I Quit

I had 17 people follow me in a single day on Instagram earlier this week. Of the 17, nearly every one of them was some type of intuitive personal development coach or mentor.

Within three days, most of them will disappear, because that’s what people do on Instagram to try to gain followers.

When I see people behaving this way, I question their motives for doing what they do.

I wrote in a post on Instagram not long ago that I take serious issue with the commercialization of spirituality. Once the desire for success overtakes the desire for service to the greater good, you cross the border into service of your own ego, and the work loses its integrity.

Spiritual work is sacred work. People are trusting you with their deepest level of vulnerability. You have a responsibility to honor that within your interactions. You have a responsibility to model integrity, not just in how you do business, but in how you live your entire fucking life.

It’s easy to tell people the fundamentals of how to create change in their lives. It’s a wholly other thing to show them in the way we carry ourselves day-to-day. It calls us to elevate ourselves, our actions, and the entirety of our lives to a higher level of integrity. To live fully within our purpose in every moment and be a beacon of hope for the masses.

This is the highest calling, the greatest purpose – to BE that which you present yourself as.

The longer I’ve been on social media, Instagram in particular, the more disillusioned I’ve become with people who claim to be something they aren’t, the people who follow them, and the people who help create them.

“Anyone can become a coach! I’ll teach you how. Just take my online course for $5,000.”

They throw out words that they don’t understand the meaning of, like intuition, spirit and purpose, teaching others to teach others when they haven’t done the work, and neither have the people they’re “coaching.”

The fact is, you can only teach others from the same depth at which you’ve done your own work and the thing you start to learn the more you work is that the work is never finished.

One of the people who started following me was a 22-year-old “intuitive transformation coach.”

“It’s taken me 22 years to find myself!” she glowed in one of her perfectly curated Instagram photos, ending with a call to action to join her training program.

I’m almost 36 and I still haven’t found myself and honestly don’t expect I will until I’m at least 50, if truly “finding yourself” is something that’s even possible in the grand scheme of being an ever-evolving, multi-dimensional being. The one thing I do know for damn sure is that 22 is the age where you barely fucking know who you are and, more than likely, are the epitome of lost in your own self-loathing, completely unaware of yourself, your true values, or your true identity. 

Sure. Anyone can present the illusion of being a “coach.” Even someone who was a teenage adolescent as little as three years ago.

You can teach people. You can coach them, even, without completely “knowing” yourself. The key is to be transparent as fuck about the fact that you don’t know and that you, too, are a student of life. But that goes against the principles of a good sale, doesn’t it?

Business coaches will tell you that you need to present yourself as an authority. Talk about what you KNOW, not what you don’t know. Admitting that you’re not the best and ultimately, you’re just here feeling it out like everyone else doesn’t make you stand out from the crowd and it certainly doesn’t make needy people want to buy your product.

The thing is, especially in the realm of personal development and spirituality, “best” doesn’t exist. There is no spiritual authority. That is both the beauty and the madness of it.

I see these people – people who feel energetically out of alignment, some of which I know empirically and factually to be living a lifestyle that is out of alignment with the spiritual values they preach on a daily basis – presenting it on social media to thousands of people, and in some cases, hundreds of thousands of people, as though it’s some kind of evolved thing they should all aspire to, and it is utterly appalling. They even preach authenticity while simultaneously having no real understanding what that even is.

I unfollowed the maker of my favorite oracle deck because I discovered she was following one such person. My immediate thought was, “How do you, as so-called intuitive, not see this person for what they are?” I’m sure it’s only because there’s a blue checkmark next to their name, but that now brings her spiritual integrity into question. How can I, in good conscience, support the work of a person who either A) claims to be intuitive and supports someone who is energetically disgusting, or B) support the work of a person who will follow and engage with people who are energetically disgusting simply because they can gain more exposure for themselves?

The answer is that I can’t, in either instance. It makes me want to throw up, and I don’t mean metaphorically. I mean the energy behind it is an actual assault on my solar plexus – it tightens and constricts and I feel repulsed.

Maybe it’s because I’ve spent 16 years immersed in marketing, branding and advertising and I can smell a sales pitch from 100 yards away. Maybe it’s that my intuition really is that on point. In the one instance where one of these kinds of people offered me exposure on their platform, I refused because I didn’t want to be associated with that kind of energetic garbage.

