Live your wisdom

“Live your wisdom” she whispered in that calm soothing voice that yoga instructors and therapists seem to have patented as she bowed to the class, hands clasped in the prayer position above her head.

I had just spent another $23 on a candlelight yoga class in an effort to bring a little zen into my end-of-the-week decompression. I felt good – calm, stretched out, and open.

But what the hell does “open” even mean? And have yoga instructors patented that voice yet? Because in my corner of the, yuppie club, it seems that everything we do to try and live a good life is now a part of someone else’s plan to make money – and be original. The constant quest to be original – and slightly more “zen” and “enlightened” than our neighbor.

But back to the money thing. Have you noticed that all your friends, yoga instructors, acquaintances, coffee shop patrons and lululemon associates are getting online certifications in “wellness.” I googled “online wellness certification” and this is what came up:

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Did you know you could get a degree in “wellness”? Because I didn’t.

But that seems to be the world we are living in. Where friends are using their social media presence to advertise a lifestyle and then they sell the services required to obtain it. In an article that I read, a woman credited her good looks to her “nonalcoholic, mediative, yogic, vegan lifestyle.” And you better believe the article was about her new vegan cookbook.

No longer are we laughing at the pretentiousness of Gwyneth Paltrow’s GOOP because we are all trying to see how many people we can get to subscribe to our own version. (For the record, I’ve always loved Gwyneth and admired her unabashed pretentiousness. At least she recognizes her place of privilege). I have friends selling “wellness” services that include finding a balanced lifestyle, guided meditation, nutrition counseling, and “mental health.”

I’m not meaning to express opposition to the goal of these services – I embrace wellness, attempt to lead a balanced lifestyle, love working out and an occasional meditative yoga class – but I’m merely questioning the saturation of the selling of these services. Who know that selling “wellness” was such competitive business.

Friends are now competing for the “best” yoga trainings, most original blog content, and grappling for the same client networks. What is sold as a way to find “zen” involves as much advertising as Coke, PR as the Ice Bucket Challenge, and authenticity as buying a pink water bottle to support breast cancer research.

In a world of privilege – where we shop at Whole Foods, buy organic, and exhale as we downward dog – we are all attempting to find balance. We want careers that make money and do good. But do we need to pay our friends and “wellness coaches” to find this?

What happened to communities? Friendships? Can’t we all just form a book club, talk about these ideas and then attempt to put them into practice? Why do we need to pay someone who has a blog and is an expert in “balance” in order find this for ourselves?

I believe in therapy, I believe in counseling, mentoring and all sorts of ways that people can help support others in need. I question the expertise of a person on online certification in “wellness” to answer my ongoing questions about purpose, work-life balance, and health. These are questions I need to answer myself, through living.

Once I’ve found that “wisdom” hopefully I’ll live it, not sell it.

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