The East and the West are inherently different, but are slowly influencing each other in many ways; one of those ways being spiritual.
Eastern influence began to permeate in the 1960s when The Beatles started to follow Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, who founded Transcendental Meditation in India. The Beatles liked his philosophy and eventually communicated that philosophy to the world.
Today, Eastern spiritual ideals like meditation and yoga are starting to become commonplace in the West. Naturally, the West has taken its own spin on these traditional practices and has even formed profitable companies on the basis of improving people’s lives through spiritual connection. There are yoga studios like CorePower Yoga that are more fitness-oriented than spiritual, but still founded on Hatha yoga, originated in India. CorePower Yoga used to have statues of Eastern spiritual leaders, like the Buddha, in its studios, but has since taken them out to encourage a more neutral space.
Other companies have seized the opportunity to monetize a meditation practice; companies like Calm, Insight Timer, and Headspace. These apps offer pre-recorded guided meditations, courses, and soothing music for customers that want to have less stress in their lives. The guided meditations range in duration and difficulty level. Beginners might start out with a shorter, heavily guided meditation; whereas advanced practitioners might partake in a longer, lightly guided meditation. These apps offer subscription models, premium options, and individual courses designed to focus in on a specific area (for example, “How To Be A Compassionate Leader” by Lodro Rinzler is a 7 day course in Insight Timer available exclusively for “Member Plus” members for $59.99/year).
Meditation studios are slowly popping up in major metropolitan areas as well. In 2018, Orange County welcomed its first meditation studio in Newport Beach, CA, MDitate. The space is tranquil, the instructors have years of experience guiding people through a spiritual practice, and the intention is set for healing. Other meditation studios, like The Den or Unplug in Los Angeles, are also capitalizing on the people’s need for stress relief.
As the world becomes increasingly stressful, Westerners are tapping into themselves and realizing the benefits of practices like yoga and meditation. As Westerners demand resources to practice these spiritual modalities, companies are responding with platforms and profit.
Is it wrong to capitalize off of practices rooted in Eastern tradition?
Preethaji and Krishnaji are spiritual leaders in India and recently co-authored The Four Sacred Secrets. In the book, Krishnaji says, “Conventionally, a quest for a transformed state is often associated with hippies or with people who are retired from life. It is assumed to be the zone that only those who are disinterested and disillusioned with life choose to enter. Throughout the ages, a transformed state of consciousness has been pursued as an end in itself, but Preethaji and I make a clear distinction in this regard.” He then goes on to list the substantial accomplishments they have made by being spiritual teachers, including founding 5 global businesses and a meditation app.
Monetizing spiritual practice does not immediately equate to diluting or appropriating Eastern spiritual tradition. In fact, monetizing these spiritual practices have had a great deal of influence in positively expanding Western culture.
Would you still meditate or do yoga if you did not have a studio or an app to guide you? Let us know in the comments!