|If you like Teal Swan, you should probably buy these books.|
A couple of months ago, a former follower of Teal’s filled me in on an interesting rumor. She had heard that Teal’s Completion Process had been plagiarized from Michael Brown, author of The Presence Process and Alchemy of the Heart. I had been very curious about the true origins of the Completion Process ever since Ma Nithya Swarupapriyanda released a video accusing Teal of plagiarizing her guru, Paramahamsa Nithyananda. The dialogue brought on by Swarupapriya’s video led me to discover this post by LaVaughn, which eventually led me to abandon Teal’s teachings. My interest in the source of this technique grew when Teal’s ex-husband, Sarbdeep, also hinted that the process was plagiarized in this blog post. I decided to investigate. I took one glance at Brown’s website and immediately spotted this incredible…synchronicity.
This is the homepage of Brown’s site:
This is from Teal’s article, “Spirituality 3.0“:
This is from Teal’s blog post titled “True or False?“:
Knowing that Teal’s video called “How to Heal the Emotional Body” was an introduction to the Completion Process, I decided to compare its contents to Michael Brown’s book. Immediately, I noticed more parallels. The vocabulary and philosophical underpinnings of both spiritual teachers’ work are strikingly similar. Both authors use many of the same words and phrases: “emotional body,” “unconditional presence,” “feeling signature,” “authenticity,” and “integration.” According to Teal and Michael Brown, we must be present with our feelings in order to integrate our unresolved pain from childhood, pain that scarred us in the first seven or eight years of life during our emotional development. Both teachers instruct you to journey back to traumatic events in order to rescue your inner children. If you’re familiar with Teal’s brand of inner child work, this quote from The Presence Process might ring a bell:
“Unless we are prepared to reach back through time and space and rescue our child self by bringing it into the safety of the present moment, where we can give it the unconditional love and attention it is calling for, we as adults will never experience authentic peace.” (177)
Eventually, I realized that Teal’s theft of Brown’s writing wasn’t limited to the Completion Process and “How To Heal The Emotional Body.” In one case, an entire chapter of The Presence Process had been tweaked and repackaged as an “Ask Teal” video. Quotes from Teal’s website and Facebook page, supposedly authored by Teal herself, turned out to be taken directly from Brown’s second book, Alchemy of the Heart. After just a few hours of research, I concluded that the core messages of Teal’s work for the last two or three years were actually taken from Brown’s teachings. Inner child work, shadow work, healing trauma, emotional authenticity, cultivating self-love by accepting our feelings—all of these concepts trace back to Michael Brown’s writing.
Instead of taking the time to find passages that Teal has copied word-for-word, I have only done enough research to confirm that Teal stole her ideas from Brown. The Teal fans among you may be quick to dismiss these similarities as mere coincidences. Please keep in mind that this entire post was compiled using my limited memory of Teal’s teachings and a search engine. I have no doubt that the extent of the plagiarism far surpasses what I have already uncovered. If I had enough time and energy, I could probably take any sentence from The Presence Process and find, at least, a paraphrased version somewhere among Teal’s videos, blogs, or quotes. It’s that bad. Without further ado, here is an overview of the similarities I found between Teal’s material and Michael Brown’s work.
Core Negative Patterns
understand the very meaning of your existence. However, with the exception of Step 3, which Teal glosses over, and Step 5, which she omits completely, these exercises are nearly identical.
Here is a breakdown of the process in Michael Brown’s book:
- How Does it Always Turn Out?
“The object of Step One is to access a word or a phrase that describes the common denominator to the way all our intimate relationships have generally ended or soured.” (242)
- How Am I Feeling?
“The object of Step Two is to find a word or a phrase that describes the common negative emotional outcome of our failed attempts at intimate relationships. This common emotional signature is the key to uncovering the theme of the way all our intimate relationships end. This theme will be ‘our negative pattern’, and this pattern will be our unconscious definition of love.” (243)
- How Do I Share This With My Family?
“If we can see our negative emotional pattern manifesting in some form in the life experiences of our immediate family, then we know that we are on the right track. The reason for this is that our unconscious definition of love is not something that is exclusive to us. It is something we inherited from our parents and that they inherited from theirs.” (244)
- What is the Opposite of My Unconscious Definition?
