Americans spend billions of dollars each year trying to find different ways to relax. Whether it's a spa-infused vacation, a weekly yoga class, dietary supplements, or even a trip to see the therapist, the public is obsessed with eliminating the stresses of everyday life.
And for good reason.
The world we live in is becoming more and more frenetic. We're all plugged into required accouterments like cell phones, iPods, and global tracking systems. We're also constantly bombarded with visual stimulus. The days of watching a relaxing half hour of the evening news have vanished.
Nowadays you not only get the news, but also a stream of sports updates, a daily stock ticker, the time in every major city of the world, a preview of the next story, and a constant recapitulation of what the person on the screen just said.
To make things even more chaotic, when you go online you're immediately inundated with every global instance of a natural disaster, military coup, or financial institution collapse. Sometimes it just makes you want to yell "STOP!"
This is when the deep breathing exercises come into play and that other part of your brain takes over to request a respite from the chaos. And so you find the things that work for you and begin the difficult task of balancing the pressures and demands of daily life.
Before long, if you're lucky, you'll find a way to harness that inner calmness. The next thing you know, you're reading more books, sleeping better, engaged in healthier relationships, and possibly wearing Birkenstocks. This, my friends, is where the real trouble can start.
If you're not careful, the next stage will have you searching for a cabin off the grid, growing all of your own food, and sitting cross-legged in the center of a candlelit chanting circle. If you or a friend is in danger of falling into this trap, I have an immediate antidote: "Quantum of Solace."