The Should Mindset

I know, I know.

I haven’t written anything in a while.

Truth is, I haven’t done much of any yogic-thinking in a while. I went through a short, yet intense (and apparently very common) yoga backlash.

A protest on all things yoga.

I think it all started when I saw a video of some Playboy bunny girl doing yoga with a (very) suggestive outfit and attitude. The video was not intended for anything other than to make the viewer drool. Ugh.

That really bummed me out, and I started taking a closer look at yoga. Well, western yoga. It all started looking so…commercial. Fake. Just like most everything else on this section of the planet.

8 yoga classes for fifty dollars! Yoga for your dog! Yoga will help you lose weight! Do yoga and you’ll reverse the aging process! 30% off yoga mats! We’ll even throw in a free yoga towel! Yoga if you’re pregnant! Yoga for stress! Get a better ass, do yoga! Don’t eat this! Eat that! Be like this, think like this, do this! Yoga will, without doubt, make your pathetic life a million times better than you could ever imagine!

I thought…what’s next? Yoga-infomercials, hosted by Billy Mays? Yoga Barbie? Is yoga just another thing for rich ass white people?

And worst of all…am I, as an avid yoga practitioner and teacher, perpetuating this pop yoga culture?

Obviously, this idea scares the shit out of me. To think that the nearest and dearest thing to my heart is just another thing to consume is scary and disheartening. This will forever be the Western yogi’s dilemma.

Because of all these doubts and questions, I got stuck in a mental rut, which of course led to a physical rut. Yoga started becoming a chore. I would lay in bed for twenty minutes before getting up in the morning, just thinking to myself…should I do yoga today? Is it really that important? Somehow, I convinced myself for five mornings straight that yoga was all bullshit and that there was no reason for me to be doing it. So, I didn’t practice. For five straight days.

The mental aspect of this rut was the hardest part. Yoga was only the first of many things I considered giving up. Climbing came second. I have been at the same climbing level for years now and I was just sick of it. I thought, maybe I should try a different sport. That’s right…I had these thoughts even about climbing! The thing that I have loved for years and years.

Okay so maybe the word “rut” is an understatement. Maybe “on the brink of giving up everything I really love” is a more accurate description of what happened.

It got worse. This attitude started showing up in all aspects of my life. All of the sudden, I felt like the relationships in my life should for whatever reason be better, more passionate, less difficult to maintain.

What started with doubting yoga turned into doubting, well…everything in life. I think that happens to a lot of people, especially this time of year. At least I hope I’m not alone in that things-should-be-different downward spiral, a vortex that keeps sucking you in.

Because honestly, if you start thinking that way, it is very easy to find flaws and shortcomings in every single thing on this earth. Nothing is perfect.

So I had to stop using a word that I previously thought was an okay word to use, not like “never” or “can’t.” My parents never told me that this word will get your mind into trouble too.

Should. Add that to the list of Don’t Say Me Words. Things should be this way, I should be better at climbing, yoga should be pure and perfect, I should be closer with this person and should love more deeply. I should not have to deal with the shit that I’ve been dealt.

My life should be different.

I catch myself thinking like this a lot, and I catch other people using this word all of the time. Being less than satisfied is all too common, especially is our culture, where we are constantly bombarded with the idea that our lives are pathetic and mundane and stupid and worthless.

Let me just say that this is one rut that I am very glad to be out of. It felt pretty hopeless.

So don’t let yourself get into that vortex. It will suck majorly. Instead, know that this idea that your life is “lacking” as defined by our culture, is where the bullshit lies. Practicing and teaching yoga that discourages the only-for-rich-white-people side of it is all that I can do. Maybe the fact that there is that fake Hollywood aspect of yoga makes it even more special for those of us who want it to be special.

Know that your life and my life is good enough. You don’t need to make a resolution for the new year that somehow promotes the fact that you and your life suck. Vow to stop using the Should Mindset, if that is what you need to to.

It’s all okay. Our ideas of how our lives should be is keeping us from The Good Life, the life we already have.


2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. mai
    Dec 27, 2010 @ 12:02:59


    Good one! I really love your writings, very insightful, thank you!

    I do feel that the word “should” consumes us at times when in reality, it “shouldn’t.” We should allow our minds and relationships to mature naturally, not force it into a state of artificial living. It doesn’t seem to work that way.

    But in any case, bottom line is that life is all good and we are living it everyday. Let’s all be thankful for what we have right under our noses.


  2. Dad
    Dec 29, 2010 @ 16:04:05

    Read books and watch vids of Brene Brown.

    “The Gifts of Imperfection”

    You’re a terrific writer George. Don’t ever stop…


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