As someone who works in the wellness space (for lack of better word), I get to meet people who are seeking, looking for answers, steps, quick fixes.
Most people (and don’t take this the wrong way) are not willing, or rather do not understand, the work it requires to get better, reprogram, unlearn harmful emotional behaviors, mental patterns, rewire our traumatized nervous system responses…
To be clear, get better, means to essentially feel better within and without and not just cope with life but rather thrive.
The wellness space, now more than ever, is booming with self-proclaimed experts, gurus, monks, who, are mostly selling quick fixes or solutions that in fact, don’t really work.
The wellness space is like a recycled news cycle. Most people are saying the same thing in different ways and there’s nothing really innovative about it at the moment. It’s quite boring to be honest.
If you just take a day (actually even an hour) to scroll on different social media platforms quite soon you’ll see – they all follow the same model of communication and the underlying message is the same. Nobody is really saying anything new or different from what Alan Watts or Carl Jung said.
The most alarming part of this marketing and information frenzy, is that a lot of us buy into it. And I don’t blame us! It’s just interesting to witness and could become dangerous down the line. There are already some noticeable ill effects – anyone heard of beer yoga? Now that’s a problem that is very telling of our emotional and mental maturity as a species.
Try it, take 15 minutes to browse the internet. Every self-proclaimed expert is offering a 3, 5, 7 steps formula to success. And we buy into it because we desperately want to feel better, be better.
But sincerely, have any of you who have invested in such courses, seen a real shift? Has your life really been impacted for the better? (for more than the course of the classes). Chances are it hasn’t. I don’t believe anyone who offers me a quick fix or easy solution to life.
Concepts can be easy to understand but can take years to apply or practice; We can intellectually understand something and still not embody it. I personally, have an arsenal of self-development tools and techniques learned over 13 years of experience developing my self, trying and testing. Do I use them? Do I call upon them when times get tough? Mostly no, at times yes. I just end up in my programmed patterns.
Because that’s how programmed I am. I know for sure, I’m not an isolated case. Information only goes so far. And in this information age, where every second we get information, sometimes contradicting itself, our attention spans have decreased and our capacity to absorb and integrate are being lost in the process.
It’s essential to integrate. Otherwise what’s the point? That’s why in yoga we have savasana, at the end of the practice, to allow the body to integrate the experience of the class. That’s when we truly reap the lasting benefits.
People who are lost, in pain, seeking, struggling are amongst the most vulnerable. In that low life state, most of us, are willing to try anything to feel better and it’s understandable. Who doesn’t want to feel better? And that’s where guides or teachers, have a responsibility.
Marianne Williamson talks about this beautifully. “Your audience or your clients, whomever, does not expect you to be perfect; but they can tell it when you’re trying and they can smell it when you’re not. And that kind of grandiosity and bogus quality that some people have where I have it and you don’t, it’s not the zeitgeist of this moment, it’s not the impulse of the modern teacher. The impulse of the modern teacher is ‘I’m delivering this information because, probably, not necessarily, but probably, I have been studying it and practicing it a little more than you have been. Hopefully, I can dispense it, I can be a conduit and a channel for the information in a way that genuinely transmits it from my heart to yours.”
There is something amiss with the direction the wellness community is moving towards. Something that feels orchestrated and inauthentic.
More than a healing space it’s become a space for business, where within a month anyone can be a certified yoga teacher, Thai yoga massage expert, sound healer, etc… I’ve done a yoga teacher training and I can attest that after 2 months of training, I was definitely not a yoga teacher. And I don’t think anyone else there was either.
When I see my yoga guru, who has studied in a gurukul and started his training at the age of 4, I question the authenticity of my own learning. For the first 7 years of training his guru made
them practice asanas every day.
After 7 years only, were they able to start philosophy classes. There must be a reason to that, right? There must be an explanation to why the teaching is shared that way. So it does pose the question of how we are learning today and what we’re moving towards. Are we in our pursuit for progress in fact killing the thing that could be our solace?
Everyone who calls themselves a teacher or guide needs to be doing the same. It’s about taking an honest look at ourselves and our self-proclaimed expertise.
There are positives to it, yes. One can now, more than ever, learn tools to help enhance their life. By immersing ourselves for a month, two or more, we can really dive deep into a subject and be with it fully without distractions. Which does seem like a great environment for deep learning.
