April 5, 2022

The Problem with the Positive Vibes Only Mindset.


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Yes, you’ve read it correctly.

Ms. Mindful Poet and Eckhart Tolle-loving, Elephant Journal writer takes issue with this insidious construct, which perhaps most ironically, runs rampant in so-called spiritual communities all across the board.

First, however, let me give you a little background regarding the outgrowth that is my current displeasure.

My pull toward all things beyond this earthly plane started at a young age. In fact, my maternal grandmother, who was an Italian Roman Catholic woman, took note of my primeval fascination with Christ and suggested to my mother that one day, I’d likely become a nun. (Well, not exactly, Nonna, but you could have been further off the mark.)

I would like to believe, as my ego-identity tells me, that I am a born seeker of meaning and truth. In my perception, it certainly seems that way as I experience my mind as one that enjoys relentless philosophizing, questioning, and mulling over ideas regarding the nature and purpose of existential matters, such as love, the very nature of our finite existence, and so on and so forth.

I also expend what I’d consider a great deal of energy trying to figure it all out via attending workshops, seminars, turning inward—which comes quite naturally to me, as an introverted ego—listening to podcasts, reading books, and doing my best to lead a healthy and authentic lifestyle in every sense of the word. (Notice I used the phrase “I try my best” as opposed to giving you, my reader, the veneer of mastery or perfection. No, I am not perfect. Nor do I pretend to be.)

To one degree or another, I am certain that most of us were born with an inclination to try to make sense of it all, but perhaps some more than others, and try is the best I believe we can ever truly do. You see, this vessel we’re in—that which we call our body—is a rather persistent illusion. Along with the physical aspect, we also have an astral body, which is composed of a mind, our subsequent emotions, which is a byproduct of the quality of our thought patterns, and a permeable chakra system that can sometimes become dust-ridden or even polluted by our mental activity and experiences in an overwhelming and ultimately imperfect world.

To add insult to injury, we are also conditioned by other humans who were equally raised in some level of dysfunction and thus predisposed to various sociocultural belief systems, which perhaps do not serve them. This, my friends, is the bleak but obvious epitome of what it means to be human whilst alive on this insane asylum we call planet Earth.

Now, do not misinterpret what it is I am getting at, here. I am by no means suggesting that we should all give in to primal impulse and throw in the towel on self-growth, but that in our quest to become the highest possible version of ourselves, we should not forsake the physical and astral components of our being and believe that, while we’re spinning in empty space, we can transcend the law of gravity, which inevitably pulls us back to the uneven surface existence we call our three-dimensional reality.

No one is perfect all the time. No one is blissful or joyful all the time. No one is certain of him or herself all the time. Moreover, no one is completely healthy in every sense of the word. No one is all light or all dark. Each of us, instead, is a conscious being who has forgotten who they are—again, some more so than others—and one thing is for certain: no matter who we think we are and what it is we stand for, we are only doing the best we can with what we think to be true.

Imagine that!

You would think that in this shared experience of humanity, we might all be a little more understanding and even appreciative of one another, but unfortunately, this all too often does not seem to be the case. What I’ve found to be most ironic, over the years, is that it is often those same people who preach peace and love who seem to need it most and embody it least.

Yet, if I had a dollar for each time I read an inflammatory comment from a member of a New Age community, for instance, I’d probably be able to pay for all of the therapy I need having been in the mere presence of a person who believed that they were more “enlightened” than me. And who not-so-subtly rubbed it in my face whenever they had the chance to do so—because, you know, that is exactly what truly spiritually evolved individuals do: tell you that they’re on a “higher plane” than you are and snub you simply because they wouldn’t want to pollute their “perfectly balanced energy field” with your “low vibration.” (Please detect the note of sarcasm there.)

These are often the same kinds of minds (egos, since we’re calling a spade a spade) who categorize “soul contracts”—as if a soul actually signed agreements prior to incarnation, which the more I come to understand about the nature of who we truly are, am beginning to doubt more and more—and dub certain connections as “karmic.” For those of you who don’t know what the term “karmic” means in the self-appointed “spiritual community,” it is basically the closest thing to calling someone a derogatory name in any other. Yes, I know what the root word karma implies, but as we know, context is kind of important in the English language, and when used as an adjective to describe another person is, to me, next to downright deplorable.

I’ve seen it often.