“Step four is simple but often challenging. It requires that we now take that one word or phrase that describes our unconscious definition of love and ask ourselves what its opposite is.” (244)
- Giving is Receiving.
“This fifth step calls upon us to give the very thing that we seek to receive.” (246)
Here is a summary of the process in Teal’s video:
- “Once we feel our mind quieting, then we survey all of our previous significant relationships, the ones where you really felt like there was love there. Now I want you to think about these relationships going south…Dive into the experience of these relationships beginning to sour, failing, and ending.”
- “And I want you to ask yourself this question: ‘What did I feel after they ended?’ Notice that no matter the circumstances or who you were with, the feeling is exactly the same…Then [after being present with the emotion for some times] I want you to ask yourself, ‘How do I feel?’”
- “Now, with the knowledge of this negative core imprint, I want you to look back consciously at your life. See how it is the most familiar frequency you’ve experienced in this life…”
- “…and use that to become aware of it’s opposite.” Teal suggests using a thesaurus to “pinpoint the [word] which feels like the opposite vibration of your core imprint. This opposite Vibration is in fact, your Life’s Purpose.”
In-to-me-see and Real-eyes-ation
This is one of Teal’s “original” quotes:
These images are from chapter one of Alchemy of the Heart by Michael Brown:
This is taken from Donna Baker Church’s review of Alchemy of the Heart, which was featured on Namaste Publishing’s official website until very recently:
I don’t have a copy of Alchemy of the Heart just yet, but this quote from Church’s review is strong evidence that Teal copied her play on the word “intimacy” from Brown’s book.
“Ask Teal” vs. The Presence Process
Teal tells Blake to close his eyes and “continuously breathe.” She demonstrates. “We want no unnecessary pauses between breaths. This allows our consciousness to come to the present moment.” (“How To Heal The Emotional Body,” 14:36)
“We begin the Presence Process with “consciously connected breathing,” which “assist[s] us to consistently gather and maintain present moment awareness…” (133)
“We connect our breathing naturally. In other words, we breathe in and out without pausing between our breaths.” (134)
What Distracts Us from the Now
“This means you can’t ever be in the Present Moment. You can’t ever be fully present with yourself in the here and now, because the past trauma continues to come up again and again in order to reintegrate itself. It’s asking you to become whole.” (“How To Heal The Emotional Body,” 7:19)
“This Process has repeatedly demonstrated to me that it is our deeply suppressed emotional issues that unconsciously distract us from the present moment of our life experience…In essence, The Presence Process is a pathway that empowers us to release and integrate these emotional blockages.” (8)
What Brings Us Back
“The alternative is to completely embrace your emotions and your feelings, no matter how painful or uncomfortable they may be. The alternative is to completely be present with and to sit with your emotions. It’s to learn from them—to hear what they want you to hear, to see what they want you to see.” (“How To Heal The Emotional Body,” 9:00)
“We are being invited to overcome a powerful reactive reflex to instinctively run from our physical, mental, and emotional pain and discomfort. Instead, we are being asked to embrace it with our full attention and with our most compassionate intention, to keep our breathing connected, and to gaze deeply into it. Instead of running from it, we are being encouraged to face it and to willingly seek out its center so that we can open ourselves up to insight.” (168)
“Oftentimes…the memory happened at such a young age that we did not have our cognitive understanding yet. Our brain was not fully formed. We were in the Emotional Self instead of the Mental Self, because the Mental Self begins to kick in around 8 years old.” Teal explains that “you may not get ‘solid’ images in association with a memory” from so early in life, that you may only have emotions to work with. (“How To Heal The Emotional Body,” 11:45)
“Our earliest memories are only available to us as emotional signatures.” (149)
“The purely emotional experience that begins for us the moment we leave the womb begins tapering off and in many cases ceases its development when we reach the age of seven…This is why we start our schooling around the age of seven, because this time in our life marks the point at which we exit our emotional body development, our childhood, to place a greater focus on our mental body development.” (42)
Brown’s process teaches “how to metaphorically return to the first Seven-Year Cycle that made up our childhood with an intention of bringing balance by integrating experiences that were first imprinted into our emotional body…” (48)
“Anytime you experience something as upsetting or uncomfortable, it is a triggered memory. You are not, in fact, living anything new in your life. You are experiencing nothing but reflections from your childhood. There is no exceptions to this rule.” (“How To Heal The Emotional Body,” 32:27)
“Whenever anything happens that upsets us emotionally, whether it appears to us as an event or as another person’s behavior, we are seeing a reflection of our past…Unfortunately, there is no exception to this rule.” (148)
