Michele Minehart

words & yoga

Author: Michele Minehart (page 2 of 298)

Promises, promises

My educational background provided me with a public relations mind, so I get it. I know the “felt need” element of selling anything. I realize that often in this world we simply need to give people a reason before they care, specifically before they care enough to take action.

Seeing how this is my training and often a part of my job(s), I regularly hate myself.

The problem with felt-need based promotion is professionals actively work to make you feel like you’re not enough. The entire process is creating a ____-sized hole, which you come to believe can only be filled by what the promotion offers. In order to be enough, you need a faster car, a bigger home, more shiplap, less bodyfat, more probiotics, less plastics, and perfect children.

(My least favorite explanation that advertisers give for you making these purchases: “You deserve it.” While I do think you’re indeed a fantastic person, why do we cling so tightly to this earning-based mentality? But that’s another post.)

An article shared by my teacher’s teacher (My grand-teacher? My upline? I lack the vocabulary here.)  added to this notion, specifically in how this is experienced in the fitness and health industry:

I don’t care about elite performance, but I do care tremendously about living long enough to know my grandchildren. I care deeply about having a solid quality of life and aging gracefully. I want my later years of life to be filled with beautiful memories of close friends and family and not full of doctor visits, endless bottles of pills, and long hospital stays. I want to take long walks on the beach when I’m 80, holding hands with my husband without being afraid of falling down. I want a tribe who cares about that. (-Michael Keeler)

I won’t say we’re all perfect just the way we are. It’s a both/and situation. We are enough, and we have work to do. We’re not finished. And the needs we feel? They’re real. Our humanness means we feel, we think, we grow. It is the nature of the universe to expand, and thus we won’t reach some state of doneness.

You see, many people (myself as one) are not interested in all the shortcuts to meet our actual needs. Six-pack abs are a superficial means of striving for acceptance and worth. Marketers want you to believe that a gorgeous midsection yields likability, but truth be told, I know plenty of people who have a rockin’ bod and are still assholes.

These real needs cannot be solved by a purchase for $49.95. It takes more than the right exercise or pair of pants – it takes time, energy, and a personal investment. These needs are only met with change; a change that happens below the surface of appearance.

I believe the heart of the author’s letter to the fitness industry was saying, I want change. I’m ready to do the work. Please help me. Until any of us get to that point, we’ll just be thinner (and probably poorer) versions of our same self, with the same needs lingering below the surface.

So here’s my disclaimer. Perhaps I’ll include it as fine print on all my “promotional” materials (because, ultimately, somehow, I have to tell you the options I’m offering to help you along the way): my yoga classes, my written ideas and thoughts – they will not change your life. Only you can do that. 

It comes from within, my friends. It’s a well that doesn’t run dry, but only you can do the digging. I’m trying to be the kind of person who can hand you a shovel and bring you a beer, because that’s what I’m looking for as I do my own digging.

Carry on, my friends.

Visit me elsewhere:

Looking in empty places

In John’s gospel (chapter 20), within 2 paragraphs of Mary Magdalene finding an empty tomb, Jesus’ first words to the group of the disciples.

Again Jesus said, “Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.” And with that he breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of anyone, their sins are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven.”

Why in my 37 years of Easter morning services have I never known what specific directions Jesus gave the disciples? I got the “go and make disciples” messages, and the running to the empty grave and even some stories about not recognizing Jesus on the road. Never once did I know that we had this Forgiveness Mandate put upon our lives.

Previous to Jesus’ announcement, forgiving only happened at the Temple. (Remember that passage where the religious leaders accused Jesus of heresy because he forgave the sins of the man on the mat? “Only God can forgive sins,” they yelled.) To achieve forgiveness status, you showed up at the temple with the appropriate size of bird or mammal, along with a tithe (and remember, the Pharisees were tacking on a tenth of mint and thyme because they were High Achievers). You paid your dues for having Psoriasis to the Temple system and moved on about your life.

And what about when you kept having to give and give to the Temple System because bad things kept happening to you? Like when you spent 3 months locked in your house because your 4 small children caught every bug and virus known to the local school system? The message was clear: You’re not blessed. You’re not on God’s good side, so give a little more.

Those without had even less. Unless you count the heaps of guilt and shame they carried around with them.

Jesus’ message of new life: We the People can forgive. You’re not tied to a suffocating system anymore.

God gave the temple as a means to serve the people. God gave processes, not because he needed the smell of burning heifer to create happiness in heaven. God didn’t need another dead dove or spotless ram from your field. God did, however, need people to walk in a sense of freedom.

