Dear Travelling Companion,
I’ve been meaning to write this letter for a long time. Now I’m finally ready and strong enough to do so. This is an extremely sensitive topic for me as it touches upon the most vulnerable parts of me, but it is important that we talk about it aloud and out in the open. We shouldn’t walk on eggshells around it.
You are probably wondering what this letter is about.
Well, it delves into what goes on behind the scenes of the vast world of spirituality and self-help. It talks about the things you need to be especially careful of when choosing the spiritual teachers, therapists, helpers, and guides that are supposed to support you on YOUR jounery.
What kind of behaviour is unacceptable and where does the line between help and abuse start to blur? I can tell you that the line is extremely fine and it is so easy to cross over from one side to the other. It’s so easy because it happens slowly. You don’t even notice it until it’s too late and you find yourself trapped.
This is a very honest, painful, and personal account of how I had been hurt in the same way myself and of how I healed myself.
HE PROMISED ME THAT I WAS SAFE
When I was little girl, I followed my mother around the world on her spiritual expedition. On our journey, I met an unimaginable number of manipulative spiritual teachers who used and abused their followers in every way possible – both obviously and almost unnoticeably. Some of them abused my mother. Some of them used and abused me, a child.
Having had all these experiences, I was certain that I had an impeccable ‘radar’ for spiritual charlatans and that I would see them coming a mile away. I thought that I could avoid them with ease.
I had never been more wrong.
I was twenty-six when it happened. I had just written a book (which at that time had still remained hidden in a drawer in my nightstand) in which I had, for the first time in my life, tentatively begun to face my past. Writing the book had opened so many of my wounds, from the death of my brother, to the sexual harassment I had experienced at the hands of my mother’s partner… I felt so alone. I had no one but the skeletons I had released from my closet to keep me company. In the past, they had been suppressed deep within my sub-consciousness, but now they were free to gnaw at me. I hated myself. I blamed myself. I had no support from my family.
I was married at the time, but I was told, very clearly, that there were parts of me that were dirty and wrong and that I was forbidden from talking about them.
But I needed to talk to someone. I needed support.
And I found it. Or rather him. I just had no idea then who the person I had found really was.
I respected him immensely.
I also deeply respected his work and his teachings. After all, he researched, studied, and taught the same things that I had been studying since I was fourteen. I was a journalist back then, so I was the one to write the first article about him and his work. I was the one who introduce him to the public several times. I felt it was my calling to make his knowledge accessible and known to everyone.
I first met him after I had decided to ask for help for the very first time in my life. I wanted to finally clean up my skeleton closet. I didn’t want a guide. I simply wanted to know that I wouldn’t be alone when my inner demons started haunting me.
He promised me that he would protect me. That I would never be alone. He knew how wounded I was and how hard it was for me to open up. He assured me that I would be safe.
He was the first person to know everything about me and accept me unconditionally, regardless. We had regular therapy sessions. He would give me daily homework. I had to submit a daily report to him for two years. I had to find something beautiful about myself everyday – something I was proud of. And I had to write down the things I was afraid of. The things that made me feel vulnerable.
I never looked at him as a man. Not even for a second. I even called him ‘Oblaček’ (Meaning: Little Fluffy Cloud) For me he was a Being sent to help me.
HE SPENT TWO YEARS GATHERING INTIMATE INFORMATION ABOUT ME
Because of my gratitude, I felt even more inspired to support and promote his work. His workshops were overflowing with attendees.
After two years, to my absolute shock, he suddenly declared his eternal and all-encompassing love for me. He claimed we were soul mates, that what we had was special, that it went beyond anything he had ever experienced. He said our connection transcended our lives on Earth and that our love was written in the stars. He even had the astrological charts to prove it.
I didn’t feel any of it. But he kept insisting and showing me ‘proof’.
I felt indebted to him because of everything he had done for me.
