Conscious Living

Insights on conscious living and holistic principles.

Posted on December 6th, 2012 by in Conscious Living

Creating Rituals

We used to say that to be happy, one must find success. These days, to be successful, we are realizing, we must choose to be happy.  With scientific studies shedding light on the fact that attitude can literally change our lives, the field of Positive Psychology has been growing. In this series, Positive Psychology professor and Kripalu faculty member Tal Ben Shahar, PhD, explores the notion of what it means to be truly happy, and what tools we can use to practice the art of happiness.

Tal Ben-Shahar, guest blogger

We all know that change is hard. Much research suggests that learning new tricks, adopting new behaviors, or breaking old habits may be harder than we even realize and that most attempts at change, whether by individuals or organizations, fail. It turns out that self-discipline is usually insufficient when it comes to fulfilling our commitments, even those we know are good for us—which is why most New Year’s resolutions fail.

read →
Posted on November 22nd, 2012 by in Conscious Living

Vitamin G for Gratitude

You may have heard: Grateful is the new happy. Gratitude has broken past its usual Thanksgiving dinner table border, and is now popular all year long. Self-help books implore us to count our blessings, Facebook quote-picture memes remind us to appreciate what we have, and magazine articles stress the importance of giving thanks. But why?

Having written some of those articles myself, I can tell you that studies have found an “attitude of gratitude” can help with everything from healing from heart surgery to reducing pain. One chiropractic clinic assigned its patients a daily gratitude list; those who did it regularly saw a decrease in pain and an uptick in overall wellbeing.

read →
Posted on November 15th, 2012 by in Conscious Living

Walking the Labyrinth

Carly Sachs, guest blogger

Outside it is a perfect fall day—lots of colored leaves, blue sky with low-hanging clouds. It’s a day that feels like when I walk outside I’m stepping into a canvas, the day so gorgeous, it seems almost painted, too good to be true. Inside, I don’t feel so picture-perfect. And it’s hard being a yoga intern at a yoga retreat center and feeling bad. Even though I am using my tools—being compassionate to myself (sort of), breathing, meditating, and sharing—it still feels like something is wrong with me.

While I’m outside everything in the world looks perfect, and everything in my life looks perfect: a great romantic relationship, meaningful work, and loving family and friends. But something feels terribly raw and empty inside. The sense is that I’m not doing something I feel I should be doing, but I don’t know what’s missing. Or rather, somewhere I know there is a knowing in me, I just haven’t been able to unlock or translate the message. In this moment, it is a feeling.

read →
Posted on November 5th, 2012 by in Conscious Living

The Art of Unfriending

I’ve always been an exceedingly devoted friend, so much so that, when I was in high school, my father, perhaps in a fit of frustration and almost certainly with unintended cruelty, informed me that my friends would never be there for me the way I insisted on being there for them. I’m guessing, now, that he was only trying to protect me from hurt and disappointment, or perhaps encourage a sense of cynicism (that has since served me well as a journalist, if not as an optimist). But at the time it only made me feel sad. That might be his experience, I thought, but it wasn’t going to be mine. Once I made a friend, I made a friend for life.

At 35, I’ve largely stuck to this philosophy, collecting friends through my various life experiences—college, jobs, yoga classes, travels—and only rarely shedding them. Perhaps this need to connect with and amass people—a mix of confidantes and companions—is a byproduct of being an only child; I seek friends to fill the space siblings otherwise might have. For a few summers in my twenties, though, the habit had me spending the bulk of my weekends at weddings. It was not a cheap hobby.

read →
Posted on July 17th, 2012 by in Conscious Living

Conscious Living: Golf’s Yoga of Self Discovery

In the summer, one of the things I do to unwind from work is play golf. Sometimes I have friends who laugh about why I would play a game that involves walking around a big field, chasing a little white ball that seems to go in lots of directions. I love playing for many reasons. The obvious part is a great walk, outside the office, around a beautiful park—that, in and of itself, is a lovely and relaxing experience. But the real reasons I love playing golf are subtler and a bit harder to explain.

Golf is a game in which failure and success seem to come in rapid succession. One great shot can be followed by another shot that is an abject mess. One moment you are feeling the joy and pride that comes with a great swing and the next you are watching your ball arc unceremoniously into the water or the woods. It is a test of one’s ability to be present with what is and to watch how your mind reacts to the pendulum of experience that is the golf game. Golf is more like meditation that any sport I know. It has all the experiences of having and losing control, all the sensations of flow and contraction, and all the elements of forgetting and remembering. No other sport seems to be such a perfect metaphor for the practices I do to explore the nature of my mind.

read →
Posted on May 15th, 2012 by in Conscious Living, Relationships

Conscious Living: Creating Your Own Relationship Roadmap

A satisfying relationship is one of life’s great blessings. Yet this has been both a source of joy and a source of frustration for me. As modern life has gotten faster and more demanding, the challenges of having a successful relationship seem to grow exponentially. Creating a healthy relationship, like raising children, may be among the hardest and most satisfying things we do in our lives. We want our partner to understand us and to see us for who we really are.

We all want our relationships to work. No one wants to fail. No one wants to give up expectations and hopes for the future. But, often, something isn’t working as we expect. The staggering divorce and separation rates are well documented and reflect the disappointments and failures of so many well-intentioned couples. I, too, had my dreams dashed when I got divorced, and nothing in my life has created more pain for me than the loss of my imagined future with my family.

Improving Your Relationship from the Inside Out

The marketplace is full of advice on how to improve your relationships. Such counsel has existed for centuries and there is much wisdom to tap. Yet the conditions we live in are different than ever before: demanding, complex, and continuing to change and evolve at a remarkable pace. The pressures of living the 24/7 life–the constant interruptions of new technology, increased productivity, the long hours–all complicate the challenge of creating a mutually satisfying relationship. Don’t we each feel a little bit of “speed shock”?

read →