An Open Letter to Wellness Personalities, Influencers & Self-Professed Spiritual Leaders in Times of COVID.

The views expressed here are solely those of the author.

Hello Seekers!

First off, I want to preface this message by saying I understand the intent behind {redacted}’s workshop on Sunday, Sept. 20th was nothing but positive and aspirational. There were many things {redacted} said that I agreed with / have also found beneficial in terms of my own personal growth and spiritual evolution —  however, this doesn’t mitigate the fact that there were some problematic moments / comments that need to be addressed and unpacked. I didn’t feel right about not delving into this further. I also want it to be clearly stated that I am coming from a place of love…and most importantly, truth.

This is an invitation to explore / shift perspectives, a nudge forward. Truly enlightened people remain open to changing their minds / expanding their worldview when presented with new information — we’re all on a collective mission to make the world a better place.

We can’t ignore what’s going on in the world, or stick our heads in the sand and pretend bad things don’t exist or aren’t real just because they’re uncomfortable to talk about or make us feel “bad.” Arguably, ignoring these very real things that exist in the world only exacerbate these issues and causes far more harm in the long run. Furthermore, coming from a place of privilege means these same issues CAN’T be ignored for some people, even if they wanted to. It causes further damage to try and “namaste” our way out of systemic oppression, or tell people they’re 100% responsible for their circumstances when, in fact, they’re not. Hence why I felt the need to write this letter.

I have done my due diligence researching, compiling sources and studying recent events that are unfolding as well as taking the time to write this and present this information in a digestible way. What I’m sharing here is not really a matter of “opinion” as I’m a firm believer in facts/data. Access to accurate, reliable and timely information is a human rights issue; discrediting “the news” as a single ominous entity and boasting that one  “doesn’t read the news” is actually incredibly arrogant and privileged, which leads me to my first concern. There are many ethical journalists whose sole goal is to keep the public informed about shady goings on, that’s literally their job! Discrediting them is a slippery slope and not super advisable from a public interest standpoint. 

Concerns I had regarding the workshop are as follows: 

  1. Dismissing News / Media as Credible Sources of Information

Trustworthy information sources do exist and writing off “the news” as altogether evil and bad is incredibly dangerous. You might recognize the “fake news” refrain popularized by Trump administration and alt-right; the whole point is to try and discredit journalists / news organizations and create an atmosphere of disinformation where people don’t know what to believe. This disinformation was literally the reason Trump became President: information and who controls it is incredibly powerful, it’s best to pay attention because it literally impacts our lives and the world around us. It is also important to note that most reputable news sources have ethics boards, legal counsel, and/or follow time-tested journalistic standards. This is why we can, in fact, trust them.

It might feel rebellious to “not care” or “not read news,” or assume it’s all “lies” and part of some system you’ve transcended due to spiritual beliefs, but again, many people don’t have that privilege. Creating this distrust of the media at large is irresponsible. 

If you’re cutting yourself off from the news, then you’re not uncomfortable. Your silence makes you complicit in the marginalization of people of color.

Being an informed and responsible citizen means knowing what’s going on in the world around you and making decisions that help better ourselves and our communities. Do you think activists and change-makers and social innovation leaders ignore world events or what’s happening at the local level when trying to create change? No way! They have to pay attention in order to fight the status quo and create a better future for us as a collective. Besides, if you don’t know what’s going on, wouldn’t it be easier to fool you? Being wilfully ignorant has consequences.

Are ALL news sources to be trusted equally? Of course not. But throwing the proverbial baby out with the bathwater is not the move. Trump downplaying COVID and the subsequent media maelstrom has played a massive role in the fact over 200K Americans have now died. 

I also understand it can be overwhelming and that we also need to balance our intake of “bad news” with self-care and moderation, especially in this climate, however I don’t think swearing off news as a permanent coping strategy or lifestyle is super rewarding or beneficial. News sources that I like and trust include NPR, Mother Jones, The Daily Beast, Democracy Now, Common Dreams, AlterNet and If you’re on Twitter, I also have a curated and diverse list of News Sources I have hand picked that is public and can be followed.

