Tuesday, August 19, 2008

From the 60s to the New Age

Those of us who are of a certain age have one constant memory. For most of our lives, we have lived in a continuous swirl of energy. During the 1960s, we set things in motion by demanding change. And it has been nonstop ever since.

After years of demonstrations, we finally stopped a war that we did not need to be in. After years of demonstrations and social upheaval, we were able to alter the way race relations were handled. After years of social unrest, we changed the way we related to women.

During these years came the first recognition that environmental cleanup was necessary. Then came the recognition that we did not have to stay in marriages that did not work for us, that we had opportunities to try again to have better relationships. Inner change and outer change.

At the same time came the realization that our working lives would probably be far different than our parents working lives due to new industries, a willingness to relocate even more than our parents, and the fact that we just did not want to do one job all our lives.

Out of this whole ferment of social change came the New Age movement, the plethora of personal growth workshops, and our openness to explore everything from spiritual traditions from around the world to music from around the world to every possible way of imagining the progress of the world. Conspiracy theorists could make the case for all kinds of events, especially ominous ones. People claimed to be speaking for beings from other times and places, and some kept hoping that the UFOs would land all over the place and take them for a ride.

Simultaneously, there was a new fascination with ancient cultures. People vacationed in Egypt to see the pyramids, Peru to visit Macchu Picchu, Britain to visit Stonehenge, Mexico to visit Mayan ruins, Ireland to walk on Tara and Newgrange, Rome to visit the Coliseum and other exotic locales just to experience the feel of what people must have felt thousands of years ago. People now vacation to do rituals with hallucinogens with shamans, kayak along the ocean shore and hike through jungles to visit volcanoes, ruins and view tropical wildlife. They also bicycle on old back roads and stay in bed and breakfasts.

Couples examined ways to enhance their relationships with tantra and couples workshops, individuals sharpened their intuitive abilities with Tarot, I Ching and other tools. Every kind of meditation technique from The Silva Method to the Maharishi to Zen were available for anyone who cared to try. Interior designers, architects and home builders got interested in feng shui, while airlines, hotels and retail stores got interested in aromatherapy. Now, even mass marketed commercial shampoos say that they are made with herbal essences.

Ancient methods, like Shamanism, Buddhism, Hinduism, Taoism, Witchcraft, Native American traditions, African traditions, Yoga and Tai Chi, all came back for further examination. Everything from making our own entertainment with drums, dancing and singing to creating our own spiritual rituals to taking an active role in our own health and healing. Now every mall seems to have a yoga studio, health food, herb shop or massage studio. Belly dancing classes seem to be everywhere as well.

Every so often, humans need to stir things up, but during these last 50 years, we have constantly stirred things up. We now have more choices for living, and one movement has given birth to another. We have more choices and more opportunities. It was not such a great distance from the 60s to the New Age. And now there is ever more on the horizon. What do you see out there?

No comments: