KristiSmithYoga

Relating To "non-Yogis"

9 posts in this topic

I'm wondering how folks on this forum who have really embodied yoga as a way of life manage their (close) relationships with those who do not embrace yoga in the same way? For example, if your interpretation of ahimsa is to be vegan and your partner thinks spending $6/lb for "happy chicken" is beyond crazy, how do you reconcile it while respecting each other's views? Or, if you are serene when financial doom appears imminent, and your partner acts as though the first step to financial independence is to freak out about how screwed you are, how do you respond?

 

I guess I'm wondering how you folks have found balance in your personal lives when you are close to someone who doesn't have a regular yoga practice (or alternative, such as a 12-step program, etc.). Personally, I just remain authentic and don't freak out (about finances) or I eat less meat to keep it affordable (as I won't buy the "unhappy" stuff...). But sometimes this leads to tension because it's interpreted as irresponsibility or lack of acknowledgement of our circumstances. For the record, nothing is dire, but things are far from ideal - it's more about not having enough income to live in absolute alignment with our values.

 

I'm posing this question because I'm guessing that this has come up with at least some of you. Thanks in advance for your responses!

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Wow I love this question so much and am so thankful that you've started this thread! 

 

For the most part, @mrballhoonhands (aka my husband) and I agree on nearly everything, though he does have a tendency to immediately think of the worst case scenario in certain situations (business deals, travel hiccups, etc) whereas I try to always come from a place of yes or believing that things will work out. We're lucky that we both communicate really well and when this happens, we can talk through it and he agrees it's something he needs to work on. When we are disagreeing, we try really hard to use 'I' statements to explain how we're feeling or the thought process behind why we do what we do. 

 

My biggest challenge is other people in my life who don't "get" yoga or my very specific dietary needs and make fun or talk down to me about it. When that happens, I usually just try to remember that everyone is doing the best they know how and their behavior is a reflection of whatever it is they're going through and really has nothing to do with me. Note that I said I *usually* try to remember this :1: ...I'm not always successful. For a very long time (i.e. most of my teens and twenties) I went through life with a chip on my shoulder and was very reactive to situations. I immediately went on the defense for nearly every challenge I was faced with. It's a real crap way to go through life - so emotionally draining and so inconsiderate of others. It was only when I started having physical reactions to stress (my joints would literally enlarge and become extremely painful) that I realized I need to get myself under control and learn to approach things more calmly and not to react. 

 

Looking forward to hearing from others

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For the most part, @mrballhoonhands (aka my husband) and I agree on nearly everything, though he does have a tendency to immediately think of the worst case scenario in certain situations (business deals, travel hiccups, etc) whereas I try to always come from a place of yes or believing that things will work out. 

 

Thanks for responding to this thread, Candace. This so sounds like me and my husband! It sounds like we employ many of the same techniques  :D

 

 

My biggest challenge is other people in my life who don't "get" yoga or my very specific dietary needs and make fun or talk down to me about it. When that happens, I usually just try to remember that everyone is doing the best they know how and their behavior is a reflection of whatever it is they're going through and really has nothing to do with me. Note that I said I *usually* try to remember this :1: ...I'm not always successful. For a very long time (i.e. most of my teens and twenties) I went through life with a chip on my shoulder and was very reactive to situations. I immediately went on the defense for nearly every challenge I was faced with. It's a real crap way to go through life - so emotionally draining and so inconsiderate of others. It was only when I started having physical reactions to stress (my joints would literally enlarge and become extremely painful) that I realized I need to get myself under control and learn to approach things more calmly and not to react. 

