In my denomination of origin, everyone was always slightly worried about everything. We created a bit of a stir around the time I stepped down from being a pastor when I let it be known that I did some mediation and yoga. I know, right? Several people kind of lost their minds and made it way tougher on us that it had to be. I have a friend in a progressive church still struggling a little with being able to practice in a more authentic way, because it’s different and might upset somebody.
The people who told me not to do yoga were afraid of the slippery slope. Not sure exactly where this slope is, and I do not think they know either. But they were afraid that if we did anything different or supported anyone that was different, we might just ruin our lives and never be able to get it back together.
I understand that there are things that contribute to a downfall, but it is very often not the “thing” that causes the downfall. It is usually unaddressed trauma that cause the downfall and many times that trauma is from religious organizations that are afraid and trying to control those within their ranks. Ironic, right?
Nowadays, we call these unconventional practices “Woo-woo.”
It is just a common term so that you can say to the naysayers, “This may seem a little woo-woo, but this is what I do.” It puts them at ease a little and it softens it some to use the term. I suppose it sounds a little more like a children’s expression and a little less like the fire of hell or the wrath of God. I almost always smile when I hear someone say woo-woo.
Early in my life I tried everything. I went skydiving 11 times before I even was married and had a legacy to pass on. I researched and learned Karate until I got bored with it (and one of the masters yelled at me). And also, I was little bit nervous because martial arts was considered one of those slippery slopes. I learned shooting and hunting skills and became quite proficient at bow hunting, even though I have given it up now because of my vegan practice.
I now take this adventurous spirit into my practices. I am literally not afraid to try anything. If It is legal and ethical and does not hurt anyone else, then I am game! I do not like everything I try or find it effective for my life, but I finally realized that people pay big money to slide down slippery slopes in Colorado. Although I don’t ski, I have had the exhilarating experience of trying new things and I didn’t crash at the bottom, I just kept on careening toward new experiences.
I would be more apt to say, “This is woo-woo and you might like it!” Woo-hooooo!
Treasure is usually not found on well-worn paths. Tradition can sometimes be a security blanket and shouldn’t totally be ignored. Most times the flock doesn’t know where the treasure is because they just keep circling back to the same trough. Take a hint from other fellow adventureers and try something woo-woo. Some times the woo-woo is inside the tradition and you have to dig a little. Someone just piled their safe practice in front of it!
I didn’t really even slide down a slippery slope. I didn’t crash and burn or ruin my life. I found some practices for healing that were difficult and challenging, but they led to a richer life! I went on some adventures that scared me and scraped up my knees, but in the end, I was wiser and more authentic. I found some practices that truly sustain me and help me be compassionate and decent to other humans.
I am now embracing the woo-woo! Go ahead and say, “WOO-WOO!” It will feel awkward at first, but most things that are life-changing do for a short time. You will get used to it and pretty quickly you will know whether it is an effective practice for your life.
I wish you well on your journey.
Be where you are, be who you are, be at peace!
Karl Forehand is a former pastor, podcaster, and award-winning author. His books include Apparent Faith: What Fatherhood Taught Me About the Father’s Heart and The Tea Shop. He is the creator of The Desert Sanctuary and Too Many Podcasters podcasts. He is married to his wife Laura of 32 years and has one dog named Winston. His three children are grown and are beginning to multiply!