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Interview with:

Michele Mathiesen [michelelmbt] 

What is your specialty? How do you help people find harmony?
My specialty is yoga. I have practiced for 20 years and have found that it helps people connect to their bodies and health, their minds and spirit. Finding that mind-body connection is the key
Can you provide a link to a web site or blog where we can learn more about you?
Here is the website to Barefoot Yoga : www.barefoot-yoga.com
What is happiness, and the main obstacle to reaching it?
I think the main obstacle to reaching happiness is we don't even recognize it anymore. We are so scheduled and keep running on that treadmill of life and we forget to really enjoy it. Unplug and go outside, rejuvenate your senses, eat healthy, go to a retreat or wherever you need to go to get away. Then when you come home make a list of those things that get in your way. We all still have to do laundry, and check our e-mail, etc. Life is full of responsibilities but the biggest responsibility you have to yourself and your family and friends is to live your life, and be happy. Figure out what is important, or even prioritize if you need to and then just drop the dead weight. It is not easy but most things in life that aren't easy are worth the effort!
How do you deal with discouragement, despair, a sense of setback, etc.?
I have found the best way for me to deal with "setbacks" or the like, is to see it as a step on a path. We don't always know exactly how to get to our goal but the "mis-steps" give the flavor, aromas, and depth to the journey. It isn't always easy for me either and I still get annoyed, but I just try to remember that things happen for a reason usually, even if I don't know what the reason is now just trust in the process and...it tends to reveal itself later why the delay was for the best.
Are meditation and prayer cultural variants of the same thing?
This is a question close to my heart. I am not religious in the least, but I am very spiritual. To me and only me, meditation is about clearing the way to be better. It is an internal process that happens between your mind and body. To me it doesn't feel like you are asking for help with something, it is your intent to send your wishes somewhere. Prayer however, is asking someone/something outside of you (an external source) for something (ie for you or someone else, the Earth, the Gulf, etc.) This isn't based on your intent, but on your wishes. This is a very individual thing and I respect those who see them as flip sides of the same coin as it is tough to ponder it as this tends to be a passionate subject for all.
Is it necessary to have a teacher to find the way?
I don't think it is necessary but I do find it helpful to elevate my skills whether it is in yoga, meditation, education, etc. I have spent many years going it alone and I find I stagnate if I don't tune into someone else's thoughts to explore and grow.
Is it necessary to have a purpose to find meaning in life?
I don't think it is necessary to have a purpose to find a meaningful life. Some of the happiest people I know just ebb and flow with the wind and waves. For others some of us need a goal/purpose and this makes us happy to give them a measure of their life.
How do you distinguish between spirituality and religion?
This is a bit of a trick question for me as I am not a fan of most "organized" religions. If I am anything it would be closest to Buddhist as it teaches you philosophically to be a better person. I define religion as going to a church regularly, tithing, following and obeying the tenets of that religion even if you don't agree necessarily. I think being spiritual is really just being more open. You don't feel the need to commit to a group or listen to a leader, just do the right thing.
Do you believe in the law of attraction: that we attract what we think about?
It has been proven both scientifically, and for me on a personal level that what we dwell on grows. A mild slight by someone after re-telling the story and becoming more irritated becomes much larger.
Do creativity and positive thinking slow aging?
My answer is it can't hurt. We are all going to age but for me I plan on fighting it every step of the way with yoga, nutrition and so on.
What is your short list of healthy habits?
My short list of healthy habits would be (in no particular order): 1) get enough sleep 2) eat organic as much as possible 3) practice ahimsa (non-harming) and become vegetarian/vegan 4) listen to your body and what it is craving - not what you want, what you need 5) drink a ton of water 6) enjoy tea 7) be mindful of what you are doing as much as you can 8) unplug now and then 9) be good to the Earth, and take care of it (be green), and it will take care of you. 10) have a healthy social network that is supportive
If you were a millionaire, what would be your charitable work?
To create another no-kill animal shelter much like Best Friends has done in Utah, for the East Coast of the country.
Please list three important words for the world today.
3 important words for the world today: Peace Humility Gratitude

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Michele Mathiesen
Huntersville, NC, USA

[michelelmbt] Michele Mathiesen
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