What Wellness Means to Me: Seth Herzog

The comedian finds humor in his spiritual quest.
Critic under cover Seth Herzog. Photo: Usha Menard

I feel like the term “wellness” has started to get a bad rap over the years. I’m old enough to remember when that word was only used in terms of looking at your health in fairly new and unconventional ways. But since everyone is trying to extend their life (I mean, their youth) for as long as they can, it gets thrown in with every fad someone thinks they can sell. “OK, If I only drink smoothies made with thorns and rocks with Righteous boost, I should increase my flavonoids.” Or “If I don’t do ayahuasca each month, how am I possibly going to heal my trauma?” Or “I’m intermittent fasting—and I don’t eat anything with the letter R in it.” So now you have to spend countless hours trying to parse out what’s worth your time and effort and what’s just a crock.

Another thing that gets my chakras inflamed is the illusion that folks within the wellness community are open to all viewpoints and energies. Last year, I went to a one-day yoga retreat and the leader opened the first session with an emotional “check-in.” She said it was a safe space, and that any response will be embraced. I decided to be fully vulnerable and tell the group exactly what was on my mind. I let loose about how my kids were driving me crazy and how I was seriously thinking about giving one to my brother to raise, and how our neighbor was making life miserable, and how I mentioned to her “that accidents happen in the building, and she better shut her meat trap.” I found that actually not all responses are embraced. It was suggested to me to head back to the city.

Finally, I appreciate that the only big component of wellness is the one that doesn’t cost any money. Meditation. From what I can tell, you sit quietly and not think about anything for as long as you can stand it. I’ve tried this several times. Here’s about how it goes: “OK, Seth, relax your body, relax your mind. Don’t forget to breathe. And you’re breathing. This is how I’m supposed to breathe? Is there a special way to breathe? Am I doing it? How do I know if I’m doing it wrong? Am I thinking too much? Remember your mantra. What was my mantra? Didn’t that guy with the weird robe give me a mantra? What was the deal with that robe? It was like a woman’s robe, and way too small for him to wear it. Is that the style, or did he just not know? I think he wanted it to be too small. Gross. Anyway, stop thinking. I’m saying ‘Stop thinking’—is that too much thinking? Am I thinking too much? Is there a limit as to how much you can think during meditation, or is any amount allowable or not allowable? What does it feel like to completely clear your brain? And if you’ve done it, how do you know, if you can’t feel it or think about it?” I kicked myself out of meditation, and made myself a thorn and rock smoothie