He had been gathering intimate information about me for two years and he knew me better than anyone else did. He knew my strengths, my weaknesses, and my needs. He knew what I needed and wanted to hear. He had studied and mastered me.
I kept resisting him for a few more months, but eventually I gave in. Purely because I felt as though it was my duty to please him. I didn’t see that my wounds which he was supposed to help me heal were only getting deeper.
I hated myself. I couldn’t stop crying. I knew what I was doing was wrong, but I felt as though I had been cursed. It took all I had for me to finally realise that I had made a mistake and get out. I managed to end our relationship. I even got a divorce.
But I didn’t want my weakness to affect his life’s purpose. I still believed in the knowledge he was giving people. (At that time, I still couldn’t separate his knowledge which was incredible and beautiful, from him who was anything but.)
So I somehow convinced myself that I had always been more like his co-worker instead of a student and that he had never crossed the line with me. I truly believed that he was in love with me – that it was simply one of those uncontrollable emotions that shake you to your core and could not be held back.
Nevertheless, I set the boundaries very clearly this time and told him that I would never fall for his tricks again. And I didn’t. He actually started acting wonderfully towards me again – better than he ever had in the past. He became a supportive friend and a good co-worker. I was certain that we had both received our lesson and learned from it.
THERE ARE NO EXCUSES FOR PURSUING A RLATIONSHIP WITH YOUR CLIENT!
Then, in Mexico, I met Dr Arturo Peal. He was the only male teacher in a yoga centre full of emotionally damaged women. He could have had any of them without as much as curling a finger. I believed him to be another one of those abusive spiritual teachers, so I made sure to avoid him like the Plague.
Despite my efforts to stay far away from him, I still often saw him during meals. The professional distance that he kept towards his students was incredible. As was the respect he showed them. He also radiated a feeling of safety and security. After observing him for two weeks, I finally dared to approach him. I was supposed to have surgery on my vocal chords upon my return to Ljubljana, and he was one of the greatest experts in rehabilitation, so I really wanted him to examine them first. He didn’t only examine them. He fixed them. (I didn’t even need surgery after that!) He introduced me to therapeutic yoga and I invited him to Slovenia.
When he came to visit, we prepared a festive dinner to welcome him. One of my friends attended it too. At that time, Arturo had been single and celibate for three years and she was scheduled to have a therapeutic massage session with him the next day.
In the middle of dinner, Arturo apologised to her, saying he had to cancel their session. We were all surprised by his actions. We wanted to know why. He was embarrassed by our question, but answered it, regardless. He was crystal clear. He told us that she was the first woman that he found himself attracted to in several years and that he had strict rules about dating clients. He would never date a client and would wait at least two years after their last session, before he considered inviting them on a date. The same rule applied to his students. He wished to pursue a date with my friend, so he had to cancel their scheduled session.
(They never went on a date, and never became a couple. We are all still friends. A year later, Arturo met his wonderful Adriane and they remain one of the sweetest couples I know.)
‘You have to wait two years after your last session with a client?’ I asked.
‘And at least two years after the last physical rehabilitation therapy. However, I do not date any client who has come to me for emotional therapy and counselling. NEVER!
‘When any teacher or therapist pursues an intimate relationship with a client that is an ABUSE OF POWER and SEXUAL ABUSE. Their licence and their right to teach should be revoked immediately if it happens!’ Arturo answered firmly.
IT’S NORMAL FOR A PATIENT’S JUDGEMENT TO BECOME CLOUDY AND FOR THEM TO GLORIFY THE TEACHER
‘A patient opens up to their therapist completely,’ he continued. ‘It’s normal for a patient to feel a certain level of fondness towards them. It’s natural for them to feel respect, admiration, and adoration towards their therapist. They only see the positive traits and characteristics of their therapist and assign them all but supernatural abilities. It’s obvious that the therapist is the one who holds more power in this situation. It’s also understandable and logical for the patient to feel like their therapist has accepted them completely and unconditionally. They feel seen. They are finally receiving the attention they have craved for so long. All their wounds are wide open and that can cloud their judgement. It’s possible for them to stop seeing their therapist as someone who is helping them, and start thinking of them as their saviour.
