Some people would do anything to find love and acceptance, and Jeff and Shaleia Ayan know it. According to Netflix's new three-part documentary, Escaping Twin Flames, the couple has convinced thousands to join their online Twin Flame Universe (TFU) community. There, students have shelled out thousands of dollars on classes and courses that will reportedly help them to find and connect with their twin flame, their one true love.
But the docuseries suggests Jeff and Shaleia's motives may be far from pure. In fact, according to several accounts shared by those who were a part of the TFU and left, their teachings are more aligned with a cult. Each episode features former members and the loved ones of current members pulling back the curtain on TFU's jaw-dropping principles.
From dangerous gender identity assertions to harmful diets to psychological ramifications as a result of the organization's coveted mirror exercises, the allegations go deep. Read on to learn more about the trending docuseries and its founding couple.
Who are Jeff and Shaleia Ayan?
Jeff and Shaleia Ayan, now known as Jeff and Shaleia Divine, are the founders of TFU and the couple at the center of it all. Per the series, they present themselves as twin flames with a direct line to God who can confirm or deny whether others have found their own twin flame.
Before launching this business, the couple couch-surfed. According to various accounts, Jeff launched several ventures hoping to become a millionaire, including one business where he claimed he could cure cancer for a fee. (He holds a bachelor's degree in business administration from Western Michigan University.)
Shaleia, meanwhile, was born in Canada as Megan Plante. Her spiritual beliefs and New Age practices are reportedly what led Jeff down the TFU path after they met online in 2012.
What are Twin Flames?
Twin flames, a concept further popularized by Megan Fox and Machine Gun Kelly, are two people who share the same soul. It has origins around the world, including Hinduism and Greek mythology. Unlike soul mates, twin flames mirror each other as they are one soul split into two.
In the documentary, people claim the TFU teaches students to follow their twin flames at all costs, even if the other person has made it clear they have no interest in a relationship. In the past, this has reportedly led to restraining orders, arrests, and many fractured familial relationships.
According to Shaleia and Jeff, twin flames also have one distinct male and one female energy. Past students claim the couple leans hard into gender stereotypes and encourages their students to do the same. In some cases, they have reportedly pushed for gender affirming surgeries on those with no history of wanting to do so.
What is Escaping Twin Flames about?
At its core, Escaping Twin Flames recounts the experiences of past TFU students and those who have lost loved ones through TFU. Throughout three episodes, these people recall how they got involved and why, what was asked of them, and when they reached their breaking points.
The docuseries also features a ton of footage of Jeff and Shaleia thanks to their online classes, which skyrocketed during the pandemic when isolated individuals felt lonelier than ever. In some clips, viewers can witness the way this couple speaks to their students, pushes their controversial learnings, and even how they respond to each other.
Why is Escaping Twin Flames so shocking?
While the concepts of spirituality, love, and twin flames aren't new, the way Jeff and Shaleia teach them and the demands they appear to make on their students is very controversial. According to the documentary, they have encouraged people to stalk their supposed twin flames or even go so far as change their gender identities to be with a twin flame. They have also reportedly forced strangers to be together and to overlook extremely problematic behaviors, including abuse.
The documentary also claims TFU has set up mental health classes with untrained professionals, set forth unhealthy diets and told people how much to eat, and exploited TFU members into becoming coaches and working for them for free, all while encouraging them to cut off families and friends who don't buy into and encourage the TFU learnings and concepts.
According to various accounts, students were sometimes charged more than $4,000 to take these classes. Access to all of the catalog courses is nearly $9,000. To be a coach, you need to take them all. Meanwhile, Jeff and Shaleia flashed fancy cars, designer clothes, and a huge house, all paid for by their students.
What is The Mirror Exercise?
One of TFU's core teachings, the mirror exercise is when a student looks in the mirror and writes down a sentence that explains how they're feeling and why. Then, they look in the mirror and say that sentence, changing the subjects so they're addressing themselves.
For example, if a student says, "I'm upset with my Twin Flame because I feel rejected by him/he because he/she is ignoring me," the mirror exercise changes that sentence to, "I'm upset with myself because I feel I am rejecting myself and I am ignoring myself."
According to those who have participated in TFU, Jeff and Shaleia use the mirror exercise for all problems, creating a toxic environment of self-loathing and blame.
Who else is talking about this?
Escaping Twin Flames isn't the first time someone has investigated Jeff and Shaleia. There is also a Prime Video doc titled Desperately Seeking Soulmate: Escaping Twin Flames Universe that debuted in October.
Previously, there have also been deep dives into TFU and its founders over at VICE and Vanity Fair.
Where are Jeff and Shaleia Ayan now?
Jeff and Shaleia live in Michigan in a large home that TFU students have seemingly paid for over the years. According to The Cinemaholic, the couple's estimated net worth is nearly $5 million.
In June 2020, the couple filed two separate lawsuits against former TFU members and relatives of current members who spoke out against them. Both cases were dismissed a year later.
The couple also welcomed a daughter earlier this year, Grace Violet Divine. She was born in April 2023, per an Instagram post on Shaleia's account. The couple previously announced their pregnancy in a blog post on the TFU website, in which they opened up about going through IVF.
According to Jeff, the couple went through two unsuccessful rounds of IFV, "With both of us quietly hoping the second round, making use of a donor egg, would not succeed." Ultimately, they decided the cost of IVF wasn't worth it, so they, "Let it go and gave it to God."
What do Jeff and Shaleia have to say about all this?
Each episode of the Netflix series wraps with a disclaimer informing viewers that Jeff and Shaleia did not respond to requests for comment and that they claim this is a coordinated effort by former students to discredit them.
The disclaimer also says that, following a 2020 investigation by the Farmington Hills Police Department, authorities were "unable to determine that any crimes took place in Farmington Hills. The report has since been forwarded to the FBI for review of "possible federal crimes."
To this day, the TFU remains active, and thousands follow it on social media.