 

I used to be vegan many years ago (after having seen undercover footage of a slaughterhouse), and I encountered the same sort of hostility and/or mockery. I wasn't even being preachy! I know some celiacs who encounter the same sort of issues you have to deal with at times. After reading your blog about your struggle with Lyme disease and seeing the pictures of your swollen joints, I can only imagine the frustration...when I struggle with difficult individuals, I remind myself of something the Dalai Lama has said about feeling true compassion (not pity) for all beings. I also am pretty good about realizing that it's not about me. But yeah, it's sometimes hard and it takes awareness to not react  :blink:

 

Finally, I just wanted to mention that I appreciate your authenticity about what you share about your own struggles. Thanks for keeping it real! 

YogaByCandace likes this

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I think as long as both parties maintain respect for each other, it's OK to not share the same values.

 

Overall, I don't think this has anything to do with being a yogi or non-yogi.  There's just a much higher correlation of people who practice yoga who look inward and are consciously working on self-improvement or managing stress.  My husband doesn't do yoga or believe therapy would be useful for him, but he respects that I need those things for myself, and he listens to me to understand me.

 

On a side note, I can speak to the hostility about "gluten-free".  I sincerely feel bad for celiacs because there is a lot of misconception out there that markets gluten as "bad", so I've seen some misinformed people follow gluten-free diets for "health reasons" when they do not have celiac disease.  It's become its own fad diet, so I think that's why there is some hostility. Gluten provides elasticity, so the texture is just not the same when items become gluten-free.

 

Regarding "happy chicken" purchases, my husband and I would always do the cheapest thing possible, but sometimes the quality improvement does make it worth it.  Just do it for the things that matter the most to you (within your budget). For us, it's chicken and eggs.   The price premium is almost 3 times as much as what we used to buy from Costco, but I realized the quality of the meat (less fat, more fresh looking) is better.  It is superior product, so we are trying to buy more sustainable food products when we can and isn't too outrageous.  

 

One funny observation is that a California proposition that mandated chickens to have more space to spread out recently increased all the "cheap" eggs across the board, to almost $2-3 more per dozen (doubling or tripling the previous price).  But all the organic eggs remained the same price - because they weren't affected by the proposition and already met the space requirements.  It makes the decision to buy organic easier when the price premium is smaller, and hopefully prices can normalize and not seem as outrageous as organic practices become more efficient and cheaper.  When we're just baking or scrambling eggs, we can't tell the difference, but when making soft-boiled eggs, the shells are thicker (easier to peel), and the yolks are a richer color.

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My husband and I are strangely very similar but also have different interests as well. He comes to yoga with me, but only once a week. I really cherish that time with him. I'd like to eat less animal products, and my little family of 3 all eat the same meals that I prepare, I presume he'll eat whatever I prepare if it means he doesn't have to cook. I think if we had very different diets we would make our own meals, but I would be a bit sad to be honest that we wouldn't be eating and preparing the same foods together. 

 

Re freakouts etc, I am extremely anxiety prone so can be easily set off in to worry land. I try my hardest to not burden him with my stresses, although sometimes I fail. He tends to be a bit the other way - a bit too easygoing - so maybe it's a bit of healthy yin and yang and we balance each other out :) I freak out so take action, and he calms me down a bit from a total panic attack!

 

As for hobbies we tend to do our own things and that seems to suit us. My parents are much the same - my dad very political and my mum very arty. They've always had almost separate social lives and have been very happily married for 40 odd years. 

 

One thing I'm really craving though is a female friend with similar interests. I have a few friends, but I would really love a girlfriend to do regular yoga classes with, walk the dogs, go to the markets, go shopping together and give each other advice on outfits etc. I'm always envious when I see women out and about together, I haven't had a friendship like that in many years. My friendships tend to include very busy people, people with health issues, or other mothers so it might be a quick meetup once a month or so if I'm lucky.

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I've learned recently that people will ALWAYS have an opinion about you. 

