Liz Gilbert and Ketut Liyer

I’m re-reading one of my favorite books Eat, Pray, Love in preparation for the July Wellness Wonderland Book Club meeting.  (sidenote: you’ll be there, right?!)  Eat, Pray, Love was the first time I was introduced to the idea of a guru.

…I wanted a spiritual teacher.  I immediately began constructing a fantasy of what it would be like to have one.  I imagined that this radiantly beautiful Indian woman would come to my apartment a few evenings a week and we would sit and drink tea and talk about divinity, and she would give me reading assignments and explain the significance of the strange sensations I was feeling during meditation… Elizabeth Gilbert, Eat, Pray, Love.

The first time I read EPL all I connected with was the eating part, to be honest with you.  I was a single girl and wasn’t really sure how I felt about the idea of love (both myself and others).  And don’t get me started on the praying.  NOT. A. CHANCE.  So, I didn’t really get the guru idea and the word carried no more or less meaning than the word “THE” did.  I didn’t even think twice about it.

But now that I’m reading the book for the millionth time, having opened my heart to both the P(rayer) and the L(ove), I have an entirely different perspective on the idea of a guru.

It was my guru who helped me take the first step on my spiritual path – it will come as no surprise that this guru was Gabrielle Bernstein.  I didn’t really know exactly what having a guru entailed but I devoted myself to the gospel of Gabby.  If she wrote it, I read it.  If she vlogged it, I watched it.  If she suggested it, I did it.  I connected so deeply to her words and soon found myself sharing her message with…well, everyone.  I heard (many times) that it seemed like I drank the Kool-Aid.  I guess that’s the sign that I had a guru?  Kool-Aid like behavior?  I mean, Liz Gilbert traveled all the way to India and lived in an ashram for her guru.  That’s pretty Kool-Aid, if you ask me.

But it wasn’t until I met Gabby that I realized the truth about my guru and what it meant to have one.  She was a person just like me.  When I attended my first event I was expecting my guru to be totally unapproachable and unavailable.  I expected her to be perched on an altar far removed from me – there to give her teachings but not receive.  I was SO wrong.  Within the first minute of meeting Gabby she grabbed my hand and yanked me onto her stage to dance my heart out to P!nk.  She was there to be in spiritual dialogue with us and to crack us open to the gospel of ourselves.


Of all of the lessons I’ve learned from Gabby, the most profound has been this.  I am the guru.

The first time I heard Gabby say “You are the guru” I remember thinking that she most definitely wasn’t talking about me.  I was just a student, her student, so how could I be the guru?!  I’d only been on this path for a short time.  Gabby had the wisdom and I needed it.  Right?

In true Stephanie fashion, I looked up the definition of guru:

  1. a spiritual teacher

Is that it?  A spiritual teacher?!  And then what I’d heard Gabby say over and over clicked.  I am a guru!  I am a spiritual teacher because I am a spiritual student.  I spread the gospel of Stephanie through my words, my actions, my writing, my Instagram feed.  I am no longer just reciting the words of my teacher.  I have my own spin and experiences to share.


My guru helped me realize that I, too, was the guru.  And I’m here to tell you that you, too, are the guru.

As my pal (in my mind we’re pals!) Rumi says, “Everything in the universe is within you. Ask all from yourself.”  You have all of the “answers” buried deep within.  You need to find the guru (or gurus) that will crack you open to yourself.  It could be anyone or anything – a book that falls off the shelf, a spiritual teacher, your dog, your best friend, your journal, a quote that rocks you to your core.  The world is your guru.  

The work of your guru is to guide you and your work as the happy learner is to find your own path.  Your guru inspires you to dig deeper, trust more, love intensely, and find the willingness to forgive.  Your guru brings out the best in you – reflecting back the light you see in them until you are illuminated.  They create space for you to face your fear voice head on and choose happiness and love over fear and attack.

So, yes, you do need a guru (ps: that guru can be YOU)!  Follow the clues left by your inner voice.  The blogs that you keep going back to, the book that keeps getting recommended to you, the workshop that sounds so intriguing, the words that pour onto the pages of your journal.  It’s all there – you just need to look for it!

“What you seek is seeking you.” – Rumi