How to Be a New Age Freak on a Budget

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Confession: I’m one spiritual lady.  As a vegetarian/proud Leo-with-a-Leo-rising/Berkeley girl whose step-mom is a psychic, I’ve downward-dogged with the best of ‘em.  When I’m not frantically phoning my second mom to find out why that Scorpio I went out with hasn’t called, I’m reading about 2012, attempting to understand Qigong, or trying to scrape up enough cash to build my healing crystal collection.  You see, the problem is in that last part– being a New Age freak can get pricey.  What you save in not shampooing your hair, you make up for in yoga classes, macrobiotic food, and trips to the Mayan Ruins.  Because of this, I’ve had to be resourceful when infusing some Berzerkeley living into my Brooklyn existence.  Luckily, I’ve discovered a few ways to get Zen without getting financially zonked.

First of all, I try to nama-stay away from expensive yoga classes.  Even cheap sessions can run about $12 a pop, which really takes a chunk out of my healing crystal savings.  Instead, I sweat it out in a crowded room of college students at Yoga to the People (ignore the pathetic fact that, at 25, I am on the same level of brokeness as people who sleep in dorm bunk beds, under Che posters purchased at the campus bookstore).  Yoga to the People has saved my sanity, as well as my mildly-scoliotic posture.  Sure, it’s mat-to-mat crowded, but the instructors are really good, and you can’t beat the price because it’s donation-based.  Besides, peace comes from within, so who cares if your neighbor’s sweat might drip onto your mat (that is gross, but we all have different thresholds when it comes to other people’s bodily fluids, right?)?  Get close; make a new pal!

Two bits of advice when attending discount yoga– first, arrive early.  Like I said, these classes are popular so it can be tough to claim a spot.  Secondly, do not sit next to a couple.  I made this mistake once, and it was the most uncomfortable misstep I’ve made since I tried to fit into size zero snakeskin pants for my Sonny Bono Halloween costume and had to lay on my bed to get the zipper up.  Like my giant snakeskin wedgie, hearing a sweaty couple giggle and moan as they Happy Baby-ed three inches away from me just seemed like something better left behind closed doors.  The worst part was the post-yoga cuddling, in which, red-faced and exhilarated, they talked about their biggest fears/daddy issues/hopes and dreams, while spooning.

Sometimes, I simply need to clear my mind, so I’ll check out the local Ashram for free meditation classes.  Sitting in a room full of ponytailed white men with names like “Sunshine” or “Devendra” has really helped me through some trying times, such as when I thought that I wanted to be the next Kathy Griffin.  My fast-paced, “City Girl” (ugh) lifestyle can be mentally overwhelming, and I can only truly calm myself when I am forced to sit in silence and listen to “Devendra” chant about inner light.  Laugh if you want, but in all seriousness– meditation is some good stuff and you should try it– it’s free, so what can it hurt?

If you’re not into structured meditation classes, try to find a “Happy Place,” somewhere you can go to think about life.  My happy place is the dog park, because nothing brings me greater joy than Man’s Best Friend.  Amidst the flamboyant Brussels Griffons, goofy Goldens, and bitchy Poodle-mixes humping each other in the corner, I find my bliss.  Other Happy Place suggestions include: rooftops, Central Park, the beach, or that dive bar down the street with the wise, old drunk who reminds you of Father Time.

When I can’t calm my internal craziness, I seek spiritual guidance in a horoscope or psychic reading.  Not everyone is lucky enough to have a clairvoyant family member like me, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t take a DIY peek at the future.  Buy a pack of tarot cards or a palm reading book, and teach yourself the tricks of the trade.  Another option is to pick up a new psychic friend at your meditation class (guaranteed at least one is a total Miss Cleo), and probe them about your destiny.  I did this with my friend Orion, and loved it when he said things like, “You have a lot of wooden furniture.  It’s because you’re a Fire sign, and a fiery personality.”  New Age friends love to make philosophical observations like that.

With free yoga, free meditation classes, tarot cards, and a personal astrologer, you’re all set for your foray into broke-ass New Agedness.  Being in-tune with your spiritual self is badass, and more so when you save enough bucks to buy a trip to the Yucatan or a night out at the bar with Father Time.  To all of the Yoga to the People instructors, the “Devendra”s, the Brussels Griffons, and the Orions who have made my being a New Age freak on a budget possible– I (Sun) salute you.

Photo credit: New York Times

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Carrie Laven - Pretty Penniless

Carrie Laven - Pretty Penniless

Carrie Laven is a natural-born storyteller from California, but she
lives in New York now. She likes dogs, nail art, and Mexican food,
but mostly she likes scoring sweet deals at thrift stores. She tends
to have a flair for the dramatic.