The Problem With “Pop Spirituality.” How To Recognize If You Are Falling Victim To This New Age Trap

These days it seems everywhere you look – people are donned in crystals, mandala tattoos, dreadlocks, bright colors, patterns and often a wisp of palo santo smoke found trailing behind them. One might look at these people and think, “wow people are really waking up and it’s incredible to see,” while there is a rising of global consciousness, many of these people merely look the part. It has become trendy to be spiritual, but really, it has nothing to do with how spiritual a person actually is, but whether or not they can dress the part, go to the workshops and say the right things. People seem to have hopped on the spiritual bandwagon and (my past self included) have inflated egos, thanks to months or years of spiritual bypassing. Many have yet to actually take responsibility for their actions and do the work that is required for true spiritual freedom.

The term “spiritual bypassing” was coined by psychologist John Welwood in the early 1980’s to refer to the use of spiritual practices and beliefs to avoid confronting uncomfortable feelings, unresolved wounds, and fundamental emotional and psychological needs.

Now, as I’ve said, I have very much been caught up in the hype and what I like to call spiritual fluff – that is the identity of being a conscious, spiritual person. Because of this, I have no judgment towards the people who are still playing out this role. Everyone is on their own path towards awakening, and maybe by stumbling upon something such as this, or something else that causes deep reflection, it could trigger their own true awakening and identity loss.

There Is No Identity Required To Be A Spiritual Person

The truth is, true spirituality requires no labels, and can really not be defined so easily with words. Someone dressing a certain way, acting a certain way, or even having some type psychic ability is NOT a measure of how evolved a person is or how much inner work they’ve actually done. There is a lot of deception in this realm, and not necessarily intentionally, but because it is one thing to intellectually know about spiritual concepts and I can say from personal experience, an entirely different thing to live that knowledge and actually embody the wisdom.

Here are some common misconceptions about what a “spiritual person” should do:

  • Wear bright colors
  • Not wear a bra
  • Not wear makeup
  • Hug everyone they meet even if they aren’t feeling drawn to do so
  • Always be smiling and happy
  • Attend numerous spiritual workshops
  • Quote many new age books
  • Meditate every day
  • Be a yoga aficionado
  • Be a vegan
  • Not drink alcohol
  • Regularly go to music and art festivals
  • Wear crystals, talk about crystals, be crystalline
  • Practice reiki
  • Reads tarot cards or oracle decks
  • Have psychic abilities
  • Use specific language, including a lot of talk about love and light
  • Not get angry
  • Claim to be ‘woke AF’

Ultra Spiritual, JP Sears has many great satire pieces on what it means to be spiritual, his famed video ‘How To Be Ultra Spiritual” is just one example:

The list literally goes on and on, but one thing I’d like to clarify is that if you do participate in any of the above things, this doesn’t make you NOT spiritual, the point I’m trying to get across is that these are not requirements for being a conscious person on a path to self discovery and personal freedom. Also, there is absolutely nothing with enjoying these types of things and using these tools in your spiritual practice, I still use many of them and personally enjoy beautiful things such as crystals, mandalas, bright colors etc, but I know now that these do not define who I am as a person – unless I choose to identify with them. Sometimes it’s nice to be able to take a step back from it all and laugh at ourselves, because nothing is as serious as we tend to make it.

Think of a monk, and whether or not you would consider them connected and conscious individuals.

Why Do I Call This A Problem?

“Good Vibes Only,” “Think only happy thoughts,” “Just focus on the positive” etc.. from the surface level, all appear to be nice sentiments, what’s so wrong with being happy? Well, quite frankly, nothing at all. However, by ignoring the sad, negative, uncomfortable and essentially shadow aspects of ourselves we continue to wear a mask, and drift father away from truly knowing ourselves. Without knowing ourselves, we aren’t able to take responsibility for our lives, our past, and ourselves and dig deeper to the core of who and what we are – the process leading to a true, real, deep and meaningful spiritual awakening.

Our ego self can be very tricky, it can deceive us into believing that we are actually on the path to freedom, but in actuality, we may be digging ourselves into a deeper hole. Although, it is important to mention that this is okay, because if this is us in our journey than it is all happening for a reason and eventually we will either have to face ourselves, or we will keep playing out this same role, living with a mask in our everyday lives.

The “New (C)age Agenda”

I believe that the rise in popularity of “spiritual fluff” that is, any spiritual practice or concept lacking in depth, is all part of the agenda, a part of what one author I follow, Bernhard Guenther calls, “The New (C)age Agenda.

“The topic of Wanderers or higher dimensional-beings who have incarnated for the purpose of assisting humanity is somewhat popular in the New Age movement. There are plenty of people these days who claim to be “Star Seeds”or “Light Workers” from planet this or that. However, some of them seem to use this identification to enhance their ego and self-importance, over-estimating their level of Being and Awareness, appearing “special” and “mysterious”, clouded in a very fluff talk of Love and Light. Especially nowadays, where it is hip to be “spiritual”, many self-proclaimed light-workers dress accordingly and give themselves fancy spiritual names, which are supposed to reflect their higher state of awareness, claiming to be awake. It’s easy to identify oneself with such an idea but does one’s life truly reflect that? Does one truly KNOW what it means to be a light-worker or Wanderer and the work it entails? Or is it just another label used for appearance’s sake and to make oneself feel better? There are many distortions and people tend to project their own filtered view into it. As with everything these days truth is mixed with lies.”

Be Honest With Yourself & Get Clear On What’s True To You

These days there is SO MUCH information available, and much of that information available out there is capitalizing on the new trend of “Pop-Spirituality.” Now more than ever we need to be able to use our power of discernment to decide what is truly right for us, rather than just jumping to the next popular thing. Not everyone has good intentions, and nowadays there are many new age guru types who are essentially exploiting the consciousness movement. Never forget that everything you need can come from within, if you just direct your attention inwards and listen.

As Cliché As It Sounds… Just Be YOURSELF

I realize that by defining what does not make a spiritual person, it may have left some of you feeling triggered because you participate in those activities. Well, so do I, but not because I feel like I have to. What do you ACTUALLY enjoy, who are you, really? You may not even know, and all the time spent dabbling in various activities ultimately is bringing you closer to yourself.

What Does It Really Mean To Be A Spiritual Person?

It’s quite simple really,

Being kind to yourself and others, or at least learning how to do this.
Being grateful for what you have.
Being of service to the world.
A desire to wake up to your true, boundless nature full of infinite possibilities.

Much Love