Episode 14: Finding Mindfulness through Trends & Pop Culture | Paths

In this episode of Becoming Mindful, Maria and Jackie explore another pathway to a mindfulness journey. Trends and pop culture are often a path for people to try mindfulness practices. Can this pathway lead to deep experience? Listen now. 

Follow the conversation on our social media and let us know how mindfulness has played a part on your journey!

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Show Notes & Links

Check out: Embrace Yoga’s Roots by Susanna Barkataki


E14 – Path to Mindfulness – Trends & Popculture

Maria: Hello and welcome to the Becoming Mindful Podcast. This episode we are continuing our series of paths to mindfulness, and today we want to talk about the path through pop culture and trends.

Maria: I am Maria

Jackie: and I am Jackie, and we are becoming mindful.

Maria: We haven’t done a check-in since a couple episodes ago because last time we had our interview.

Jackie: Let’s do a check-in. How are you doing, Maria? How’s your practices?

Maria: I think, pretty well. I think after the interview with Deborah Eden Tull and after reading her book, there’s been a lot more focus with mindfulness practices and I’ve done some of her exercises.

Maria: I was trying to revive some of the things that had fallen off a little bit, like a daily meditation and just in general some mindfulness practices.

Maria: How about you?

Jackie: I think that interview in our last episode really helped me kind of recenter. But I have a new baby, so I’m finding that it’s hard to find the designated time to sit down and do it.

Jackie: So, I’ve been finding little pockets throughout the day that I can do. Some breathwork or do a really short meditation. When I was at the peak of my meditation practice, I was meditating for a long time, and it was hard for me to kind of get over the fact that I don’t have that much time to set aside anymore.

Jackie: So, five minutes, three minutes, it’s fine. That’s better than nothing. So, I’ve been doing that and then I’ve also been journaling a lot, which has been helping as well. And actually too, the changing of the season because fall is so beautiful. I’ve noticed myself just taking a few moments and just looking at the colors and trying to soak it up while it’s still here before we hit winter.

Jackie: It’s going well, I think.

Maria: That’s great. Good to hear. Obviously, there’s a lot of changes when you have a new baby and then your practice needs to change too.

Jackie: Absolutely. Everything changes. And that’s kind of the thing I always thought, it would be like a linear progression where I would just get better at it or I don’t know, it would just go up and become more of a pro at it. But life throws different wrenches and I’m trying to be okay with adjusting my expectations in myself, I guess.

Maria: And sometimes just doing the practice and being more mindful brings you also to an understanding that it really isn’t something that you become an expert in. And that’s not really the goal anyways. The more you know, the more you know that you don’t know anything. How was that?

Jackie: Yep. Exactly. And you meet yourself where you’re at. You’re at different points all through your life. So, it’s never the same practice.

Maria: Exactly. It’s always something new and fresh and there’s always more room to expand, for sure.

Jackie: And that’s refreshing too. It’s kind of the cool part. You just always have to stay open and curious and let it be whatever it is in the moment.

Maria: Exactly.

Maria: Okay. Let’s dive into this path.

Jackie: I’m really excited to talk about this one because we’re talking about pop culture and trends that lead us to mindfulness, and I think this is how a lot of people find it.

Maria: And I would definitely say for me it was also part of my path.

Maria: Besides parenting being the main driver, but I think it definitely played a big role for my path into mindfulness as well. And it’s very interesting looking back on that at this point. And it’s probably going to be, again, different once we are a few more years into this.

Jackie: Oh, for sure.

Maria: So, let’s talk about it. What is this path through pop culture and trends? How does this path look for people?

Jackie: I think there’s a lot of ways since there’s so many different ways to practice mindfulness. I know from my personal experience; I have experience with yoga as a mindfulness practice.

Jackie: And a lot of people get into yoga because of trends or popular culture especially with social media. A lot of social media has things like yoga poses or yoga retreats in Bali or something. Those can be really enticing, and they can get you to start a mindfulness practice. Although maybe you don’t know you’re starting a mindfulness practice, but it might get you in the door to a yoga class.

Maria: Right.

Maria: And I would say meditation, in combination with that too, that’s really a big thing nowadays. We have a lot of apps that have mindfulness sessions or some sort of curriculum around mindfulness and meditation. And you see a lot out there specifically as you said on social media. It’s everywhere now.

Jackie: For sure. Social media has a lot of those challenges and things too. When I first got into yoga, the hashtag #yogaeverydamnday was a really popular thing where people were trying to have a consistent practice every single day.

