The closet’s full, and here comes that existential emptiness. All those prayer clubs and kabbalah bracelets no longer fill the void left by years of pure hedonism. Those who had once appealed to the divine for resolving earthly matters have done an about face and now search for a solution here and now, all on their own – that is, almost. With a little ethereal help from faraway gurus (the principle seems to be this: the further away from home, the closer to life’s truths), the generation of believers reloaded has found the long-lost link between Sedona and Santiago de Compostela, putting into practice the simple theory that a well-maintained body + a well-ordered mind = spiritual success. There are no dogmas or promises, only facts that are not new, but have aged into oblivion and gone out of style long ago – for something like millenniums. These new followers no longer trade in their religion or philosophy but, rather, switch out their pendants: sometimes a Nazar, sometimes a Hamsa. All of them, whether old testifiers or new test subjects, were, after much mental perspiration, conscious respiration, meditation and contemplation, persuaded by spiritual guides that they don’t need to believe in everything they see, only in what they feel.

Chris Griscom

Celebrities do not sign contracts or step on the stage without the approval of their spiritual guides; ever since the invention of Hollywood, the star system shines bright only with the help of its messengers from the beyond. The constellation of gurus is as varied as it is vulnerable to the whims of its clients. From one day to the next, what until then had been followed by nine stars out of ten simply falls off the map and into the black hole of fame – see Sai Baba Osho, shining in his moment, and the illuminated American Chris Griscom, founder of Light Institute of Galisteo, in New Mexico, who lead meditation groups with Shirley McLaine. Regression Therapy and Light Therapy are McLaine’s registered trademarks, described in her book “Dancing in the Light”, where she teaches how to expand consciousness with methods that permit anyone to access their Divine Superior Self after a cellular memory cleansing, multidimensional consciousness opening and an exploration of past lives. “The changes on this planet are imminent and the catalyst for these changes is the consciousness. Only consciousness is able to cure”, says the radiant guru. Her reputation as a spiritual guide grew through her books (eight, all best-sellers), conferences and world-wide conferences and workshops on esoteric acupressure. “All of us, women and men, possess feminine qualities such as care, intuition and the capacity to adapt”, she explains. “For centuries, we were encouraged to face life’s challenges using only our masculine qualities of power and courage”.  Using simple exercises and real-life examples, the guru reveals how we can leave the stereotypical roles and patterns that repeat themselves in our personal and professional relationships. This is self-help, of course it is, but with an intellectual veneer that repels any chance of fanaticism. “Access to our interiority is important for us to be able to discover our unlimited potential. Starting with positive control over our energies, this transformation takes place and leads us to a better life”.

Sri Sri Ravi Shankar. Photo: srisriravishankar.org

The Indian Sri Sri Ravi Shankar is founder of the Art of Living Foundation, an NGO with a presence in over 160 countries, engaged in initiatives for stress management and the search for inner peace. Its flagship program is a breathing course called Sudarshan Kriya, which has become a craze among artists, gallerists and journalists. According to Shankar, this breathing practice reduces the levels of cortisol (the stress hormone) in the blood, boosts the immune system, increases concentration and a sense of well-being, controls anxiety, reboots sleep, eliminates negative emotions like anger and frustration and helps fight depression. “Our body has a rhythm. You eat and feel sleepy at certain times, and breathing has a rhythm, too. If it’s out of balance, that’s when we become ill, we become depressed” says Rajshree Patel, one of Shankar’s more fervent followers. “If people were to know that by breathing correctly, all of their sadness and anxiety would disappear, maybe they wouldn’t need to resort to external help”, she explains. “You survive for a few days without eating or drinking, but you die if you stop breathing for only a few minutes. There is so much more air in the world than there is earth and water, and for a simple reason: we must breath more and better than anything else we do”. Shankar’s figure looking down from a photograph is omnipresent in any meditation room or yoga studio affiliated with the Art of Living. The practitioners follow a spirit of fraternity, where all are considered brothers and sisters on the superior plane. During the courses, it is prohibited to partake in alcohol, drugs, red meat and sex. A worthy ordeal, but at the end everyone breathes a sigh of relief. Ommm.