Dirty Socks, McMindfulness, and Yoga
By Kristine Kaoverii Weber | May 27, 2022
Sheesh, what a week.
In addition to personal and family issues needing attention, there’s the war, school shootings, inflation, climate change, baby formula shortages, and a will-it-never-end pandemic to contend with. Which is why mindfulness about my thoughts, feelings, and behaviors seems particularly relevant these days – including mindfulness about showing up for my yoga practice.
But one of the things that gets my tights in a twist about mindfulness is that it’s often touted as an easy solution – as if being mindful that gas prices are higher, politicians are being idiots, and my son’s dirty gym socks litter the floor is going to solve anything. Mindfulness is not a magic eraser for problems and suffering. That’s why it gets labeled McMindfulness – it’s not a quick fix, but it sometimes gets packaged that way.
It is certainly helpful to be mindful – but not in a vacuum – IMHO, mindfulness is useful when it’s contextualized in terms of values.
What’s great about mindfulness when connected to values is that it helps me separate my feelings from how I want to respond. I can notice my teenager’s snarkiness without reacting in a way that I’ll regret in the morning. I can be mindful that I feel completely drained by the senseless violence in the news and take a walk or a media break to chill out. I can be mindful that I am annoyed by the Cadillac that cut me off on the on-ramp, but I really don’t need to flip off all drivers with Florida plates (though some days I really, really want to 🤣).
Mindfulness is useful when it points me back to my values.
If I know what’s important in my life, if I have a sense of deeper meaning and purpose, a sense of the direction I want to go in, and how I want to show up – then mindfulness is a powerful tool. Otherwise, mindfulness is just wheel spinning.
Difficult times require strength, courage, and chutzpah. If we want to get through these times and support others, then we need clarity around values. Who am I, why I’m here, how can I help, and how should I use my limited time? When I work on getting clearer about those things, then I can use mindfulness to guide my thoughts, words, and actions in a positive direction. I can practice separating who I am from how I am feeling and take right action in alignment with my values.
Without this context, mindfulness is like gazing into a mirror but having no clue who you are looking at or what you are looking for.
I’ve found that over the past two years it’s been really easy to wake up feeling pushed. Like I have to run to my phone or computer to make sure there are no fires to put out. But when I mindfully keep my values in the front of my mind, then I can remember when I wake up that my practice is what sets me up for navigating the rest of my day with some amount of sanity.
My practice is my priority because of what it does for me. Everything else can wait. I need to prioritize self-care time so that I can show up and be the person I want to be – mindful that I’m not hurting myself or others. And mindful of all the nine other yamas and niyamas as well.
Getting to my mat helps me remember that regardless of what’s going on around me, I have a sense of meaning, purpose, and identity. Practice also reinforces the idea that my time here on this planet is limited and what I do with that time matters. It reminds me that there are larger forces at work, that I can’t control everything, and that it’s my connection to my higher self that gives me a stable sense of peace, security, and optimism.
When times get tough it’s easy to forgo yoga practice – sometimes I don’t want to feel anything, I just want to make it through another day. But if I apply mindful presence in the moment, I can remember that staying mentally balanced is important for myself and those around me, and that things are manageable.
With the mounting crises in the world I find I have to be even more vigilant about getting to the mat. There’s nothing McDonalds-ish about regular yoga practice – it’s just not quick and easy, it’s time consuming and can be difficult to prioritize. Which is why it’s completely worth the effort.
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Thank-you I really needed this, this morning. Best wishes from New Zealand.
I have been dealing with feelings of guilt when I decide to take time for myself. This blog helps me to understand and believe that I am not shirking my responsibilities or letting anyone down. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. Thank you for being my inspiration.
that’s it Margaret! The opposite, exactly.
Thank you Lyn. I’m missing Aotearoa this week, we’ve been back for one whole year. Hard to believe. I still feel the sea and the mountains in my meditations. I hope we can return soon to the most beautiful edge of the world.
Having lost my beloved partner when he died very suddenly before Christmas and having just had my second hip replacement, now coping alone, it is very easy to lose sight of the point of my life, that sense of what I am here for. You are so right that Mindfulness is the lynchpin to stopping the swirling self-pity. depression and aimlessness which follow since I have not been able to teach my own little yoga classes. Grounding, coming back to values. taking time for Mindfulness so important. Thank you for the reminder.
Thank you so much. This is so timely for me as well.
Glad it resonated with you Michael!
Kristine, you’ve no idea how much I needed to hear this right now. Thank you so so much. 🙏
I’m glad it was helpful Maidi!
Thank you! I love your photo with the cat on the mat! My cat loves it when I do Yoga and I do think cats have a real attitude towards making their relaxation a priority. We can take lessons!
I agree! Adopting a cattitude about practice makes all the difference!
I so appreciate your fun term, “McMindfulness”! Definitely mindfulness needs to be grounded in values – Buddhism, among other things, has the paramis, qualities one is expected to espouse and cultivate, alongside the practice of sati. One could also say that concurrent discernment is part and parcel of mindfulness. Without this moral compass, bare attention can lead someone becoming an accomplished but emotionless killer.
And yes, despite much public opinion to the contrary, yoga is not a simple, vapid experience of occasional feel-good spa holiday. Our gritty, day-to-day practice, come hell or high water is what grounds and sustains us.
I feel incredibly fortunate to have Subtle Yoga Resilience Society as a support to my on-going sadhana.
Absolutely! It is wonderful to share the value of minding and implementing the additional Yamas and Niyamas into our practices, both on and off of the mat. It begins with self and extends to those that surround us and beyond. No easy feat.
Thank you for the beautiful reminder🙏❤️
I started practicing Yoga in 2002. I decided to become a yoga teacher in 2007 because I thought that would help me “show up” and be good for self care. I used to think that was self indulgent. Now I teach Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, sometimes twice on Thursday, twice on Friday, twice every other Saturday and until recently, every Sunday. So now on Sundays I read and practice Yoga Nidra. or read you blogs. So thanks for your inspiration and just being there.
I love this, Kristine. Am feeling the need to plug into your training. As I phase out my counseling practice….my plan is to do yoga and take pictures! Am READY to retire (again)!
that’s beautiful! I hope you enjoy it!