We all want to feel that we have the power to impact our world—and we do.
But some of us need to be reminded that we are not the center of the universe. Life was not created to serve us; quite the contrary: we were created to serve life.
When the movie “The Secret” came out I was in my mid-20s. I remember thinking: “Wow this is it. This makes sense. This is how I have thought my entire life.” For a while, I went about trying to master the concepts, which are also tenants of what is known as the Law of Attraction.
The caveat is that we cannot master pseudo spiritual bullsh*t, but I didn’t know that then.
I focused on gratitude, on good feelings. I made lists for what I wanted. Bit by bit, I noticed life responding to me. Granted, I was consistently participating in therapy with the hypnotherapist who I eventually certified as a CHT (certified hypnotherapist) with. I went to the gym. I had completed massage school training and had opened my own practice. I was also working another job as a facilitator for quantum healing seminars. And I was a full-time single mom.
I was busting my ass to attain my goals. But damn if I didn’t also have a super positive mentality.
Then, out of the blue, I got to meet the author of “The Secret.” I was, for more than a few moments, floored. There she was: blonde, beaming, beautiful, and successful. She was, at the time, a hero of mine and here she was attending a seminar that I was co-facilitating.
What was she—the leading name of the spiritual thought movement—doing there? She, like so many others, was searching for an answer to suffering, an answer that “The Secret” did not contain. It was disillusionment at its finest. And, for me, it began the rending of the veil of what some have called spiritual materialism.
What is spiritual materialism?
It is a term coined by Chögyam Trungpa that describes how the ego and spiritual identity get fused and the practice of spirituality gets distorted to serve an egoic agenda.
Spiritual materialism, by my definition, is the idea that our spiritual practice should control every area of our life—that our physical well-being, prosperity, and relationships should all fall into alignment as a result of it. The drawback to this way of thinking is that if we are not experiencing the results we desire, we are failing at our spiritual practice. This line of thought then keeps us locked in a vicious (internally), reactive (externally), non-active cycle.
The focus on love and light, having a positive attitude, and keeping our vibes high cannot be allowed to supersede our need to tend to our humanity—the nitty-gritty, the real, the hard, holy, and human.
Though mindset work, like prayer, meditation, and manifestation rituals, is essentially benign and potentially psychologically potent, these practices have a shadow side. If we are not seeing the results that we anticipate (or that have been promised) we may experience a form of cognitive dissonance. Regrettably, instead of questioning the formula being practiced, the solution attempted is often to double down on the spiritual work. Dig deeper, stay purer, pray harder. These mental acrobatics can trigger issues of low self-worth.
The misconception is that it’s not the manifestation formula that we are practicing that is flawed—it’s us. That is frequently where gaslighting, whitelighting, and spiritual bypassing kick in. We convince ourselves that if we just stay positive everything will work out.
All we have to do to attain this mega, ultra-spiritual and financial combo is divorce ourselves from rational thought and follow-up actions and become a spiritual junkie.
I use the term junkie affectionately, having formerly been one myself. When I first encountered “The Secret” and began to engage in what is referred to as quantum healing modalities, I was a couple of years on the sober side of a seven-year-long meth addiction. The concept of staying high was viscerally familiar to me.
I’ve since realized that the mentality of many spiritual seekers is comparable with that of an addict.
We want to get above our issues. We don’t want to feel the discomfort or our pain. We don’t want to take practical, and often uncomfortable, steps to make our dreams come true. We are often, also, trapped in regressive developmental loops that keep us seeking temporary comfort and approval.
There is nothing more rewarding than feeling like our deity of choice—God, The Universe, The Spaghetti Monster—has shaken the approval stick at us for having a successful spiritual practice. By the same light, there is also nothing quite as disappointing as when it doesn’t happen.
What did I do wrong? Why doesn’t mommy and daddy er, um, I mean, The Universe love me?
Those who are most susceptible to schools of thought like the Law of Attraction are frequently people who have been abused, neglected, or have backgrounds rooted in poverty. In other words, people who are lacking the ability to emotionally and neurologically regulate or provide for themselves.
High-vibe mindset practices rarely involve the body or anything of a practical nature. It’s not about creating a business plan, managing our resources, or developing marketable skill sets. All we have to do is believe—keep our vibe high! And then vilify, squash, ignore, or dismiss any emotion that does not feel like love, joy, or bliss.
Much of the so-called spiritual work promises quantum jumps as opposed to practical means for attaining goals and dreams. It offers a miracle mindset instead of tools and skill sets. And it generates unsustainable energetic highs as opposed to working with a regulated nervous system.
It is regrettable that in the spiritual world, like in the world of addiction, there are predators who are more than willing to take advantage of our regressive mindset and lack of discernment, and drain us of our resources.
Behind the love and light lingo, a dark, hungry energy often lurks, masquerading as false light. It is when people are blinded by that false light that they fall victim to the predators who lurk in these systems. Truly, it is the innocents who have the most to lose when it comes to the engagement of spiritual materialism. The wolves in sheep’s clothing collecting those high-priced coaching fees and the untouchable gurus seem to do fine.
If we wish to develop mature relationships with creation, we must open our eyes as well as our hearts. We cannot assume our best intentions, nor take the follow-up actions needed, when we are dissociated from our body.
No, we cannot master pseudo spiritual bullsh*t, but we can be of benefit to this beautiful world in which we live—and we can learn to make a fine cup of tea (or coffee), which is infinitely better.