20 Healers and Spiritual Thought Leaders You Need To Know (With Videos)
The top spiritual teachers who will help heal you from 2020 and guide your growth in 2021.
When it comes to spirituality, many of us conjure mental images of the Dalai Lama or Pope Francis, but there are thousands of other thought leaders in this arena that have made significant strides in helping heal humanity, providing us with new avenues to find deeper meaning in our experiences. We celebrate these healers who offer us strength, wisdom and comfort when we need it most.
Here is our list of 20 healers you should know to access further spiritual growth. It is in no particular order or rank, and is intended to provide a variety of teachings. We have included recordings of powerful excerpts from these leaders, and encourage you to watch as many as you'd like.
We wish you the best on your healing and spiritual journey and please share if you found this resource helpful!
Marissa Peer is the founder and creator of RTT, or Rapid Transformational Therapy. She has been named Best British Therapist by Men's Health magazine and is a best-selling author. She has over 30 years of experience as a therapist, working with some of the most influential people on the planet, ranging from royalty to olympians, CEOs, celebrities, and everyone in-between. Her teachings use the power of mental images and words, in tandem with hypnosis and traditional therapy, to quickly rewire and improve unproductive thought patterns. Peer is also a nutritionist and one of the world's leading fertility experts.
Her own journey began as a child psychologist, a job that she eventually left to work for Jane Fonda as a fitness instructor. With her psychology background, she wondered why so many women had an unhealthy mindset around their bodies. She then found a hypnotherapist who began to teach her the modality. After learning the skills herself, she went back to heal many of Jane Fonda's student's eating disorders through the power of hypnotherapy. This grew as she realized she could help women who were told (like she was) that they couldn't get pregnant. She learned she could change this, and many other challenges, by telling her mind it was possible, transforming her beliefs and rewiring her subconscious programming.
Marissa Peer uses hypnosis to shut down the critical parts of the mind. We recommend checking out her YouTube channel, as she has many excellent snippets around common pain points. This video above gives a good sample of her beliefs with an introduction that moves into a hypnosis example. But her work spreads far beyond hypnotherapy, as her standard psychotherapy experience is extensive. Basically, Marissa is the perfect resource for when the mind is starting to downward spiral.
Author, Professor and Speaker
Alan Watts was a British writer and prolific speaker who interpreted and popularized Eastern philosophy and religion to Western audiences. He was primarily inspired by Buddhism, Zen, Taoism, and Hinduism. He wrote more than 25 books that remain popular today, although Watts ultimately transitioned in 1973. He believed his strongest literary work to be Nature, Man and Woman.
Alan Wilson Watts moved to the states in 1938 and became an Episcopal priest for a while and then began Zen training. While in New York, he wrote The Wisdom of Insecurity: A Message for an Age of Anxiety. He left the ministry and moved to San Fransisco in 1951, and started to teach Buddhist studies at the American Academy of Asian Studies. 5 years later, he started his popular radio show "Way Beyond The West." His talkshow helped him become an integral figure in the counterculture movement in the sixties. Watts explored consciousness and psychedelics, and thought of Buddhism as a form of psychotherapy.
We not only love his accent, tenor and cadence, but also his unparalleled eloquence. We chose this powerful stitching of snippets on his belief of choice. He reminds us, we are like clouds and waves: phenomena of nature. This means we cannot make a mistake, just like nature cannot. With this mindset, without over compensating, we can start to develop self-trust and deeper contentment. For a deeper dive, we recommend this guided meditation by Alan Watts, perfect for beginners.
Meditation Guide and Author
Sarah Blondin is a Canadian author and one the most streamed guided meditation leaders on the popular app Insight Timer. She recently published her book Heart Minded: How To Hold Yourself And Others In Love.
Years ago she released a mini podcast style meditation blog entitled "Live Awake". In it, she covers topics like "when we must endure", "accepting change", or need to elevate the experiences of our lives to "make it sacred." These were published to Insight Timer and quickly garnered top positions among the popular lists, giving her an audience of millions. The virality is a testament to her beautifully poetic and universal writing.
Sarah is a healer worth experiencing over describing. You'll find that her comforting, motherly tone will lull you into a peaceful space of healing. We thank her for her powerful work. The above meditation is included in this list, as it reminds us all that it is okay to be in the dark and light spaces. We don't have to have everything together. There are many aspects of the human experience, and she gently reminds us it's okay to be human and to be gentle when we are down. This is, of course, but one example of her incredible work.
