From the Yogi Tree on Facebook:
OFFICIAL STATEMENT REGARDING QANON IN OUR COMMUNITY
Sat Nam and Namaste,
In light of recent events, I feel the need to make a statement about what this community stands for, what we stand up to, and our overarching belief system. In 2020, QAnon deeply infiltrated the spiritual community. The Yogi Tree and The INlighten Community do not support QAnon’s messages of hate, fear, and division.
QAnon is a complicated merger of conspiracy theory, live action role play (LARP) gaming, hate-group ideology, and targeted disinformation strategy. Most followers are largely unaware of these influences and stumble upon QAnon accidentally. They may not realize that QAnon is an extremist movement that spreads misinformation, confusion, and paranoia rooted in white nationalism, antisemitism, and anti-government sentiment. When the global pandemic hit, QAnon actors deliberately and strategically targeted the wellness communities by appealing to people’s interest in alternative health practices and mistrust of established institutions. Credible arguments can be made that QAnon is a cult with classic indoctrination techniques. The deadly violence that was perpetrated at the US Capitol on Jan. 6., 2021, included followers of the QAnon movement.
In recent months, our concerns have grown stronger about the QAnon phenomenon in our community and we have had many conversations about its influence. As with all things, we believe that education and open discussion are key. The Yogi Tree and The INlighten Community strongly encourage engaging in tough conversations and holding space for learning and growing – but we do not support QAnon rhetoric in any way.
How has QAnon gained such traction? Two of the issues QAnon distorts – child abuse and human trafficking – are legitimate concerns, and many in the wellness community feel passionate about stopping them. You can tell the information you are getting is QAnon related if it includes pleas “to protect the children” mixed with QAnon anti-trafficking hashtags such as #savethechildren, #endsextrafficking, #eyeswideopen, #thegreatawakening, #dotheresearch, #followthewhiterabbit. (Be aware that these are only a few examples and there are many, ever-morphing buzzwords, codes, and hashtags associated with QAnon.) To effectively combat these horrible crimes, we ask that you avoid QAnon propaganda and instead work with reputable groups that have experience and need support like Children of the Night https://www.childrenofthenight.org/and Apne Aap https://apneaap.org/.
More generally, spiritual seekers are attracted to the idea of hidden and secret knowledge, and the existence of a grand cosmic plan. I firmly believe that this is a byproduct of the Guru culture and needs to be addressed through long-term reform and evolution of our spiritual understanding. We need to learn to balance intuition with critical thinking. Even the yogic scriptures talk about how important it is to discern information. In meditative experiences we can get caught up in images and thoughts that come to us. It is important to take those images and thoughts to pen and paper, then to contemplation, then to the logical mind for processing so we can have grounded vision. Without this process, we can become susceptible to the shadow side of magical thinking that amplifies fear, illusion, and panic.
QAnon also penetrated wellness spaces through anti-vaccination groups and has used the Coronavirus pandemic to spread misinformation and unproven theories presented as scientific fact. Therefore, we must specifically mention fears about vaccine safety and vaccine hesitancy, which are often distinctive from one another along cultural, socioeconomic, and racial lines.
It is healthy and natural to have questions about any medical treatment or procedure, regardless of its origin. If you are concerned about vaccine safety, examine the topic from many points of view to determine what is the right path for you. There are many reasons an individual cannot be vaccinated and those questions can be explored with medical and health practitioners who are grounded in peer-reviewed, scientific research relevant to the area of expertise in question. Vaccine hesitancy is a term most often used to describe the concern and skepticism among BIPOC communities and individuals over medical research and treatments. These communities have trauma from centuries-old exploitation of their bodies as the result of non-consensual government experiments. These also happen to be the communities most devastated by Covid-19.
Taking this context into consideration, it becomes clear that these questions and answers are complex and personal. Generalized promotion or demonization of vaccines or related issues by yoga teachers or wellness practitioners – regardless of personal education, background, or experience – is inappropriate and potentially harmful. We trust in the good faith of people in our community – yet we are painfully aware of the insidious and pervasive reach of QAnon and do not want anyone deliberately or unwittingly sharing these beliefs. Please notify me if you have concerns about any person or experience associated with the community.
We have much healing work to do together on many levels. Our community stands proudly behind discovering truth, children’s rights, women’s rights, and human rights. We believe that taking care of your body, mind and spirit is the most powerful preventative medicine on the planet. We believe that we are all one and that the awakening of our spiritual consciousness is essential for the evolution – and even the preservation – of humanity.
We also firmly oppose using these beliefs to commit any form of gaslighting, exclusion, or “othering.” We stand against spiritual bypass and the Guru culture. We reject the ableism that falsely sells dedication to yoga and wellness practices as perfect cure-alls for every physical, emotional, or mental condition. We endeavor to meet people where they are, not impose upon them where we believe they can or should be. We welcome people from all walks of life to come to a safe place to be heard, seen, and witnessed.
We are a collective that supports each person’s right to make informed decisions about their own bodies, medical care, and health care choices. We stand for social justice, personal and structural accountability, and working to become allies for BIPOC. We believe that education is the key to becoming a cohesive society that bridges gaps in culture, religion, race, socioeconomic backgrounds, and matters of sustainability on the planet. We believe it is imperative that we take the time to source credible information and sound ways of questioning all that we are exposed to in the news and on social media.
I care deeply about the yoga and wellness community and I am concerned about the individual and collective path forward. The Aquarian Age presents us with confusing and challenging times. A spiritual community or individual seeker’s deep desire to understand the complexity of life can make it vulnerable to nefarious influences. I don’t want to see anyone exploited or manipulated by guru culture or an organization that has its roots in white supremacy. Sharing sensational and exploitive posts that promote fear and suspicion only result in separation and elitism. Fear does not lead to freedom. Fear leads to isolation. We learn and grow most effectively in loving, supportive environments. The goal in yoga is to “yoke” or unite. So let’s unite in our commitment to promote a way of thinking and living that is clear-eyed and conscious, not seduced and mystified.
Jennifer Lakhmi Chand Kelly
If you would like to know more about this alarming marriage between alt-right conspiracists and the wellness world you can check out the podcast Conspirituality (available on Spotify, Apple, and other platforms).
You can learn more about peer-reviewed science here. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4975196/
If you are struggling with a friend or family member who you think may be under the influence of QAnon, you are not alone. https://www.huffpost.com/.../children-of-qanon-believers...
For more understanding of QAnon’s cult practices, check out Jim Stewartson on Twitter and his https://www.linkedin.com/company/the-thinkin-project or Steven Hassan’s Freedom of Mind project at https://freedomofmind.com/