LS writes: “My friend receives a daily meditation from ‘Today’s Gift at Hazelden’. She is a member of Al Anon and I suppose her group suggested the readings. She sent me one of her meditations that particularly touched her. I thought it sounded very New Age. The piece was written by Maxwell Maltz. Is this websight considered to be New Age?”
Hazelden is a well-respected addiction treatment center that treats people of all races and backgrounds who are affected by addiction to alcohol or other drugs. They use a 12-step based model that is essentially the modern standard for addiction treatment and recovery services.
The daily meditations your friend is receiving come from any one of six books that Hazelden uses in the program. For instance, Each Day a New Beginning: Daily Meditations for Women contain quotes from mostly secular sources, such as Agatha Christie, Annie Dillard, Beverly Sils, Helen Keller, Maria Montesori, Adrienne Rich, Katherine Hepurne, Amelia Earhart.
Food for Thought: Daily Meditations for Overeaters is another selection that provides quotes such as the following which is very much in keeping with 12-Step program’s reference to a non-denominational “Higher Power.”
“Alone, we are not perceptive enough to see the truth, nor strong enough to bear it. It is through our Higher Power and the OA fellowship that we are able to become true to the best that is in us. We admit that we have been living falsely, and we turn over our muddled lives so that God may straighten them out. His spirit is truth, and the light of that truth is what we need for our recovery.
“Our Higher Power shows us how to be true step by step, as we are ready to progress. Each day we become more in touch with our real selves and each day our strength increases. Being true sets us free from compulsive overeating and free from the false values, hopes, and expectations, which have inhibited us.”
Today’s Gift: Daily Meditations for Families, which appears to have been the choice of your friend, contains quotes from ancient proverbs, nursery rhymes and cartoon characters, and from figures such as William Blake, Anne Frank, Tillie Olsen, Albert Einstein, Erma Bombeck, M. Scott Peck.
It’s not surprising that your friend would get something that sounds a bit New Agey, such as the Maxwell Maltz quote. (Maltz was a cosmetic surgeon and the author of the self-help classic Psycho-cybernetics.) Chances are, some of the secular sources used in these books may have been influenced by New Age thinking, but Hazelden as an organization does not appear to be promoting the New Age, so I wouldn’t worry too much about one suspicious quote.
From what I can see (from their website, conference brochures, external sources such as news media and professional associations) they are in the business of healing addiction, not in proselytizing.
Send your New Age question to firstname.lastname@example.org