If this is what mainstream spirituality has become, if this is where we are…turning our healing process into a business model and using sacred terminology to make sales pitches, I can’t be a part of it anymore. I. WON’T. DO. IT.

My platform is authenticity and it’s been built on a foundation of integrity. And I can’t, with good conscience, continue to align myself with this parade of false idols.

And so, it’s with that, I bow out. The day I thought would never come has arrived. This the end of In My Sacred Space.

Maybe it’s time. Maybe it’s been long overdue. I did discover  over the weekend that on the last day of Mercury Retrograde, my entire website had mysteriously been deleted from my hosting server. It was recovered, obviously, but it seemed like that was the final and ultimate sign from the Universe that my time here has gotten stale, and to move on.

I suppose my first sign should have been when a semi-well-known bra company that, if you’re female, you’ve no doubt seen heavily advertised on Instagram and Facebook reached out to me to be a part of their influencer program. What did they think I was going to do? Post pictures of my tits in their bras and talk about self love like everyone else on Instagram? My body is not your billboard, and my words are not for sale. Seriously. Fuck off.

I didn’t respond to any of the multiple emails they sent me. I happen to own three of their bras already and frankly, they’re no better than any other bra I’ve ever owned. Here’s your glowing endorsement: mediocre at best.

For some of you this may admission may seem sudden, but it’s been building for well over a year. Probably since I first set foot into ABC Carpet and Home and discovered their culturally appropriated home decor collaboration with Deepak Chopra. It was very beautiful, very over-priced…and it made me uncomfortable as all hell. But I guess if that $1,000 iridescent-glazed statue of Ganesha makes one rich white person feel a little more enlightened and a tad closer to God, so be it.

No space is sacred anymore, not even your living room. Capitalism has recognized an opportunity to merge with “spirituality” and the money machine is in full effect, permeating every aspect of your life.

I feel like I’m in the Wizard of Oz, screaming at everyone to look at the man behind the curtain, and their attention remains transfixed on the glittery image being projected in front of them.

I’m sure I’m not completely done with spirituality. It’s probably more so a time for me to evolve into something else, and this form of it has simply come to an end. My takeaway from the whole of this experience, all of my years in marketing and advertising and all of my experience with “influencing” and “coaching” is that the U wants me to learn from it, to see it, and to do it differently. This is Uranus in Taurus energy, for all you astro nerds out there.

I have no idea what it is or what it looks like. I just know that there has to be a way to make a living for yourself while successfully helping other people, without selling yourself out, without compromising your integrity, without creating a fraudulent public image or using your body as ad space, and without servicing your own ego and that of others before the greater good. If you want the game to end, you have to stop playing.

But before I go, in my last parting words to all of you, I challenge you to do one thing and one thing only: give very careful scrutiny to those “spiritual” people you put your faith in. The ones with their professional photos who look like they’re “living their best life” on Instagram and Facebook, who talk about their dark times in vague generalities in a formulaic caption that always ends with something to sell you (or “Tag a friend and share with someone who needs to see this!”). The ones who say, “Look at me. Look at what I’ve done. Look at how much I’ve achieved. I can help you do the same…” for a price.

If the main message of their narrative is to learn from their success and not from their struggle, they’re not authentic. If the main message of their narrative is learn from their “struggle,” but they never present that struggle in true, vulnerable terms, they’re not authentic.

Look at them as a whole and ask yourself, “What is the overall feeling that this person leaves me with?” If the answer is a feeling of need, of lack, of envy, if you feel less successful by comparison, or pressure to be like them – they’re out of alignment with you.

Someone who is IN alignment with you will leave you feeling hopeful. Seen. Heard. Understood. You will identify with them. They will make you feel like you can do what they’ve done, not because they’re successful and they can teach you how, but because you identify with their struggle and it is evident in their words, actions, and demeanor that they do, in fact, continuously conquer it with grace and humility.

They’re covered in scars, not glitter. Those scars have given them the gift of depth. Of presence. Of Truth that radiates from the core of their being. It is felt. They don’t have to speak it.

