THE BLOG

7 Tips When Choosing a Spiritual Teacher

03/25/2015 02:55 pm ET | Updated May 25, 2015
Sam Diephuis via Getty Images

These days, it seems everyone is on the meditation and green juice train. With a shift in consciousness, a sweeping adoration of yoga and many embracing a lifestyle of wellness, the online world has made it a glorious time to tap in and tune up.

But between millions of enthusiastic Instagram posts and increasingly easier ways to produce amazing looking content online, how can you be sure your investment in time, money and heart is going toward the real deal?

Here are seven things you should look for when choosing a spiritual teacher. Check out these quick tips to make sure you're properly supported.

1. They have dark days.
Anyone who is consistently chippy in every social media post either just hasn't lived through anything yet, or: not. living. in. reality. Spirituality is about embracing life in its totality, not just keeping a positive mindset. If we don't investigate and expand our capacity to live with darker moments, if and when real life tragedy hits, we'll be hopelessly unprepared. And what we designate as "dark" or "low" moments will happen. The richness of life is sweetest when having learned to navigate its ebbs and flows.

2. They have street cred.
As we grow and evolve and change, it's natural that we will expand and want to bring our audience along for the ride and teach the things that we are now interested in, to others. Nothin' wrong with that. But serious spiritual study is borne usually of awakening or suffering (or both) and then service, devotion and dedication. Some people are driven by truth and some by trend.

Be sure to ask or go all "Sherlock" on his/her about or bio page. What was the inciting incident that drove him/her to this work? Who did they study with? Having a spiritual bookshelf and YouTube bookmarks is not the same as study underneath a master teacher. True disciples love to talk about their teachers, because this is where they received their gifted Grace.

3. Wisdom from Experience.
If you're going to be going for the real-deal spirituality, there are things that can come up that are potentially harmful or dangerous. If someone doesn't have the experience to know what to do, you'll be out of luck, or worse, misled.

Along those lines, every problem at the root is a spiritual problem, but there are addictions and afflictions that may require medical attention or care beyond the level of meditation. An experienced teacher will not just pray or manifest the symptoms away and will (sometimes necessarily and strongly) know when to advise you that more acute care is necessary.

4. They don't live with their Mom.

Being an artist, a leader, an entrepreneur, a teacher, a trail-blazer is hard. It's going against the grain. There are going to be tough moments. Especially if one lives in an urban, expensive city. There are going to be moments of AirBNBing your place to make cash for a weekend. There might be years of bridge jobs. (In fact, the more years of bridge jobs, sometimes the better-- because someone is building a FOUNDATION and that takes integrity and time.)

If you want to take advice from your friend for free, or in beta while he is building his business, absolutely, go for it. But if someone is charging you $300 an hour or thousands for a package and is living with his parents...? Your teacher(s) should be in alignment and experience with their pricing. Hot marketing does not translate to earned wisdom.

5. They push you.
The best mentors, coaches and teachers will be able to provide a space (whether virtual/energetic space or physical space) that allows you to feel safe to be vulnerable. Then, they will push, coax, and invite you into examining the tough stuff. Even Dorothy had to go through a journey of confrontation and conflict before she could realize "there's no place like home."

6. You: Follow your heart.
Your heart and body always know the right answer. A good teacher will allow for uncertainty and harder feelings to come up, and you should expect that in spiritual practice. However if you feel icky stuff inside, not in relation to your own being or life, but in particular to that person, he/she may not be the right fit in this current moment.

7. They have fun.
Spirituality is, after all, to find happiness or bliss within your life. A life full of delving deep into only drama is just that. Drama. A rise in consciousness is a door to making life's joys simpler, more accessible and easier. Silliness is a spiritual byproduct. Go ahead, let it be easy.

Ready for more spiritual training? Check out our brand new online awakening experience, bliss. here. now. with free content and a comprehensive course. For more free content from Margaret, check out margaretnichols.com or find her on Facebook or Instagram.