When I think about improving my overall health and increasing my longevity, I suspect I’m not that different from most. I imagine making physical adjustments: practicing yoga or another form of fitness more regularly, eating more vegetables and less sugar, drinking more water, taking those trusty fish oil supplements, and getting enough sleep. But I [...]
I’ve been freelancing for more than 15 years now. As often as possible, I’ve focused my work in the natural-health field—as a host, producer, writer, voice-over talent, even as an actor on occasion. Sometimes, I’m very busy, juggling a number of projects; sometimes, everything wraps up at once and I’m not sure what’s next. It [...]
It’s a simple fact, one that I often resist. If I want my life to change for the better, then I have to change. To expect more peace, joy, and love to enter my life without any shifts on my part is kind of like expecting that my meals are somehow going to taste different [...]
There are times when a radical change of course is necessary in life. The old way just isn’t working anymore; a new approach is required. We don’t know where we’re headed, but we know it’s time to forge a new path. Transformation is imminent.
I was at such a juncture a couple of years ago. Newly divorced and living 10 minutes from my ex-husband, I felt stuck in my past. Surrounded by reminder after reminder of my former life, I felt the need to alter my geography to jumpstart a transformation. With a hearty dose of trepidation and anticipation, I left Boston and moved to Los Angeles.
I’ve been interviewing healers and spiritual teachers for a while now, and when I ask them how to live a healthier and happier life, many offer the same answer: meditate.
I hate that answer. When I was 19, I attended a 10-day meditation retreat that necessitated giving up my worldly possessions for the length of the stay, not talking, not making eye contact with anyone, and sitting in silence from 6:00 in the morning until 9:00 at night, with short breaks for meals and meditation lectures. By day two, I was like a prisoner of war planning the Great Escape. One morning after breakfast, when no one was looking, I fled the retreat in a frenzy; I just couldn’t sit in silence for 10 days and do nothing. OK, so maybe “fled” is somewhat of an exaggeration, but the bottom line is I couldn’t take it anymore. I’m just not a fan of meditation. An admirer, yes, but not a fan.
But according to Panache Desai, the spiritual teacher and inspirational visionary who chatted with me during our Kripalu Perspectives podcast, you don’t need to meditate to live a healthier and more joyful life—you just need to incorporate one of the essential elements of meditation into your day.
“Watch your breath,” says Desai, “the inhalation and the exhalation.”
Is there anything more satisfying than sitting down to a yummy, home-cooked meal prepared with fresh ingredients and with love? I’m embarrassed to admit that there are weeks when I don’t get that satisfaction for several days in a row, and I know I’m not alone.
“Many of us are strangers to our kitchens,” says Kathie Madonna Swift, MS, RD, LDN, a nutritionist and dietician whose passion for the power of food has spanned more than 30 years. A Senior Nutritionist in Kripalu’s Healthy Living programs, Kathy knows that packaged foods can’t offer the nutritional punch that fresh, whole foods can. “If you’re really interested in eating well,” she says, “you need to make cooking a priority.”
I get it, but I don’t always do it. Like everyone else, I live in fast-paced life in which work, long commutes, and the call of technology consume more and more of my time. Preparing meals can feel like just one more task on a never-ending to-do list. But Kathy says that we overestimate the amount of time cooking requires and underestimate the benefits we’ll receive if we can begin trading some time spent online for time spent in our kitchens.
It’s the organ we associate with love. It’s the organ whose beats keep us alive. Let’s face it: the heart is pretty important. And yet more people die from heart disease in the United States than from anything else.
Proper nutrition and exercise are widely known to prevent and reverse the ubiquitous national disease, but social connectivity might play more of a role in protecting that mega-important organ than you think. “A connected life with supportive individuals can literally save your life,” says Lisa Nelson, MD, Healthy Living Director of Medical Education at Kripalu.
Whether you draw comfort from a loving family, a caring circle of friends, a religious group, or a supportive therapist, social connections reduce stress, which contributes to cardiovascular disease. In fact, studies have shown that people who participate in community or religious groups fare better after a heart attack than those who don’t. “It’s not just about taking your medication,” says Lisa. “When you spend time with someone you care about, you relax. Blood pressure, respiratory rate, and heart rate all go down.”
I’ll be honest here, maybe a bit sappy even. Want to know what my favorite song is? It’s “How Do You Keep the Music Playing?”, popularized by James Ingram and Patti Austin. Accompanied by some heartfelt harmonies, the lyrics ask the poignant question: How do you keep romantic love alive year after year?
I don’t know that there’s a one-size-fits-all answer because relationships are as different as snowflakes. But Joel and Kate Feldman, husband and wife for nearly three decades, longtime couples therapists, and founders of the Conscious Relationships Institute in Durango, Colorado, say couples in happy longstanding relationships tend to practice some of the same partnership-nurturing behaviors. After our Kripalu Perspectives podcast, they shared their favorite tips with me on how to deepen love and sustain intimacy: