The number of practicing Buddhists in the United States has plummeted following issuance of the health alarm first sounded by the Mayo Clinic's Dr. James Levine that "sitting is the new smoking." Buddhism encourages a daily practice of meditation or "sitting" - and for this reason, millions of health-conscious Americans have now opted to abandon their mindfulness practice.
“I do want a way out of suffering, but I don't want to get cancer!" said former Buddhist Kathleen Reilly of Cambridge, Massachusetts. Kathleen used to greatly appreciate the equanimity and serenity she found by meditating for 45 minutes every morning. "Still, it's just not worth risking my lungs."
Marcus LaBree of Harlem, New York, who'd been about to embark on a month-long silent retreat in Burma when the Mayo clinic issued its warning about sitting, says that he reluctantly arrived at the same conclusion. “It took everything I had to quit smoking three years ago,” Marcus explained. “It's going to be rough to let go of this as well.” He shook his head contemplatively. “But that's what life's all about, I guess - letting go. And suffering.”
He added, “I guess I should've seen this coming. From some of the statues I've seen, the Buddha had quite the gut. Not exactly a model of physical fitness.”
Buddhism is not the only sector that's been negatively affected by the message calling sitting the new smoking; sales of armchairs, couches, and even beanbag chairs have similarly declined. On the plus side, however, sales of convenience foods like energy bars, candy bars and other processed snack foods have skyrocketed as people increasingly seek out foods that they can eat on the go.
“Our food-like snack products are the perfect option for someone who's not sitting around on his you-know-what all day,” boasted Frito-Lay CEO Mark Greco. “If you care about your health, stand up and eat Fritos! We've got you covered.”
Some stalwart Americans, however, have remained unfazed by the health message comparing sitting to smoking. "That's cool," said 23-year-old Blake Gentry of Nashville, Tennessee. "I dig 'em both."