But, there’s a danger there. We are loosing the sacred, the years of practice to become a master, the depth of wisdom which can only be acquired through experience. We are vulgarizing something remarkable in the process. We’re making spirituality a fast food business.
And if I’ve learnt anything in my 13 years of inner work is that it’s anything but a fast process. Imagine if, to be a surgeon today, you could be certified within 6 months. How many of us would willingly put our lives in that surgeons hand?
It’s the same for any kind of wellness or spiritual teaching. Progress yes, but at what cost? Are we loosing ourselves more than we’re finding ourselves?
A lot of us are looking for solutions to our pain and I have the utmost compassion for that. Human suffering is a tough cookie! But isn’t also part of the game of being human? The highs and lows? Now more than ever, we’ve become really bad at dealing with the lows. We want our life to be blissful all the time.
We want our life to look like Instagram edited pictures. So we’re trying to edit parts of our life and don’t want to deal with the shadows. That pursuit is the real danger because it leads us away from acceptance, which is the biggest key to our happiness. The more I mature, the more I realize this constant need to be better, to feel better, also needs to be questioned.
Why do we feel so bad about feeling bad? Who/what is making us believe it’s wrong and shouldn’t be that way? Is there anyone profiting from selling us the ideal of 24/7 happiness? Are we giving up our free will by buying into the idea that something is wrong with us if we don’t feel great all the time?
To put it bluntly, someone is benefiting from your misery. Someone is profiting from it. Everyone in the wellness space is making a living out of people’s pain. There is no judgment there. It’s just a fact.
As a coach, healer, yoga teacher, shaman, if people were happy, I’d have to find another vocation. I’m honest with myself. The only reason I’m making a living doing this work is because others are seeking for guidance.
And it’s ok! There is nothing wrong with it. We must offer what we have to offer and support each other. To be honest, I’d love to be out of work. It would mean that more humans understand themselves and how to approach the ebbs & flows of their own life.
The point is, there is no 5 steps formula to change your life. There’s practice and patience. No quick fixes. No one to do the work for you.
Even when you do plant medicines, like Ayahuasca, if you have a good shaman, he/she will tell you, taking the medicine is 1% of the work. 99% of the work happens after the ceremonies. That’s when we integrate the lessons learned during ceremonies and it takes time, lots of time in some cases.
The need to believe there is a quick fix is understandable especially when we are suffering tremendously. I’ve looked for a quick fix for many years, disappointed to never find it, realizing I have to do the work, even with the best teacher, guide, I still have to do the work. Believing there is a 5 steps method to life just adds fuel to the fire and makes our pain even deeper.
Why? Because when we try it and realize it doesn’t work, we can question ourselves, and it can make us sink deeper. If a powerful plant that’s been used for thousands of years, can’t fix us, how
will a human that is only operating from a place of acquired knowledge from another human that has come before, ever be do that?
There’s this behavioral pattern we humans have. We’re always trying to escape. It’s like we’re running all the time in every possible direction. There’s this underlying fear of ‘If I stop, what will happen?’. Well chances are, it’s going to be uncomfortable, maybe painful, scary, difficult but also so liberating (after a while).
Running implies there is either something to run from (ourselves) or to run to… And those are very different. When we’re running from ourselves, well we won’t go very far. Why? Because we’re in
the body that is running, so there is nowhere to go really.
But if we’re running or maybe walking towards something it’s different. And that’s what happens when we accept our own humanity; we stop running. We walk and sometimes leap towards the direction we desire, not away from what we don’t want.
It might seem subtle but there’s a huge energetic difference. Our bodies know the difference. They know the energy field of love and fear. The vibration is not the same.
“The more you accept the way you are, the more detached you become and the simpler life gets.” ~ Richard Rudd
Now if this is true, then what is the wellness industry saying to us? If we really take a look at all the self-help books, the 5 steps methods… What are they really telling us?
That we’re not good enough as we are. That we need to improve, to get better. Is that helping us or making matters worse? If I accept myself, then what is my need to buy a book that promises to tell me how to get better? Is the self-help movement creating more damage and less acceptance?
If we’re constantly trying to get better aren’t we subsequently telling ourselves that we’re not good enough? It’s one of the biggest human wounds, the feeling of inadequacy and in a competitive, capitalist world it’s very easy to play that wound for profit.
We can’t yet foresee the impact of our fast food approach to spirituality and well-being. Down the line we’ll have a wake up call and it won’t be gentle.