The new spirituality: What are we searching for and what will we find?

Yoga, meditation, positive affirmations, ancient rituals and shamans – the new spirituality is the religion of our time. But what are we searching for and what will we find?

Author: Nina Prehofer

Do I feel comlepte?

Isn’t life just one long search? It sometimes feels that way. We’re being controlled, like a character in a hit and run game. We run along, pick something up, run a bit further until we finish one level and we’re allowed to progress to the next. School, training, dating, relationships, marriage, children, work, retirement, game over. It’s possible that this analogy might lead us to wonder: is that it? And it might prompt us to embark on the search. But what for? What are we searching for with such desperation?

We’re searching for more meaning, more support, more peace, more serenity in a fast, loud, sometimes very empty and complicated world. It certainly hasn’t got any easier over the last couple of years what with the pandemic and climate disasters. We also want to do something right or well when we’ve already done so many things wrong. Our consumption of resources, air pollution, polluting the oceans, animal suffering. In a sick world, we want to heal ourselves, and to do that we might reach for bogus medicine. Or try using shortcuts. Using quick ways to slow down. Maybe belief in the whole is only a belief. Maybe we should stop searching to make ourselves feel complete.

Maybe it would be better to start finding. And discovering. The happiness found in good food. The warmth of a hug. The magic of a particularly beautiful place. The joy of a good conversation. These things all add up. To a large whole.

Good – Better – Self

Quick, quick, let’s set off towards a better self! A little pep talk and I already feel, I am better. What would be even better would be a couple of inspirational words from a life coach, then everything will be pretty much perfect. Really? Of course not. A lot of the self-help programmes out there suggest that it really is that easy. Hey, it’s all within us. We just need to let it out. And then we’ll be unbelievably awesome and we’ll be able to achieve everything. You just need to really want it. Are you sure you’ve really wanted it up to now? Or did you just want to wallow in self-pity a bit more? Because it’s comfortable, because it attracts attention, because it’s easy. It’s a bit of quackery that goes astray and causes people to doubt themselves even more. When you convince yourself that everything you need is within you, at some point you feel like a loser who just can’t get greatness out of themselves. Self-doubt might end up being greater than it was before. It’s simply not that simple. And it’s hard to believe there are actually life situations that don’t enable you to activate your own superpowers and float through life.

The new spirituality

We have to stop overexerting ourselves and start avoiding challenges in life and accept doubt and conflict. They exist and you can’t just make them invisible with a good connection to your inner self. But it’s the good connection to our inner self that helps us to avoid these difficulties, to not crack and to manage it, and to develop a feeling of happiness or more zest for life in spite of it. Not everything we encounter in life is good. It is what it is. And the dream of an optimised self is just a dream. And that’s totally fine. We can relax.

Meditation to go

Let’s be frank: how many yoga, meditation and fitness apps do you have on your phone? Probably a few. That’s not a bad thing! But we can’t expect that simply installing an app on our phone will turn us into a more spiritual, more balanced person with increased inner peace. Unfortunately, there’s no such thing as instant spirituality that will change our thinking and behaviour. After all, it’s still a process that demands that we change our routines. And as we well know, that’s a big challenge. Because our brain is used to taking the easiest route, nurturing our habits.

You know, the classics: scrolling through Instagram in bed at night or binging Netflix. Somehow, we feel rewarded, but then also a bit bad. Was it really worth spending hours watching what other, mostly unknown, people are doing? How they turn out and present themselves, beautifully dressed, especially on holiday, or how they have done or got something amazing. Do we really feel better when we watch other people behaving in a way that’s detached from reality?

Australian comedian, actress and author Celeste Barber has the funniest way of mocking people, mostly half-naked women dancing or posing strangely. She exposes the odd behaviour in photos and short videos by mimicking them in similar outfits, with ungainly movements and amusing grimaces. This laugh compensates for the guilty conscience you have for continually scrolling.

The new spirituality

But back to the routines we need to change. It’s becoming easier to extract yourself from everyday life and not be exposed to the same habits. Like going on holiday, for example. A new place is a rewarding moment to put old things aside and to embrace new things. Instead of staring at your phone, you can actually go to the yoga and meditation sessions on offer. If you manage to outsmart your brain once, you’ll be really grateful. Because meditation feels like a real reward. Doing something once isn’t enough to be healed over the long term, of course. But it’s the right way to initiate sustainable change. When you get back from holiday, you just can’t lapse back into your old patterns. This is where the apps are actually quite good, as they don’t let you go it alone. You can allow yourself to be guided, over and over, in new and varied ways. There are so many options that you won’t be able to get through them in just one night like you might with a Netflix series, and then crave more like a junkie. And when you close your eyes and a voice says to you: “You did it. Keep going a bit longer. You’re almost there. Great!”, it doesn’t matter whether the praising voice comes from your phone or not. We did it really well.

About good and bad affirmations

I can’t do it. I can’t manage it. I’m not beautiful enough. I’m not enough. I don’t believe I can do it. Other people are always better than me. I’m too fat. I’m too thin. I don’t belong. Does this happen to you? If not, I would say “lucky you!”. Because apparently, you’ve already achieved it. You love yourself, think you’re good, are totally at peace with yourself and what you do. You know what you’re capable of, what you’re worth, that beauty comes from within and is in the eye of the beholder. Wow. If those first lines seem familiar to you, you’re probably among the majority of people in the western world who are more inclined to rob themselves of self-confidence with these negative affirmations than to do the opposite and give themselves a boost with positive affirmations.

Perhaps it’s our original sin we’re dragging around with us. This ever-present feeling of doubt in yourself. And that’s so bizarre! Because we function considerably better when we believe in ourselves, and we’re also much happier. Nevertheless, this self-criticism is built into our brains. Yes, there may well be people who are more able, more beautiful, wealthier. At this point, you can quote what is probably common knowledge – that earning a certain salary doesn’t make you more content. That you won’t be happier or more content overnight if you’re seeking tried-and-tested self-optimisation or external optimisation, if you’re seeking a plastic surgeon. We can only create self-satisfaction ourselves. By liking ourselves. With all of our strengths and our flaws. Yes, sometimes we drink too much alcohol, sometimes we don’t eat that healthily, sometimes we’re lazy, sometimes we’re not very nice. And? Let him who is without sin cast the first stone.

The new spirituality

What’s important is that we transition from the negative affirmations to the positive. Why not formulate five positive affirmations at the start of every day? They can even be written down on pieces of paper and spread around the house. That way we can read them again and again. Because it’s the same with the affirmations as it is with bad habits: at some point, a routine emerges and our brain formulates them by itself. Then we’re in a position to build ourselves up, to like ourselves and to think well of ourselves. Then our self-confidence grows and, as is well known, when you’ve got positive energy and a healthy level of self-love, you attract more good things and other good people. And that’s really what it all comes down to. Liking yourself, being embedded in a lovely environment and having wonderful experiences as often as possible. In this moment, we’ve reached a higher level of consciousness, reached our new spirituality.

Positive Affirmationen for the day










Photos: Ethan Rougon, Mahdi Chaghari, Aaron Blanco Tejedor, Motoki Tonn