Alan Pritz, of Awake-In-Life Meditation & Spiritual Training, has felt a lifelong call to teach. Originally from Cincinnati, Alan attended Macalaster College and subsequently made Minnesota his home. With over 38 years of spiritual practice, Alan is a meditation teacher, Interfaith Minister, yogi, consultant, has presented at national conferences, plus, was selected by the US Army Reserves as “Meditation & Life–Balance Resource” for a veteran social reintegration program.
Read on to learn about what inspires Alan and how he knew at a young age that spirituality was his calling.
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How did you awaken to and develop in your spiritual path?
When very young the first word I saw in the dictionary was “Minister.” I recall it said “Minister of good,” not “Minister of God,” and told myself, “That’s what I want to be.''
Years later I saw a TV western with two Samurai on a Wild West frontier mission. Cowboys wanted to fight them because they looked odd but the samurai beat them handily and went on their way unfazed. Impressed by the warriors’ remarkable calm while fighting, I launched into martial arts as a teen. I continued training rigorously throughout and after college, eventually becoming an instructor in two martial systems. During this time, I devoured books on eastern philosophy and mystical traditions.
At 28 I went to the Sierra Nevada foothills of California to pursue yoga and meditation training. After six years I returned to Minnesota where my career expressed itself variously through bodywork and energy healing, a meditation-based yoga center, holistic consulting services, writing two books, and now as an Interfaith Minister specializing in meditation and spiritual guidance.
Historically, whenever I meditated on what to do the answer was, “Teach.” In my mind this isn’t because I’m exalted but, rather, teaching helps one learn, to take subjects to new levels. I don’t fit into molds of what a spiritual teacher is supposed to be, say, eat, think, etc. so in a sense I am very non-conventional; sometimes even iconoclastic. However, I’m a purist solidly loyal to my path and its teachings. I simply resist pretense and strive for Truth.
What do you enjoy most about teaching?
There comes a time during instruction when information simply flows; one becomes an impartial conduit for wisdom and insight to pour through. This is what I most value because I’m being spiritually useful and blessed with increased growth through the process.
Can you describe an experience where you worked with someone and brought about a transformational shift that you found rewarding?
There are many stories of folks whose lives have been touched or shifted in spiritually beneficial ways because of work I’ve facilitated. For example, one woman found me at a time in her life when her eating disorders had reached critical mass. Despite various treatment programs, she didn’t quite have it under control. When we started working together privately she experienced a pseudo-epiphany that subsequently played a significant role in helping her climb out from under that demon. I can’t take credit it for it - God is the real doer - but, I was glad to be part of her process.
What have you learned about teaching and healing as a business?
There’s a saying, “Do what you love and the money will follow.” I've found that to be magical thinking. Scads of talented people - artists, inventors, musicians - have followed their muse and died penniless. Being gifted doesn't axiomatically translate into business savvy. Once, being immature, I considered business non-spiritual and irrelevant. Yet business principles can, and should, be used ethically to promote any work, including spiritual teachings. God works through business channels too, hence its value is unquestionable.
How did you become drawn to the teachings of Paramhansa Yogananda?
During my period with mystical literature, I discovered Yogananda’s “Autobiography of a Yogi” but didn’t read it immediately. I saw it again at a friend’s apartment, scanned a paragraph, and was hooked. I bought a copy and couldn't put it down. It touched me to the core. Later, after becoming a Yogananda disciple, I learned that my college philosophy professor had been a direct disciple of Yogananda. He knew Paramahansa personally and told fascinating stories about him. When close to dying, my professor gave me his copy of Autobiography of a Yogi that Yogananda personally autographed. That is a treasure.
Yogananda's mission in the West involved hastening spiritual evolution through Kriya yoga plus sharing the universality of truth as taught by Christ and Krishna. By assisting in those efforts I strive to help further that work - yet without proselytizing. What’s important is providing quality spiritual technique, training, and philosophy so people can deepen their relationship with God while remaining true to their faith tradition. Truth is universal, its application nonsectarian.
How did your family regard your choice of a spiritual path in life?
Choosing an alternate road can be challenging on many levels but my parents were always very accepting. My brother walks a different path but appreciates my dedication and accepts the value of what I bring to the table. These are blessings for which I am most grateful.
Alan Pritz teaches classes on the Spiritual Science of Meditation based on the teachings of Paramhansa Yogananda. Rooted in classical yoga tradition - and excellent for all yoga practitioners - it is also universally applicable for anyone interested in making meditation a part of their lifestyle. Alan also Alan leads an ongoing All-Faith Meditation Worship Service. For more information call 612-721-4100 or visit www.awake-in-life.com.
Theresa Nygard is a co-founder of Spirit Unlimited, an organization that sponsors events for spiritual healing and growth. Visit www.Meetup.com/SpiritUnlimited.