Jackie: But it was more of a social media thing. And people post pictures with their practice every single day. I mean, If that gets you on your mat every day that’s something. But I think it drove a lot of people into yoga and mindfulness practices. And especially on Instagram, just seeing what other people are doing and getting inspired by that I think draws a lot of people into these practices.

Jackie: Oh, you know what? I always see mantras or quotes that people share on social media that can be a way to get introduced to some of these people and these practices and that kind of a thing.

Maria: I feel like this is also something that has just become more and more popular in a corporate environment as well. As something of like a mental health support that is offered by employers and even different software, if you think of something like Microsoft Teams, they have elements in there that are mindfulness or meditation related now.

Jackie: Oh, they do?

Maria: Mm-hmm.

Jackie: Oh, I haven’t used teams in a while. Well, that’s pretty cool. I think also with the introduction of your smart watches and things like that. You’ve got your steps every day, but there’s also meditation apps on there. And things like that are becoming more popular.

Jackie: I had a meditation app on my smart watch. I think, and there’s a ton of apps out there now that you can use as well.

Maria: So I would say in the last maybe five to 10 years, right? It’s become pretty big. And the question is also: Why is that?

Maria: Because what’s the trigger here? It’s not the first time that this has become a trend. Right? We’ve seen this in history becoming a trend. If you think about the sixties or seventies, there was a lot of activity around that. I would say.

Jackie: A lot of Eastern spirituality especially was coming over to the west at that time. Just getting introduced to it.

Maria: Just one of the things that came to my mind was the Beatles traveling to India and spending time there and all the sit-ins that John Lennon and Yoko Ono had. I think a lot of musicians specifically. That was a very popular movement. If you think about in the seventies, late sixties, early seventies with the hippies and there was a lot around that.

Jackie: A lot of expand your mind and getting back to nature. I think their kind of a consciousness revolution happening.

Maria: Mm-hmm. And now I think there’s also a lot of emphasis on things like sustainability and slow living.

Jackie: Yeah. Environmentalism.

Maria: Yeah. That are more related to things like climate change and kind of a more anti-capitalist mindset. Anti-consumerism mindset.

Jackie: Not to mention everything that happened with the pandemic, and everyone was forced to slow down and reflect on how we’re interacting with people and how we can foster relationships, and how we treat our health, and mindful hand washing. And it kind of spurred a lot of things.

Maria: And, looking at some of the things we’ve talked about with stress and burnout and work life balance. People are more interested in the mental health side of things and self-improvement. I think that gave way to this becoming very popular.

Jackie: I was so surprised. When the pandemic hit, and people were slowed down and kind of reflected on all that. And there was what they coined the great resignation and so many people reevaluated their work life balance and decided to change careers or make a big change in their life.

Maria: Exactly. It’s interesting to see that become more serious too. Because I think in a lot of ways it was looked down upon in the beginning of the trend. People doing yoga or something. That was kind of like, okay, they’re little out there or something.

Jackie: Oh, kind of woo woo.

Maria: Mm-hmm.

Maria: Now, it’s almost like a standard practice. Like it’s not something unusual anymore that people do yoga, or the do meditation and you also see a lot more yoga studios. And as we said with all those apps and so on the validity of all of that has been accepted more in society, I think.

Jackie: Yeah, there’s like a credibility or something. And I’m not sure how it got to that point, but I think maybe it’s the commercialization of it. Cuz that’s kind of the way our culture sees things more seriously. Yoga studios as an actual business. It’s more of a career kind of a thing. It’s a level of acceptance in our culture, I guess. Not that that’s a good thing or a bad thing. I think that’s debatable, but we’ve found ways to assimilate it into our culture.

Jackie: So that brings up the question then, if you get into mindfulness through these trendy paths, can that become a serious practice for you? Can you really get into mindfulness from there, become more mindful?

Maria: Right? Are you really being mindful or are you just following kind of an outward action that is to have a certain image or a certain status? So it’s more of a class thing again . What’s socially acceptable and what’s looked well upon. Versus the actual meaning behind it or what it really means to you. And I think that’s a serious question because, I think it is a struggle to come from a path that is more of a ego driven path to the actual core of mindfulness because it does seem very contradicting, right?

Jackie: Sure. Because you’re talking about things that feed the ego, and mindfulness is more about deconstructing the ego and kind of taming it, I guess.

Jackie: So it’s definitely a leap to go from that ego feeding mindfulness practice to a deeper practice that involves some of the things that we’ve talked about, like really diving deep into yourself and doing the personal work and the shadow work, right?

Maria: Mm-hmm. I don’t necessarily think that it impossible. It seems like it’s the opposite of what mindfulness is about. I think it is still a valid path, especially thinking from my own experience and I’m assuming from yours as well. Partially, we were also entering mindfulness from that angle, from a westernized, ego driven viewpoint.

