pre-s: For some reason, this has been a long and challenging piece to write – in part I believe because this is an area of continual learning and evolution and a nuanced topic.
This will likely need to be updated in future as and when my perspective shifts, but for now I think it’s time to release this to the world.
Is This the Deep End?
When you read my writing, or hear my client stories, I wouldn’t blame you for thinking ‘whoa, this is some very near-(or completely off) the-deep-end stuff.’
If me from 5 years ago had a conversation with me from now about my work, she’d think the same.
The experiences I’ve had over the last few years have drastically shifted my perspective and I’ve landed very much in the ‘spiritual’ camp.
This article is an attempt to share a bit of my history in going from spiritual skeptic to reluctantly but openly spiritual.
For some, spiritual = humanistic, altruistic, committed to justice & helping people.
For others, spiritual = gaslighting, spiritual bypassing, ‘lightwashing’, and toxic individualism.
We’ve all seen the spiritual to Q-Anon pipeline, the spiritual to white supremacy pipeline, spirituality and cultural appropriation pipeline, and spiritual to cult / high control group pipeline.
Because of the variety in what people mean when they say spiritual, and because I don’t think you should ever wonder where someone’s values and beliefs lie, I’m also taking this opportunity to be clear on what being spiritual means to me.
In the Beginning...
It turns out my journey isn’t unusual – a lot of people who are now in the spiritual space were nowhere near it for a long time.
How did I go from ‘you do you, but that’s not for me’ to ‘well, we just cleared out an experience from a past life that’s been a major factor in your shoulder pain’?
Minus a few ‘unusual’ experiences in childhood, I grew up in a fundamental Christian household.
The concept of our soul choosing to come here, or there being other dimensions or past lives wasn’t even vaguely possible.
As a complementary therapist, it wasn’t unusual to meet people who had past life memories or other spiritual beliefs.
I didn’t think it was real, but because it’s outside the realm of ‘proveable or disproveable’ I was happy to leave others to their beliefs.
It just wasn’t for me.
Then I started having my own experiences.
In 2020 I had my first memory of a past life come to me while doing a meditation.
I had a deep knowing that this was me, hundreds of years ago. This was my house; this was my role in my community; this is what happened.
It felt so familiar, so real at a core level.
Since that first ‘memory’, I’ve had more and more experiences like this.
More and more memories from previous lives, more channeling and receiving messages from – who knows what? – I could only go off my gut instinct and intuition.
Because of that unknow-ability factor, I held it all very lightly, and in many ways still do.
At the same time, some very – unfamiliar? – things were coming up in my client sessions.
Over video, I could feel where there were different energies being held in clients’ bodies.
(One client has described it as if I’m a psychic xray to the body.)
I saw the images in my mind of what they saw.
I would work on clients’ bodies over video, and they could feel what I was doing – when I hadn’t told them what I was working on or where I was working.
We could collaborate together based on what their bodies were showing me.
It wasn’t just energy or experiences from THIS lifetime.
It was past lives.
It was other dimensions.
It was entities and curses that had been with them across centuries.
And it was by tapping into THESE things, specifically (as led by their body), that solved the problems they were going through.
Solved their pain.
Decreased the symptoms of their chronic illness significantly.
Got rid of their anxiety.
Gave them more energy and clarity around their next steps.
But... there's also some not great spiritual stuff...
As my work was leading me in this direction, I also, you know, had eyes.
I saw the many ways in which spiritual leaders (and spiritual people) were spouting everything from borderline harmless toxic positivity to straight-up harmful conspiracy theories and anti-trans / anti-science / racist sh*t.
The spiritual bypassing, spiritual hierarchy, gaslighting and victim-blaming was not an anomaly in many spiritual places.
Logically, this doesn’t make sense to me – but seeing it happen I knew if I was going down the spiritual path, I wanted to shore up my practices and awareness to avoid ending up there.
That’s why part of my continuing education included READY! trauma, grief & loss sensitivity certification and Sowing Post-Capitalist Seeds, a course that looks at the indoctrination from capitalism and colonialism (chronicologically in that order).
With READY!, I studied with Lisa Kuzman (a social worker and leadership coach) to understand how to safely hold space for those who have experience grief, loss and trauma, including looking at the trauma marginalised groups experience on a regular basis. It also helped me learn to identify where a client may benefit from a recommendation to see another type of practitioner instead of/ in addition to working with me.
