Leslie Huddart L.Ac.

problem with new age spirituality

The Problem with New Age Spirituality (NABS)

If you’ve been following me for some time, you will know that I am pretty hard on the NABS (shout out to Tom Kenyon, the sound healer, where I learned that term).

NABS stands for New Age Bulls#!+.

In the realm of personal and spiritual development, there’s a lot of NABS so this week’s question comes from one of our community members and she asks: 

"What are some new age-y spiritual tropes, bypasses and pitfalls to be aware and cautious of? As a beginner consumer of spirituality information in general, I want to develop my discernment as I find myself in conversations with new people (I fear being a gullible sponge), and of course to check myself. 


In this post, we’re talking about:

  • How do you build discernment?
  • How to use the positive parts of open spirituality that move us out of everyday life (while still building discernment and keeping ourselves on track)? 

The Gift of Open Spirituality

New age-yness is not all bad. You’ll hear me be quite strong on it. It’s true that there is some good in it—the gift of open spirituality that is a little bit hodgepodge here and there.

It can really help to be our transition into the more subtle aspects of life to kick us out of mundane reality and to start to think that there actually might be more going on here than we realized.

At some point, we want to transition into grounded discernment and just like everything else in life, we want to judge by results.

There are a lot of ways that we can get distracted and fall off track, but I’m going to give you two main guideposts to really focus.

No shade if you’ve been riding the new agey train, but you may want to start to think about where am I getting results and where might I be just doing a little to pick and choose hodgepodge for my own. 

1. Who is it coming from?

When you hear a new age thought or someone who is spouting some new age doctrine or things that seem interesting, the first thing to ask as a guiding compass to build discernment is, “who is it coming from?”

Looking at that individual or source and asking some questions. How are they leading by example:

  • in their life?
  • in their conduct?
  • in how their words match with their action?

It’s a big red flag when you are not able to trust the messenger. Ultimately, True spirituality (with a capital T) outside of religion and the essence of spirituality in all traditions is transformative.

Someone who is really living it will have increased capacity, increased presence, increased heart, increased equanimity of the ability to be present, to affect situations, and carry themselves in ways that show up and leave clues.

Notice if someone who just by the picture of their life says one thing but does another.

When I was in my early 20s in Pittsburgh, I was dating someone who was really well connected in the Pittsburgh new age circle, which I was not really connected with. I remember being at dinner with a group of people and him saying, “So-and-so over there teaches classes on abundance, but she can’t actually pay her bills.”

This is not to judge people but it’s to have discernment with anything, not just new ageyness.

The person who it’s coming from, are they aligned?

Do their words match with their action?

Are they teaching something that they are also living?

Are they appearing spiritual and talking softly, but then being an aS$h0!3 behind somebody’s back?

Use your discernment to trust the messenger as a way to have a heads up that the message that’s coming through may not be grounded in the way that you wanted to.

If you are finding you are really craving more spiritual information, I would challenge you to send out a laser beam request to the universe and to state that you are ready for some more spiritual study.

Now that doesn’t mean you have to join some religious order or pick a religious tradition. What I would say is that as you start to feel this thirst for knowledge, starting to find longer tradition-based things versus something that was just someone’s psychic awareness that came down into a book that sounds good, but may or may not be grounded is not the best approach.

You want to start putting it out there that you are ready to engage with a more spiritual study. You are ready for teachers who are really aligned with your soul to show up in different ways. Then, you use step number one to judge and have discernment.

With anything you do, you want to always come back to judge by results. 

With all of these things together, you’ll start to build discernment. As you’re along this path, you’ll find lots of information and you can learn to trust yourself but especially at the beginning of our awareness, we want to double-check, check by results, see where it’s coming from, who the messenger is, and is there a tradition of many wise and wise yogis, Bodhisattva’s, saints, mystics and whoever it is along the traditional path who have also backed-up this information.

It makes it a little safer and a little more trustable in the wild and crazy realm of especially Western-based new agey development and spirituality.

Disclaimer: This program is not intended to be a substitute for professional mental health or counseling services.  No practitioner-patient relationship is established and the training content is for educational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice.  These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA and nothing here is intended to diagnose, cure or treat any disorders.

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