I want to talk about something I’ve been observing and carrying with me for a long time and am feeling now, more than ever, it’s important to share. What I share in no way encompasses everyone’s unique lived experience but it does, in my opinion, touch on some major themes occurring specifically in more new-age informed spiritual communities.
First, a parable. Most carry some form of the classic “waking up” story… somewhere along the way we tripped and fell into Eckhart Tolle’s, The Power of Now, or… Ram Dass, a yoga class, a transformational music festival, a meditation, Black Rock City, a psychedelic experience, Abraham Hicks; you get the idea. Through this, or multiple consciousness-altering experiences, we were opened up to something greater; perhaps something cosmic, mystical, magical, multi-dimensional, or all of these at once. Maybe for the first time, we clearly saw “The Matrix,” or the divinely fucked up game that we have all agreed to play here on Earth School. Perhaps we left our body and realized the shocking truth that we are not our body. And, in a lot of ways, the body is merely a meat suit for our consciousness to inhabit and clunk around the physical dimension. It could be that we were attuned to the life-altering axiom that “we are one consciousness experiencing itself subjectively.”
Regardless of the how, it seems that the majority of us walk away from this jolt into a new reality holding tightly and excitedly to new love and light infused perceptions about reality, as it were.
Life has a fresh new sparkle to it. And we have finally found something to have faith in that feels larger than traditional religion (and comes with way cooler symbols than stale hosts and wine… like crystals, patchouli, and singing bowls).
I lovingly call this the infancy stage of the spiritual journey and am in no way trying to depict it as something that’s wrong or bad. I think this phase is a necessary stage in the spiraling journey of awareness. I also think this stage serves and feeds us in the same ways Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny did when we were children. All of it gives us a sense of wonder, joy, hope, and trust in the mystery of the unseen.
I shamelessly embrace the transformation and joy that this stage in spirituality brought to my life. Yet, I do see major issues and damage that a long leisurely stay at this stage can inflict and am finding it increasingly important to speak to them.
There appears to be a breeding ground of intangible detriment when we overextend our stay at this stage or, for a plethora of reasons, never consciously come up against or become affected by the shadow side of new-ageism.
It’s because of this elongated stay at the infancy stage that we are seeing a mass revival of terms like “spiritual-bypassing, spiritual materialism, and spiritual narcissism.” It seems that the longer we hang out on this road, without peeking behind the curtain, the worse these things tend to get.
Right now, in a lot of different spiritual communities, there appears to be a collective issue of hanging out exclusively in the upper chakras. A collective issue of conceptualizing many things and embodying very little. And, a collective issue of a desperation and urgency to “transcend” or “ascend” from the body, ugly emotions, less than attractive parts of ourselves, and pretty much anything that makes us a messy, sadistic, provocative, wild, freaky, nasty h-u-m-a-n.
This is where I start to see concepts or axioms that were oh-so-helpful not long ago, start to become destructive. They become the fuel to help us re-enforce the comfort and constructs of our spiritual identity while simultaneously giving us something to tightly grip onto to avoid our humanness at all costs. Additionally, if we don’t learn to hold the paradox or opposing side within each of these, we bypass the pearl of nondual wisdom living at the center.
– “We’re all one.” A way to bypass real issues we have with other humans, the destruction and evil that exists in all humans on the planet, and to write off other people’s lived experiences that are heavily influenced by separation: racism, exclusion, social injustice, sexism, etc.
– “Everything is happening as it should or in divine timing.” This is quite often used to become ridiculously pathetic, lazy, and as an excuse to contribute nothing of benefit to society. Or, as a way to write off or disassociate from some truly fucked up actions on our part. I once saw someone say that she had slept with her best friends, ex-boyfriend (immediately after they broke up while the friend was still very much grieving and in her process). Then, she quickly followed it up with “but everything is always happening as it should!” …Um, no. I think what she wanted to express there was “I did something terrible and feel remorseful and not too good about myself right now. Please, someone, be willing to see that I am hurting and witness me.”
– “It’s all love and light” …Hard no. Most definitely not. Yes, love and light are beautiful things to say/feel and those energies do exist on this planet. But guess what else does? Hate and darkness. We have this inside of us right now. The pioneering Swiss psychologist, Carl Jung would not have dedicated his life to studying and discovering the shadow, the subconscious, and the unconscious if it was, “all love and light.” What’s ironic is that integrated or sustainable contact with love and light is not possible until we’re committed to walking through and with the shadow. Until we’ve acknowledged that all of the darkness and evil in the world that we so desperately want to position outside of ourselves, is also making a home inside of us. Some of the most liberated people I know are far more interested in how they can create a welcoming space for shadow and darkness at their table, versus hanging a sign on the door reading, “LOVE AND LIGHT ONLY. EVERYONE ELSE, GO AWAY.”
– “You chose this to happen.” I’ve seen a lot of detriment and pain surrounding this perception. Many-a-times have I witnessed someone going through something truly traumatic when someone jumps in with some good-old, new-agey love and says “you know, you chose this to happen.”