That being said, I think this is my last post for a while. Maybe ever, or at least, under In My Sacred Space. I invite you to share it, far and wide, and not so that more people will follow me or so that I can get more potential customers, because I’m obviously not selling anything at this point. Share it because people need to wake the fuck up to who they’re looking up to and see beyond the illusion.

I plan to leave the site up, as there’s still a great deal of helpful content and many people who are still discovering it.

I don’t know where I go from here, but I’m sure there’s something waiting around the corner. It was fun while it lasted. I grew a hell of a lot. So much so, I’m not who I was when I started. I guess that means I get to start over, somewhere else, as someone new.

Maybe I’ll meet you there one day.

Xo, 

 

30 Comments

  1. YES I’m so with you. Egos don’t need strokes and followers. Commercialization, how to make money on your spiritual teaching. If I see marketing involved in a person’s presentation, I run the other way.

    Just want you to know, I hear you, I’m right there with you, and you are on to A New Sacred Space of your own.

    I send so much love with you, lit up like diamonds in the sky <3 <3 <3

    Reply
    • Hello, I just wanted to say that you’re the very first person ( on my side ) to see this besides myself. It’s ridiculous and helping people to awaken them shouldn’t cost anything because WE ALL HAVE GIFTS. Good luck to you sweetie. Sending love energy

      Reply
      • Take heart in that I’m not the only one who sees it. I wish more people could, and eventually, perhaps after they’ve been duped a few times, more people will. But I suppose, those are their lessons to learn.

        I still don’t fall into the camp of “You can’t make money from spiritual things.” I believe you can, but I also believe that the ethical considerations and standards involved have to be of the utmost consideration. You have to walk the walk, and you have to constantly check yourself and your motivations for what you’re doing.

        Reply
    • Thank you 🙂

      Reply
    • Ashley, you a someone I had looked to almost daily to soak in your clarity of bring. Your clear sight and authentic observations have been huge gifts. Recently I saw your name somewhere and realized it had been no-telling how long since i had last enjoyed your intense writing and your truths. I had lost track of your journey, then I had come back as you’re at a significant crossroads.
      You have built something quite beautiful and what you do next will certainly be another eye-ripping-open sharp-edged stint. I feel the despair and hope you can see it all and rearrange your focus to your natural savoir faire. I wish you laughter with beaming surprises as you go on.

      Reply
      • I keep telling everyone I’m not TOTALLY done. Just done with this form. I think I’m going to hang out in my FB group more since I’m not pouring energy into Instagram. And in the meantime, I’ll figure out the next thing to do with myself 🙂

        Reply
        • This is the first post I have read from you and all I have to say is, yes. What you wrote is so incredibly accurate. I’m in process of unfollowing/unsubscribing to many spiritual “teachers/guides.” It seems like spirituality is for sale these days and many people are trying to teach how to do it right, like we may be doing spirituality wrong.
          Thanks for your words and enjoy your next iteration.

          Reply
    • I really appreciated your honesty. I always enjoyed what you wrote and shared and will miss that your authenticity among many inauthentic teachers will no longer be among the choices as we discern what speaks to us and what doesn’t. I honor your choice to withdraw and also the responsibility you took on to share with others your wisdom. Namaste

      Reply
  2. I feel like I just watch a star burn out. Beautiful. Sad and beautiful.

    Reply
    • Nothing truly dies. It only transforms into a new form. 🙂

      Reply
  3. “Hurrah!!”

    Another like minded soul, I have walked away from a number of “Spiritual Leaders ($%$!!!)” and organisations here in the UK for this very reason.

    If any of us think that we are done in our development and spiritual journeys; if any of us are arrogant enough to say “we have answers” then we are lost in our own EGO and pure self delusion.

    If more and more of us, who quietly work, in the back ground, never charging for what we do, helping others because we see / know that it is our pure responsibility as human beings (spirits in carnate form), then we would see a much greater level of purity and integrity in our philosophy, way of life, way of being..call it what you like then we see in the sordid supposedly “Spiritual Movement” in the world today.

    When all is said and done, when we get to the close of our life’s all we have is our own Integrity.

    May the Divine Spirit help us all.

    Reply
    • A wise man knows he knows nothing. 🙂

      Reply
  4. I do so hope I meet you there one day. What a beautiful soul you are. Much much love and so many blessings to you soulsister.

