I’ll be honest. Whenever I encounter a fellow student sipping on a cartoonish green drink in a modern square bottle, I silently wonder how he/she justified the price. I immediately stopped going to a free Bikram yoga class last year after hearing a group next to me discuss their “peace words” that help them get through a particularly difficult pose. You know that one person in class who “really connected” with Thoreau’s “Walden?” Yeah, that’s the person I’m talking about. Trends like juicing, meditation and yoga are hot right now for millennials, which is no surprise considering the brainwashing effect the advertising has on its intended audience.
What you and I may not know about trends like juicing is that it’s been around since 150 BCE. What we now think of as cleansing, though, started becoming popular in the 1990’s when Peter Glickman, a Scientologist – no surprise there – rebranded a diet called The Master Cleanse. The cleanse consists of nothing but lemon juice, cayenne pepper and maple syrup for an entire ten days of your sweet, short life.
Besides the obvious insanity of ignoring natural instincts and starving yourself, what I personally find most irritating about these trends is the cultish effect it has on the young and ignorant. Through various forms of advertising, we are pushed into believing that we’re fat and lazy if we’re not consuming our fruits and veggies in liquid form. If you’re not buying this particular product, they say, society will reject you. And you know what? We buy it – both literally and metaphorically.
Time for more honesty – I’ve tried cleansing. I lasted about half a day before giving into my baser instincts, failing the overpriced course set out for me. As I was munching on my Lays potato chips, I remember feeling like a failure – like I wasn’t as mentally strong as juicists Salma Hayek or Gwyneth Paltrow.
After falling off the bandwagon and deciding to use my teeth again, it didn’t take long for me to laugh at myself for the mistake. I prefer taking a bite of apple over drinking it, running over yoga, reading over meditation. Those aren’t any less healthy for the body, and are certainly more beneficial to my individual wellbeing.
I recently read an article from The New York Times entitled “Can We End the Meditation Madness?” The first line of which reads, “I AM being stalked by meditation evangelists.” Devout followers of these trends are convinced of the benefits, but what exactly are they? A reduction in stress is what we usually hear, but people are unique and thus stress is reduced in many different ways. According to the article, a professor at Brown University Medical School found “numerous cases of traumatic meditation experiences that intensify anxiety, reduce focus and drive, and leave people feeling incapacitated.” People operate differently, and I find myself surprised at the hypocrisy of claiming to be open to differences while simultaneously ignoring their presence.
It’s somewhat surprising and also somewhat ironic that the millennial generation is falling into these supposedly natural habits and popularizing these ancient trends. When our iPhones and Apple laptops come up unfulfilling, we find ourselves purchasing a product that we are told will make our lives more meaningful. So, we turn toward bottled fruits and vegetables that are selling for upward of $10 a pop right after we finish one of our $100 a month guided Bikram yoga class in an effort to be our best selves. We feed our egos, telling ourselves that we’re rejecting technology and getting more in touch with ourselves, all the while grasping onto our cell phones for dear life.