Recently, Christ in the Rockies had the unique opportunity of conducting an interview between Mike Haddorff, director of Christ in the Rockies, and his daughter Stacy Haddorff who is actively involved with Yoga teaching, philosophy, and practice.
What follows is Part I of a transcription of an interview where Stacy Haddorff and Mike Haddorff discuss the ideals within Yoga philosophy and how those ideals relate to Mike’s personal journey, Christ in the Rockies, and Christianity in general.
The source of this transcription is a phone interview. It has been edited but has favored the spoken English of the interviewees. The method of transcription attempted to make the language readable, yet preserve the original spoken interaction at the same time.
The interview was prompted by a comment that Stacy had made to her father. The comment was that Mike, according to Stacy and based on the Yoga philosophy about life’s stages, is a man who exemplifies joyfulness as opposed to resentfulness, nearing 60 years of age. According to Yoga philosophy, this positive emotional state is the result of healthy “investments” in time and effort during the previous years. Stacy’s comment was not only meaningful to Mike personally, but sparked further discussion.
Christ in the Rockies (CITR): Thank you, Mike and Stacy, for being here today! We’re excited about today’s interview. Stacy, would you mind providing some background info on Yoga philosophy and on what prompted your comment to Mike?
Stacy Haddorff (SH): Sure! I believe the text that first introduced the idea was the Purusartha. But to back up a little bit, Yoga is seen as a practice. In fact life is seen as a practice to draw into our relationship with God. The practice takes numerous forms. There are eight limbs in Yoga and it’s all about the path to know divine source.
With the eight limbs, we learn about how to relate to the world, what our moral code is, and how to prepare the body to sit in meditation, which is one place we can experience God. Meditation is very much a part of that tradition because it facilitates a place where we are quiet enough mentally to know God and experience His presence.
Seeing life as a practice, the Yoga tradition breaks up the life sequence into three different stages. Different lineages may have a few more stages, but the one I’m learning about defines 3 stages. The first age bracket is from 0–24. Here, a person’s life is all potential energy. They are in the primary stage of their life. It sets the stage for their success later in life if they’re exposed to good influences, and correct knowledge by the people around them.
The second age bracket is 25–60. This stage is all about managing our energy to get the most benefit from effort. We go towards our goals. It’s really a stage of achievement. The point is to know ourselves, to know our strengths, and to build our life based on those strengths. It’s a time meant to be shared too. The challenge here for a lot of us is being productive, yet allowing ourselves to be supported and restored by rest as well. Definitely a time to draw on our mentors.
After age 60, the stage is designed to be more spiritual. Depending on what we have built, this time will be really telling about how wise we have used the previous two stages in our life. If people are showing signs of joy and peace, it means that they have been doing their internal, spiritual work all through life, that they have really tapped into God’s heart.
People in this stage will tend to either become resentful because in their earlier years they didn’t achieve what they wanted to achieve, or didn’t take the time to process emotions, or they tend to become joyful. I think it’s really about coming to peace with our lives and preparing for the final passing into death.
Mike Haddorff (MH): That’s so interesting! What you said to me has been so meaningful to me, that you perceive me as a guy choosing the joyful side. I really value that and I’ll never forget you telling me that. Thank you.
SH: Your welcome, Dad!
CITR: Mike, would you say that Stacy’s statement about you is true? In other words, when you honestly look at your life, do you feel like you are becoming a more joyful person as you age? Do you feel like you are becoming more at peace in general?
MH: Let me give you a long answer to a short question. Here is my perspective. Life, for me, has turned out way differently than I thought it would. I didn’t know what it would be like but it has turned out way different in the sense of being difficult and hard. There are ways to measure success. In a lot of ways, I have not been successful, especially financially.
We had years and years where we had plenty of financial resource. We were able to take really nice vacations and all of that. But in the last ten years or so, we have really gone through some difficult times. It’s humbling and that’s where the work has been done in me.
