Dorsey Standish had always thought of yoga as a death sentence. The engineering wiz and Texas Instruments project manager was a self-described workaholic, and she wanted nothing to do with deep breathing or meditation. “I was go go go all the time, so moving slowly was the opposite of everything I knew,” she says. “Plus, how can you burn calories doing yoga?” But when she gave it a shot at the request of her doctor, her mind began to change — literally. Standish was working long hours and enduring sleepless nights as she faced a new product launch. She experienced a stress-induced burnout that forced her to face her mental health — or the lack thereof — head on.
“I needed more stillness in my life. I needed to hit pause,” Standish says. “We rely on our minds so much, but we don’t train them at all,” she says. “And when we don’t take care of our mind, we can’t take care of ourselves.”
Standish fell in love with yoga and its rewards, specifically the improved focus and enhanced memory it gave her. Realizing how firmly rooted in science mindfulness can be, Standish began a mission to bring the practice to the masses.
Around the same time, Dallas’ Mari Woodlief launched Mastermind, a “gym for your brain” that offers mindfulness classes rooted in the latest studies on brain health. “We wanted to create something science-based, research-driven, and secular,” Woodlief says. “I saw the benefits firsthand, and it was clear this was needed in Dallas.”
The traditional definition is the ability to be fully present, aware of where we are and what we’re doing, and not overly reactive or overwhelmed by what’s going on around us. But Standish and Woodlief know that getting to that point means something different for each person. Some may love yoga. Others, like Standish, may keep a daily gratitude journal. The techniques are important, but as long as your personal practice is helping you be present — and, in turn, be happier — you’re doing it right.
When the opportunity arose to join forces, Standish jumped at the chance to join the Mastermind team. As Chief Mindfulness Officer, she’s responsible for everything from managing operations to developing curriculum for Mastermind’s classes and consults. “Our goal is to transform DFW and beyond from the inside out,” Standish says.
But they won’t be doing it alone. Mastermind recently partnered with the Crow Museum of Asian Art, and it’s a match made in mindfulness heaven.
Mastermind and the Crow offered their first mindfulness retreat in October, and will offer another retreat on the weekend of January 19, where guests can escape to the Crow Museum’s Center for Contemplative Leadership for ten hours of mindfulness training. The price of admission ($249) is hefty, but it comes with a tour of the museum (silent, of course) and a year-long Crow Museum membership. Plus, Dr. Beth Reese, the Crow’s Director of Education and Mindfulness believes the mindfulness training can have a ripple effect in Dallas and beyond.
“We grow up learning to brush our teeth, but what if we learned how to breathe?” Reese asks. “Through mindfulness, you have the equivalent of a toothbrush you can use anytime, anywhere.”
Reese points to studies that show how practicing mindfulness can decrease violence and increase school attendance. Mindfulness begets awareness, and awareness begets power — the power to control what might otherwise control you.
“As humans, we have an opportunity to choose the way we want to be,” says Reese. “This can transform our world.”
In addition to the retreat, the newly renovated Crow Museum is now home to free weekly wellbeing courses, including Tai Chi, Vinyasa yoga, and mediation in the galleries. Standish, who once rolled her eyes at the mere idea of yoga, knows offices, entrepreneurs, teachers, and students can all learn a thing or two — and check out some art, too.
“I hear from a lot of friends, ‘I want to start meditating, but I don’t know where to start,’” says Standish. “This is a great place to start.”