The silence from the health, wellbeing, spiritual and yoga communities has been deafening. This saddens me greatly.
Why am I writing about this here, on my health site? Because this may be the single most important moment/movement of our lifetimes, and lives are more important than juice. We all need to stand up to change the systems – the world over. Silence is violence.
A friend wrote these words after seeing conversations about racism on my Facebook page. You can find it here on Medium.
Who Put the Con in the Con of Consciousness?
Who Put the Con in the Con of Consciousness?
A few years ago I dipped my toe into the wellness world. I soon pulled out and went back to my safe place of artists and community volunteer groups. I found more soul and robust spirit in these people. It was the grounding in social and political awareness, in the plight of all people outside their own experience, their awareness of media and how it works, their ability to be in complexity and not have to have it all. They were not adding privilege onto their privilege, they were ever questioning what their role was in this world, and putting themselves out there and doing it. And the humour, that wonderful self-deprecating humour, of one who is worldly, and yet still an idealist — someone who believes that values can still find their way in this systematically corrupted culture we share, and will take steps to attempt that. It seemed like the people who never used the term “higher consciousness” were doing the very things that gave them this expanded view of life — they were thinking of people beyond themselves and honing their empathy and global awareness. Meanwhile, a number of people in the wellness world — striving for an elevated consciousness, purity of body, and perfection of being — were tripping over themselves with theories and rules within a restricted scope of life, and losing relevance for the world beyond their bubble.
This loss of relevance is revealing itself now. The wellness industry is increasingly unveiling its shadow across social media. And people are being called out for it. Whether it is posting a string of uninformed alt-right conspiracy videos and shouting down people who carefully challenge them that they may be coming from a privileged position, to outright battle against whiteness being a thing to look into, or that even questioning and going into anger and grief is a vibration that is not good for us and part of the problem. The concern is not so much the seekers needing to heal over trauma or illness or looking for a spiritual home to ground in, it’s the advocates, the incumbents, the ones who have found their thing and will stick with it and defend it with aggression. It’s the ones who have an answer for everything based on their philosophies, and damned if new information comes in that staggers the planet and asks us all to be humble and students again and listen.
The amount of fuel I have seen spent and wasted on defence of an idea of truth, and those who try to get the rigid spiritualists to see the value in humanity and other ways of seeing, is monumental compared to what creativity and shared awareness could have played out in this social arena. As an idealist, I feel such disappointment. But maybe I’m a bit relieved too. I’m disappointed that people who spend their energies in educating seeking hearts to find a safer place, are bringing a lot of cultural misinformation into the mix. Years of ignoring the intricate workings of media, the events of the world or deep dives into feeling what people of other fortune feel, does not magically give sudden expertise in the workings of media, science and the history of cultural oppression. It’s like when people said Trump will make a good leader because he hasn’t been caught up in all that political experience and will be fresh. Like Trump’s leadership, being media illiterate and seeking to influence others with what falls in line with your hunches is problematic. It is a gamble and the fruits of it are not awakening the masses, but muddying the waters. I don’t want to be persuaded on what is mainstream media and what is true media from people who have done the bizarre sidestep from teaching about conceptual truths of the universe to tangible truths about the complexity of our social systems.
As for relief, there is a strange relief that comes from seeing illness rise to the surface and be able to be named. For then there will be a chance at ego death and the infection to be tended to. And perhaps some change. We need to see the shadow, and certain brands and egos will need to break under pressure right now. It’s a chance for there to be a reshuffle, and trust will be reinvested in those who hold integrity in how they operate in these social media spaces too. If a lofty idea still holds while inhabiting the deep grounds, then there will be gratitude and remembrance for sage wisdom in dark times. But if the posts are suspect, that wellness brand is going to hold a smell for a while. It’s a good time to deepen inquiry, check the sources of all that you re-post, and listen when someone points out a tear in the fabric of your position. It may not even be the time to teach something while you are still learning it from scratch. Old habits can die hard. A new world asks for new wisdom, not our usual grab bag of solves and salves.
The wellness industry is vital and I need it still, and many practitioners remain stellar to the core. But I need advice on certain areas from expertise. And I’m not convinced that some of the very vocal wellness advisors are the ones to give me scientific advice outside of their studies. Sometimes a hunch is just a hunch. And deep research is not sexy, juicy or anything like a cuddle party. It is boring and endless to find out how the world works in some fields. Best we can do is find the people who have committed to this arduous and thankless research and listen more to them. And keep listening more to the lived human experience of others, and validate them even if it is challenging to what we think we know. God knows we could use more empathy right now.
I propose we give the “raising the consciousness of the planet” project a rest for a breath. I’m all for it, but it’s doing its thing without our efforts. What we can do, especially on social media, is aim to raise the levels of human empathy on this planet. This is a tangible aspiration, it opposes many of the deep structural forces set against it, it opposes our own blindspots to our privilege, it may even rip our sense of self apart, and may be the most soulful work we could do right now.