Author: Puja Shah
Nowadays, everyone has a guru..a mentor…a spiritual leader. Whatever you call him or her, it seems like it’s the “in thing” to be seeking. You can be at Whole Foods and overhear the person in front of you tell the cashier how the dates she is buying are for a ceremony for her guru. Walk by any yoga studio and you may find flyers for a spiritual lecture by a leader who shares his deep secrets on dharma or even an ad of a well known mentor might pop up in your Facebook news feed.
So it makes you wonder…should you find a guide for the answers your soul seeks?
It seems that the AEA’s Committee on the Status of Women in the Economic Profession says yes. A study presented in Atlanta on Sunday at the annual meeting of the American Economic Association in 2010 might have been the first truly random sample to test what they called, “the mentor impact”. The conclusion was that mentoring truly does matter. Cohorts from 2004 and 2006 were tracked for three to five years. The study had compared the women who had received mentoring and those who didn’t. These women were seen as otherwise having a similar range of abilities. Before participating in the study, those in the group receiving mentoring and in the control group showed no differences in the numbers of grants received or publications; however, upon comparing the participants and non-participants in the years since the mentoring took place, the study found significant gains for those who received mentoring in three key ways: the total number of publications, the total number of publications “top tier” journals, and also the total number of federal grants won.
Mentors are not only professionally rewarding. It was found that those who are actively seeking answers to life and spirituality seem to have lower chances of developing depression. A study presented by JAMA Psychiatry on December 25, 2013, said parts of the brain’s outer layer, known as the cortex, were thicker in high-risk of depression study participants who said religion or spirituality was “important” to them versus those who cared less. It was also found that people at higher risk for depression had thinning cortices, compared to those with lower depression risk.
If you ask your best friend who follows Amma, she will tell you how Amma’s energy is out of this world. Or maybe your boss lives by Tony Robbins. Heck, just last week you overheard someone talk about a monk who had “all the secrets” seeing people in the backroom of a furniture store in Chinatown. You know you want a guide to help you achieve a higher state of mind, body and spirit, but you don’t want a quack.
Here are some tips in finding your perfect mentor match:
-Know what you are looking for:
Some people need a life coach, some need a friend, some are seeking a path to higher consciousness. Be clear with yourself on what you need so you too can be clear when you meet someone that can be your guide.
-Check their credibility:
It’s always good to know as much as possible about a person who is in the spotlight who you are about to trust.
-Do they have time?
Also, be sure they are able to commit the time you feel you require. If you are looking for a personal connection and one-on-one time, it may not be wise to choose someone who runs 5,000 person seminars.
-Find someone with similar values:
You want to be able to feel comfortable knowing you are both walking the same path, or the path you believe in. This common ground is what will be your glue and will help build your relationship.
Expectations are tricky. What do you expect from him/her? Is it reasonable? Is it feasible? Are you looking for guidance and wisdom to help you or for a superhero to save you? Reminding yourself to check-in with what you are seeking is always beneficial in your search.
It’s been said that Buddha himself had many teachers. While he did not find answers in the learnings and diligence within those devotional relationships, it was his very relationships with them that set him on a path of awakening. Therefore, the ultimate tip is to always remember that mentor, guru, teacher or not….
“At the center of your being, you have the answer; you know who you are and you know what you want.” -Lao Tzu
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