‘It’s the therapist’s obligation to guide their patient through this process.
‘The therapist is the one who should under no circumstances take advantage of their patient. They should never deepen their patient’s wounds. The therapist is the one who should never feed their ego and inflate the significance of their role in their client’s life. The therapist is the one who should never, under any circumstances, latch onto their, let alone attempt to manipulate them.
‘If the therapist does not adhere to any of the above rules they are ABUSING their client!’ Arturo finished sternly.
I felt dizzy.
NO EXCEPTIONS, NO CHOSEN ONES, NO SPECIAL CONNECTIONS, NO SPECIAL CASES
Arturo then told me about his friend from Santa Barbara who had written a dissertation on the topic as a prerequisite for her doctorate. In it, she unveiled how common such types of abuse were and how often people crossed the line in their professional relationships.
He mentioned how he had IMMEDIATELY stopped working at a prestigious yoga centre when he found out that the owner, who was also an instructor, regularly seduced his students. Prior to quitting, Arturo also clearly and publicly told the owner what he thought of such practices. Both he and Cheri haven’t set foot in that centre again, regardless of all the tempting offers and business opportunities they keep receiving from them to this day.
I’m telling you this because it’s time we stop pretending that these things do not happen. It’s time we stop defending and justifying such practices.
There are no excuses, no exceptions, no loopholes, no chosen ones, no special soulmate connections, and no astrological charts that can justify breaking this code of ethics.
A few weeks after my talk with Arturo, the Being I once called Oblaček was revealed to have had a relationship with one of his students (who was a teacher herself) despite the fact that he was in a committed relationship at the time. His behaviour caused a huge scandal and he lost several clients and students because of it.
When I confronted him about it, he justified his behaviour with a special astrological chart that supposedly explained everything – it had been written in the stars and meant to be. It had to happen. There had been no other way.
When I brought up the code of ethics, he claimed that they were both teachers and thus equals. He would have got away with it this once, if I hadn’t also found out that he had seduced another one of his students, who had also been my client and had had serious health issues. That was the straw that broke the camel’s back. No argument about equality could save him.
When it comes to my clients, I am as ferociously protective as a mother bear is towards her cubs.
I immediately banned him from my yoga centre (and promised him that if he so much as approached the premises, I would singlehandedly cut his ‘yoni eggs’ off). I cancelled all of his existing and upcoming classes. I paid no heed to the considerable financial loss that I had to suffer because of it and completely removed, cut off, and deleted even the slightest mention of his name form my world.
I have never spoken to him since. Nor will I ever again. I have finally learned that, although his knowledge might have been wonderful, he was a complete piece of shit who used his wisdom as a tool to manipulate and exploit the people around him.
He is dead to me.
I did, however, make an in depth analysis of his actions and discovered several of his patients and students whom he had used and exploited in a variety of different ways – most of which included him using fake readings of astrological charts in order to justify subjecting them to his tampon sized penis. He had torn families apart.
To add insult to injury, soon after that I also met a therapist who told me that she had treated so many of his former victims – emotionally wounded women – that he should have been reported. She also pointed out that I had been lucky to have escaped his clutches and managed to put myself back together so thoroughly.
Many other girls and women had not been so lucky. The majority of them were too afraid of him to report him while some even defended him. But the majority of them had suffered a complete psychological breakdown as a consequence of him emotionally and energetically draining them. (He, and many others like him, feeds off the energy of other people like a vampire and then immediately discards his victims when they grow attached to them.)
My client needed two years to put herself together again. I protected her and watched over her as she slowly reclaimed piece after piece of herself and somehow became whole again. The Being I shall not name tried extorting me and putting pressure on me in order to get to her, but I didn’t let him threaten me.