Strongly recommend watching Hassan’s Patriot Act episode on this topic: The News Industry Is Being Destroyed

Remember: Knowledge is power! Stay informed and stay critical.

  1. Downplaying COVID-19

Another major issue was the downplaying / minimizing of coronavirus and its legitimacy as a “real thing.” Coronavirus not being real is literally a conspiracy theory and it’s factually incorrect. I left before this topic was discussed in more detail, but it was apparent fairly early on {redacted} didn’t seem to feel it was a “big deal.” Within the first 10 or 15 minutes, he asked workshop attendees how masks made us feel. I replied, “Protected!” and {redacted} replied, seemingly correcting me: “Divided.” Now this is interesting because for someone who was encouraging us to “choose our feelings”, I was basically being told my feelings were wrong! One person who chose not to take off their mask for the first portion of the event was even openly mocked which is just…I dunno what to call that.

I was extremely confused regarding {redacted}’s opinion of how masks “divide” us and keep people apart. Yes, we’re supposed to be social distancing right now because that’s literally how we’re going to slow the spread of a deadly global pandemic. Interestingly, who’s been most affected by COVID? Vulnerable communities like Indigenous communities and racialized / low income communities.

Here is our current rate of cases in Ontario, as you can see we’re swooping back up! Wonder if the anti-mask rally in Vancouver and the one right here in Toronto will impact these numbers further. BTW, QAnon supporters as well as members of far-right were in attendance at both. More on this shortly.

Look, if at this point you think coronavirus is a complete hoax, “not real” or you’ve watched (debunked “documentary”) “Plandemic” and think you know “the truth” you’re just fooling yourselves. There is no conspiracy here, no one wants a global pandemic that completely interferes with all the fun, pleasurable stuff in life like parties, travel and hugging our friends. Will major corporations like Amazon, Walmart, Google etc. use the pandemic to make money? Of course they will because capitalism but it’s definitely not part of some elite plot to control the planet.

Telling a group of people, some of whom trust you a lot, they don’t need to wear masks is outright irresponsible and dangerous. I truly hope none of you actually believe this, and if you do, please stay away from elderly people because you could literally kill them. This intersects with my next point, which is the overlap of disinformation regarding coronavirus conspiracy theories and overlap with the spiritual community which is a growing concern. Please listen to doctors and scientists on this one! 

  1. Side Note: How Conspiracy Theories Converge with Wellness Community and Alt-Right/QAnon

This topic is incredibly fascinating yet also terrifying. I wanted to point out this is a very real thing happening right now and it’s important to equip ourselves with accurate information. Denying existence/threat/seriousness of COVID19 is a pretty popular element of these theories at the moment.

There are a lot of articles on the topic, I encourage you to look into it:

Conspirituality also has a podcast:

How Covid-19 myths are merging with the QAnon conspiracy theory

QAnon Followers Are Hijacking the #SaveTheChildren Movement

Fans of the pro-Trump conspiracy theory are clogging anti-trafficking hotlines, infiltrating Facebook
              groups and raising false fears about child exploitation

This one’s a podcast:

  1. Spiritual Bypassing / Toxic Positivity:

Dismissing / Not Acknowledging Role of Systemic Racism / Oppression / Patriarchy in Society

While we can choose how we respond to certain situations, no one is responsible for their own mistreatment, abuse, degradation, lived experiences of abuse or racism etc. {redacted}, you had a couple opportunities to weigh in on this and answer in a way that was inclusive, compassionate and intersectional when it comes to POC/Women/victims of racism / abuse etc. You did not. 

