Posts Tagged ‘yoga’

The Cost of Enlightenment.

I guess this is sort of a corollary to yesterday’s post about commodification; talking about the “trend” of “enlightenment” (which is nearly as obnoxious as the trend of “using excessive quote marks,” I apologize). I had tea with a good friend of mine today – we’ve been yoga buddies for a while; first back in Providence at Eyes of the World, which is a very “let the white light enter your navel” kind of place and then here in Boston at Exhale.

I’ve fallen off the wagon with my yoga practice since moving to Boston. And I’ll admit that the main reason for it is my own hang-ups regarding taking classes. Of course, this has no bearing on the fact that I’m not doing any kind of practice at home – other than it’s harder to get into a routine without any sort of accountability and taking classes gets the ball rolling to continue working at home. Anyhow. My hang-ups around yoga in my neighborhood are a bit ridiculous.

Eyes of the World is a yoga studio in a sort of basement type space in an office building. There’s one eensy changing room with hand drawn posterboard signs about your karma and whatnot. It’s just one large-ish room that’s superheated. That’s it. And yet, somehow homey. The vibe is very much about moving your prana around as well as stretching your legs to places where you never imagined a leg could go. I really dig the greater vibrations of the universe, man.

There are many fewer vibrations at Exhale, and part of this is that it caters to a totally different crowd. Nowhere to be seen are the die-hard hippies who haven’t eaten red meat or shaved their body hair since the Reagan administration. No one is going to tell you that their chi feels blocked today, and they really need to work that out with some inverted poses. No, this is the designer yoga mat crowd who shut off their Blackberries two minutes before class begins and whisper about their children’s private school tuitions – sometimes leaving class early to get to a meeting. (PS: HOW CAN YOU DO THIS? Shavasana is just as important as the standing pose flow, if not more so. You have to commit to the class. This is not a drop-in experience.)

And what it ultimately comes down to is this: I live in one of the wealthiest neighborhoods in Boston, making it one of the wealthiest neighborhoods in the US.  It is possible to walk past Cartier on the way from the T to my house (though I usually take a different route which is all of thirty seconds faster).  I see dog walkers and nannies, and very few actual residents. It is not uncommon for me to see hordes of women wearing $20,000 fur coats waiting for someone to pull the Benz around. It boggles my mind. Before living here, I lived in front of a crack den in Providence. Literally. My partner works in finance, and this location is awesome for him as he can walk to work (in the John Hancock Tower, of course). Our apartment is homey and not at all fancy or pretentious, but that is certainly the exception in this neighborhood.

I grew up in a lower middle class family going to a UU Church where I went to Sunday School in a shed. Seriously. I have a really, really hard time putting myself into a spiritual situation with people who earn millions of dollars. I can empathize with the truly poor and remind myself that the screaming Hispanic mothers on the bus to the grocery store back in my working-class neighborhood have Buddha-nature and are on the same cosmic journey and we’re all the same, we’re all floating in the same void.

I can’t seem to do this with the wealthy. I feel an involuntary knee-jerk kind of contempt for people who make regular appointments for spa treatments. I shudder when I see real fur in any situation. Anytime I see a luxury car, my first thought is to how much gas it wastes. And yet, these people are just people. While their problems are “First World Problems,” they’re working through their own karma just as much as everybody else. And I truly, truly have issues with this. That having money somehow inauthenticates the human experience. What kind of effed up reasoning is that?

I suppose it all comes down to the idea of the ascetic as holy and therefore, the inverse must be unholy. And certainly, greed is a corrupting force. But we’ve all got our issues. Just because I’m not greedy doesn’t mean I’m not judgmental and shallow (obviously). My lack of a savings account does not make me any spiritually better than someone with off-shore investments. I may choose to live by the seat of my pants, but the choice to seek a financially secure life is just as valid.

So says I living in an apartment that no way could I afford on my own taking pictures with a camera that also, no way could I have bought it for myself, blogging on a computer that is probably worth more than I am. Oh, I slay me.

Anyhow. I hope to get back into yoga practice this year. I’m looking for a studio in Boston with fewer Blackberry addicts and more white light entering my navel – or at least, some sort of balance.


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