Capitalism, van life, and yoga retreats
This post is taken from two separate Instagram posts which seemed to resonate with many of you.
The first one, from Dec. 1, 2021:
LIFE UPDATES!!! 🚐🏜🧗♀️🧘🏼
Zach and I live fully in our van again now, on our land @grandcanyonecoretreat , with lots of desert trips on weekends to stay warm. Off season is treating us well and it’s nice to enjoy the simple things like having more time to cook, practice yoga, even just Netflix and chill.
The permit process for building our tiny house is taking way longer than expected so we may not have a house built until later 2022 at this rate. “Expect delays” was the theme of an impactful astrology reading I had a year ago and so we try to just roll with the punches and have patience. 🔮✨
It feels weird to work within the system of capitalism that we don’t believe in. Could humanity be moving towards a better way? I’m not sure. It creates a lot of cognitive dissonance to work on marketing and selling yoga retreats and nature experiences in order to make money AND help people. I wish the whole stress of making money thing didn’t have to be apart of it. Yet I feel strongly that my dharma in this life is as a grounded teacher who creates accessible experiences for others in the best way possible within our current system. My role is not to defect from society and completely disengage from the economy. (I mean, is that even possible? I guess those who have done it are not on Instagram 🤣) I need people, I need nature, I need community, and I need other perspectives. I’m lucky that I found a way to provide for myself while doing something that I love. Maybe someday capitalism and social media will collapse and we can all just share our gifts without commodifying them, and be present with each other.
For now, I’ll keep sharing thoughts like this and occasionally offering up the adventures we’re planning. RECOVERY SCHOLARSHIPS are often available for retreats as well! ✌🏻(Email us to apply for one)
The second post, from Dec. 2, 2021:
Thanks for all the intelligent discussion on yesterday’s post about capitalism and the commodification of yoga! I’ve been pondering these topics a lot lately as it seems my social media feed is full of yoga retreat leaders or “spiritual coaches” preaching abundance and manifestation with no mention or understanding of the systemic problems that make this abundance difficult or unattainable for people who don’t come from the same level of privilege that they do.
Let me be the first to say, I am privileged AF. I have white privilege, cis het privilege, able body privilege, educated privilege, upper middle class upbringing privilege, all of it! That being said, I’ve also been in a variety of different financial situations as an adult which have taught me a lot about myself and what money means.
Two different times as a result of my addiction in my 20s I lost over $10k in a short time (once a DUI and once losing all my camera gear, which ended up being my rock bottom). That’s a lot to lose for a 20-something server/bartender. I’ve had some money and then spent it all traveling multiple times, which I don’t regret but it did bring stress! I’ve been in 5 figures of credit card debt sometimes. I’ve had savings at other times. Basically, Zach and I haven’t felt secure and safe about having reliable money until the last couple years of running @grandcanyonecoretreat . Having the vacation rental biz is our cash cow, and the only reason we have it is because we were privileged AF to get a loan to buy this land from a family member. What I have learned from all these changes over the years is that MONEY DOES BUY HAPPINESS to some degree. 💰🤑💵💸
They’ve done studies on this proving that you have to be at a certain, moderate level of income in order to feel safe and secure financially, and once you are at that level your mental health and happiness improves. Once you go above that level, up to whatever, up to billionaire status, THERE’S NO CHANGES IN HAPPINESS.
Isn’t that interesting? @ToBeMagnetic , a neuroscience of manifestation teacher who I appreciate (though she is not without her blind spots), backs this up. She teaches that you need to attain a certain level of abundance IN ORDER TO REALIZE THAT HAPPINESS IS AN INSIDE JOB. Once you pass that level you can chase happiness with money all you want, but you’re not going to find it there. There’s a reason we see freakin’ Jeff Bezos going to space on a dick rocket and Donald Trump trying to take over the world. Do you think spending all that money makes them permanently happy? I bet not. There’s a reason the Buddha was a wealthy prince who gave it all up. But, the point of this ramble for us common people, is that people need to have the means to get out of survival mode, attain this meaningful level of security, and then have the financial peace to work on the parts of life that actually matter. “It’s expensive to be poor” because if you’re less than 1 paycheck or 1 unexpected car repair away from homelessness you’re screwed. This is why universal basic income should be a HUMAN RIGHT.
Anyway, these are just some of my thoughts and my experiences that led me to how I feel today. Finally reaching that calm stable place with money did reinforce to me that money is not what it’s about. Nowadays we try to make choices to live simply and sustainably, work less, and make our offerings to the world accessible. I will do everything I can to work for economic justice, empowering others get to that equitable place, since our government isn’t doing jack shit about it.
One of the core principles of yoga philosophy is “aparigraha” or non-hoarding. So if you see yoga teachers preaching ridiculous BS about abundance or charging exorbitant prices they are not practicing or teaching yoga.