“Oh, I was in a toxic (for the record, I highly dislike that term used in that context, too) relationship with a karmic. I’ve forgiven but I’ll never forget. So done with that sh*t. Buh-bye.” (And don’t ever finish a sentence with the phrase, “buh-bye”—it is both unmistakably condescending and dismissive.)

First of all, who are you to judge another person? Yes, another person has their own set of programmed beliefs and patterns, just like you. Second, from the tone of the comment itself, it doesn’t exactly seem as though you’ve been practising your Santosha (contentment and acceptance) or Karma yoga (selfless action directed toward others). Instead, it appears to me as though you’re masquerading your own (yes, imagine that; your own) “low vibration” underneath a smokescreen of fluorescent lighting and haphazardly slapping a store-bought label of forgiveness onto the scars on your flesh in order to appear as though all seven chakras are vibrant and aligned—meanwhile, there is a huge, red, throbbing blemish beneath all the glimmer. Furthermore, what is most important is what is not being said, or otherwise what is implied in such a convoluted façade of ultimate transcendence.

Finally, last but not least, your life situation is comprised of two seemingly juxtaposed laws:

1. the law of free will

2. the law of destiny

So, yes, even though I no longer believe that we sign contracts with other souls prior to coming here, I do believe that we make choices that magnetize certain people and situations into our lives based on our current energy. However, this is fluid and like everything else on this planet, ultimately impermanent. We have free will. We can change course and are not bound to structure and rules we invent for ourselves. The law of attraction is real, but it’s not as esoteric as many people might believe it to be. In addition, energy is not stagnant; it is always moving. Always shifting. No one is indefinitely high or low vibe, and to put people in a box makes one seem like a narrow-minded bigot.

Another term I’ve come to loathe in the context of the community is that of “unhealed.”

I have become so sick of the tired terms “healed” and “unhealed”—the latter of the two which can often become a stab in the back from a smiling perpetrator giving you a hug in the dark.

No one is “broken.” Souls cannot be “lost”—you can only forget who you are, and truth be told, we’ve all forgotten to some degree. The astral body can and does suffer. The physical body can and does suffer. However, we at our core, are not the mind nor the body—we have a mind and a body. How we phrase this makes all the difference to our understanding of who we really are. It is actually as simple and as complicated as that.

I’ve found that, despite claiming to believe in soul, many people in the spiritual community believe what everyone else does—that is, that we are the mind, which is composed of a personality that encompasses who and what we are, in essence. My question, then is this: if that is what you subscribe to, does that make you “spiritual” or “metaphysical”? The definition of the Greek word “meta” means “beyond,” and in this case, we’re referring to all that is beyond the physical. However, there is one other realm that transcends this obvious one, and it is composed of thought and energy, which are not actually of the soul.

The ego loves to dance within the boundaries of duality, and the concept of being “healed” versus “unhealed” is undoubtedly a part of that sequence. So, labelling yourself or others in any capacity is a function of the mind, whose main task is to analyze, compare, judge, and fit experience into a nice little box in an attempt to garner a false sense of control. The soul just is, and it simply knows, because it is perceptive of all that exists both within and without. It is that which is aware. Thoughts and emotions are like clouds that come and go; the soul is eternal, like the sky.

As for me, I find myself feeling humbled time and time again, each day I get on my yoga mat, for instance. It is there where I meet parts of the “monkey me,” coming face-to-face with some of my mind’s most unfavorable tendencies. It is where I become aware of my mind’s inability to remain quiet enough to hear the sweet sound of presence or its tendency to be critical or self-conscious. It is during meditation I notice my mind’s tendency to wander, strive, or desire to be anywhere other than where I am in that moment.

Never will I claim to be a master who has transcended her ego. No. I was born in this body and I have a mind—and the nature of the mind is to be unsettled. As much as I feel uncomfortable on this earthly plane and frequently desire to escape its ways—many of which feel quite foreign to me—I am nevertheless here, borrowing this planet for a fragment in this concept of time. I too have been conditioned by my culture and experiences. I too am a product of other imperfect minds. No one has a monopoly on transcendence. Regardless, we do need to understand what it means to be a three-part being amidst a messy world. Only from there can we grow more authentically.

To be whole, also, is to remember that we are comprised of both light and shadowy edges, all in one magnificent design. The darkness, then, is just as important to recognize and own up to.

When we point our finger at someone else, we are ultimately inadvertently or not, pointing at a fictitious entity and not the true self, which is beyond a limited human perception or any label we could conjure.


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