A while back, I saw an ad for something called Pranasleep on public television. Yes you read that right – an ad on PBS. The ad begins with a well known yoga teacher, Rodney Yee, asking “what is enlightenment?” This is certainly a compelling question and since it happens at the beginning of a video on PBS, I thought it was an ad for an upcoming show, probably to air during a pledge drive. Nope. It was an ad for Pranasleep which is not a special yoga meditation method or teaching, it’s a mattress!
Yes, a mattress. I was taken aback, to say the least. What is an ad like this doing on PBS? I can understand mentions of donating foundations and companies, of upcoming shows, specials etc. But never a straightforward commercial advertisement for a product. And this one is particularly manipulative. To start with a profound philosophical and spiritual question certainly fit the station and attracts those like me who are interested in such things. But then it degenerates into nothing more than a commercial for a mattress. Shame on everyone involved in it.
I recently came across a link to an article in OM Times, called “What is the Difference Between Mindfulness and Meditation?” I thought this was a pretty compelling title so clicked on the link. It’s a very short article which only talks about mindfulness. Nothing about meditation other than saying it’s not mindfulness. I scrolled down to the bottom to find the section about meditation and was presented with all manner of advertising. Nothing about meditation was written despite the title of the article. And the ads at the bottom were external links to things like “Top 10 Best Stage Dives” and “Avoid These Mistakes When on a Cruise”. I felt cheated and conned into scrolling down to the bottom of the page.
Meditation is a practice of self-discovery and I have no problem with its promotion. Nor do I object to selling things directly related to it such as accessories like Tibetan Bowls, cushions, books, etc. But to use it to sell something as unrelated as a mattress is a classic bait and switch which, in my view is akin to lying. I am especially put off by being manipulated through the use of something as personal as one’s spiritual practice. I wonder how much meditation practice any of the people involved in these commercials actually do.
Certainly, it’s up to the consumer to choose what to buy or not. Freedom of choice is a beautiful thing because it sends a message to advertisers. So I will never buy Pranasleep nor click on any of the ads appearing at OM Times.