transpersonal living thinking and living beyond the self

Halfway to Wholeness

By Matthew Mathis

Four years ago, after getting up and doing kundalini yoga every single morning from 4:30am to 7am for exactly a year and a half, I discovered a truer meaning of yoga by suddenly stopping. At the soon-to-be-opened Nike store downtown. By working three 14 hour days in a row. Short story:

In early 2010, I’d found myself in very close proximity to a yoga studio and then found myself grieving for my mother who had just passed away (, and I started doing kundalini yoga one day at Awakenings studio on SE 12th near Belmont in late March and just didn’t stop until late November, a full 19 months later. It was great!

Lots of very physically active krias: moving postures of extreme fitness-based balance and meditation. Chanting, praying, exercising, crying, napping, reading, leading, following, stretching, and breathing breathing breathing, etc. — I did it all. Every single morning.

What got me to quit wasn’t that I’d cried all my tears out for my mom — I’d certainly shed buckets full (but can always make more!) — what made me finally stop was like a real world real time application of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs; I was broke and needed a job. I mean like zero money.

Spiritual needs vs physical needs. Hmm. I decided there wasn’t a difference worth losing my home over. I like having a home! It’s my favorite word. I feel it is integral to the core of my being.

And so one morning, instead of crawling out of bed at 4:25am and walking around the block to do yoga for 2 and 1/2 hours, I went to LaborReady, a day-labor joint over on Hwy 26 and Naito Parkway, and signed up and waited for a paying gig.

An hour later, I found myself with 6 other men, and we went downtown to the new Nike outlet store, which was still being designed. We worked as a team for the next 14 hours straight, and then did it again the next day, and yet again the next day. When we were done, there were these steel shelves all over the store. Massively heavy and dangerous to have been placed just so, but we did a very decent job. I realized that yoga is kind of a white-boy western way of doing strenuous work with a firm discipline that is just as well produced by actual social cohesion and similar rigor. Only when one agrees to surrender themselves to working with strangers in a concerted effort to be actually creative, a level of harmony is attained that yoga classes can only approximate and symbolically hint at. All the training I’d done in posture and stamina and strength totally totally totally came in handy. And relating and giving in to others was of the essence.

When I left the Nike place after day three, I did not feel the need to re-attach myself to the yoga pattern I’d set for so long. One door closed; another opened. I began working shortly thereafter back in my chosen career field, trying to re-parent children, and heal my own childhood. It was time. I’ve no regrets. I learned a lot from yoga, and I’d do it all again. (Though now I just swim and dance to yoke my physical to the spiritual.)

So, yesterday, I made a spiritual pilgrimage again to the Nike store, to marvel at the handiwork I helped produce. I go once a year to check in on my kundalini soul, to see if the steel is still there, to see how my mettle and metal was tested, to see my dull reflection in the cool gray parallel lines.

Yep. I am, as usual, halfway to wholeness.


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