Balance festival. Sounds like my cup of tea. You know, ‘Yogi’ ‘Banker’. That’s what I’m really all about. I have even appeared in London’s leading wellness magazine, ‘Balance‘. Twice. So here I was, all set for it. I tend to thrive in such marquee occasions, like the Yoga Show for example. Why then did I walk out feeling all anxious and depressed? Hmm.. Something’s going on.
Don’t get me wrong. I enjoyed myself there too. I caught up with great guys like Chris James and made some new connections. I met more bankers turned yogis, as usual and other wellness professionals. However, this festival was different to others – it was a wellness festival on steroids. I could’ve been in a nightclub for all I knew, struggling at times to hear people I was talking too, let alone the presenters.
What’s worse, I had the sharp realisation that in order to make it in this world of wellness, it all depends on how many Instagram followers you have. Really? I mean, if you have a full-time job, who has the time for posting 3 or more times a day, copying and pasting 30 or so hashtags in order to improve your number of followers?
Take one example. I was told by one vendor to look at ‘lean lawyer’ as a model Instagram success. When I went on her profile, all I saw was photos of a skinny, attractive girl, with hundreds of likes. All the photos looked the same. A ‘lean lawyer’. Good for this person’s own personal instagram profile but what has this got to do with providing a valuable, successful product? We’ve even been told that to get a slot at some of London’s leading yoga studios, you need to be on Instagram. Big time. Quite frankly, it’s depressing.
Back in the real world….how about ‘bee water’, amino acid charged spring water, “everything free” products, the latest super food no one has ever heard of, or the latest protein powder that well, is of course different from the rest. All of these products crossed my path as I cruised around. Because each of their products is different right – it’s high in “lupine”, they’re cold pressed, less grainy…. blah blah… ok they’ve sold me.
When I challenged one vendor that protein powders are useless unless they are accompanied by fat, he said ‘I haven’t heard of that one’. But he said in reply, that “it’s got this magic ingredient”, so it’s alright. Ok whatever.
Philosopher Yuval Noah Harari, reckons that the rise of wellness is due to mankind not having to worry about disease, war etc.. in short our basic requirements are met as Maslow would say in our hierarchy of needs. What’s more we are living longer, but degenerative diseases are on the rise. There arrives ‘Wellness’ to fill the gap.
But at what cost? Is the pursuit of Wellness all about making money or serving a higher purpose? I heard at the festival that the Wellness industry is worth $3.5 trillion dollars. Wellness travel hundreds of billions. That’s massive. All completely unregulated too. That’s bigger than the pharmaceutical industry. When you think of it like that and all the wacko claims that people are making out there, it’s scary.
Having said that, there’s companies like Snact, which take the ugly, unsold fruits from farmers and turn it into snacks wrapped in a biodegradable, plant-based package. Now that’s a worthy cause! As opposed to many large health food outlets who sell lots of great stuff, like organic nuts and seeds, but they are all wrapped in plastic. I simply won’t buy them now. What’s the point if it’s ‘healthy’ if it trashes the environment too?
I saw on Facebook recently a statistic that there are 6 TRILLION tonnes of plastic on the sea. Probably fake news but we do know that there are dead zones full of plastic the size of medium-sized countries littered around the ocean. It’s disgusting. We say that we are a smart as a race, but when we are literally choking our environment, our ecosystem, our life support to death, we are actually rather stupid.
Wellness, balance etc..all good I say – in the context of rising levels of stress and anxiety, the world needs this stuff, but not at any cost… It needs to feel right and actually be right – not just in the deluded minds of innocent customers, thinking they’ve bought their ticket to longevity and utopia; and most of all, not to the detriment of OUR precious environment as well. Is that too much to ask. PLEASE?