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Dark Side of Healing Modalities: The "Western" Guru Problem in Health andĀ Wellness

Feb 04, 2023

New-age healing modalities and spiritual practices have gained popularity in recent years, offering alternative solutions to traditional medicine, therapies, or religion. However, among the legitimate practitioners, there is also a bigger count of fake gurus and spiritual teachers who exploit vulnerable individuals in the name of healing and transformation. These fraudulent individuals often prey on people’s desire for quick fixes and spiritual enlightenment, often promising instant healing and personal transformation.

This is not new; back in the ’70s and ’80s, people used to say the fastest way to get enlightenment was by flying Pan-Am to the east. The problem of fake gurus is not limited to new-age healing modalities. They can be found in all kinds of spiritual traditions, from Eastern spirituality to Western mysticism. They often present themselves as enlightened beings with exceptional abilities, using this guise to manipulate and exploit their followers. Some of them have severe mental disorders, while other are just opportunist that loves fame.

One of the biggest red flags for a fake guru is their behavior. They may demand absolute obedience and control over their followers’ lives, ask for large sums of money in exchange for their services, make grandiose claims about their abilities that are not supported by any evidence, blame followers’ past for not attaining “x,” pointing at themself as the last choice for someone or without their help the student won’t attain happiness or freedom. The last one is particularly how fake gurus often create a cult-like atmosphere where they are worshipped as gods and their every word is taken as gospel. The difference between a cult and a spiritual system is that the cult leader is the “messiah,” and in the spiritual system, you are encouraged to find your way and trust and have faith in the divine (whatever that means to the student).

The “western” guru problem in health and wellness is a capitalist appropriation of healing. More and more, influencers and content creators who have not had formal training in the healing space often interject themselves into someone else’s healing journey, posing as “healers” and using images of the healing process in a “hollywoodistic” way to sell their power/process/experience. This kind of behavior is not just unethical, irresponsible, and detrimental, but it also compromises the safety and privacy of the individuals involved (most of them do not have licensure of any kind or respond to any governing body).

Another way to lure people in is by creating marketing by taking photos in ceremonies or sacred places, which is frowned upon in true energetic or spiritual practices to avoid someone monetizing the pain and healing process a person is going through.

This kind of theater shows how most “wellness influencers” are not actually concerned with healing but rather with profit. This kind of behavior is predatory and hurts those people looking to better their life.

It is essential to do due diligence when seeking out a spiritual teacher or healer. Research their background, credentials, and reputation before committing to their teachings. Read reviews and testimonials from former students or clients and seek out objective third-party sources to verify the validity of their claims.

In conclusion, while new-age healing modalities offer a promising alternative to traditional medicine and therapy, it is important to be aware of the potential dangers posed by fake gurus and spiritual teachers, as well as the western guru problem in health and wellness. By conducting thorough research and being critical of unrealistic promises, individuals can avoid falling prey to these fraudulent individuals and find legitimate guidance on their spiritual journey.