    Reply
    • Thank you 🙂

      Reply
  5. Thank you for sharing. I’ve been quietly following along for a while. I’m just getting started in this world professionally. I recently launched my website/blog and have started trying to be “consistent” on social media. As a highly sensitive empath, it’s not easy. It’s Overwhelming and I’m constantly trying to decipher how I feel about the authenticity of something on IG or sales pitches.

    I’ve been experiencing the “I’m following you to get you to follow back, and then I’m dropping you” and it’s dirty and awful and my sensitive soul just doesn’t get it at a heart level. There’s tons of people on social media… follow the ones you truly feel add value to your life.

    I’ve also bought certain programs or started monthly memberships that I probably didn’t need at the time but the pitches are that good and hook you. I’m learning my lessons quickly and holding tighter to my wallet. I’m saving that money for the people and courses that DO align with me. I’ve found some really beautiful communities and people out there that have truly enhanced my journey for the better and I’m forever grateful.

    That’s what I hope to do for highly sensitive women. Not be a guru or influencer. Be a real, raw, sometimes sparkly, sometimes dull whole version of me. And yes at 43 I know I still have years to go before I have a definite sense of what all of this means for me. I want to support people on their own journey, not sell them mine. Just like no 2 snowflakes are alike, we’re all destined to be different and I think that’s beautiful. I’ve always had a big heart and I feel called to support and guide women living a highly sensitive/empathic life. I will strive to do this as authentically as possible.

    I will learn and share till the day I no longer grace this earth with my presence and hope to leave many hearts full, many minds awake and highly sensitive empaths empowered to continue this important work in the world.

    I’m inspired by your realness and ability to share your frustration. I’m empowered by you not knowing exactly what’s next and sharing that in this space. My momma (bless her soul) used to say, “you’re the captain of your own ship, my love”.

    Perhaps your next calling will be supporting new spiritual entrepreneurs and helping them stay true to who they are while keeping them safe from falling into the pit of despair you talked about in this post. I can’t wait to see what comes next for you.

    May you find the sacred space that keeps you feeling and being exactly how you
    wish to BE + FEEL.

    With love + sensitivity,
    Heather

    Reply
    • Stay true to yourself. Be open and real. And thank you for allowing me to inspire you. TBH, I’m kind of inspired by the reactions I’ve gotten here so far. Many of them have brought me to tears. <3

      Reply
    • Hey Heather – I don’t know if you saw my email that went out today, but, if you’re on Facebook and you’d like to participate in some discussion around business, I’d like to invite you to join this group I created a while back just for spiritual peeps doing business things: https://www.facebook.com/groups/1821409691470770/

      Reply
  6. Why are you taking this so personally? Why do you get to decide which type of “spirituality” is legit? There is a very different way to look at this. We are each here to learn and grow and awaken in our own way. When we judge another persons path we are really just reflecting how much more growing we have in store for us. Any time we judge another for their actions, we separate ourselves from them and try to put ourselves above them. In truth, there is divinity in all beings, regardless of how woke they are. If spirituality is cool and marketable, than maybe more people will be intrigued and eventually touched by something greater than themselves.

    Reply
    • I’m not judging anyone’s spirituality. I’m judging their business tactics, lack of self-awareness, and usage of spirituality for personal gain.

      I take all of that very personally, because I’ve seen too many people be sucked in by it and taken advantage of over the years and I think it’s disingenuous and hypocritical to use someone’s insecurities as a way to manipulate them into emptying their wallets and to service one’s own ego.

      When that happens in a relationship, we refer to it as a toxic relationship. When one person does it on a regular basis to the people around them, they’re a toxic person. Prolonged exposure to toxic persons and relationships eventual disintegrate one’s boundaries resulting in an unhealthy sense of self. Most therapists recommend limited exposure to toxic situations and people, particularly. I don’t see how business people and spiritual teachers should be any different.

      If I’m not willing to hold people accountable, and you’re not willing to hold people accountable, then the cycle continues.

      Rhetorical question: have you ever notice how difficult it is to tell someone that they shouldn’t be judgmental without being judgmental?