Spiritual Thought Leader
Baba Ram Dass, born Richard Alpert, was an American psychologist, author and spiritual teacher. At 27, Richard was an assistant professor of psychology at Harvard. In 1959, Timothy Leary (well known for his popularization of LSD) moved into an office next to Alpert. Leary was fascinated by the use of psychedelic drugs as a form of psychological treatment. The professors tested the efficacy on students and were famously fired from Harvard in 1963.
This led Richard to India, seeking a new path to enlightenment. He trained with gurus and worked to cultivate unconditional love. He then returned to Boston as Ram Das, which means servant of God. He spent his years teaching what he learned in the East, eventually writing his best-selling book Be Here Now.
He continued to share powerful teachings, one of which we've shared a brief excerpt in the clip above. In it, he covers how we can move forward in the face of the ephemeral quality of everything that we love. All that we love will end. So we must fall in love with love. This clip is great for grieving, and is but a tiny window into the beautiful soul of Ram Dass.
Tibetan Buddhist Nun and Author
Pema Chödrön, born Deirdre Blomfield-Brown, is a world-renowned author, Buddhist Nun and pioneer of the spiritual movement in the West. She is a principal teacher at Gampo Abbey in Nova Scotia, Canada, where she has been teaching on kindness and compassion for decades.
Pema's best-sellers include When Things Fall Apart, Welcoming The Unwelcome, The Wisdom of No Escape, The Places That Scare You, and many more. She originally entered the world of spirituality because of the devastation she felt from her husband who left her for someone else. She knew this pain was important for her to experience and it transformed her, welcoming her into the world of healing and Buddhism.
We think you should know about Pema because her teachings are digestible and extremely powerful. In When Things Fall Apart, Chödrön guides us through sitting with loneliness and despair. She illuminates the freedom of not needing the ground under your feet, and letting groundlessness become the foundation. The Wisdom of No Escape proves an excellent introduction to Buddhism and concepts like tonglen, maitri (loving-kindness), and much more. The book highlights the discovery of celebrating who we are in this moment, without the small aggression of wanting to improve ourselves. We invite you to discover your own delight through these expansive teachings in whatever book or video you choose, but we know Pema Chödrön won't disappoint.
The above video is an absolute must watch interview perfectly encapsulating the work of Canadian self-help author, Bob Proctor. Bob Proctor is most known for his role in the film The Secret and his New York Times best-selling book You Were Born Rich.
Proctor's work is focused on cultivating a positive self image, positive thoughts and beliefs all to create a positive life. Many of his teachings incorporate the law of attraction. But this isn't with the assertion that sitting around thinking nicely will bring you everything you want in life. Instead, he shows how believing that you will come up with an answer to your problems creates momentum that gets the brain firing in a way that is more likely to produce those solutions.
Proctor himself used this work to change his poor self-image. He had dropped out of high school, and was working in a fire department until he came across the iconic book Think And Grow Rich, which was allegedly the first book he ever fully read (at that point 26 years old). Inspired, he went on to start his own floor cleaning business, earning him far more than ever before. He felt he unlocked something truly powerful, so went on to learn more about the power of the mind, attending as many seminars as he could to better understand who he really was. Trust us, just push play on the above video, because Proctor can explain it all much better than we can.
Hypnotherapist and Meditation Guide
Michael Sealey is a self-proclaimed writer, vocalist, video maker, traveller, YouTuber and meditator. He is known for his YouTube presence. His personal channel now clocks in at 1.36 million subscribers. With videos that have garnered 20 million views, Sealey has created a significant online presence in the healing space.
Michael is a hypnotherapist with a soothing baritone voice. His videos are primarily audio-only, encouraging listeners to grab headphones and find a comfortable spot to lay down, close the eyes, and sink into a deeply meditative state. His top videos include guided meditations for detachment from over-thinking, clearing subconscious negativity, and calming anxiety or an overactive mind.
We recommend his videos for anyone who struggles with insomnia or anxiety at bedtime, anyone who is looking for a quick recharging nap, or anyone who is in search of a new place for guided meditations. He performs both hypnosis and traditional guided meditation. Check out the above for a quick 15 minute hypnosis to give you a mini vacation from your day, or dive into his channel here to enjoy a great library of options.