Prior to 2001, it was just so easy. We had plenty of resource. We were trying to actually accelerate the payments on our house. I had a plan to pay it off in five years. We had retirement. These are a lot of things that a business guy, especially, measures his or her life by.
When the bottom dropped out, with a very slow recovery, paying off large amounts of debt, it was humbling. But I wouldn’t trade it because post 2001, number one, I will never look at a struggling business guy the same again. I’m able to pick up on the pain and identify with it and show compassion.
I have felt some regret in not being able to help my children out more financially with school. It has bothered me, but it was being able to say that “it is what it is”, and that I don’t have the resources to do that. Overall, I would say, I would not change the last 12 or 13 years because I honestly like what has happened to me. I do.
So when my daughter says to me, “Dad, we had a training today and I thought of you many times as a person expressing joy entering the latter years of life” that means everything to me. For me that is finishing well. To have a relationship with my grown children, where there is love and respect there. These are the things that really matter.
So I didn’t know what to expect but I didn’t expect this. But I’m a man who is truly grateful for what has happened. I have learned, and I’m not perfect of course, but I’ve learned to let things go. I am learning what it means to turn over difficulties to God and leave the results to him. My job becomes to listen and to love regardless. So when Stacy said that it was so wonderful to hear, but to answer your question, it did resonate as true.
I’ve been actually thinking about this, studying and teaching on the life of Isaac. So it’s amazing how all this is coming together. But it’s these two paths that you tend to walk on. I kind of put life into two halves, where you start walking down a path and you don’t even know it. And a person in their 60s finds themselves on a path, and it’s not a path now it’s a trench.
It’s very difficult, outside of the power of God, to change that path. If a person is resentful and basically their whole point of life is about feeling things of disappointment for what didn’t happen, basically I do not want to be that guy. I tend to view things as how well they turned out in spite of me. [Mike laughs]
SH: I don’t think you’re alone in that. I really think one of the challenges in life is how time just kind of beats us down no matter what the challenges are that we face in our life. It could be financial struggles, it could be any number of things.
I think you hit on such an important part of aging well, and that is surrendering burdens. I don’t think we’re meant to carry that. I think we’re meant to just find a method to release our mind from worry. There’s peace in the practice.
MH: From my Christian tradition, the answer is the ability to forgive, the ability to forgive others, the ability to forgive ourselves. That is sometimes more difficult. It’s the ability to do that and move on because unless one can release those things, they burden themselves. That’s what digs the trench.
SH: That’s true. In the Yoga tradition, it’s called Ishvarapranidhana. It’s the idea of surrendering our life to God.
CITR: So would you say that this is something that parallels the idea of forgiveness and being able release those burdens that way?
SH: I think so. Ishvarapranadadhana is one of the Niyamas, which is our own internal practice. Virtues to observe in building a good relationship with ourselves
Another Niyamas we’re touching on here is Tapas which is discipline, but also accepting pain as purification. It makes me think of what Dad said earlier, that it’s only through that pain that he has come to the place where he’s at today, that somehow going through that was strengthening to the soul.
Other Niyamas include studying spiritual books, purity, and practicing contentment. I remember reading about that the first time. It was really an “aha moment,” that contentment is something to be practiced. It’s not a destination. It’s not something you arrive at. It’s something you remember to feel.
CITR: That does seem to be a common perception of contentment, that it is a state that you reach. But it sounds like you are saying that it takes an effort to practice that.
MH: The apostle Paul wrote that I have learned to be content in whatever state I am. He talks about what he’s done, and that he’s experienced want and plenty. But he says in spite of it all, I’ve learned to be content. That’s the practice right there. No matter the external circumstances, it’s possible to be content in any given moment, at any given time.
Thank you and stay tuned for Life’s Journey Part II: The Stockdale Paradox and True Identity of this transcribed interview where Mike Haddorff and Stacy Haddorff continue their discussion with Christ in the Rockies.