New Age, New England-Style

I spent much of today at the Natural Living Expo, “New England’s largest holistic expo,” according to their website. It was the first of this kind of thing I’ve attended since I left the western half of the United States, and while much of it was as I expected, I noticed a few regional differences.

In the exhibit hall, I met up with the usual cadre of persistent purveyors of various cure-alls and my clothes and hair became (predictably) infused with nag champa. In the workshops, I saw a past-life regression therapist with awesome sideburns and another therapist who asked a volunteer from the audience what issues her stomach wanted them to address today. It wasn’t the first time I’d seen someone ask another person to give voice to a normally nonverbal body part, but it was the first time I’d heard the question asked with a Massachusetts accent.

Aside from the difference in accent, the main differences I saw between this expo and similar events I attended in California were that the one here included less flowing clothing and fewer dreadlocks but more smokers lurking outside the exit doors. And no one once said “namaste” to me, which I found I didn’t really mind that much.

My favorite part of the expo today was the keynote by Marilyn Taylor entitled “‘Crazy Busy’ Cure.” Marilyn is a certified life coach, a licensed massage therapist, and the author of 10 Practices of Personal Sustainability: The Savvy Person’s Guide to Conscious Living. In her talk today Marilyn shared six of the ten practices in the book: listen and cultivate awareness, get clear about what you value, increase sustaining activities (and decrease draining ones), take on projects with a focus on completing them, and work with the natural patterns of your mind (e.g, if you think most clearly in the evening but are foggy in the morning, save your intellectual pursuits for the later hours of the day and do something active during your less lucid time).

I liked her talk, and it came at an opportune time in my life, when I’ve been feeling overwhelmed and trying to find a system for figuring out how to prioritize the different activities in my life and jettison the ones that don’t fit for me right now.  December brings the annual reevaluation of our homeschooling and extracurriculars schedule, and I have high hopes that with awareness and reflection, I can maybe get adequate sleep this winter and spring without dropping all of my responsibilities.

I’m a little scared that my plan to read James Joyce’s Ulysses this December might not fit with this goal, but we’ll see what happens.

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