A patient was recently visiting one of the clinics in the hospital in which I have worked for the last eight years. While he was reviewing his medical history with the physician, they came to the "Mental Health" section. When the physician asked this patient if anyone in his family has any mental health issues, the man replied, "Nobody except my uncle. He does yoga."
When the physician told me this story, I laughed for a split second before feeling a little bit of sadness when I realized that there is a major misunderstanding surrounding the world of yoga and meditation. I remembered my own interactions with people who scoff at my yoga and meditation practices. I remembered my own interactions with people who have told me that I'm weird, with people who have told me I'm following some weird religion, and with people who just completely zone out the minute anything comes up about my practices. I remembered my own interactions with people who have poked fun at the mala beads I wear.
I've heard it from complete strangers, co-workers, friends, and yes, even my own family members. While hearing it from my own family hurts the most, I'm not sad for myself and I'm not sad for those that ignore or make fun of me. I'm just sad for the ignorance. But I won't try to educate them or make them see it my way. If anything, I'll remind myself that I do this for me. And, maybe over time, the naysayers will see how yoga and meditation and my beads have changed me. For the better.