Instead, you skirted the topic, didn’t acknowledge your own privilege as a white man and evaded answering pointed questions directly, spinning them back around on the asker, and even worse, engaged in victim blaming when I brought up the scenario of an abused woman leaving a partner. “There is always a choice!” is easy to say when you literally have choices, but this answer demonstrated a shocking lack of understanding on this topic. It’s extremely complicated and I urge you to look into VAW / DV statistics so you can form a more informed response. Women literally die trying to leave abusive relationships so no, I don’t agree that it’s always as simple as just “leaving.”

Perhaps even taking a professional therapy course / getting your accreditation might be beneficial as you have no valid credentials as a licensed therapist or counselor. I’d be concerned for a client’s safety and wellbeing if they were a victim of violence / racism and you dismissed their experience this way.

It takes an average of seven attempts before a woman permanently leaves an abusive relationship. When she decides to leave, she is at the greatest risk of being seriously injured or murdered. 70% of domestic homicides occur after the relationship has ended.

I would strongly suggest reading the following articles and gaining a deeper understanding of why and how your words / viewpoints are problematic and potentially harmful as well as what’s being left unsaid/unaddressed.

Unpacking Spiritual Bypassing: Why ‘Love And Light’ Without Action Can’t Dismantle Racism

You can’t manifest racism away.

As well-intentioned they might be, intonements of “we are all one” ignore the lived experiences of BIPOC in the face of structural and casual racism. Monica Cadena, an Afro-Latinx artist, writer and yogi explains: “Yes, we are all one.” But the bodies we inhabit undeniably affect our realities: “For Black people, our experiences are radically different than white-bodied folks. For us, the simple act of breath is a political act.”

Podcast: How Toxic Positivity Props Up White Supremacy

I’m not saying that you have to be sucked into the 24-hour news cycle and constantly be consuming this news and whatever else. You can’t shut yourself off from it completely either. There has to be a balance because black and brown people don’t get to turn it off for the weekend. They don’t get to go home and say, “I’m not going to worry about being black now.” That’s not how that shit works.

You need to be able to stand up and be an ally. That means being uncomfortable. If you’re cutting yourself off from the news, then you’re not uncomfortable. Your silence makes you complicit in the marginalization of people of color. Feminism is about equality.

Virtual Roundtable: There’s a Diversity Problem in Wellness | A Virtual Panel Discussion | Well+Good Talks

Layla Saad: Me & White Supremacy

Shadow of White Supremacy in Health & Wellness

Nicole Cardoza on the Reclamation of Wellness

Spiritual Activist Rachel Ricketts Challenges White Women to Rethink Wellness

*Rachel Ricketts is AMAZING and Toronto-based and also has a book coming out, highly recommend preordering it.

Thought leader, racial justice educator, and sought-after spiritual activist Rachel Ricketts offers mindful and practical steps for all humxns to dismantle white supremacy on a personal and collective level.

Heart-centered and spirit-based practices are the missing but vital piece to achieving racial justice.

“Do Better” is a revolutionary offering that addresses anti-racism from a comprehensive, intersectional, and spiritually-aligned perspective. This actionable guidebook illustrates how to engage in the mindfulness-based practices that racial justice educator and healer Rachel Ricketts has developed to fight white supremacy from the inside out, in our personal lives and communities alike. It is a loving and assertive call to do the deep—and often uncomfortable—inner work that precipitates much-needed external and global change.

Radical racial justice includes daily, intentional and informed action. It demands addressing the emotional violence we have perpetuated on ourselves and others (most notably toward Black and Indigenous women and femmes), both as individuals and as a society. “Do Better” provides the missing pieces to manifest practicable, sustainable solutions such as identifying where we most get stuck, mitigating the harm we inflict on others, and mending our hearts from our most painful race and gender-based experiences, plus much more.


I’m Tired of Seeing Toxic Positivity in Response to Racism

Sometimes there is no bright side.

“…the toxic positivity of insisting someone consistently feel grateful and optimistic—even in the face of systemic racism—can be actively harmful.”