rituals: spiritual practice on a living room floor (mindy haidle).

We aren’t even halfway through the year and I can honestly say that I LOVE Tuesdays. I love Guest Post Tuesdays, and I love the rituals, and I love the writers and I love the stories we’re exposed to here on be, mama. be. Today’s storyteller – and her words – are no exception, and she also happens to be one of my favorite people on this earth.  So, welcome Mindy back to this space, writer of last year’s “Not Dead Yet,” which still rings true in my ears today.  Enjoy to the greatest degree, enjoy. 

Photo cred: tricsr4kidz, Flickr Creative Commons.
Photo cred: tricsr4kidz, Flickr Creative Commons.

I used to think that truth, ritual and practice were learned from a teacher.  Imparted to you via the institutions of academia or faith, found within the walls of university or church.  Or a yoga studio.  Certainly not via something online.  And absolutely not through the soles of my own feet.  Here’s my story.

I’d been practicing yoga for over a decade when I discovered the appeal of being able to move my body on the mat while never leaving the front door.  I work full time and am a mother and the yoga schedules just never seem to work for me—and they’re damn expensive.

A friend, a fellow yogi, had told me about an online yoga program years ago—as many as five. And it just sounded strange, like how online dating sounds strange to people who got married before the Internet.

You see, I love attending yoga classes. I love any type of class, really. I crave sitting in rapt attention to an expert speak on a topic, listening, asking questions and soaking up every last detail. To glean endless truth and knowledge and understanding—who doesn’t want that?

Yoga classes were an extension of my obsession with school, which was really about receiving teacher feedback, which was really based in my desire for the approval and validation of third party authorities. Whew! There I said it. I wanted the expert to pat me on the head and say, “You are brilliant, Mindy. You are amazing. You are worthy.”

Naturally, when my friend mentioned these online classes, I didn’t get the draw. No feedback from the teacher? No way. Granted, it was a fraction of the cost—rounding in at $18 for an entire month of unlimited yoga contrasted with the $15 per class I would pay at the local studio. Cost benefit aside, my ego couldn’t do it. The external approval was too motivating.

Another two years passed before I’d consider it again.

How I started doing online yoga is less interesting than what happened when I actually did. Suffice to say, my hankering for more consistent yoga in my life coincided with a decrease in our family’s income.

I could no longer avoid online yoga.

Plus there was a two-week, no-strings-attached free trial period! Gotta love the Internet.

That was nearly three years ago and I’ve missed fewer than ten days on the mat since then. Sometimes habits and rituals take years to build. There are others that take hold overnight, start fire immediately and alter the course of your life.

Online yoga was the latter for me.

It was like water in the desert. Like peanut butter on jelly. Like Eric Liddell from the film “Chariots of Fire” saying, “When I run, I feel God’s pleasure.”

Something changed for me when I took my craving for approval out of the classroom, out of someone else’s hands and made it my own. Granted, I still am taking a class from a teacher; they still set the agenda for the class.

But it’s a streaming video, for heaven’s sake! They can’t give me any feedback more than Frank Underwood can tell you he likes your hair. I have to give myself the feedback—that I am enough. That I am strong. That I am showing up in my life. That I am lovable.

So the ritual itself: after my five-year-old son goes to bed around 8 or 9pm, I go put on my yoga clothes or pajamas. It doesn’t honestly matter.

I take out my yoga mat from the closet, put it on the living room carpet and open up my laptop. I go to the site, find a class that matches my time, intensity and mood for the night and start at once. For an hour or twenty or fifteen minutes, I am transported away from my job, piles of laundry and demanding family responsibilities.

No, actually, that’s not what happens.

In those tiny moments—however much I have—I am invited to step deeper into my life, to notice my body and soul. To listen to the sacred temple that is my flesh and blood—spirit embodied in me.

Amidst what feels like an insane life sometimes, I show up in full witness to all of it: I stand or sit or fold and feel it.

I listen to my breath.

The poses help me move the breath around. They remind me that my body and mind and spirit are capable of more than I know. The attention to breath enables me—on a good day—to acknowledge and calm my raging thoughts. Or at least not judge them as harshly.

My daily ritual of yoga is for me. No one else. There are no gold stars. No promises of money. No “A” on the report card.

This I do for my own joy, my own satisfaction. For my own well-being.

My therapist calls this self-care.

I call it heaven.

I do it every day because I don’t know how to be Mindy anymore without it. It’s not a chore. That doesn’t mean it’s always easy or fun.

But it’s single-handedly the best part of my day: over, and over, and over.

And it’s mine.

With my feet on the ground, I learn to feel my own worth, the weight of my soul, my incarnation. 

avatarMindy spends her days interviewing people about their dreams, hopes and disappointments on behalf of large American brands. Sometimes she’s a secret shopper, sometimes she’s sleuthing on the interwebs, but always asking questions, always seeking to know more. Mindy loves to cuddle while listening to classic rock. I know, I know – do you not love this woman, or what?  How did Mindy’s words strike a chord with you?  

One thought on “rituals: spiritual practice on a living room floor (mindy haidle).

  1. This post came at just the right time for me! I had taken a break from Pilates classes (very expensive) and bought a DVD instead. I was yet to make full use of the DVD (read: used it once) but woke the last two mornings feeling tight and ache-y. I knew my body needed some stretching. It was telling me that. I was ignoring it! Anyway, this morning, I got out the DVD again and tried a half hour of the routine. It was great. I couldn’t do all that the woman was doing – but that just made me laugh out loud and then creatively think of ‘modifications’! I also miss the approval of a real-life instructor – but, like you, found that I could give myself some approval (while laughing) if I chose to. Your post is an encouragement to continue in this.

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