Vietnamese Buddhist Monk, Peace Activist and Author
Thich Naht Hahn is a legendary author, peace activist and Buddhist monk. He is the author of more than 100 books. Thich Naht Hanh has a lived a life full of spreading peace, feeling called to pursue the life of a monk at the young age of seven (eventually becoming ordained at 16). Later in life, after having spearheaded one of the most effective non-violent resistance movements in the 20th century during the Vietnamese civil war, Martin Luther King Jr. nominated him for the Nobel Peace Prize. In 1982, Naht Hanh opened his own retreat center and monastery in France, where he lives today.
Of the many excellent books written by Thich Naht Hahn, we love the "how to" series he wrote: How To Love, How To Fight, How To Sit, How To Eat, How To See. These bite-sized books are packed with serious wisdom. How to Love in particular and How To Fight are excellent reads for approaching relationships and love more mindfully.
Esther Hicks is an author and motivational speaker who acts as a conduit or channel for what she calls "Abraham." Together, with the help of her husband and Abraham, Esther has written 9 books, mostly around the topic of the Law of Attraction. She was featured in the 2006 film The Secret (the original version, note there are in fact two!). Her teachings come from what she calls Abraham, so we will refer to it as such moving forward.
Abraham is known for energetic rants that tackle how we co-create our reality. There is a common theme of tuning into the frequency that we want to experience, that is, feeling on the inside as though your reality is the way you want it to be. She discusses how desire is a powerful force that we should follow, while understanding we can achieve that desire much easier if we aren't applying any resistance to our current reality. She discusses the idea of putting things into "the vortex" almost in a karmic way. We deposit our desires, and then feel and think along the "vibration" of that reality. She also describes the idea vibrational escrows, or things that we have deposited that we forget are already on its way.
We wanted to include a video with Esther in the flesh, and chose this interaction with a very upset man. He is angry at the world, and Esther has something to say. However, we also really wanted to include our favorite of her rants that seems to somehow gotten removed from YouTube but luckily, we did some digging to find this little gem (it only has 120 views now, which is a shame, because this was one of our favorites). So definitely check out this video on doubt if you have time...or if you have any doubt in your life (in other words, are human).
Speaker, Neuroscientist, Epigenetic Expert and Meditation Leader
You could definitely boost your mornings with a cup of Joe Dispenza. He is a best-selling author and educator on the human brain. Dispenza is known for his books on epigenetics : Evolve Your Brain: The Science of Changing Your Mind, Breaking the Habit of Being Yourself: How to Lose Your Mind and Create a New One and The New York Times best seller You Are the Placebo: Making Your Mind Matter. After studying biochemistry and neuroscience, Joe Dispenza moved into applying the sciences to heal our mind and, therefore, heal our lives. He is currently one of the most sought out speakers in the world, having lectured in 6 continents and 27 countries. He is a faculty member at the Quantum University in Hawaii and The Omega Institute for Holistic Studies in New York. Joe also works as a corporate consultant, giving his lectures to business groups.
We picked Joe for his background and contributions to the meditation field. He has completed extensive research around mindfulness and we appreciate him bringing the gift of well-being to more people. He understands that thoughts create responses in the body, and thoughts can make you sick or they can make you well. Dive into his lectures on YouTube or check out his books for more.
Eckhart Tolle is a best-selling author and world-famous spiritual teacher. Born in Germany as Ulrich Leonard Tölle, the current Canada resident is best known for his books: The Power of Now and A New Earth: Awakening to Your LIfe’s Purpose. Tolle has raked in some serious accolades and praise, The New York Times even called Eckhart Tolle “the most popular spiritual author in the US” and in 2011 Watkins Review listed him as the most spiritually influential person in the world.
Tolle himself experienced severe depression until the age of 29 when he felt he experienced his transformation. This eventually led him to become a spiritual leader. Now, his teachings, beautifully written or delivered slowly in deliberate speech, reach millions of people. We thank him for his contributions to the field.
Deepak choprah is perhaps one of the best known spiritual leaders of our time, and for good reason. Deepak is a prominent leader of alternative medicine and the New Age movement, and a world-renowned author and meditation guide.
Chopra emigrated from India to The United States in 1970 to complete his residency in internal medicine. He became a licensed physician and, eventually, in 1980, chief of staff at the New England Memorial Hospital. Five years later he met Maharishi Mahesh Yogi and found interest in Transcendental Meditation (also known as TM). This propelled him to leave NEMH and work for Sharp HealthCare’s Center for Mind-Body Medicine and eventually found his own Chopra Center for Wellbeing. This center hosts incredible events for healing and empowerment.