Jackie: Right. And myself as well. When I first started meditating, I wasn’t looking for a spiritual practice or really anything deeper, I guess. I kind of just wanted to manage my stress and all those kinds of surface level things. But then you get into the practice and it kind of took me by surprise, the benefits that it gave me. And it kind of took me down that path.

Jackie: Since I took my practice seriously it just took me down that path anyway. To go a little bit deeper and then you want to go a little bit deeper and a little deeper and kind of the dominoes fall and at least for me. Maybe I got into it for, more superficial reasons, but then it kind of takes over. And if you let it and you’re open to it and you’re curious, and you commit to the practice, then you’re going to get the benefits from it anyway.

Jackie: I remember when I started meditating, I got Mala beads for instance, and I got them because I saw their meditators wearing them and then I learned how to use them to count the beads when I’m meditating. And it helped me meditate. But in all honesty, looking back on it, that was much more cultural appropriation than anything else. I was kind of just wearing these beads because, I saw other meditators wearing them.

Jackie: And I’ve learned since then that, there’s much more meaning behind it that I wasn’t being sensitive to. But it helped me meditate and it helped me remember to meditate. And so, I don’t think it was all bad. I was just doing it for the trendiness, but it got me meditating.

Maria: Right. Exactly. It’s kind of like, you know, you pick some sort of identity that you aspire to and somehow, if you let it, you can go through these doors and go deeper. It is a very entry level, surface level thing, but that allows you to explore more.

Maria: And talking about these beads, there are a few things that I can think of too, where it’s really not about the practice, but it’s about the image. It is a form of cultural appropriation. Right? If you think about the different Buddhist symbols that have been used, or just words, specific practices.

Maria: Yoga itself I think is kind of controversial in that way, I would say.

Jackie: Something that mostly yoga teachers that I’ve worked with, struggle with is honoring tradition of yoga and where it comes from and the whole practice.

Jackie: And so, it’s something that, definitely as a yoga teacher, I try to do. There’s a lot of ways that you can do it. For instance, I’ve got this book. Embracing Yoga’s roots by Susanna Barkataki and it’s all about the roots of yoga and how to not appropriate the practice. It’s a really great book if you want to learn about cultural appropriation, about anything.

Jackie: It’s specifically about yoga, but you can really extrapolate it to anything. But anyway, there’s a bunch of suggestions in there on how to honor the practice and still do it. Yoga might be a trendy thing to do, but some of the things that she suggests doing to get to that deeper level is to do things like doing an honoring practice in the beginning of class where you honor the land that you’re on and the original Native Americans who inhabited the land. You can also do things like honor your lineage or the lineage of your teachers. So that’s a way to bring people a little bit deeper.

Jackie: I just think as teachers or as the people who are sharing practices, even if you’re just sharing on Instagram or TikTok, you can be a part of the trend if you can then add in those other layers and help people go a little bit deeper and have a little bit more appreciation along with it. Maybe that’s a way to balance that trendiness versus a really serious practice or honoring the roots.

Maria: I think there’s also a lot of ways where you can do mindfulness practices that are maybe a little bit more appropriate for your own heritage.

Maria: There’s obviously a difference between, what is open versus closed, and I know a lot of these meditation and yoga practices that come from the realm of India and so on, oftentimes, they wanted to share them.

Maria: So, there’s maybe some differentiation needed as well of what is there to be shared with other cultures and what is not. Right? And what is more sacred and what is open for everyone. And every culture has things like that. If you think about some of the Native American practices that are definitely not for everyone and that they are not supposed to be done by anyone other than with that heritage. So, I think that’s a good way to start. Inform yourself and make that distinction and then maybe pick things that are okay to share. It might also be a good segue way into reconnecting with your own heritage.

Maria: Especially as a white person That connection is mostly not there anymore, right? By virtue of whiteness, you lose that connection. And that could be something to look into too because there’s definitely a lot of meditation practices in every culture.

Maria: We’ve talked about this in episode two before that there is a lot of meditation and different mindfulness practices that you could re-explore from your own heritage. Things like Celtic practices that are meditation practices like their breath prayer.

Maria: There’s even Christian contemplation practices, but you have all sorts of different ways to do that. And some things, as I said, can be practices that are open and that are shared and that are secular and not related to a specific religion or a specific culture. Things like walking meditation, I would not consider as appropriating anything.

Jackie: Sure, I mean It’s all a judgment call, I guess. You just need to be aware of what you’re doing. It’s easy to jump on the Wim Hof bandwagon or something.

