I had a lively conversation about this the other night with a new friend. I'd love to hear your thoughts.
I'm not a religious person (duh), but I've often said I consider myself to be "spiritual," a word that kind of means whatever its user wants it to mean. Most people think of spiritual as believing in some benign higher power or energy that, if not running the whole show, is at least trying to be a good director. Along with spiritual, there's a lot of lingo like "New Age" and "metaphysical"that I tend to use interchangeably, though I know some smarty pants out there would be more than happy to explain the distinction.
If you've read my book, you know that I used to be pretty into that stuff--whatever you want to call it--and I still believe in a lot of it. I definitely think there's something to The Law of Attraction, which basically states that what we attract into our lives is determined by the vibration we're operating at. (I know I'm losing some of you, but stick with me.) Ever notice that shit tends to hit the fan all at once? And when a lot of good things happen, you're on a roll.
So yeah, I get that. I also believe there's a strong mind-body connection; we all know how great you feel when you're starting to get in shape. I believe that your thoughts are powerful and can have a profound effect on your health. Science has proven that stress is a killer, right?
A lot of New Age/metaphysical/whatever-you-want-to-call-it people believe that disease is caused by one's thoughts. For example, I've heard it said that resentment manifests itself as cancer. So let me get this straight... people get cancer because they've done a crappy job handling their emotions? It's their own damn fault? See, this is why there's something called "New Age guilt."
These people also believe that one can "will" disease away with their thought patterns. OK, I have no doubt that there are a lot of folks out there who have beaten the odds and who attribute their renewed health to a positive attitude and prayers from a loving support system. And I believe those factors are essential--I'm totally on board with that.
But not everything is mind over matter, as they tend to affirm. There are also a lot of people, like my Beautiful Aunt Joyce, who was the cleanest-living person on earth and who did every goddamn thing under the sun to stay alive--reiki, meditation, visualization, blah, blah, blah--and who died anyway. Are you telling me she didn't try hard enough? People who don't win the battle simply didn't think the "right" thoughts? That they subconsciously wanted to die? Sure, they went through all the motions, but they didn't truly believe they could overcome the disease, is that what we're supposed to think?
Again, do you see why there's something called New Age guilt?
I have a lot of friends who've been dealing with cancer over the past few months. Thank God, Jesus, Buddha, Allah, and Bono--they all are doing well. But if anyone tells me they've brought this onto themselves and if they have a setback it's because they're not adept enough at channeling the proper healing thought patterns, mark my words I will kick their ass.