Like many others on this list, Chopra knows the power of the mind. He believes through our thoughts alone, we can slow down (and in some cases, reverse) the aging process. Although his approach has drawn criticism and been reduced to inducing placebo effects, he ultimately has created an enormous impact in the spiritual world. We love his “21 Days Of Abundance” meditation challenge, and certainly recommend it as a fun way to access a higher mindset.
Byron Katie will change your life with four simple questions. Byron Kathleen Mitchell lived a perfectly average life until she started to experience a ten year downward spiral into suicidal despair. A divorce and addiction left her angry and left others, including her three children, afraid of her. She became agoraphobic, never leaving her bed for days on end except to use the bathroom. A time filled with eating ice cream and codeine until she weighed over 200 pounds. Eventually she checked-in to one of the only places her insurance would take: a halfway house for eating disorders. One morning, she found herself on the floor of that facility and experienced her own awakening, as a cockroach walked across her ankle. In this moment, she woke up to the fact that everything that caused her suffering wasn’t actually true for her any longer. She had attached to the thoughts without inquiring deeper into if they were even true to begin with.
Byron Katie is a transformational author and founder of “The Work” in her best-seller Loving What Is. The Work was born in that halfway house, but when she returned home a changed person, people took notice. Eventually people from all over her town were asking Katie for help, leading her to eventually speak in front of groups. She eventually published Loving What Is, and continues to transform people’s lives through four simple questions:
1. Is the thought true?
2. Can you absolutely know that it’s true?
3. How do you react when you think the thought?
4. Who would you be without the thought?
She walks us through how to inquire with these questions and what she calls the “turnaround” to access the deeper truth. She helps us detach from thoughts appearing and stopping them from turning into huge theories lacking investigation. This powerful work, along with her teachings of the three zones of business we can be in, secure her on our list of absolute musts to transform your life of healing.
We cannot recommend Loving What Is highly enough. Here's a pro-tip: get the audiobook version to hear the dialogue excerpts of her doing the work with audience members. We thank Byron for helping millions of people around the world start to free themselves from angry, sad and stressful thinking.
14. Paulo Coelho
Paulo Coelho is the Brazilian author of The Alchemist, one of the most sold books of all-time. The novel is a spiritual guidebook, following an allegory of a shepherd looking for a treasure. The book allegedly only took two weeks to write, because Choelho felt the story was already is in his soul.
Coelho is also the writer with the largest online fanbase, with more than 25 million fans on Facebook and more than 10 million followers on Twitter. But it wasn't an overnight success, as the book only originally landed a deal to print 900 copies. It wasn't until an American tourist who loved the book helped him print in English that the book started to take off.
We love the book because it teaches us that the answers we seek are already within.
Vipassana Meditation Teacher
Ever heard of vipassana style meditation? Or the 10 day silent retreats that teach people the vipassana method? Well, if you’ve ever attended such a retreat, you would find your teacher, S.G. Goenka, instructing you through his nightly recordings. You'd become all too familiar with him encouraging you to “patiently and persistently” follow the vipassana method to equanimity. And by day 10, you might love him or hate him, but Goenka has made serious contributions to the world of healing and spirituality.
Stay Narayan Goenka was born in Burma into a wealthy family, son of an Indian businessman. Goenka moved to India in 1969 and started teaching meditation. In 2012, he was awarded the Padma Bhushan by the Government of Indian. During his life, he started many retreat centers across the world that all function on donations and volunteers.
The Vipassana method gained a lot of momentum due to Goenka, which is why we lands a spot on our list of must-knows. He emphasizes the path to liberation is non-sectarian and available to everyone. Simply by noticing the sensation on the body, we are able to see that our suffering always stems from craving or aversions to specific sensations in the body. Vipasanna teaches us to sit in meditation, scanning from head to feet and from feet to head, watching the sensations and not reacting to them, but simply resting in awareness. Staying aware of the obvious and subtle sensations alike, never fixating on any single sensation, provides with a meditative flow state of being. In this simple process, what he calls Sancaras, or built up energetic gunk of our life, starts to peel away.
