I read an article at the weekend about the wellness industry. (https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2018/sep/01/wellness-hype-superfoods-yoga-price) I’m as up for a weekly yoga class or guided meditation as the next person, but it seems to me that our ‘wellness’, our health – physical, emotional, mental and spiritual, has become fair game for capitalism. The wellness industry is one more way capitalism screws us over – it is designed to tap into our desires to be healthier, have a better work/life balance, find some spiritual element to our lives, and maybe to live longer (not a goal of mine) and suckers us into buying more things we don’t need. One person mentioned in the article spends £18,000 a year on wellbeing! Another realised that ‘the search for the Instagram lifestyle [posting pictures of perfect poses and healthy smoothies etc] was getting too tiring’ and she actually felt a lot less stressed once she eased off all the wellness activities.
As my father used to say – everything in moderation – there’s far more wisdom in that short phrase than you might think.
The article itself points out towards the end that most of our wellbeing goals and desires can be achieved completely free and without buying anything, simply by applying a bit of common sense – not smoking, drinking in moderation, having a well-balanced diet and taking regular exercise. And if you fancy a yoga class or two a week, why not, but it can also be done at home for free with a YouTube video.
What the article failed to mention though was that a large element of our wellbeing comes for helping others, being kind, altruistic; another element which comes for free. And all these things are encouraged by a Christian lifestyle. At church we are constantly being shown (in obvious or more subtle ways) that we should help others – the stranger in our midst, the poor, the disadvantaged, that we should love ourselves and others, even our enemies. While Jesus may have sometimes gone up the hillside alone to pray – the first century equivalent (for the non-religious) perhaps of having reiki or a massage, or going to a meditation or yoga session, most of the time he was with people – teaching, healing, helping them.
That said, (and as an introvert I speak from the heart!) we do need time alone to refresh and relax, to not always be doing something, but we don’t need to buy that experience – a walk in the park works perfectly. A 60ish year old colleague of mine, told me he’d only recently recognised the benefit of meditation – of the silence to be able to listen for the word of God, rather than the constant prayers of talking to/at God. But he’s only doing it once a week, and it’s free!