I saw this fabulous meme on Facebook the other day that said “I totally manifested that” Then the next line said, “Are you sure that’s not your white privilege?” I thought that was so beautiful and brought up for me an internal struggle that I haven’t necessarily parsed out before. There is the first part of that meme that speaks to what I call “woo woo.” This is the part that considers myself to be a spiritual being, the part of me that meditates, practices yoga, trusts the universe and let’s go of trying to control things. However, there is an equally strong part that sees how much spiritual bypassing happens in today’s world, people that simply “give things over to God,” but bypass taking any accountability, that negate how real oppression and outside world have very real limitations for people, that ignore science and “send thoughts and prayers” rather than taking action. There is a part that is deeply hurt and cynical about how spirituality is used to ignore human suffering or dismiss it as “God’s plan.”
As I explored these seemingly opposite sides of myself, one that is somewhat spiritual and one that is a skeptic, I wonder if they are not able to inform and guide one another. I have come to really like both of these sides of myself. I want my spirituality to by guided by the laws of science. Any sense of spirituality for me must affirm for people that oppression and struggle are real, that trauma and abuse are never okay or justified or given to us to test our faith or strength. It would seem completely asinine to suggest that the people in Puerto Rico just meditate and positive think their way to more water and electricity for themselves or that people are abused so that they can find their way to God. AND I have felt the power of meditation in my own life and having a spiritual practice like meditation and yoga are for me is an important resource for me in my own healing and are for many of the people I have the honor of working with.
It is important to recognize as well that people can have some deep spiritual wounds and trauma. Many queer identified people have been ostracized from not only their spiritual communities, but their families on the basis of spiritual righteousness. I have many clients who stayed with abusive husbands and were told that God will punish them if they leave these husbands. Many of my clients have been cut-off from spiritual communities because of leaving abusive relationships. Clients then have to wrestle with what feels true for them spiritually. They doubt themselves and everything they were taught and this is where I think our inner skeptics can actually be great spiritual teachers. Our inner skeptics allow us to examine what really feels true for us authentically and to create a relationship with spirituality that feels right for each individual.
I will end with one of my favorite ideas I heard on one of Oprah’s interviews (cue the internal eye roll from my inner skeptic): “Anything that separates us is not of God. Only that which connects us, only that which is rooted in compassion, kindness and respect for one another, is of the divine.”