Experts claim that if you study a subject for a period of just five years you are likely to become an expert in it.
Well, I'm not sure about that, especially when it comes to the subject of psychic development and Spiritual unfoldment. I do know that 5 years of study in the correct areas will arm you with confidence and ability to achieve more than you would without the study.
As with so many topics, there are many areas to choose from and when you first set out to study being a Spiritualist you will find yourself keen to learn about a huge variety of subjects such as:
- mental mediumship
- physical mediumship
- tarot & angel card reading
- runes, palmistry
- astral travel
- pendulums & divination
- stagecraft & public performance
- colour therapy
- flower reading
- spiritual art
Mastering all of those individual areas, and the many more I've not listed, would take many lifetimes. Imagine going into a supermarket with all the available subjects and the associated materials filling the entire shop from floor to ceiling - all in their own departments. Well, they wouldn't know where best to start!
This isn't a million miles from how it was for me in the early days. I bought crystals, followed by book after book on them. That expanded to rocks and gems. I went through a phase of actually polishing gems from rough rocks just because I liked the results.
Then I bought books on healing, the history, the pioneers, the systems, the equipment. Alongside this I did many workshops and courses on several of the subjects. I did workshops about meditation, I bought books and cds on meditation. Then I took a fancy to tarot. I did a course to learn the basics followed by tens of books that I bought and of course many packs of cards of varying designs. I was so keen to know everything, I bought anything that had an esoteric theme. Even paranormal experimentation became an interest with me buying meters, specialist equipment and stuff associated with this topic.
Everywhere I went I bought something associated with psychic and spiritual unfoldment. Be it books, stones or rocks, be it cards or pendulums, cds or expensive equipment - I just could resist!
The result now, some years later is that I have an vast array of 'stuff' in my sanctuary and a large collection of books in my library, most of which I've read. Nowadays, I'm far from an expert in any of the subject though in fairness I believe I've a good understanding of each.
So was the way I approached this subject the best way? Who knows! I had a hunger to learn and I fed that hunger with the necessary tools to learn. Would I recommend this approach? I think I would. It was through this process that I learnt exactly where it was I wanted to be. These days, I've honed in on a couple of the subjects with study and practise. I believe I needed to explore the other subjects to understand their connection and whether each sat comfortably with me.
Some students may find themselves not interested in anything other than tarot, or crystals, or angel cards, or mediumship. Others, like I was, might want to explore everything. To become an expert in a subject, you will have to study it, practise it and fully understand it all. By failing, retrying and learning you can become good at what it is you are doing. If something doesn't grab your attention, forget it and move to the next subject. Remember that analogy I used about a shop. Well you don't buy everything from a supermarket - only what you need at that time.
But that is all the theory side of the subject - what about the practical? Ah well there is where it starts to get a bit hit and miss! You see, as a keen student wanting to know everything overnight, I booked on all sorts of courses. Some were frankly expensive, and others not so. But it wasn't always the case that the more I paid, the better the course. In fact the quality of a course or workshop lies in the knowledge and commitment of the tutor running it.
I paid about a fiver once for an afternoon workshop with one of the finest mediums in this country - worth it? Definitely. It was with Eileen Davies. I didn't have bottomless pockets and some courses I went on cost hundreds of pounds which related to several weeks wages. On more than one occasion I would complete the course over a weekend or week, return home and in the quiet of my space, look back and think to myself that it wasn't the best use of the money.
This is the problem all students face. What are the best workshops, what are the best subjects, and more to the point, who are the best teachers? We have no way of knowing in the early days. One person's recommendation does not mean it is right for you. That said, if a local workshop is only a few pounds and you can afford it, it is often worth attending for the association with other like minded students. You will often pick up some piece of knowledge that is right for you.
So far we have looked at the beginning of a student's journey into Spiritualism and psychic development. We've looked at the various outlets for acquiring the knowledge and considered how this could be a minefield of potentials.
There is another challenge that a student will face. I call this unlearning. When I was a new student I was enthusiastic and wanted to know and learn everything. I was like a dry sponge, ready to mop up everything from everybody.
The problem that I had was that I had no way of knowing whether what I was being taught, or what I read, or what I saw was correct. It took some years before I started to realise that some of the stuff I'd learnt was nonsense. Some of the books I read were inaccurate and some of the teachers hadn't a clue what they were talking about. Often they were teaching their way of doing things because that is what they knew. Later I were to discover that they were wrong and nobody had ever told them so. Yes, that's harsh to say, but I have found that the more I've learnt, the more knowledge I've gained, the more practical work I've done, the better I am to recognise the limitations in others. This is why I am fussy about who mentors me.
EXAMPLE OF UNLEARNING
I attended a course at a community hall where the topic was about hands on healing. The apparently knowledgeable tutor demonstrated hand positions and each of us practised on each other. First the feet, the legs, the lower back, the upper back, the shoulders, the neck, the head, the forehead. This could be hands-on, or as I chose, hovering above the subject area. I enjoyed the course and took away from it some practical knowledge.
Some years later I attended a week long course at The Arthur Findlay College, the home of Psychic and Spiritual development. Here, the tutors are certified, qualified and know what they're talking about. They are, after all, the best there are.
On one evening workshop, the tutor was Minister Matthew Smith whose specialist area was healing. During an exercise we were paired off and asked to do some healing on each other. Armed with the knowledge I had learnt from the workshop at the community hall some years previous I set about sending healing to this person following the guidelines I thought were correct. As I placed my hands near the subject's forehead, Minister Matthew's voice rang out loudly to me, "Trevor, do not put your hands near their face. That is not allowed."
Well I was utterly embarrassed. I thought I was doing so well. After all, that is what someone had taught me to do previously. I felt so upset. I'm a sensitive after all, and any negatives, no matter how well meaning, always hurt. This incident played on my mind and took me quite a while to recover from.
Minister Matthew Smith was of course correct. In this incident, the unlearning was painful leaving my ego bruised . But it was necessary.
Many times on this apprenticeship have I had to unlearn something that has been taught by someone who should have known or simply didn't know better. The challenge for us as students is that all tutors are different. Each have their own set of beliefs and each have their own library of knowledge. Often, however, their knowledge was gained from their journey, from their mentors who gained it from their mentors too. So the Chinese Whispers affect has happened to the information and by the time we learn it, it has changed so much, it's fundamentally now wrong.
Some of the better tutors will open a course by suggesting that whatever they teach over that session, "if it doesn't sit right with you, then forget it for now." Take what you can from the course and leave what you're not comfortable with.
Unlearning is a key part of a student's growth. It cannot be avoided and is not at all a bad thing. As students on a journey of unfoldment there are many characteristics in our personality, habits in our life, and beliefs embedded deep in our amazing brains that shape who we are and how we project ourselves. It's the fabric that makes life colourful and interesting. If we learn to keep our minds like open parachutes we'll be just fine. An open parachute works - as does an open mind. A closed one is useless!
There is a very interesting progression that comes with much studying - we also become more savvy. Our new knowledge allows us to be able to judge whether what we hear or read is fact or fiction a lot quicker leaving us less likely to take on board something that is false.
So my advise to any new student is to be prepared to learn, to study, to give time to the subject and for a while eat, sleep and breath it. The commitment will pay off. Find good mentors - people that know what they're talking about. People that have walked the walk and have a true interest in sharing their knowledge.
It is my hope that if you are a new student, you've read this article and found it interesting. If you haven't, or you just can't connect with the words, forget it and move on. The key to your success lies only with you. Good luck.