With Sowing Post Capitalist Seeds, I learned from Anuradha Kowtha (educator and business liberation strategist of Kowtha Constellation) and Moriah Helms the origins of capitalism, the possibilities for other systems and how we can start changing the systems one ‘seed’ at a time.
I’m grateful for these teachers as I feel it helped me get clearer on my values and ethical boundaries and expanded my awareness on how to move forward mindfully in this somewhat amorphous space.
Where I'm at Now
At this point, I know there’s SOMETHING to the spirituality stuff.
I’ve heard enough things from clients, had enough experiences of my own, and seen enough results to know that this isn’t just some sort of made up nonsense.
I’m also aware that many, many indigenous groups from around the world felt and feel a strong connection to spirituality in various forms (though not necessarily the form we see all over social media), and that seems like something important to be aware of as well.
That said, I still hold it all lightly.
I recognise that we’re tapping into something that we just don’t have the language or concepts for. I accept the language we use because at the moment it’s the framework we have – and I expect it to evolve as we learn more.
While objective measurement would be nice, spirituality is inherently difficult to quantify and traditional scientific methods of external, objective repetition and observation aren’t available to us.
I’m sure in future we’ll gain more information and better understanding of these experiences – and it may lead to ‘taking back’ or adjusting some of the ways we see it now.
(See my piece ‘Miasma, the Bubonic Plague and Spirituality’ for more on this).
What 'Spirituality' Means to Me
Because spirituality is such a broad term, I want to be clear on what it does and doesn’t mean when I’m talking about it.
To me, spirituality means that we recognise there is something more than the purely physical existence we’re living.
That there are energies and entities and possibly beings that we can connect with that aren’t physical in the sense that we can all see and touch them.
This is borne out by my experience and what I consider to be corroborating experiences of people who I’ve worked with as clients and/or people I consider friends and peers.
I do not believe that spirituality is a get out of jail free card to ignore what’s happening to our world and to the people in it, or an excuse to ‘check out’ of the ‘3D’ because you now have ‘5D consciousness.’
Spirituality lends another dimension to life that is very personal, and therefore very subjective. As such, it must be tempered with clear ethics and boundaries to ensure we aren’t creating harm in any spiritual practices with which we engage.
It also means we should respect the spiritual traditions of others, including the fact that certain spiritual practices are closed practices, being mindful to avoid appropriation wherever possible.
And... the 'Lines in the Sand'
As I’ve mentioned, there are a lot of things I’m more open to than I was in the past – but I do have some very specific ‘lines in the sand’.
Here’s the list of things I’m firmly NOT allowing in my ‘spirituality’:
- Spiritual bypassing
- Toxic positivity OR productivity
- ‘High vibe’ spirituality – aka that any ‘negative’ or ‘low-vibe’ emotion is bad and we need to be high vibe or higher frequency all the time
- Any version of manifesting that doesn’t recognise the very real systemic inequities that create barriers for marginalised groups of people
- The implication that a person has ‘chosen’ their own abuse or bad circumstance because they decided to come into the body/life they have
- The idea that ‘everything happens the way it’s supposed to’, specifically for things like oppression, abuse, and exploitation (more about this in ‘Choose Your Beliefs’ piece – coming soon)
- Spiritual hierarchy (aka if someone has more/different ‘gifts’ or ‘powers’ than you, they are superior to you and vice versa)
As far as beliefs like ‘choosing the life you have’ or ‘everything happens the way it’s supposed to’ I have other pieces coming on that, which I’ll link here once they’re done.
So there you have it.
A brief history of why I’ve gone from spiritual skeptic to spiritual practitioner, and how I’m choosing to navigate spirituality.
It’s okay to believe in something but not exactly be able to define it because it’s still so unknown.
It doesn’t make sense to me to dismiss my own experiences, those of people I know and trust, AND hundreds of thousands (maybe millions) of people belonging to various cultures and traditions before colonialism who had spiritual beliefs, just because you can’t measure, observe and define them within the confines of physical materialism.
Believing that humans are the pinnacle of advancement in the entire universe feels arrogant. It’s probable that there are other life forms and beings in the millions of star systems in our universe. Given that a branch of physics is convinced a multiverse exists – who knows what there is not only in our universe, but in others? (See also this piece in National Geographic)
This is where I am now.
If you feel I’ve missed anything, or you have any questions feel free to let me know.