My father died when I was 18. My mind was in two places: the real and the surreal. His death wasn't tangible but I knew it was there. I knew I could no longer talk to him. As much as I felt the pain of his death, it seemed like a faraway dream that my fingers couldn't reach. One that I prepared for but wasn't truly ready for. Flashbacks of who he once was crawled back to me. The fishing trips, his laughter, picking out movies at Blockbuster, camping, all the things he taught me. There was a boulder in my throat and a river behind my eyes.
Grief comes in many forms and although it's a universal feeling, everyone suffers differently and processes grief in their own way. For me, I turned to spirituality. I had two friends die within two years before my fathers passing and I had gradually began opening myself up to new-age spirituality in that time. I thrusted myself into a world of love and light. I meditated, I hula-hooped, I stopped using products in my hair and allowed it to knot up, I bought funky thrift store clothes, I hardly wore make-up, I obsessed over the universe, I read The Power of Now and Be Here Now religiously, I did yoga, I charged my crystals, I used singing bowls, I chanted mantras. I didn't always do what I wanted or how I wanted to do it, I did what I felt I had to do and what felt comfortable to fit in with a group of people. Yet, my pain and sadness didn't go away.
Healing is not easy. It is chaotic and it is messy and it's not a quick fix. Darknesses need to be exposed in order to find the light. Healing deep unresolved wounds and trauma is painful. It is not something a simple stone will be able to fix yet the spiritual movement tries to pass it off as easy, as simple, as merely letting things go. There are lessons that need to be learned, questions that need to be asked, pain and anger and sadness that needs to be felt. It is intense and potent work. One can't just read self-help novels and believe everything is cured. Anger and fear need to be faced and this is one thing the movement attempts to avoid.
However, I learned a lot about myself by meeting these groups of people. I unlocked my heart to empathy and compassion which was within me the entire time. I learned how to calm anger and rage. I learned how to silence my mind. I learned how to flow with life rather than go against it. I learned how to naturally manage my depression and anxiety. I learned the importance of being present. I learned that not everything needs to be kind and that spreading love won't always help realistic issues. I learned that everyone's spirituality is different. I went through anger and sadness. I began to understand how the events of my entire life made me the person I was. I understood why I hurt others around me. I learned how to accept and let go. I've been on "spiritual" Facebook groups since and have found people dismissing others for certain beliefs, thoughts, emotions, and/or actions which, ironically, is a restriction of themselves on the flow of life, the flow of their consciousness, and only enhances negative energies within themselves. I tune into my intuition and many seem lost and fake and it's by no fault of their own, they were never allowed the chance to dig into themselves and know themselves.
Be aware of the bullshit to allow growth and healing for yourself. Tune into your intuition to recognize a lot of these extremely positive and spiritual people are still hurting and holding onto unresolved issues. Don't be fooled if "spiritual" people say the below.
Real World Problems Must Be Ignored
This is a big one I see. I've seen people bring up real world issues such as sexism, racism, politics, cultural appropriation, financial worries, etc only to be shut down and told their energies are "negative". People in the spiritual community are being made to feel as if they are less than others because they have realistic concerns. Those with heightened consciousness are able to balance the real world with their soul self and those with empathy are able to understand why these are still important topics to discuss. Living in one's own bubble and not worrying about what's going on around you will not help or change the world, it will only hurt it.
Possessions Must Be Let Go Of
A decked out camper going cross country that smells like patchouli and has Mala beads hanging over the rearview mirror is the only way to be spiritual, right? Wrong. One could own a huge home, be wealthy, have three different cars, and still be spiritual. One could own a tiny home, have a small amount of money, go thrift store shopping, and still be spiritual. One could be a hoarder or a minimalist. It doesn't matter. It is something within us and we can make our external world how we see fit. As long as we don't attach ourselves entirely to our possessions and focus our identity on physical belongings, we can enjoy tangible items and aim to live a comfortable lifestyle.
There's A Wrong Way To Do It
There's really no wrong way to be spiritual. There's no wrong way to meditate. A metalhead can be spiritual. A teacher can be spiritual. An ironworker can be spiritual. Someone who cusses in every sentence can be spiritual. Someone who drinks a beer here and there can be spiritual. There are no rules. It's not required to use crystals or read tarot or love tie-dye or wear natural fibers or lay in the dirt daily or go to festivals. Everyone's spiritualism looks different and will be personalized for each person.
No Anger Allowed
I used to "nicely" nag people for getting angry and tried to halt their feelings. I believed anger was useless and unnecessary and somehow thought pointing it's uselessness out in the moment did good. Now, I understand it is a natural emotion and it's important to allow people to truly feel what they're going through. Anger is like a balloon. When it gets too much helium, it'll burst. Having people hide their anger away will only save it for another time. Allowing it to build up and eventually come out in greater proportion. Let people (even oneself) be angry, help them feel it, and then help them throw it away. The root of intense anger often stems from a trauma or pain and it won't change until that becomes resolved.
Negative Energy Has to Be Avoided
Negative energy can be tiring but negative energy within other people cannot always be avoided and doesn't have to be. We don't always have to give up friendships, or quit our jobs, or avoid our neighbors, or never leave our houses. It's a lesson on how to put walls up, understand where their negative energy may stem from (their experiences in life), and continue on. It takes practice to learn protection and not absorb others energy but it's necessary. This is how you grow - by learning tolerance and acceptance.
Vegan Diets Only
Food is medicine but everyone's medicine will look different. A plant-based diet, while important and beneficial, isn't for everyone. Some people who are in tune with their body thrive better with meat and they can still have appreciation for the animal that gave its life. No matter what someone's diet looks like, gratitude is always needed for receiving nourishment whether it be from plants or from animals. There is no universal, spiritual diet everyone has to be on. We know what is right for us in mind, body, and soul.
What "rules" have you come across? Has the positivity and spiritual movement had a negative impact on you?