Getting Your Zen On: Is Consciousness the New Fad?


I stepped into yoga accidentally.

Since I was younger, my scoliosis was something that ranged as a constant reminder for the importance of physical activity. After a few chiropractic visits, I thought I’d look into some (cheaper) alternatives. Yoga naturally became one of the options. At the time, my stable Internet connection and closeness to the local YMCA made it easy to go to a few classes. And surprisingly, I actually liked it. I liked the quiet stability, the natural flexibility I possessed. And of course, my back pain had subsided significantly after daily stretching. I was hooked. I was happy. And most importantly, I was in touch with something beyond just myself – I had tapped into my own consciousness.

But now, it seems like that integrity that I stumbled upon when I first discovered the art is being trivialized. Everywhere I turn, it’s almost like the idea of being a conscious individual is nothing but a joke. Think about it. Magazines are filled with celebrities in garb reminiscent of Woodstock – knitted crop tops and flowing skirts, flowers in their hair. But next to the outfit breakdown is a triple-digit price tag. Music festivals have ditched the nostalgia of enjoying the atmosphere of nostalgia for finding the right Instagram filter. Yoga classes and retreats now come with both a heavy price tag and an overwhelmingly privileged clientele – many a yoga or meditation session leaves me being all too aware of being the only person of color in the room instead of on my own journey.

I try hard to live a conscious lifestyle – I eat little to no meat; I shop locally; I write about social issues and spread awareness to the people I interact with. But while this has become part of my own world view, I can’t help but notice that when I try to share this with other people, I am challenged by the superficial idea of it in the media.

Some people will blame Eat, Pray, Love for the newfound revitalization of the conscious individual, but actually it is well before Liz Gilbert’s adventures in self-discovery that this has become a question of ethics. As a whole, society is questioning the status quo. We see it in the social movements – Civil Rights, marriage equality, Ninety-Nine Percent. We see it with people asking for vegan, gluten-free, non-GMO food to consume. But that is as far as it goes. But is it possible that apathy and following trends, however well meaning, is part of our age now?

For my own life, embracing a conscious lifestyle has made me a more well-rounded individual. And I’m thrilled to not be the only one of my kind. I can go on social networking right now and see other natural-haired Black girls in thrifted clothes doing incredible things – they are running their own businesses, making music, studying abroad. But it is the fear of the real purpose of this movement being lost in the name of popularity that worries me.

I challenge everyone reading this to look at their own lives – what kind of conscious practices do you incorporate? Do you think the growing popularity is a cause for celebration or a sign that it’s on it’s way out?

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