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Practical Woo Woo

That's me. I am Practical: rational, logical, pretty sensible, good idea getter and not prone to flights of fancy. I am also Woo Woo: spiritual but not religious, believer in tree fairies, ritual lover and haver of more than a few mystical experiences unexplained by rational means. Thus I am Practical Woo Woo.

I'm the girl that's gonna tell you to calm down if you're convinced your house has bad juju, but then drive right over, whip out my sage stick, Native American feather wand and commence wandering around all doors and windows, cleansing (also known as "smudging) with the smoke of the lit sage, while reciting a combo of the Lord's Prayer and the Gayatri Mantra for good measure. Let's make sure that if the bad juju was ever real, it leaves pronto and your space is protected with good juju. And if it wasn't real? Well, we'll all feel better after calling in great Light and Sacred protection. Right? Right.

I was raised mostly in the Methodist church. Little Leanne exhausted more than one Sunday school teacher with her fears and questions about people who never got "saved" because they were living in jungles or on tiny islands no missionary could ever reach. "But they'll just go to hell?" I'd ask over and over again with deep concern. It all seemed so unfair, and Jesus wasn't an exclusionary, mean-spirited dude in my mind. I couldn't get on board with the burning in hell thing central in the Christian religion. Now, don't get me wrong: I love Jesus. I love who he is, was and represents. Loving enemies, feeding the hungry, embracing all varieties of lepers. Good stuff. "What Would Jesus Do?" isn't just a slogan for jewelry, but a philosophy I keep close and practice, but the religion just isn't my cup of tea. So when I was exposed to Hinduism, Buddhism, Sikhism, Sufism, Wicca and more, all while trying to make the indie spiritual singer and her band I managed famous in the all-embracing new age community, I met it all with curiosity and openness. I found the same to be true for me with these paths too. I liked them, their holy teachings and deities but never felt the need to jump in the box of those religions either. I embrace the common messages of peace, universal love and oneness they all teach. I also love a good ritual, and all religions seem to have some pretty good ones.

There are tons of people who float around the new-agey spiritual scene in Los Angeles where I'm based and all the places I've traveled around the world so far. And there are tons of "floaty" people moving through the scene. Ungrounded, unfocused...searching for something--anything--that will help them feel good. I can't blame them, really. We all want to feel "good," however we define that individually. And because we are bombarded with messages every second of every day that there must be a quick fix path to it...the "secret" the "way" the "IT!" that will swiftly and completely make us wholly happy, with the perfect blend of unattached but attached, it seems legitimate to pursue feeling good via spirituality. An enigma, wrapped in a riddle, cloaked in a mystery, shrouded in a mist...or maybe a fog...but not to too dense...or hard...or intense, because if we are perfectly attached to the ever-so-important unattached way of being happy, it should be light and bright and gorgeously simple. Right? Right.

The more events, gurus, workshops, shamans and so forth I visited, the more I realized it was so

tempting and alluring to seek the "floaty" path. Learn the feel-good phrases, don the external spiritual garb and set up a perfect little altar of sacred whatnot at home to sit in front of while praying for that happy goodness to arrive. I've stood in too many lines waiting to get a blessing from whatever guru was in town at the moment, while listening to various people around me discuss their "authentic truth," "chakras" being in or out of alignment, past life regression therapy, tuning fork healing, crystal rainbow flame flaminess, the best kale salad ever and sacred detox juice cleansing sure to bring anyone pursuing it all ever closer to inner and outer enlightenment...and it all sounded great. A lot of it felt great! But what eventually began to creep into my consciousness was that it all felt like running to this, that or the other...until it all felt like running away from everything authentically true. Sacredly-driven, spiritually-fueled avoidance of anything hard. Or ugly. Or truly real. When I finally quit my Almost Famous, Eat, Pray, Love Life, I was overly-stuffed and completely empty from it all. I'd tried it all. I'd sat in sacred caves with priests, drank disgusting green gunk handed to me by some alleged rainforest shaman, cried at the feet of more gurus than I cared to remember, sang Sanskrit mantras in the midst of ego-driven leaders, been told I was "special" by the supposedly spiritually special, sipped the super elixirs and snacked on the organic kale and on and on until my soul wanted to explode. I couldn't take anymore of it. Or them. No more rituals of any sort. No gurus, deities, Jesus, Buddha--even watching Oprah's Super Soul Sunday made me queasy.

Then something happened. After emptying my life of all people and things "spiritually floaty" and learning to be okay in the wake of that emptiness, the haze of too much floating around in the spiritual soup lifted ever so slowly. I felt clean and re-born. I re-integrated only the practices that made me feel connected to my soul again...for me that is prayer, mantra, meditation and bhakti yoga. My heart connections to Jesus, Buddha, Ganesha, Krishna returned...I even enjoy Oprah again too! I no longer float around spiritually for the teacher, practice or philosophy of the moment. I am open, but I've got boundaries. I feel happy today--truly. The other thing that I feel in spades is grateful. I was worried about me there for a while. Empty is uncomfortable and can be troublesome. I now see it was necessary to find my own "authentic" truth in a deeply grounded way.

If you relate to any of this, just know you are completely okay in my book. You are not least not forever. Maybe you need a radical spiritual detox too. When it feels right, come visit me in Practical Woo Woo Land. It's pretty good real estate, actually. You might want to sage your space first to make sure there's no bad ju-ju though...because nobody needs bad ju-ju. Right? Right.

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Music is one of the ways I connect to my spirit every day. If music makes your spirit swoon too, check out these high-vibe artists and their tunes: Deva Premal & Miten , Snatam Kaur, Krishna Das and Trevor Hall. Google them, baby. They all have websites, songs on iTunes and tour dates to ride their bliss wave in person. Cheers & Sat Nam!




BREATHE. Sounds so simple, yet we often hold our breath when we are stressed, fearful, or unhappy.



LAUGH. Laughter releases all those feel-good brain chemicals. Watch a funny movie, silly YouTube videos or read something humorous.



LISTEN. There's some good science out there that suggests listening to music--specifically kirtan & mantra music--elevates your mood.

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