I was introduced to the New Age community ten years ago when I opened my wellness studio in Southern California. I’ve seen some spiritually confused people get lost on this path, drifting further away from a positive relationship with God, and finding more cause for self-flagellation, which is ironic because this is why many are turned off by religion. Any spirituality that thrives on fear is in opposition to God and our innate wisdom since God is love and this love is within us, i.e. yoga’s namaste: “the divine light in me honors the divine light in you.” Spiritual beliefs anchored in fear are about control.
One of the most popular fear-based New Age beliefs is focused on the power of negativity, that “the universe” will punish you for feeling negative by sending more negative things to your life that are being “attracted” to your thoughts and that negative thoughts can “energetically block” good things from happening. It’s a limiting, judgmental belief that leaves no room for a compassionate Creator who loves us no matter what, makes all things possible and has the power to surprise us with unexpected blessings.
In my faith, negativity is healed through the power of prayer and focusing on the omnipresent love of God, allowing that powerful love to naturally lift mind, body and spirit out of negativity. I don’t believe we are punished for thinking negatively, unless we start punishing ourselves by cutting off opportunities and making negativity a way of life instead of a temporary emotion passing through a difficult time – which is normal. I often wonder why people don’t see the clear connection between the punished sinner and the punished negative thinker. This is all fear-based spirituality. If we focus on being good people, doing good in the world and aspiring to heal ourselves so we can be as loving and compassionate as possible, then we won’t be so obsessed with the damning effects of negativity.
I’ve had a ton of negative experiences, some quite traumatic. I don’t blame myself for “attracting” these things. I believe God has a well-rounded plan for me that includes great challenges and great victories, and that’s life. Many of my greatest pains were the result of other people’s actions which were not my responsibility. Free will gives people freedom to make bad choices. When I’ve been hurt by other people’s bad choices or my own, I see it as a learning experience to grow from, designed to help me evolve. How can I blame God for my pain when humanity has been given a great power such as free will only to use it to harm others or ourselves? We are trusted by our Creator to use our power mindfully. I think the most powerful aspect of free will is being able to choose how we’ll react to life’s hardships, which is an important factor in maintaining inner peace.
Here are popular New Age myths debunked, and more reasons to strive for inner peace.
The more grateful you are, the more you will receive. There is no guarantee if you’re grateful for what you have that you will receive more of anything. You will most likely perceive you have more things to be grateful for since this is really about changing perspective. A grateful perspective is a healthy one that creates inner peace and contentment with what you have. However, if I’m miserable in a situation I find it best I’m real about it because that misery will be a driving force to change.
If you think negatively, you will attract negative things into your life. I have so many case points for this one, I’ll share the most recent. New Years Eve, the night was off to a stressful, disappointing start and I threw myself a pity party. I expressed to my partner that I wasn’t surprised and told him I released expectations because things had been hard for so long, I’d given up hope that good things could happen. If they did, I’d be very grateful but deep down, I doubted. Well right after I said that, the night completely turned around. I went to a beautiful restaurant I’d always wanted to experience and though it was packed with people, I found two seats under a heat lamp in a quiet section with a view of the water, as if reserved just for me and my guest. Then we went to the local artsy theater and a couple, strangers we had never met before, approached us out of the blue gave us their tickets to the New Years Eve party where we were welcomed to a culinary feast plus wine and champagne. It was like God was trying to prove my negative thinking wrong saying, see? Good things can still happen! According to the “Law of Attraction” based on my thoughts, I should have “attracted” a negative night. Instead, because God is merciful and good and through our Creator anything is possible, I had a fun, relaxing night filled with unexpected blessings and meaningful encounters. I love God. God helps me get out of my own way.
If you create a vision board, you will receive everything you want. Vision boards aren’t magic portals or wish lists for Santa to create whatever your ego desires out of thin air like you’re in a Disney movie. They are a creative exercise to help you clarify and organize your goals and lay them out in front of you to keep you inspired and motivated. Somehow, in the magical thinking world of New Ageism, they became manifesting portals, some people believed if they put expensive homes, cars and celebrity status on their boards they would magically appear. In my experience, hard work, confidence and clear goals lead to your fate. A vision board alone is delusional without a solid life plan of how to achieve what you want, and taking action to get it done. When I have had incredible opportunities come to me out of the blue, I don’t take credit for my thoughts magically “attracting” anything (ego!), I believe God sends me situations that I can either learn from and/or help others through, it’s as simple as that. Learn and serve. When I align my will with God’s will, things flow.
If you are clear about the kind of partner you want, you will “attract” them into your life. In my experience, relationships, for better or worse, are destined. I do believe we are attracted to people that feel familiar, even if they’re not always good for us. You can’t pretend your way into “attracting” the right person, you need to work on healing yourself so you can feel worthy and comfortable being in a healthy relationship versus a chaotic one. Even when we do a ton of self-healing and are crystal clear about the kind of person we want, there is still no guarantee we will meet the “ideal” person. Relationships present a lot of life lessons, and for some of us they will bring our greatest challenges in personal growth. Like the vision board, it’s unrealistic to try to order the perfect partner through a universal catalog. Instead, focus on healing yourself because the more you have your life together and feel peaceful, healthy and happy within, the more likely you will be attracted to a healthy relationship.
Energy healing is a cure all. I’m a Reiki Therapist and Teacher and I believe in energy healing. It’s a powerful thing, and it does work. However, it’s not a replacement for proper diet, supplementation, exercise, a healthy lifestyle, getting a yearly physical and discussing your concerns with a doctor or therapist. Energy healing complements other treatments. Sometimes it will lead to a miraculous healing, I’ve witnessed this in several clients over the years. But I would never recommend that energy healing is a replacement for other kinds of health care. I believe in integrative medicine, incorporating both conventional and holistic to cover all the bases because together these varying forms of wisdom create a balanced health care system.
Lesson learned from my time exposed to the New Age world? The beliefs overall lack practicality and grounding in reality. There is too much ego, too much escapism from the uncomfortable truths in life, with an emphasis on trying hard to control everything. There’s not enough humility, letting go to a higher power, trusting in destiny, aligning your will to God’s, focusing on service instead of self-gain. The New Age movement, like religion, searches for ways to make life less painful, but I don’t believe there is a way to do that. Instead of fearing pain, I find it best to accept that it’s part of the re-birthing cycle of life, like we see in nature. We need to develop tools to learn how to cope with pain, learn from it when we can, and reinvent ourselves when necessary.
If you’re here right now, God knows you’re courageous. We must use that courage and trust that we can handle what life throws us and grow stronger and wiser from it. Resilience doesn’t mean never falling down and never wanting to give up, it means you keep getting up and don’t quit. We need to stop cowering away from the unavoidable soulful work that life requires of us and focus more on the healing power of love. Most of all, we need to stop being so hard on ourselves and complicating life. It does a good enough job of that on it’s own.