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Does stuff purchased at new age shops count as spirituality?

I doubt it.

There are a lot of new age-y or spiritual shops in America. They always smell like incense and usually sell a variety of brightly-colored clothes with beaded, jingly edges. Because we Americans itch for this kind of stuff. Some of like to prove that we’re alternative and Bohemian and that blown glass bong is the best way to prove it. Here’s a list of some of the typical mystical/religious stuff that we’ve appropriated as part of American culture:

-Yoga. I love yoga. I have a bunch of songs about gods that I don’t know on my iTunes. I know some basic things about yoga—chakras, that kind of thing—but for the most part, I like yoga because it makes me more flexible. So many people in this country are like me and love yoga but don’t know anything about it. Message to myself and others, it’s religious, so maybe we should be a bit better informed! I hate the trend of super-aerobic, lose weight/tone your arms, etc…yoga classes that are popping up all over the country. Those are completely against the yoga spirit.

-Indian pajama tops. Pajama tops are those smooth cotton, brightly colored tops that are printed with Indian decorative designs. They hang down to about mid-thigh and usually have two or three buttons on the neck.  If you want to look like a Bohemian hipster, you probably have two or three of these in your closet, to match your scraggly and unwashed hair. They make your waif-like, organic quinoa-fed body look really slammable.

-Incense. I remember the first time I smelled incense. It was in my friend Julie’s sister’s room and I gagged. Like many Americans, she burned 100+ sticks at a time to cover up the smell of pot smoke from wafting into her parents’ noses. Incense really is a nice scent—most of those “air fresheners” are too wimpy for the stench that I’m creating in my place—but can set your original, hand-painted Indian curtains on fire if you’re not careful.

-Tibetan prayer flags. Almost every house that I see in Seattle has a row of these prayer flags across the entry of their door. Come to think of it, everyone I knew in college had a row in their dorm rooms.  Oh, and wait, I have a row in my apartment! I know that the colors probably mean something and one of the pictures on one of the flags is Buddha, but aside from that, I’m lost. They look nice though and the vague sentiment of “prayer flag” makes me want to buy some more.

-Chinese lanterns. I had these all over my bedroom in high school and dorm room in college. Whoops. If you hadn’t noticed, this is really just a self-hating article about all the shit that I buy. Seriously, I really like these and as far as I know, it isn’t terribly offensive to hang them from your bedroom ceiling or outside on your lush, rooftop garden with the wooden terracing and string of twinkly lights. I would suppose. All I have so far are the lanterns.

-Dragon well tea. This tea is really good—strong and delicious. According to the book I’m reading, apparently it’s the best Chinese tea, grown by monks in some regions of China. In the states, a lot of tea shop or dim sum places serve dragon well tea. Dragon well teas are the little balls of leaves that slowly unravel in your tea cup, releasing more and more flavor in each round of tea. It’s delicious.