New Ageism

I’ve never much liked the word ‘spiritual’. I confess that I use it myself- it’s convenient shorthand, after all, for anything that nourishes the soul (another vast philosophical debate that I won’t go into). It’s more its pejorative use that bothers me. You say the word ‘spiritual’ to someone who doesn’t operate in certain circles and you run the risk of being seen as someone who weeps over flowers in parks and avoids parties because they can be ‘energetically damaging’. Not that there is anything wrong with either of those things- it just doesn’t fit anyone I know who describes themselves as spiritual. Most of my friends into ‘this’ way of life are the ones throwing the parties.

But 'spiritual' has its place. Spiritual is understood and accepted by most to mean-in a roundabout way- ‘concerned with the evolution of humankind’.

‘New Age’, on the other hand…

I just cannot stand this term. If spirituality can have negative connotations, the term New Age can just about clear a room in five seconds flat. But that’s not what gets my proverbial goat. What bugs me about the term New Age is that it’s completely misleading. It’s a concept that essentially claims that we in the West have worked out a way to make the world a better place by doing yoga, meditating and dedicating our lives to peaceful living. Never mind that these are ways of living espoused in other cultures for thousands of years. We just make them our own by wearing a lot of velvet and drinking water from wells in Glastonbury. That’s the ‘new’ bit.

Yoga and meditation were around before Jesus, the Buddha or the prophet Muhammad. Calling these practices New Age is like calling a Pirelli tire the first wheel, or One Direction the first ever boy band. They’ve impacted on millions of lives down through the centuries and even the scientific community is starting to take note of their benefits. When we write them off as some kind of new fad for people who think they’re tree sprites, we throw the baby out with the bath water.