If you are an Oprah fan, you’ve probably heard of Gary Zukav. He allegedly is the reason Oprah started Super Soul Sunday and has been featured on her show over 30 times. Why? Because he is a prolific spiritual teacher and author of four consecutive New York Times Best Sellers, including Seat of The Soul.
Gary felt the Seat of The Soul poured out of him, as if he were a channel, and audiences certainly resonate with the wisdom. The book became so popular that he and his wife, Linda Francis, went on to found The Seat of The Soul Institute.
This world-famous book is indeed why we included Gary on the list. He teaches that we are souls having a human experience, and therefore we have a personality. He describes the ability of the personality to splinter, experiencing a lack of harmony and different aspects of itself. He teaches us how to unify and live in a way that resonates on a soul level.
Meditation Guides and Hypnotherapists
Oops, we cheated and are putting two people in one spot on this list. Lina grace and Lauren Ostrowski Fenton certainly aren’t as well known as others on the list, but we think their sleep hypnosis and guided meditations are among the best.
Lina is a certified NLP Practitioner, Hypnotherapist, Time Line Therapist and NLP Coach. Her angelic voice has helped her garner over 19 million streams on YouTube. Her personal mission is to help people sleep, relax, de-stress, affirm better beliefs, visualize better futures, and do all she can to help empower her audience to live a better life. She uses hypnosis to plant positive messages into the subconscious to help rewire disempowering beliefs. And if that all is too “woo-woo” for you, in laymen terms we can all agree on: Lina is an expert at curing insomnia. Play her videos during a restless night and enjoy an effortless drift into sleep. Her tone and lilt are gorgeously soothing. Enjoy!
Similarly, Lauren is a writer, content creator and meditation teacher. She has a career in the healthcare field, but does this to help heal the world in another way. We love her "It's Okay" guided meditation, and think she is also worth adding to your healing toolkit.
Mindfulness Teacher and Author
Michael singer is the author of the wildly popular Untethered Soul and The Surrender Experiment. With a diverse background in computer science, healthcare, economics and business (as a former founding CEO of a billion dollar public company), he ultimately turned into a world-renowned spiritual guru.
While pursuing his doctorate in economics, he experienced what he describes as a deep inner awakening in 1971, going into seclusion to focus on yoga and mediation. Then, in 1975, he founded his own meditation center called Temple of the Universe, where many travel every year to find peace.
But perhaps chief among his achievements in over four decades of spiritual teaching is The Untethered Soul, which is why we included him in the list. It’s a seminal book worth checking out. We particularly love the idea that if suffering comes from thoughts that are like thorns sticking into our body, we shouldn't architect the world to not nudge our thorn, we should do the work and face the pain of pulling out the damn thing.
Rhonda Byrne is the author of the self-help book The Secret and producer of the namesake film on the Law of Attraction. Prior to and after her success around The Secret, Byrne works as a television writer and producer. The Secret saw enormous success, the book and movie together grossing over $300 million. But Rhonda isn't just a one-trick pony; she released sequels to her book including The Power, The Magic and Hero.
Rhonda slipped into a deep depression after the death of her father, and her daughter wanted to help and encouraged her to read The Science of Getting Rich. After reading the book, she discovered the power of thought and the law of attraction. She researched more and felt many successful people knew this secret, and so she wanted to share it with others.
We love this interview on The School of Greatness podcast, definitely worth checking out on your healing journey, and of course, The Secret if you haven't already.
Bruce Lipton is a developmental biologist known for his contributions to epigenetic studies and his book The Biology of Belief. His teachings extend beyond his book into his many TV appearances and seminars, all with aim to connect science and spirituality
Lipton started his career as a cell and stem-cell biologist. He focused on the behavior of cells and early forms of genetic engineering. Then in 1982, he began to study quantum physics and how its principles might be applied to cell studies. He studied at Stanford between 1987 and 1992, which led rise to his interest in epigenetics, or how the mind can influence cells in the body.
Although Lipton’s far out claims of belief informing genetics, rather than DNA and inheritance, have not garnered mainstream backing, he has still become an influential speaker in the spiritual arena. He is a well-known speaker, and in 2009, he was the recipient of the 2009 Goi Peace Award.
We don’t believe everything is in the mind, but we certainly believe in the power of the mind. So while we may not go so far as to say we can change our genes with a thought, it is still a powerful idea that empowers people to live more positively. Check out the video for a taste of Dr. Bruce Lipton’s work.