The Business of Spirituality and its Slippery Slope

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Photo Credit: Pixabay

I spent Sunday at the region’s largest “holistic health” fair and came home exhausted and relieved the day was finally over. That isn’t how I’m supposed to feel. These events are meant to inspire seekers and to provide them with tools for unwrapping the gifts of their true selves. In theory, anyway.

I don’t go to fairs often, whether they are spiritual/psychic fairs, carnivals, or something in between. My introverted nature finds crowds hard to deal with and the empath in me has trouble shielding from all the myriad energies that fill these spaces. Yet, I was intrigued by this expo that I’d heard so much about, and I had two friend who wanted to go.

As often happens, the red flags went up before I left the house. There was that strangely familiar feeling that the day would not play out comfortably…

Spirituality and holistic living has become a big business. You can sell your spirit to someone almost as easily as you can buy a can of soda. And, sometimes I wonder if the one can be just as bad for our wellbeing as the other. In the midst of the authentic healers, readers, and vendors, there are the charlatans who tout their wares with a conviction that their offerings will change you and the world. Sometimes it can be difficult to distinguish the real from the fake. The ego can be a trickster. It is often unaware of itself.

Then there is the issue of the seeker’s addiction. You can get lured into the business of “spirituality” as easily as you can a casino in a search for the pot of gold they both offer. I know people who attend fairs on a regular basis in the hope of finding that magical thing they can’t quite define because the cure is never outside of them. It’s easy to get sucked into the belief that someone else has the answer you seek. I’ve found myself on both sides, and it’s not easy to balance it with the larger truth of life.

After the three of us got our wristbands and settled our ticket admissions, we made our way to the workshops housed in another building. Although we spend some time amongst the vendors in the middle of the day, it would have been impossible to visit every cramped booth. There were nearly 300 of them, and it was enough of a challenge to find the two that housed friends I wanted to make sure I saw.

I attended five workshops on Sunday, and found most of them to be, at least in part, strangely depressing. Halfway through one, I left because I could no longer subject myself to the presenter’s aggression. Instead of a heart-felt passion, ego reigned through his voice with the tone of reprimand and anger. Ironically, the presenter was talking about water, using Dr. Emoto’s work for some examples. I was left wondering if he was aware that his own words and tones were most likely distorting the water in his body more than the water he was so worried about drinking. It was, if nothing else, a reminder to check in with my own thoughts and emotions, which were tipping toward unease and irritation the longer I lingered in the room.

In another room, I listened to a healer I really, really wanted to admire because he seemed to have an access to the mysteries of Egypt that have always intrigued me. Instead, I found myself leaving the room after the workshop had ended wondering if I had just sat through a marketing promotion. It felt uncomfortably akin to a timeshare presentation I once found myself roped into. I did’t bother to count the number of times we were told, with various words and demonstrations, how much greater his healing methods were than your average because of the “codes” he had created. There was a price tag, of course, if you wanted to discover the power of the codes for yourself.

Once again, I was left feeling frustrated by the ego’s tainting of something that should have been beautiful. Although I don’t have a problem with people making a living, we all need to, a system of internal checks-and-balances is often needed, especially when it comes to the business of selling spirituality.

And so it was that I found myself at the end of the day feeling more irritated than enlightened. I couldn’t wait to get home to my family and the quiet warmth of my house. I found revival in the “mundane.” Eating the salmon, heated up in our “toxic” microwave that my husband had cooked hours earlier, alongside takeout Chinese food. It’s amazing what gratitude can do for you. I soon felt more revived and nourished than I had from my lunch of delicious Ayurvedic Indian food as I settled onto the couch with the dogs. When I turned on the TV, I show on ancient Egypt just happened to be on.

Later, I found home again inside the pages of The Sun and the Serpent and thought about how grateful I was to have found this book through Sue and Stuart’s writing. And I thought about how much more comfortable I am roaming the ancient landscape of England, or the quiet landscape of the inner self, rather than the frenetic energies of a fair.

The Beginnings of Endings

 

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Photo Credit: Pixabay

 

The owl appeared as the resurrected phoenix during my last, formal meditation as a student of the Silent Eye School of Consciousness. At some point, the seeker becomes the seen as the threshold to the mysteries are opened. The wisdom that always lies in wait within is always just a conscious breath away, but humans can be shallow breathers. In my young adult novel The Labyrinth, which is due to be released in a month or so, the voice of an owl cuts through the darkness as teens search for what they cannot find.

“Whoooo Loooooks for Yooooou?” The owl calls out to them.

Ultimately, are we not all looking for our own selves? The truth of the soul that is often only allowed to exist fully in the false protection of the shadows. The eyes, therefore, must turn inward and grow accustomed to the dark, where eventually they learn to see the light held within.  We are all seekers of wisdom, but sometimes it is worth asking what is the wisdom we truly seek?

The crow was waiting at the top of the building when I stepped outside the door of my final day of yoga teacher training. She cawed loud and strong, least I miss her presence, looking down at me as her eyes followed me to my car. Don’t forget who brought you here, she seemed to be saying, along with, you know this is only a beginning.

I have learned, over the course of these last three years in particular, how much endings are really just beginnings. Once we have crossed that threshold that marks the completion of a road along our journey, another road awaits us. The road is often unmarked or vaguely marked at best. if we knew what was waiting, would we walk with the open heart that requires trust and surrender?

And so I find myself walking across the threshold with eyes that have learned to see in the dark. Fear has become a friend that sometimes takes my hand to remind me of courage and I have grown comfortable with what is waiting to be known. I have learned that within each moment I can find the presence of teachers surrounding me. They are the trees outside my window and the birds that pass by. They are the people I encounter on the streets, and the dogs who share the couch as I write. My computer is my teacher, with all its quirks and challenges. And there is always, that ever-guiding light within.

I have become also, a friend of wait. Patience provides a soft hand that is worth holding for as long as it is offered. Magic is, after all, held in the present moment and if one pushes against the ever-flowing current of time it is lost.