional purposes, please ask first. If wanting to include this information into your workshop materials or written work, please cite accordingly. Sessions are subject to T&Cs explained in the invoice and during the session itself. Having or purchasing the sessions implies tacit acceptance of all T&Cs. All information provided, be it through sessions or this post is non-liable and is not intended to replace professional legal, medical, psychological, psychiatric and/or financial counsel.

Wounded Healer, Wounded Teacher: Questions for Self-Reflection

L0004642 Japanese model figures: doctor and patient Credit: Wellcome Library, London. Wellcome Images images@wellcome.ac.uk http://wellcomeimages.org Doctor and Patient. A doctor feeling the pulse of a woman patient; both seated on their heels, side by side. Carved ivory netsuke, Japanese. Published:  -  Copyrighted work available under Creative Commons Attribution only licence CC BY 4.0 http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/

All of us bear wounds of some kind – be it a sense of pervasive unworthiness, a lack of self-esteem, disconnection, abuse, trauma, etc. Some choose to suppress these wounds and the experiences that shape then – and carry on life as usual, others choose to acknowledge it, and seek healing. Some throw themselves into a committed path of healing, seeking to master the wound with knowledge of techniques that they then teach others. The majority of spiritual workers, teachers and trainers fall into that category.

All of these paths are equally valid, neither is more elevated than the other – except that the path of not-doing-anything-about-it, has a different set of karmic consequences.

And whilst the wounded healer archetype is one that we have come to accept as part our spiritual discourse, and our understanding of those who come to service … we need to spend a little more time thinking about just what that entails.

Everyone brings their perspective onto what they teach – that includes their joys, their strengths, their weaknesses – and yes, their wounds. And as we mature into our roles as facilitators (those of you who are on this path) – one of the big lessons is to acknowledge how we work with our own wounds first.

It’s a fairly important thing to do for a wide range of reasons – to be true to ty self – to ensure the lack of energetic spillover – to be able to provide your clients with the best possible service. Shamanic practitioners, or those who delve into another person’s energy field directly, have a greater reason to take this to heart.

Here’s a metaphor that might help, albeit a little bloody:

Imagine you’ve got a cut in your arm, and that the wound is still bleeding. For some, it’s a trickle, for others, it’s an arterial spray.

You see someone with a similar wound, something you think you can help fix. You’ve learnt how, and go in with your needle and thread. But you’re still bleeding.

It ain’t a pretty picture, but, at an energetic level, that is what tends to happen. Scary, I know…

It would be best to let yourself heal first, allow the stitches to hold together your own wounds, then have them removed. Once those initial stages of healing are done, then, my friends, you’d be in a much better place to work with others.

And no, that’s not selfish. That’s not turning a blind eye to another person’s suffering.

By working on you first, you’re actually practicing self-compassion. You’re allowing yourself to emerge as a kind of healer/teacher/practitioner that is safe for your clients to work with.

Questions to ask yourselves:

Do your wounds come out in the facilitations that you do? Energetically, verbally, etc.?

How do they shape the kind of facilitator that you’ve become?

Do you hide your wounds as part of our public persona? That’s not the same as baring your soul to everyone, but do you pretend they never existed?

Do you acknowledge your wounds as part of your story – at an intellectual, but not at an emotional level?

Do you believe that having a title, a piece of paper-based certification or a following is enough proof that ‘you’re done’ with those wounds?

Do you mask those wounds, vulnerabilities and experiences because you’d like to seem more ‘integrated’, able to be a better facilitator? How so?

Do you seek to heal your clients as a proxy to healing yourself? (It just doesn’t work that way, my friends … )

At the end of the day, irrespective of the roles, titles, degrees and training that we may have, we’re all facilitating one another, just by virtue of being. The onus is on us to be critically self-reflective when we do so with greater public presence and when we seek to be seen in a certain way by others.

Whilst these are unpopular questions, they are necessary ones. It helps to be able to see your reflection in the mirror of another whom you trust, one who can give you honest feedback.

Bairavee Balasubramaniam

Image: Japanese model figures; doctor and patient Wellcome L0004642.jpg – See page for author [CC BY 4.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
Post © Bairavee Balasubramaniam, 2015. All rights reserved