I am someone who operates under the belief that our existence is occurring at the intersection of destiny and free-will. After many experiences and reading a LOT of charts, it is very obvious to me that we do in fact choose certain things. However, knowing this can become a really seductive way to blame, give away our power, and bypass the real human experience of death. What I’m seeing we need, more than ever, is to become intimate with the things we fear the most. The things that make us real h-u-m-a-n-s: death, food, sex, money, pleasure, desires, confrontation, anger, evil, darkness, pain, trauma, racism, sexism, destruction, violence… all the things that a little while ago we were fervently trying to transcend.
– “Your thoughts create your reality.” A way to obsessively think only positive thoughts and to quickly dismiss anything that would threaten the sanctity of our positive thinking …Again, big no. I won’t unpack this too deeply as it’s something that Jung has written many books on. Yet it’s important to note that our conscious mind makes up a measly 10% of our mind while the other 90% is dictated by the big papas aka the subconscious and the unconscious. Another important piece to point out here is that if our conscious thoughts truly created our reality, then we would all be living some truly chaotic, hideous, offensive, raunchy, circus-like realities.
– Constantly talking about how we’re all here to “ascend” and how we’re experiencing “ascension.” If our main interest is in ascending or transcending the human experience then why, might I ask, did we decide to come down here into density where we have things like bodies, emotions, ice cream, sex, Netflix, trees, oceans, flowers, cats, dogs, sex, penguins and all the other magical things that can only be experienced by the choice to come into density?? I completely understand the desire to heal, release, let go, and dissolve — but the desire to ascend or transcend things like emotions? Or the need for food? No thank you. I love crying and chocolate chip cookies way too much to ever play that game.
What is an antidote to this madness?
We have the realization that there is an entire piece missing to the whole “new-age spirituality” story and the decision is made to explore that missing piece. We discover that the varying explorative pathways all seem to lead to the same road — the road of recognition that before we embody or create a sustainable space for Divinity/Spirit/Magic to work through us, we must reclaim our HUMANNESS.
We see that it’s a paradoxical game. The shadow and the light. The sacred and the profane. The spirit, the soul, and the body. We realize that expansion happens in all directions.
Now I would like to pose the question… what if the spirituality so desperately searched for in new-ageism (or in anything outside of us) begins in actually just allowing ourselves to be h-u-m-a-n-s? What if the spiritual richness we want lives in everything it means to be a messy human in a meat suit clunking our way through life, spilling our drinks, bumping into things, farting, and falling over? What if feeling wholeness begins by fully inhabiting the body?
…What if it’s in taking a bath?
Cuddling with an animal
Sweeping the floor
Hugging a tree
Touching another human
Walking barefoot through the forest
Feeling our rage
Interacting with our shadow
Weeding our garden
Freshly baked cookies and movies on a winter night
Creating space for the parts of us we would have previously wanted to transcend
Leaving an offering outside to the land we live on
Saying something we feel to be true, even though we know it will offend people
Swimming in the ocean
Grieving the loss that comes after death
Now, I know what thought train may be arising… allowing ourselves to be humans? That sounds easy. Isn’t that what most people are already doing?
No. Politely, no it’s not. Most people I see are doing everything they can to escape their humanness. Be it through suppression of pain, pretending like everything’s fine (PSA: no one is ever just “fine”), willingly living in stories about “the way things are” or “who we are” to remain safe/comfortable, hiding truths, feeling ashamed of desires, stifling of appetites, cloaking of sexuality, numbing through substances, quieting voices, total ignorance towards the Earth and her current state… just to name a handful.
And then there are some of the ways I already mentioned, in which we’ve taken new-age spirituality as an alternative means to avoid our humanness. This is where we see the shadow of something with seemingly pure intentions. Similar to the shadow side of Santa Claus, when we found out our parents are big FAT liars who pretended to be the jolly, cookie-obsessed man whom we loved so much for all those years. The longer we hold onto these truths without investigating the reality of their shadows, the more delusional and removed we become.
My current desire for myself and for all awareness-inclined people is liberation through reclamation of our equal parts sacred and profane, humanness.
Through doing this work I am continuing to find that the most grounded, potent magic and spirituality available to us, live in the messy, raw, unfiltered human experience.
It lives in being in our beautiful different-shaped bodies. In owning our shit. In not ignoring the state of the World. In seeing that there’s a little Donald Trump inside all of us. In setting loving boundaries. In speaking our truth. In getting in touch with our desires. In not pretending like we have it all figured out. In screaming into our pillows. In doing the thing that new-ageism told us wasn’t allowed (cussing, not talking in a soft high-pitched voice (if we don’t want to), not wearing five crystal wraps everyday (if we don’t want to), not shaming ourselves for thinking a fucked up thought, eating meat when our body is crying for it, not pretending that we love everyone all the time, meditating because we want to not because we have to…)
This is what I’m most excited about right now.
This is what I’m most turned on by right now.
This is what I want for myself, my friends, my clients, and all humans everywhere.