And in the absence of a system which restored people to fullness of life, Jesus handed the task to the people. Regular old carpenters and farmers and guys who liked to fish on Sunday.

This passage resonated deeply with me, not just because of the weight and the task ahead of us (ahem: me. I cannot tell you the last time I went around sprinkling forgiveness into my conversation. Who am I to forgive you? That shall remain for another blog.)

My circles include plenty of people who have no use for church. And it turns out, Jesus gets that. It’s no secret the way religion can – and has, or does – participate in the power structures of society.

Now, I’ll stand by the local church. And, I know that if there’s any means of forgiveness and restoration coming from these walls, it’s not because God favors the building or the system: it’s because I’ve happened upon a group of people who love God and are participating in the great command of issuing grace to one another from a great bounty of love.

If you’re home on Easter Sunday morning, perhaps feeling a tad guilty for choosing chocolate bunnies and hard boiled eggs over organ hymns or even rock guitar versions of songs of jubilee, then I see you. I get it. And it’s okay. If the system has failed to bring you peace and forgiveness, then that’s the fault of the system. And more accurately, it’s the fault of the people who proclaim a message and then fail to offer it’s generous benefits to everyone.

What we’re all looking for doesn’t come from a system, it comes from The Spirit – which resides in the people. We fail the world when we try to systematize that which can only come from contact with the living God.

I’m walking away from this passage this morning less with a mandate to “invite someone to church” and more to walk alongside those who need to see and hear and know and feel what it is to live in forgiveness and freedom. They will not find what they’re looking for in a church if they cannot find it in the person who invites them.

Visit me elsewhere:

All In

A few things that people who know me well will attest to:

  1. I hate cold and rain. I choose my OSU football game attendance based on these things.
  2. I’m a fair-weather runner. See above.
  3. I love food.

Based on the evidence above, my current state of bliss seems unmerited.

This week I’ve been taking on a seasonal reset, enjoying a mono-diet of kitchari and juice and little else. I even went All In and gave up the coffee and subsequently gave myself the side eye. Can I tell you about the first 2 days of such cleanliness of eating? Misery. Anger. Haze. Tiiiiirrrreeeeeddddd.

I reminded myself that everything is temporary, that I would soon eat foods I love again, and stopped checking Instagram. (Y’all post a lot of food. Please stop.) I ranted to all my closest (and even furthest) friends about my dissatisfaction.

Last night I turned a corner after the last dose of green juice. This morning I was slated to run hills for an upcoming half marathon for which I’m training trying to prevent myself from dying. It was 48°, overcast, and I hate running anything but a straight, flat line. Yet here I was, per my sister’s training instructions, running the same steep hill 10 times.

By hill #3 I was tired. And then, it started to rain. You guys. I hate cold and wet. Instead of quitting, like I wanted to do when denying myself a sandwich, I decided go All In.  To simply be present to each step. Instead of zoning out with daydreams and my music, I tuned into the push/pull action of my hamstrings and quadriceps. I told myself, “it’s just rain.” And eventually, it stopped. Or, I stopped noticing. To me, it’s the same thing.

 “What we discipline is not our “badness” or our “wrongness.” What we discipline is any form of potential escape from reality. In other words, discipline allows us to be right here and connect with the richness of the moment.” – Pema Chodron

I love this new take on discipline; I’m not just training myself to crave better things, though it is a delightful side effect. And I’m not just preparing my body to run faster or farther, although that, too, will come in handy on April 29. The discipline is to bring myself into my body, instead of believing everything my mind tells me, such as “this is hard” or “I’m going to dissipate if I don’t eat something else!”

The food I missed, the ease of flat trails – these are things I use to avoid feeling the moment. They’re familiar and I’m able to live on autopilot while I engage them. But limiting my intake (this week included the media and the social/emotional stimulus as well as food) gave me a chance to process. It had a chance to move through me, and I felt it. I couldn’t numb it with familiarity. And letting it go, working through it instead of around it, provided me new freedom.

I feel really good today. Sore, tired, and a tad hungry – but good. I’ve remembered what it was like to feel. I gifted myself the experience of now, knowing full well that now is fleeting.

This week has become a deeper glimpse into what I’ve meant by, “listen to the inner wisdom of your body.” The discipline goes beyond craving familiar and comforting and into the world of being present to what is real. Right here, right now.

Visit me elsewhere:
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