      Reply
  7. Love this truth. I was having a conversation with my spiritual mentor just last week about how spiritual entrepreneurs need a new trail blazer who can help us to be beacons to those in need without selling out. Without following the old paradigms of marketing and advertising, with new language, with purpose and authenticity, that is about the work and not show. I bristle against the “shoulds” of being in business. I don’t even like the word business because that isn’t why I do what I do. I try to post useful content that might actually help someone then hear some coach say “you need to have a call to action”. Its been an ongoing battle for me personally and professionally between what feels right and what I am”supposed to” be doing. Your article has lit a fire for me that has been kindling for awhile. No more biz crap! I’m going to do me and I’ll celebrate the authenticity over commercialism every post and share. A month ago I channeled a symbol and was guided to use it as a “logo” because the vibration will sing out so that those I can help can find me. I decided to call it a vibrational beacon instead of a logo because I needed to shift how I think and feel about my work. Like I said, we need a new language, a spiritual language…a new completely different way of moving through our work of service. Maybe your next venture is creating a new way? Thanks for being real!

    Reply
    • I feel you. I’ve had that same struggle for some time now. I’m very fond of what my friend Susan once said to me. She said when you find your authentic voice, you become a beacon. And truly, she’s lived that. She’s an astrologer who started simply by posting daily poems to her personal Facebook page. It took off. She has thousands of followers now and only recently quit her full-time corporate job to be a full time astrologer. She never sold out, and she never followed the rules. She just did her thing and her voice and her vibe brought her the people she needed to support her purpose. (www.susangrace.org, if you’re interested)

      Reply
    • Hi Marnie,

      I don’t know if you saw my email that went out today but if you’re interested, I’d like to invite you to join this group I created a while back for entrepreneurs with spiritually-based businesses: https://www.facebook.com/groups/1821409691470770/

      I love what you’re talking about and I think we’re on the same page. Hoping to solve some of these issues in this group.

      Reply
  8. Good for you, Ash! I commend you for turning your back on the bullshit. Selling and spirituality are mutually exclusive in my book, no matter how hard the new guru-entrepreneurs try to convince us otherwise. I’m sure you will find another rewarding endeavor and I wish you all the best!

    Reply
    • Thank you 🙂

      As I said in an earlier comment, I still don’t fall into the camp of “You can’t make money from spiritual things.” I believe you can, but I also believe that the ethical considerations and standards involved have to be of the utmost consideration. You have to walk the walk, and you have to constantly check yourself and your motivations for what you’re doing.

      Not a lot of people are evolved enough to maintain that sort of self-policing, I guess. But most of the people I had in mine when writing this are in their twenties, so I would exactly expect them to be, and that’s also part of the problem, as I see it.

      Reply
  9. Thank you Ash! You are very brave and one of the most inspiring and authentic people I have met. I loved your honesty – in your face true.
    I will miss your “work”, your gifts. You helped me quite a lot just by beeing there a write.

    I hope you will come back, of course, but letting go is part of growing.
    So I wish you courage, couriousity and that you find even more of your authentic self. Even 50 seems quite soon (I am 36 myself) to beeing able to say you have found yourself.

    I am curious where I will stand at 50 years. Fascinating really!

    Thank you again for beeing and staying (in your words:) fucking authentic! ;P

    Reply
    • I’ll be doing something again at some point, I’m sure. I need a creative outlet. For now, though, I think I just need a break.

      Thank you for being on this journey with me 🙂

      Reply
  10. Ash – I was very sad to read this post, but I too have detached from what has become a culture of commercialized spirituality. Through your posts and stories, I feel like I know you, and that’s the sign of a great writer. (Do you see where this is going?) I know I’ve nudged you in the past, but perhaps you would entertain the idea of writing a book. If your journey with the blog has run its course, I just want to remind you that you have greatness in you Ash – in your writing especially. You not only approach life’s challenges with fearless self-examination, but you are kind enough to share the experience with others in a relatable way. Admitted selfish motives here, but the honesty and vulnerability in your writing is really special and I hope you find a way to continue it. Much love to you Ash!

    Reply
    • I know, I know. Everyone keeps telling me to write a book! I have no idea what that book will be about, but I’m open and willing for spirit to fill me with inspiration. We’ll see what happens, I suppose?

      Reply
  11. This is exactly why we need you ✨✨ Id love to chat with you soon! Please reach out ❤️

    Reply

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