“…the surface events which cause the conflict in our lives are not just triggers. They are messengers that are enabling us to be conscious of something that is buried and suppressed deeply within us.” (“Diving Deep (Shadow Work),” 3:47)
“…throughout this journey our Inner Presence will set us up (upset us) by deliberately sending outer ‘messengers’ (reflections of our past) to assist us to recall the unintegrated childhood memories that we have long since suppressed. Our Inner Presence does this because the use of reflections (or messengers) is the only way for us to ‘see’ our deeply suppressed past in a way that we can consciously work with it.” (149-150)
“…it’s the same as trying to change the reflection that’s in the mirror by trying to clean the mirror as much as you can. It doesn’t address the causation of the issue, which is your own pain.” (“Parenting 2.0,” 3:54)
“We are not going to clean the mirror in an attempt to remove the blemishes from the face of our life experience. We are going to use the mirror, or our experience of the world, as a means to see our blemishes more clearly.” (Brown 68)
“If you parent in the same way that your parents parented you, which is the way you’ll parent unless you become more conscious, there is no progression of consciousness. It is a state of endedness. The #1 most important thing we can to for our children is to integrate our own emotional childhood pain. If not, we will pass this wound to our children…” (“Parenting 2.0,” 2:27)
“…when we have children, unless we have already resolved our own childhood traumas, all our unconscious and unintegrated emotional issues are subsequently imprinted upon them. I told him that until our children are able to integrate what we unconsciously offload upon them, they cannot begin to live their own life experiences. I told him that all troubled children are reflections of their troubled parents.” (307)
“When we want to feel better we try to change the surface circumstances of our experience. We end the relationship, we move to a different city, we put ourselves on a diet, we sign up to a gym, we take a medication. But by doing this, and only this, by looking for and taking a physical action to feel better, we can never escape the original conflict for long. It simply resurfaces in the new relationship, in the new city, regardless of how our diet changes, or how much we exercise, or what medication we take. We perpetuate drama in our lives if the changes that we make change the surface symptom of our problems instead of the deep causation of our pain.” (“Diving Deep (Shadow Work),” 4:03)
“‘Getting the message’ changes everything because by doing so we realize that the emotional reactions we feel as a consequence of being triggered have nothing to do with our life as an adult. They are the unintegrated emotions that we have been suppressing for years…They deliberately come to our attention as external circumstances and the behavior of others so that we have the opportunity to see, acknowledge, and integrate them. Until we allow ourselves the opportunity to consciously integrate them, they will diligently keep reoccurring in our adult experience in some form or another—often in a manner that seemingly sets out to sabotage our best intentions.” (161)
Cause and Effect
“Everything in your life is a byproduct, an effect, of the causality of your childhood trauma.” (“Diving Deep (Shadow Work),” 15:22)
“It is crucial at this point in The Presence Process that we understand that an unbalanced adult experience is ‘an effect’, not a cause of anything. It is crucial that we understand this because it is futile tampering with an effect of anything, as it is only at the point of cause that any real change can be initiated. The only value of our adult symptoms of imbalance is that we can use them as clues to successfully navigate our awareness to their childhood causes.” (177)
Shooting the Messenger
“The reason that we are so reactive…is because we are unwilling to fully be with our Emotional Body, to be with our feeling impressions, and to reintegrate them. So don’t shoot the messenger. These experiences…are messengers from our subconscious.” (“How To Heal The Emotional Body,” 32:45)
“As we move through our daily life experience, we are now asked…to watch for ‘the messengers‘: those people or circumstances that push our buttons. DO NOT SHOOT THE MESSENGER!” (154)
“The minute you decide that you need to heal something about your emotions, you have now made an enemy of your emotions…The minute you say, “I need to heal,” this implies you have to change or fix something about yourself…” (“How to Heal the Emotional Body,” 8:03)
“[M]y intention to attempt to heal myself was completely misguided…[T]his natural breathing technique enabled me to integrate that there was a distinct difference between my Self and my experience…I could clearly see that it was my life experience that had become acutely unbalanced and in urgent need of adjusting—not me.” (4)
“The most crucial part of doing this process is to trust the process fully, because that’s to trust Yourself to know what it needs to do to reintegrate (which it does).” (How To Heal The Emotional Body,” 11:35)
“In all circumstances we are encouraged to trust the process. No one has ever been hurt by breathing normally and naturally.” (136) (Brown repeats this phrase several times throughout the book.)
