Monday, September 22, 2008

Breathing through the shitshow that is the economy

Here's a piece from the New York Times offering advice on how to deal with the current economic crisis. Basically it offers the same advice everyone offers right now: Keep calm. (One can only assume the New York Times is speaking to everyone but those people who are losing their homes or jobs, yes?)

Keep calm. That's not what interests me. What's fascinating is the unexpectedly yogic bent. Apparently we're all supposed to make like the yogis and "breathe through it." 

I've been writing a lot over the past few years years about how yoga is being used to sell everything from credit cards to herpes medication, but seeing yoga in the business pages as advice (as opposed to its usual presence in these pages-- as an industry being breathlessly analyzed for its unexpected longevity and frequent reinvention) strikes me as extraordinary. A page has been turned.

As for what's on that page we just turned, how far through the book we are, and what, even, the book is called or about, I cannot tell you. Sort of how I feel about the economic situation. Generally speaking, I'll only read the business pages if there's a story about yoga or the arts in them, or if there's a particularly interesting Enron-esque scandal going on. (I can hear my father sighing in disgust right now, and it's making me feel guilty enough to read this.) What can I say? It's a character flaw, I know.

What I can tell you is that despite my many years of yoga, and the fact that I get what is meant by the analogy and who it's directed at, I still think it's kind of lame to compare the idea of breathing through a difficult yoga pose to the reality of losing your home or job or retirement funds. I think it's lame to say breathe through it when taxpayers are going to be paying for this for the next couple of decades. When our hopes for universal health care, a better education system, improvements to our crumbling infrastructure will likely be shelved while we bail out Wall Street. I think the appropriate response is not to breathe deeply but to freak the fuck out.

Brent Kessel is the man with the yogic take on the crisis, and his shtick is marrying your finances to your spirituality. Um. Speaking of my character flaws: I believe I've already done this, right here

On the other hand, you gotta love this country. So long as people are repackaging the get-rich-and-happy-through-eastern-philosophy bestsellers, the economy can't be doing that badly, right? Suze Orman and Eckhart Tolle, lookout! Now we can get you both in one book. But don't freak out, Suze, Eck. Just breathe through it. 


Kathleen said...

The above is the only real solution.

QT said...

I start telling clients to just "breathe through it" when they get their statements at the end of this month. YIKES!

Hank said...


You're so right. It's nothing short of insanity to deny the complexity of what we're about to undergo to "fix" this mess. I hope you're absolutely sold out at the Re-Bar. I mean let's have people having to sit on each others' laps, with the temperature going up several degrees as people crack up and forget their troubles.