Every Sunday we provide a space for quiet, calm, and peaceful introspection. Enjoy the morning light here at Kripalu on Lake Mahkeenac.
An excerpt from Writing Down the Bones: Freeing the Writer Within
After more than 20 years, Natalie Goldberg’s Writing Down the Bones remains the definitive guidebook for those who see the writing process as a journey of the soul. Goldberg broke ground with the book, first published in 2005, when she compared writing with Zen meditation. In this Q&A from the 10th-anniversary edition, she explores that connection.
Q What are the “I can’t write because” excuses that you hear the most?
“That’s it—I’ve had enough! I, of all people, should not be doing it this way!”
Ever have one of those enough-is-enough moments? As I was once again staring at my refrigerator with its combination of very fresh, slightly worn, and “what-are-you-still-doing-in here?” produce, leftovers, and half-eater jars of miscellaneous mayhem, I hit the turning point.
“OK, family,” I announced. “I will not be buying one more ounce of food until we have eaten every single morsel of what we already have.”
My rant was spurred by my newly instituted budget austerities, and the obvious yet uncalculated cost of what I was about to throw in the garbage. I heard a staggering statistic once that something like 15 to 30 percent of our food budget goes in the trash: sporadically used condiments and half-eaten canned goods; good-intentioned yet left-to-rot produce; the two pounds of this or that “wonder food” that were purchased after reading about its healthful properties in O magazine.
To save precious time and money, working out at home can be just the ticket. It does, however, require some motivation. Here are some tips to help you get—and keep you—all fired up to work out at home:
Welcome to the Kripalu Yoga Posture Clinic, week two! Here, Devarshi Steven Hartman, Dean of the Kripalu School of Yoga, and Jovinna Chan, Assistant Dean, share sound tips to help your yoga practice soar. These clips can be enjoyed independently or as a series for a complete practice, once they’re all published. Come back every [...]
Danna Faulds, Guest Blogger
I didn’t think much about the distant rumble of thunder as I biked along a favorite unpaved rail trail. It was a hot day, and I figured that, if it rained, it would cool things down a bit. There were small, roofed picnic shelters every couple of miles where I could wait out a thunderstorm and then continue on my way, a bit mud-spattered from the puddles on the trail perhaps, but none the worse for wear. And even if I did get a little wet, my clothes would dry quickly in the sun.
A thousand times a day, my mind creates its own little world of expectations and assumptions. I imagine how things will be in the future, plan how to deal with contingencies, and try hard to be on top of things. This was one of those times.
I biked on, glad for the clouds that took the edge off the afternoon heat, unaware of the fantasy realm of presumptions I was living in. When rain began to fall, it was more like a fine mist than actual drops. It felt good on my hot skin, and I thought, Oh, this is nice! It’s even better than the clouds. I immediately revised my inner calculations, seeing myself biking through the mist for just long enough to really cool off, at which point the sun would emerge and gift me with a rainbow.
Aging Gracefully Through Meditation
Meditation has long been believed to be a win-win proposition, carrying certain psychological benefits with zero risk or cost. People who meditate regularly report lower levels of stress, improvements in concentration and memory, and slower reactivity (no more road rage!). The mental relaxation produced by meditation can have physiological benefits, too, in the same way we know that a calmer emotional state is good for our physical body. But a few new studies reveal that the practice may have profound effects on actual brain development—something traditionally believed to peak in our 20s and then begin to decline.
Researchers at the Laboratory of Neuroimaging at UCLA have spent years studying how meditation may affect neuroplasticity, the ability of the brain to make physiological changes. In a recent study published in the journal Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, the lab reported finding that long-term meditators had brain function that not only did not decline as they aged, but improved, thanks to an increase in brain gyrification—activity that happens in the cerebral cortex, or the outermost part of the brain. The lab also determined that the brains of dedicated meditators have more gray matter, which affects the brain’s ability to process information, and white matter, which helps a person communicate clearly.
The warmer months can brings us back to the freedom of childhood, when summer meant school-free, carefree days. But as adults, finding the time to be carefree is a challenge. That’s why play can be so powerful. Here, three experts offer insight into how the simplest of childhood pleasures can reinvigorate the mind, body, and spirit.
“Our natural state is to be happy,” says Kripalu Yoga teacher Coby Kozlowski. “The joyful, playful side of the inner journey often gets overlooked. There’s often guilt in joy because there’s so much suffering in the world, so a lot of people are resistant to it.” The Sanskrit word leela, which means “divine play,” is an essential component of Coby’s teachings; the idea is based on a process she calls joyful self-inquiry. The modalities Coby uses include vinyasa yoga and hula-hooping, an activity she sees not just as a fun throwback, but also as a yogic tool for self-empowerment. “The hooping action awakens the chakras,” she says. “It opens up the inner channels, awakening the body, awakening the breath.” Stimulation through hooping’s circular motions can release “stuck” places in our bodies and emotions, creating a space in our being that allows for self-expression to flourish.
The world awakens earlier, and life sprouts all around us now. Accept spring’s invitation to lighten up by cleaning out your pantry, your fridge, and your eating habits. Choosing the season’s young greens will give you the nutrient density (a high concentration of vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients, per calorie) to make the most of the lengthening days, and allow you to feel the energy of fresh local food.
Reconnecting with raw foods this season ensures that you get the most phytonutrition to keep your body’s systems operating properly. Phytonutrients have a wide variety of benefits, from cardioprotection, to antivirals, to antibacterials, and more. Cooking and processing often decreases phytonutrient activity, so having some raw fruits and vegetables in your diet ensures their phytonutrient potency.