Rescuing Our Inner Children
Lastly, I want to share an excerpt from The Presence Process on rescuing the child-self. I could have identified a similar quote of Teal’s to compare with this passage. In fact, I could have found a hundred of them. But anyone remotely familiar with Teal’s recent teachings will see the connection.
DURING OUR JOURNEY through The Presence Process, there have already been and are going to be numerous moments when we feel anything but present. During these moments of distraction, we may feel irritable, anxious, annoyed, or even full of fear, rage, and grief. These are the moments
when we are being called upon to consciously attend to our child self. These are the moments in which we must strive to remember that the states of imbalance that we are feeling have nothing to do with what is happening right now. They are a call for assistance from a very emotional child-like part of our self that is trapped in a mental concept that we have called “the past”…
We find a quiet and comfortable space or wait until we have an opportunity to be alone and undisturbed. We then close our eyes and imagine our adult self (the person we are now) standing in front of our child self. We then mentally picture the child that we once were going through the exact same level of emotional imbalance that we are presently feeling in our adult experience. This seemingly imagined scenario is quite real because the feelings that presently drive us to distraction are really the surfacing of suppressed memories echoing from our childhood experiences. Symptoms are echoes. Phonetically the word “symptom” when spoken out loud can be heard as “some time”. This is what a symptom is: a piece of our unintegrated timeline.
Once we have this imagined scenario in mind, it is then up to us to respond compassionately to our child self as a loving and devoted parent would. We must allow and even encourage our child self in this imagined scenario to express its feelings without any censorship or judgment on our behalf. We must metaphorically take it in our arms and unconditionally love and comfort it. We must do whatever it takes—for heaven’s sake. Through this imagined nurturing of our child self, we automatically activate our inner parent and access a state of being called compassion. As its loving parent, we must ask our child self what happened and why it is feeling troubled? We must confidently and sincerely assure it that we will take care of it from this moment onwards and that we will give it all the unconditional love it deserves. Most of all, we must assure our child self that we lived on well beyond the fear it is experiencing. We must tell it about our adult life and invite it to once again become a conscious participant in what we are experiencing from day to day. In this way, we allow it to escape its imprisonment in this mental concept of “the past” and to enter the very real experience of our present circumstances. (180-1, emphasis added)
The Bigger Picture
As I mentioned, I feel that I’ve only skimmed the surface here. My research wasn’t extensive. I tried to be concise with my writing. And yet, this post is seven pages long. If, somehow, you still aren’t convinced, I invite you to read Michael Brown’s work, listen to his teachings, and decide for yourself.
So, what does this mean? Not only has Teal heavily copied the work of another spiritual teacher, but she has corrupted it in such a way that puts vulnerable people at risk for retraumatization, false memory syndrome, and, by her own admission, “self-injury and, potentially, suicide.” (Skip to 1:49:50 to hear that for yourself.) I wrote “An Open Letter to Teal Tribe” knowing that the Completion Process was a bastardization of another author’s work. For those of you who thought my accusations were unfair, I hope that this post has helped you understand my concern by further demonstrating Teal’s recklessness and irresponsibility.
In chapter one of The Completion Process Teal writes that the technique enables us to “restore our integrity.” Of course, Teal means that we can mend and unify our emotional selves. But I wrote this post because I am interested in restoring a different sort of integrity. If you are a fan of Teal’s, I urge you to support Michael Brown’s work. If you aren’t sure what to think of all this, consider testing out his teachings and learning from him before pre-ordering The Completion Process.
I don’t expect perfection from Teal, or any other person, for that matter. But Teal describes herself as a spiritual leader, an exemplar of authenticity and transparency, a woman who is courageous, honest, and real. I believed in and supported this version of Teal for years, but now I am not so sure that she ever existed. Teal, I want to invite you to prove your courage and authenticity. I want to ask you to explain yourself to the fans who have eagerly pre-ordered your book, the facilitators you’ve trained, and Mr. Brown himself.