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OM Comes Home – a look into the big business of today’s spiritual practices

May 23, 2019 | Featured

Last weekend, along with tens of thousands of Americans, I sat in a darkened room with a few hundred strangers and howled at the full moon.  Crystal sound bath notes filled the space, while chanting attendants anointed the gatherers with white chakra markers for greater connection with the spirits.  As I obediently closed my eyes and visualized the corresponding colors of my own energy centers, I couldn’t help but wonder, “How did we all get here?”

Admittedly, I was in Los Angeles, but the entire country has seen a marked spike in events such as Full Moon Circles, energy healing, and crystal therapies. And as much as I would like to point to this as signs of an evolving consciousness, more likely it is the result of twin specific behavioral convergences (as most trends are.) First:  We are a nation that is becoming increasingly highly anxious; and secondly – our youngest cohorts, who drive most trends, are rejecting the traditional panaceas (alcohol) for stress, and are turning instead to a broad array of more metaphysical self-soothing practices.  (Fun fact: Anheuser Busch InBev plans on devoting 20% of their portfolio to non-alcoholic beverages by 2025. http://fortune.com/2018/07/26/anheuser-busch-earnings-non-alcohol-beverages-officer/). We are also seeing massive growth in the CBD industry (another topic for another time) but the larger story is in the rapid and escalating interest in all things spiritual.

Are we more anxious?  Why, yes, we are. American’s anxiety and stress continues to spike at record levels. In fact, according to a poll conducted by The American Psychiatric Association in 2017, nearly two thirds of respondents were “extremely or somewhat anxious about health and safety for themselves and their families and more than a third are more anxious overall than last year.” In 2018, the same poll was repeated. Anxiety was shown to have risen again by another 5 percent.

And, as we attempt to calm down, meditation, yoga and personal forays into the use of crystals and spiritually charged goods are becoming big business.

Practicing meditation to reduce stress is becoming quite mainstream in America. Today, 9.3 million Americans meditate, fueling a $1+ billion industry comprised of meditation studios, books, DVDs, workshops, online courses, websites, apps and supplies. Like the yoga market, which has seen a major increase in the past decade, meditation is experiencing strong growth.  And like the yoga market, with its massive fueling of the athleisure market ($48B and rising), the meditation business is spawning its own brand of retail therapy. Right now, its yoga pants unicorn is the crystal business. It’s big. And it’s growing. Think kale.

While the business of crystals is tricky to quantify in terms of dollar amount, Dennis Tanjeloff, owner of Astro Gallery of Gems in Manhattan, the world’s largest gallery of gems, estimates that the figure hovers in the $1-1.5 billion range. In recent years, Tanjeloff says he’s seen a steadily climbing interest in crystals from consumers of all sectors: fashion, decor, and wellness. And, of course, like most trends, this rapid growth starts with the stars. Countless celebrities rely on crystals and healing stones for their supposed positive benefits:  Miranda Kerr, Kim Kardashian, Katy Perry, Adele, and their stylists, trainers and designers are all self-professed stone carriers. As the mind-body-soul movement that’s taken hold of our zeitgeist continues to explode, crystals seem to be the most accessible – and most visible – proof point of one’s spiritual awakening. From the crystal-lined floors at fitness guru Taryn Toomey’s New York studio, to gem-infused water carafes, to crystal subscription services — not to mention all the ubiquitous bowls of small polished stones set out as impulse buys at popular retailers such as Free People — crystals are the new “It” item.

Kim Kardashian’s 2017 line of KKW Crystal Gardenia fragrances, based on the ‘healing power of crystals’, sold over $10MM dollars in product on the day they launched. Part of this is KKW’s massive social influence, but a lot of her sales may have benefitted from the 40% increase in Google searches for “crystal healing” in the last four years.  “Crystal shops near me” queries have spiked 35% since 2013, and to that end, a multitude of new crystal retail outlets have opened up across the country. Even Target sells the rocks. Buoyed by the public’s increasing appetite for all things wellness and alternative medicine, the crystal fixation has infiltrated giant industries like beauty, interior decor, and everyday home goods. Beyond fragrance and simple crystal displays, consumers are looking to infuse all the things that they touch, and that touch them  – with the healing – and perhaps more importantly – the protective powers of minerals.

We spoke with Lisa Silvera, an LA based life coach and artisan about the booming market for her custom-made Shibori textile creations. Silvera became fascinated with the ancient art of Shibori, which is a centuries old Japanese method of tie-dye. She has since taken this art form one step deeper, and infuses each item she makes with both a clear intention as well as the power of healing crystals. Each batch of her home made vegan dyes are infused with specific crystals to imbue the final creation with distinct and palpable energies. Her clients – both individuals seeking custom home textiles to corporate brands like Shiseido, are looking for that added element of energetic amplification that comes from working with the stones.

Kim Kamilla, a well known Hollywood psychic, has recently seen her work move into home design and is finding herself in high demand as an ‘architectural visionary.’  With a tagline of “Ancient wisdom for modern living” Kim believes the rise of interest in this work is a natural outgrowth of the toxic moment in which we live. Kamilla believes that during this time of high stress and deep anxiety, people are looking to develop a stronger spiritual support system for themselves, and that this must begin in the home.  Marie Kondo-ing was the first step – the clearing of clutter. The next step is to work with a specialist to create a high vibration sanctuary that allows for personal and deep self –actualization. Kamilla is booked out months in advance by both individuals and corporations looking to this ‘next generation feng shui’ to better align their teams, and to bring out their best thinking.

Colleen McCann, the fashion and creative set’s favorite mystic source, calls her crystal prescriptions ‘stone medicine’ and believes everyone can benefit from their use. In an interview with Fashionista, McCann states that she firmly believes crystals can “help people get back on track.” The practice of just sitting down and touching an element that comes from the earth, she says, produces a positive, calming effect. And she believes that this business will keep booming. “What we’re doing right now as a people isn’t working,” she says. Our fraught political climate, work overload, and tech dependency is leaving people “sad, scared, or nervous.” The physical world doesn’t hold the same answers as the meta-physical. And so we reach.

Trends to watch in the ever-growing energetic healing market?  Look at in-home salt saunas, infra-red blankets for home use, CBD massage oils for infants, and ‘Hay-bathing’. (Yup – hay bathing…. It’s a thing.) As reported by the trend source, WGSN, hay bathing is “an ancient tradition in Austria dating back more than 200 years. Hay bathing came to light as locals noticed the benefit of hay as a source of pain relief and energizer for the body, as experienced by farmers who slept in it. Treatments use fermented alpine hay, combined with healing herbs such as arnica, heather and thyme, which are full of essential oils.” It also describes a specific treatment offered at the Hotel Heubad Spa in northern Italy, in which spa-goers are wrapped in steaming hot “fatty” alpine hay made from 40 different types of grasses and flowers for 20 minutes. This treatment is said to rejuvenate the immune system, ease muscle pains and improve circulation in the body.

What is so interesting in all of this is that as ‘New Age-y’ as these behaviors sound, they actually represent an embrace of ancient wisdoms and atavistic practices from centuries ago. Today’s modern seeker no longer believes in ‘the next big thing’.  Rather, we seem to be searching for nature based rituals and remedies created by ancient societies to correlate with a deep connection to the universe. Right now, we seem scared and lost, and those very institutions we created to protect us: from government, to religion, to corporate hierarchies, have instead crumbled into clay. Perhaps we no longer trust what man has made, and now look to put our hope in higher hands. Whatever the reason, we do know this: today’s consumer is seeking a higher road, and smart businesses will be watching to make sure that this road is paved in gold.

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