Yes, you read that right. Let an application that you downloaded prior to your meditation session tell you when it is time for you to be calmer. Should it be before or after you go to see your boss to ask her/him for a payrise? Or will it be when you are asked to come to your child’s school to talk to his/her teacher on account of an “incident” in which your little Johnny spat on a classmate’s face and called him that word that begins with “c” and has four letters? It has been the third time this term, mind you, so you will need that app badly.
We are in the middle of a boom, apparently. No, not that type of boom, the economic one on which George Osborne so smugly keeps insisting despite a long queue of unemployed people making a racket outside Westminster. I’m talking about mindfulness boom, the next step up from meditation, which was a step up from yoga, which was a step up from... what? Sorry, I lost count.
|Suit is optional|
I am not slagging off yoga or Pilates or meditation or the new kid on the bloc, mindfulness. As I mentioned in my last post before going off on my summer blog-break, I teach Afro-Cuban dance and have incorporated yoga techniques in the last ten years or so to my practice. But I'd be the first one to confess that I have taken the bits from yoga that match my teaching and left the philosophy bits out. In doing this I have copied unintentionally the usual western approach to spiritual practices.
From the hug-a-stranger initiative to alternative relaxation techniques the message is the same: listen to your body, be at one with the world, leave judgments out and accept yourself, your emotions and sensations. Sometimes I find all this to be a lot of baloney, to be honest. Not the act of meditation per se but the marketing side of it. Once again, a discipline which is part of a bigger system whose aim is to live a full, rich spiritual life is diluted and sold piecemeal to an audience always on the lookout for the latest fad.
The downside of this is that people become more docile and “tuned out”. Whatever danger they might pose is cancelled out. For the government this is handy especially in times when the gap between rich and poor is widening up. First it was Mother’sLittle Helper (Valium), now it is meditation. Either way the mantra is the same: you don’t need to change the system, just relax and switch off. It will be all right. Now, hand over the cash and go back to working harder for it, will you?
You know how much I love the UK and London specifically, my home for almost twenty years. But sometimes that love is tested. One of the first traits I learnt about the British personality is that they moan a lot. And that they enjoy doing it in a sort of love/hate way. Sometimes their complaints are justified (anything that involves slagging off Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, is welcomed) but many times my lovely British comrades do not really know how good they have it. Take queues, for instance. I have lost count of the number of times in which someone has said that they hate queuing or that the queue for the cinema was too long (about twenty yards long) or that they had to queue up for a long time ( a quarter of an hour).
My fellow Brits, as a Cuban-born and bred person, I am telling you, you don’t know how lucky you are. Babies have been made in queues in Cuba, I kid you not. Fortunately we have never had a case where the future mother has spent her whole pregnancy in the same queue going from conception to labour and birth. Perhaps someone is already working on that. If only for the Guinness World Records. If it does happen, you will be the first ones to know. In the meantime, stop moaning, queues in the UK are quite well organised, with a system and everybody knows their place most of the time. Remember, if that queue makes you feel a bit tense and despondent, there's always mindfulness to help you out. Enjoy your week.
Next Post: “Killer Opening Songs”, to be published on Wednesday 8th October at 11:59pm (GMT)