We know that what happened in Sedona, AZ at the James Ray “Spiritual Warrior” retreat was extreme and dramatic… 3 deaths, multiple injuries, ambulances, medical helicopters. However, it was not an anomaly. We know that people have been harmed physically and psychologically by self-appointed leaders in the past, including at previous events run by James Ray.
More than a Personal Tragedy: Mainstream Self-help
Maybe the extreme drama was needed to make us examine the self-help industry. Because we know this wasn’t an isolated incident, the mission of SEEK goes beyond our personal loss–beyond Kirby’s death and the deaths of Liz and James. This concern is not just a grieving family trying to honor the memory of their daughter. The reach of the self-help industry goes far beyond crystals, mystics and “out there” practices. It’s much more mainstream than that. Oprah, New York Times best-selling books, popular products, events, TV shows–this self-help stuff is everywhere, not just at the fringes! As a result, all sorts of people are both helped as well as “scammed” by self-help materials and events, every day. While there are scammers and dangerous “leaders” out there, we also know that there are MANY teachers, leaders and healers practicing alternative approaches who are ethical, safe and effective. How can we separate the good from the bad? The real help from the harm?
SEEK’s Mission: Improving Self-help, Educating Seekers
We are trying to give information and tools to both providers and consumers to do just that. We at SEEK are not interested in being “witch hunters,” finding and rooting out unprincipled teachers. We are not interested in judging alternative practices or exposing frauds. We are interested in making sure that people know there is both help and danger here. On Friday, May 1, I gave a seminar at a conference for drug and alcohol counselors and people in recovery: “Self-help: Solution or Scam?” I told the story of Sedona and discussed the vulnerabilities of people seeking to improve themselves. I asked the participants to honour the values of the Promise, ask their teachers to sign it, and use the Empowerment Guide to help themselves and their clients discern real help from potential harm. Seminars such as these are just one of the ways we are working to share the larger message of SEEK.
We Need Your Help!
But building this awareness is tough. When an honestly trusting person feels betrayed, misled, disappointed or harmed, they often feel reluctant to share their experience. Feelings of regret and shame often keep them quiet and isolated. Possibly, the message of the self-help mentor was that any failure or disappointment to realize their goals was clearly their own fault. At your self-help experience, did you feel safe?
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We need YOU to help spread our message. Please help us to let the public know that the need for critical discernment and the promotion of ethics and safety in this industry goes well beyond this tragedy. We will keep working to promote ethics and safety with self-help providers, and we ask our supporters to please let others know that what happened in Sedona is NOT an isolated incident. It can happen again and it could have happened to anyone. As we all struggle to grow, to be happy, satisfied and fulfilled, we will read motivational materials and attend seminars and events. Let us conduct our journeys with open eyes as well as open hearts. Encourage those you know who are seekers to use this website, consult The Promise and the Empowerment Guide to keep their journeys safe and productive.