January 21, 2019

The Annoyingly Beneficial Wellness Trends of LA

“I pull up to a dusty Palm Springs conference center whose lawn is littered with people doing aerial yoga and energy healing, not to mention a lady who is literally marching to the beat of her own drum as she flails with a bongo. This is Wellspring, a mindfulness festival from Wanderlust (a company in the business of self-actualization events). Wellspring has everything you could want from a “wellness gathering”—free CBD massage, sound baths, a machine emitting blue Back to the Future-like currents that supposedly electrocute your chakras into alignment, flower crowns, meditation intensives, and, of course, Russell Brand. It’s the Coachella of natural highs.

I’m wearing typical conference gear—a nice dress, jewelry, and heels—which is all wrong. I’m the only one not in yoga pants. (Side note: I’ve never seen so many flawless backsides in one place.) For a crowd that values diversity and individuality, they all seem to be pulling from the exact same shelf—it looks like a his-and-hers Lululemon ad.

I part the sea of tanned, chaturanga-chiseled arms and dodge inquiring looks at my attire. Call it jealousy if you will, but I find the perfection radiating out of every pore in this place kind of gut-churning.

Right away I happen upon a meditation circle. For years Hollywood’s depiction of a meditation teacher was an old Asian master with a long white beard at the top of a mountain. The leader of this circle is as far from that guy as you can get. She’s young, blond, gorgeous and knows it. Her history with meditation is shorter than the Bird scooter fad. After reading to us about how today’s alignment of stars might affect our practice, she begins telling us that she wasn’t the nicest in high school. As she goes on, I get the sense that’s an understatement and we’re dealing with a reformed Regina George from Mean Girls. She says she was that way until she was about 19, which, so far as I can tell, was five minutes ago. She leads a mantra meditation, spending the full 15 minutes with a hand over her heart, head tilted dreamily to the side, whispering, “May I forgive myself” over and over again. We all do the same mantra, bringing to mind our own misdeeds—may I forgive myself for not packing yoga pants?—as the kind of music they have at Chinese foot-rub places tinkles in the background.”

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