Avoid the Guru Trap, Create Your Own Launching Point

Has anyone ever told you that you must hear this speaker, read this book, or see this movie?…

Has anyone ever told you that you must hear this speaker, read this book, or see this movie? You have to, because…wait for it…

It will change your life!

Newsflash: It won’t.

Looking for answers outside yourself only leads to the “guru trap”—the myth that another person, place, or concept holds the key to your success. The trap is thinking that being a spectator takes the place of getting on your mat, saying you’re sorry, or chopping your greens.

Running from one guru to the next is like reading the menu at a restaurant over and over again. It won’t nourish you unless you put in an order and eat the food. That’s why your approach must be inside-out. It’s not the guru, the retreat, or the seminar that changes your life. It’s the openness to the experience and the actions you take as a result.

Your answers are within. And while that sounds like a given, you still need to learn how to access them.

We start to uncover our answers when we let go of stress and fear. Getting to that heart-opening place often requires a catalyst, which is why I’m a proponent of retreats and intensive workshops. It’s often these moments that breed clarity and lead to epiphanies and discoveries. Moreover, spending time with positive people in stimulating environments is a contagious force that expands our imaginations and leads us to explore new limits for ourselves.

As I experienced at Wanderlust Oahu in March, the intention for what you plan to do after the festival will color your experience. If you view the festival as a launching point for jump-starting specific facets of your life, it will lead you to ask empowering questions. My four days in Oahu yielded a plan for finishing and marketing my book as well as a commitment to a mediation practice. I also made several new friends and deepened bonds with existing ones, which facilitated my path. Ten weeks later, the book is in print, you are reading this column, and I have a consistent Transcendental Meditation (TM) practice.

At your next festival or workshop, rather than focus solely on the mechanics of a yoga pose, ask your teachers what they have done to make getting to the mat a habit. Ask how they deal with their ruts, how they develop consistency, and what tools create the biggest “ripple effect” for the rest of their lives. Then create a clear vision of your highest self and commit to the practices that allow you to embody this vision.

Take it a step further by finding accountability partners to keep you on your path. You can form strong bonds quickly when your heart is open, and again, the key is to view this as the start of a fulfilling relationship. Before going home, write down goals and dreams along with deadlines for completing tasks. Then combine what you’ve discovered about yourself with the support from your enriched circle of friends to develop habits that breed success.

My mom loves to say that the only guarantees in life come with appliances. I say that no program works unless it is your own. And you work it. Daily. Rather than fall prey to the “guru trap,” take life into your own hands by looking to events and people as resources–rather than saviors—and you will gain personal power. Even better, your retreat time becomes more focused and more enjoyable when the only expectations you have are of yourself.

Greg-2013-pic-2Greg Dinkin is a coach as well as the author of four books, including the newly published The Leading Man: 7 Empowering Questions to Break Free and Find Your Own Winning Way. Watch his TEDTalk and read a chapter about reprogramming belief systems at www.gregdinkin.com.