As someone who practices and teaches yoga, I often parrot the phrase, “Try to find mindfulness in your everyday life.”
I’ve had more than a few people warily shake their head at this, and I can hardly blame them: for many people, the mind/body community has become little more than an industry.
When I ask people to envision the “typical” person in that community, the description I get is overwhelming someone who is thin, Caucasian and has the money and resources to devote to such pursuits.
As one acquaintance put it, “It’s easy to find mindfulness when you don’t have to worry about paying the rent.”
He has a point.
Whereas there is no denying the effects of what I dub Yoga, Inc. and the increased branding of mind/body practices in general, the truth is, these practices are for everyone. I know better than most because I am someone who doesn’t fit the typical stereotype.
When I came to yoga, I did so for the shallowest of reasons: I heard celebrities like Madonna and Sting were into yoga, and I decided to see what the fuss was about. I liked how it transformed my body. For years, I saw it as nothing more than a workout. I proudly boosted that I wasn’t going to drink the Kool-aid and become one of those yoga evangelicals that I avoided like the plague.
Then, however, things happened. Life was happening. In a short period of time—three years to be exact—I got married, had a baby with a developmental delay, found out my father had stage four cancer and returned to school full-time to get my teaching certification. (And those were just some of the highlights. There were many other things which I am choosing not to share.)
Suddenly, life was a lot more stressful and chaotic than usual.
Interestingly, the main thing that got me through it were those lessons that I had heard for years but never gave much serious thought to: namely, living in the moment and seeing life so that the journey was the reward.
I learned that I didn’t have to be “in” my local mind/body community, or even like many of the practitioners to experience the rewards.
As a rule, I keep my personal issues off the mat. I don’t tend to share either the good or the not-so-good things that are going on in my life. I also refrain from mentioning spiritual issues. However, at the risk of sounding a bit conceited, I believe that one of the reasons I have a core group of students is because it’s clear—even without my sharing—that I do not have a perfect life, nor do I have the luxury of jetting off to a top resort when things become rough.
In the end, I am my own best proof that wellness not only works, but is accessible to all who have the desire to tap into it.
Perhaps those reading this will not have to go through as much chaos as I did to find it, but no matter how you get there, I hope you do someday.
Love elephant and want to go steady?
Editor: Rachel Nussbaum