Jackie: But really understanding where these practices come from and being respectful to that. If you can find practices that come from your own heritage, I think that’s really amazing and you’re going to get so much out of that. And you can share it with your family and with the people around you.

Jackie: But when you’re borrowing from other cultures, I think there’s something to be said for those practices that they’re willing to share. And if they help you, just understanding what they’re about and what they mean to the culture and how they came about. And then making sure to be respectful that when you practice it, or especially if you teach it.

Maria: Right. Just like, if you’re getting to know someone, like a friend you want to understand who they are, right? And you need to be respectful of that as well. So you can look at it like that.

Maria: Getting to know the practice, getting to know the background of the practice, where does it come from, and the people that it comes from and understanding whether or not there could be some appropriation there or not. As you said, there’s no black and white, there’s a gray zone. You not always can clearly say what is what. But I think it is important to at least attempt to find out. Right?

Jackie: And I think if you want it to take you down a serious path of mindfulness too, understanding the roots of the practice is going to help to get you there because you could just post, yourself chanting mantras or something on, on Instagram.

Jackie: But if you understand where those come from and their meeting is behind them, that’s going to help you to get to that deeper level, get to that inner work, get to you. Starting to chisel away at those, the mm-hmm, the shadow work, I guess, and that’s where it’s really a mindfulness practice versus a trend, I guess, right?

Maria: And in the end, if you, if you think about it, that practice is really, with yourself as well. Mm-hmm. So realistically, if you are looking for that connection and that deepness, it doesn’t really matter what you’re chanting, right? So, you don’t have to appropriate something.

Maria: You can also decide to evolve it, have something within yourself that is meaningful for you, right? And your personal life. Just what Robin Wall Kimmerer was saying in her book Braiding Sweetgrass of developing your own traditions and your own practices as well.

Jackie: Right. So, it’s about internalizing it and if you’re doing something to be trendy or because it’s pop culture that’s really an external thing, right? And you’re talking about internalizing that and bringing it down deeper. And I think then once you understand it personally from yourself, really embody it and understand yourself a little bit better, get to know yourself a little bit better, then you can go back and externalize it again.

Jackie: And hopefully at that point you can, share it with other people. But as far as a mindfulness practice itself, I think you really need to take it inside first, right?

Maria: And that’s kind of where that external trendy path steps into a more serious path to that transition of the connection within yourself?

Jackie: I think I’ve watched a few of my teachers, for instance, I had a specific yoga teacher that I found on YouTube. When I first started practicing yoga, and she was, fairly green as well young and we’re kind of just getting into yoga.

Jackie: I’ve been now following her for probably 10 years. And her practice has become, really deep in the roots of yoga and much more on the subtle level versus the physical practice. It’s interesting to watch that, that transition with people. Cause I think on the beginning, you get into the trendiness of mindfulness practices, and you can post on Instagram and all that stuff.

Jackie: But then you end up kind of in your own head, in your own space and you’re going through your own personal journey and people around you might not see that. They might not see what’s going on until you process it and get to the other side and probably a little bit of a different person

Jackie: I think it’s cool to watch people go through it and no matter how you got into it, I guess.

Maria: And it’s very interesting because I think when you get to that level, it almost feels like you’re not participating in a trend anymore anyways.

Jackie: Well, cuz you’ve personalized it, right?

Maria: Right.

Maria: You might not even want a post about it because, why? Unless it’s for teaching, or for actually sharing it in a way. But are you going to post ” Did an hour of yoga today, hashtag #yogaeveryday? Maybe not.

Jackie: Right. But I did in the beginning.

Jackie: I posted that stuff, I did time lapses of myself and then I disappeared for a long time and then I started sharing some deeper, more meaningful stuff. And maybe it talks about me doing yoga or meditating or something, but that’s not what I want to share. I want to share something that I learned, something that bubbled out of me.

Maria: I agree. So, I think in conclusion, I think we can say yes, it can be a path and it can become serious

Jackie: I think that’s such an open door for people. And I think that that can be a good thing. Right?

Maria: It might not be the prettiest door, but it is a door. Right.

Jackie: There’s a lot of work behind that door. At least people can walk through it.

Jackie: So, we want to thank you for listening to this episode of Becoming Mindful. If you enjoyed this episode, please subscribe to the podcast and leave us some comments.

Jackie: How did you get into your mindfulness practice? And what trends do you see leading people into mindfulness? We’d love to have a conversation with you, so leave us a note. Follow us on social media. We are @BecomingMindfulpodcast. We are on Facebook and Instagram and TikTok. So, check us out and follow us there.

Jackie: Thanks for listening, and until next time, be well.

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