People have commented on my vegetarianism my whole life, and then my tattoos and piercings...and now so my yoga practice.  I just learned that you always gotta just do you :)

Laura, MrBalloonHands, KimK and 3 others like this

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I liked what Candace said about having a chip on her shoulder, because I think I may have that too about some things and I find it incredibly hard to get rid of. I do tend to be optimistic and like to break down bad situations into "little positives". But as someone who used to be a complete people pleaser in my 20s, I now stand up for myself and can sometimes get too defensive in response to criticism. Something I really, really struggle with is criticism of my person life choices, especially if I don't perceive actual concern in their words, just judgement. It's definitely harder to go through life waiting for the next possible slight or insult. Of course it hurts when you realize that people who are close to you judge your choices based on their own prejudices. It has made me selective with the information I disclose about myself.

 

However, I am finding that getting older really does help center yourself and usually puts things into perspective in a healthy way! I would not want to go back to being 20 years old again. I enjoy the sense of self-assuredness that comes with getting older.

AC likes this

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I live with housemates who smoke, drink, and are very messy.   I have found it difficult to establish boundaries with them but that has reinforced the notion that I am powerless over other people.  It can be challenging to deal with a messy house because it should be treated as a sacred space via shaucha.  I should step up to the plate and clean up after them, in theory, but that undermines the equity of each housemate.  Therefore, I am not willing to belittle my ego by cleaning up after my housemates, although my inaction is impeding into my practice off the mat.  I also try not to impose my values upon them, out of respect for differing paradigms.  But I will hastily  make sure that they clean up after themselves immediately if they use any of my belongings or leave stuff on my furniture. Yet if I see unwashed dishes or food laying on their furniture I will not touch it or say anything about it because I do not deem it part of my responsibility despite the fact that we live in the same microenvironment.  For the first month of living with them I would get very bitter about messes but now I try to be more compassionate and understanding.

On the other hand, I used to accompany my housemates while they drank alcoholic beverages and smoked(marijuana/tobacco).  I would be compassionate and nonjudgmental about their substance abuse habits because I used to partake in that lifestyle throughout high school and college.  However, it has recently come to fruition that I do not want to be around that sort of behavior(especially smoking because carbon monoxide restricts oxygen uptake).  Thus, I will sometimes isolate myself in my room to avoid their energy.  This is more so out of discernment for my well being then on judgement For their behavior.  They are not yogi so it is my duty to acknowledge their perspective compassionately.  I do not force yoga philosophy down their throats or tell them how to behave unless they encroach upon my personal boundaries.  I am not trying to say that my outlook is right or wrong, and that you should act accordingly to my current paradigm.  I am just merely sharing about how I personally deal with my non-yogi housemates.  This is for the intention of expressing the microcosm of where I am in my yoga practice. 

 

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Hi @KristiSmithYoga (we met in Skokie, didn't we? I had no idea you lived so close...ANYWAY),

My dad, my mom and I (the three members in my house) tend to have "arguments" over food when I first got lupus. It became apparent really quickly I couldn't eat the same way I used to (this was before yoga) because I would have huge flares. So, when I finally had money for food, we divided food. I buy all of my "uber beyond expensive" food with my money and they buy theirs with their money. Ironically, they found out when they ate cleaner meat that their arthritis and migraines weren't as bad, but because it's so expensive I still buy it.

I approach my life with the attitude of, "Let's make today the best day possible." People diagnosed with Autism weren't given a good prognosis in the 90s which was when I was diagnosed; my parents were told to put me in a sanitarium because I was that hopeless a case. So, when people approach me with that kind of downtrodden, hopeless, "nothing is right with the world" attitude, I take a deep breath and say, "Ma'am/Sir, I could have your attitude, but I'd get nothing done. I would be in my bed, with my pills, contemplating very bad thoughts. Instead, I think about the good things. I woke up and my dog was snoring in my ear, curled around like a donut which I think is beyond cute. I remembered it was Wednesday, horse lesson day! I didn't fall of my horse! That's what gets me through the day."

@YogiRishi Yes about the tattoos! I don't mind if you think they are awesome (because I think they are awesome), but those critical stares and comments. Uuuuuuugh.

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