HIS LACK OF A RESPONSE TRIGGERED A HEALING PROCESS
During my studies of advanced therapeutic yoga in Santa Barbara, we touched upon the subject of abuse and exploitation in the world of spirituality again. Cheri told us about how, some time ago, one of her students had decided to seduce Arturo.
He had been as immovable and respectful when rejecting her advances as always, but that didn’t stop her. At first, she had tried to seduce him in innocent ways, but when that didn’t work, she started attending his classes scantily clad – then practically naked. Eventually she had started causing scenes in front of the whole group. She had even accused him of things he hadn’t committed do. But throughout all her antics, Arturo had remained respectful, safe, and steadfast.
A year later, Arturo ad Cheri received a letter from that same student. In it, she wrote that she had been molested by her uncle as a little girl. Because of that, she had learned that the only way she could receive attention was through her sexual energy. Her self-worth was based entirely on her sexuality and attractiveness. That had been the only way of expressing herself that she had known. Until she met Arturo.
He had been the only man who did not respond to her. She had felt rejected and angry. Suddenly she had felt powerless. All her past wounds had been revealed. And she had blamed Arturo for it. But because he had neither responded nor backed away, he had acted as a mirror in which she could see and recognise herself. After she had quit attending his lessons, she had searched for a therapist. She thanked Arturo for being the first man to not take advantage of her and harm her.
Instead, he had shown her the things she had to work on. She still had a long period of healing ahead her, but she was finally on the right path. On a path that was entirely her own.
A FINGER POINTING AT THE MOON
This is how you identify true teachers and therapists. They are the people who give you the support and safety you need to walk down the path of your life. They encourage you but want absolutely nothing from you – neither physically nor energetically. They do not take anything from you. They simply give you permission and empowerment to be yourself.
They know that they are not special. They know that they are nothing more than a finger pointing at the Moon.
And the Moon is you.
They know that they need to keep themselves strictly under control and only observe your progress.
Any teacher or therapist who believes they are someone special needs to stop themselves immediately.
And they shouldn’t have the right to teach until they get rid of this belief.
If someone is teaching in order to get the attention (of young women) that they have been lacking in life or because they have otherwise always come last in life, they should have no business teaching. Teaching is not a way for someone to become cool or important.
Someone who is teaching in order to fill a void inside of them SHOULD BE FORBIDDEN FROM TEACHING.
This goes for both men and women.
So how can you protect yourself from such people? The answer is by working on your self-worth. By knowing that you are the most important person in your world and by realising that no other person knows what is good for you better than you do.
As soon as someone shows you the slightest inclination of trying to interfere with your life by guiding you, giving you orders, or trying to put themselves above you, you need to stop yourself immediately and walk away.
Yes, we all need help and support on our path.
For example, in Santa Barbara, Arturo (with whom I have been working for five years and know that he is always 10000% professional) helped me go through a deep therapeutic process of Holographic Repattering. Only because I knew that the therapist leading me through this process was 1000% safe, was I able to discover the root of one of my crucially important patterns and break it. My body had an incredible reaction – I couldn’t stop yawning for an hour and had to pee every three minutes… The cleansing the therapy had caused was so powerful.
But without the right therapist, this type of therapy would have only harmed me.
STOP THE ABUSE!
The good news is that once you find a therapist who is completely safe, you will always know and feel the true meaning of safety and security.
Dr Arturo Peal was the first safe male spiritual therapist/teacher I have met. Because of him, I now know where the boundaries in a patient-client relationship are and what to look out for. I know right from wrong when I encounter it.
Now I am surrounded by incredible teachers and therapists. They exist, I swear!
But spiritually abusive weiners need to be stopped!
The only way to stop them is by talking about them out in the open. So many of us have experienced their exploitation! I had been so ashamed of myself from the bottom of my soul for so long. That was why I never spoke up.
But I know now that we should NEVER remain silent! Some things are unacceptable and should not be justified or excused.
Take care of yourself. Protect yourself. You are holy!