Saudade / by Vanessa Fiola

**Not to be defensive, but yesterday I only posted on the FB page. However, the next 9 days I'll be posting 500 words a day here as part of a creative writing challenge. Join the FB group.**


Warning: You are about the read the biggest Get Off My Lawn story since The Pixies got back together.

Tonight I came across an ad, I mean an article, on HuffPost for a new meditation studio that has just opened in Los Angeles. The online photos are stunning: sheepskin throws, ethnic-print zafu cushions, an inviting—if not confusing—hammock pinned across a meditation room. Oh, and t-shirts for sale in the lobby! You meditate, bruh?

Incredulous, I sent the link to Joslyn wondering when paying to go some place and sit for $22 became a thing. Disappointingly, and also one of the reasons I love her, she answered: “I have to say, I’m probably a good candidate for [that]...” But she lives in Utah where meditation isn’t even legal, so.

I googled “meditation studio,” and it turns out The NY Times just wrote an article about this a few days ago. They are popping up in places like LA and NYC and run by recovering Type As and people who now hold titles like, “Chief Spiritual Officer.” An annual pass is over two-thousand dollars. In Los Angeles you can meditate in a room outfitted like a Virgin Airlines flight.

And then, as I continued scrolling through the article and looking at all of the pretty pictures, I felt sad. Not pity, not scorn, just sad. I have taught meditation, too.

There is a Portuguese word, saudades, which describes the particular kind of nostalgia that comes from something that is no longer. I imagine it is what my little boy felt when he would periodically burst into tears for weeks after moving into our new house. “Can we go home?” he would ask me. I think it also describes an industry that I no longer recognize. My own practice has changed so much since the days when I joyfully kept up with the newest yoga studios or the latest kirtan artist. (<-I just admitted that.)

I have watched as yoga asana has shifted into a movement flanked by Instagram challenges and hashtags and a genuine belief that capturing scorpion pose on a set of railroad tracks isn’t ego, so much as an offering of inspiration. I know that this is how things have changed.

Impermanence and non-attachment are at the very core of Buddhist and yogic teachings. I understand these things deeply within my body, in the place where all true things live. Yet, at the intersection of the knowledge that all things pass, and the growing dissonance with a world I am no longer a part of, there is a question which hangs sweetly in the air: why do I care?