Life Lessons

Kripalu life coaches share their experiences and pearls of wisdom.

Posted on June 5th, 2012 by in Life Lessons

Cycle of Transformation

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.

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Posted on May 28th, 2012 by in Life Lessons

Life Lessons: Spring Into Connections

Coming out of winter’s cold, the earth thaws and so do we. Winter naturally keeps us introspective. Spring, on the other hand, brings out our natural ability to connect and communicate with others.

Here is a simple and elegant system of conscious communication called co-listening, which supports both speaker and listener in clearer, deeper, more connected exchanges. In this model, one person agrees to be the speaker, the other, the listener. For three minutes the speaker simply speaks, expressing his/her feelings, thoughts, and ideas. The listener as the witness remains in silence. When the three minutes are up—use an egg timer or alarm—shift roles. Repeat this for two or three rounds as needed. Regularly used, new depth can be established.

Freedom is offered to both participants. Without comments from another, even well-intended ones, a speaker opens into a fuller range of expression. The listener is freed up to be present, rather than calculating a response. By practicing being present in the moment during communication, deeper connectivity can be reached.

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Posted on May 17th, 2012 by in Life Lessons

On the Road to Querencia

J.L. Johnson, Guest Blogger

I don’t know exactly when or how I came across the Spanish word querencia. Like torschlusspanik and esprit de l’escalier, it simply appeared as one of those foreignisms I’d scribbled down on scrap paper, marking a handy little bridge from feeling to expression that my own language—despite its sprawling infrastructure of a million or so words—had forgotten to build.

Broadly translated, querencia describes a place where you feel most at home. Its literal meaning comes from the world of bullfighting, where querencia refers to “that mysterious little area in the bullring that catches the fancy of the fighting bull when he charges in,” as one writer describes it. “He imagines it his sanctuary … there, he supposes he cannot be hurt.”

That connotation of animal instinct is much of what makes querencia an especially powerful word for me. But instead of a bull in its lair, I think of little Mole in The Wind in the Willows, as he catches the scent of his old burrow while traveling a country road:

[It] suddenly reached Mole in the darkness, making him tingle through and through with its very familiar appeal, even while as yet he could not clearly remember what it was. He stopped dead in his tracks, his nose searching hither and thither in its efforts to recapture the fine filament, the telegraphic current, that had so strongly moved him. A moment, and he had caught it again … Home!

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Posted on April 28th, 2012 by in Life Lessons

The Power of Pause

Yogic philosophy teaches us that there is inherent balance between the body, the mind, and the spirit. This unity is our birthright. Unfortunately, as we “grow up,” our minds gain strength and overwhelm these other aspects of ourselves. The mind thinks it is in charge, and tries to run the show—it overpowers the body. And the connection to the spirit often becomes a mere whisper.

Quieting the mind, becoming present in the moment, experiencing what is rather than trying to create what might be or remaining stuck in what was, are the doorways to freedom from the busy mind. Our minds need to be trained to be an effective ally. It is our responsibility to quiet the mind by entering into the moment—the power of that pause is profound.

Here are some simple yet effective suggested practices to bring the power of pause into your daily life:

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Posted on March 31st, 2012 by in Life Lessons

Life Lessons – Open Your Heart

It’s easy to lose connection with our feelings. In this fast-paced world, with all the responsibilities that we carry, we are often exhausted by the day’s end. Self-connection is pushed to the side in the face of our busyness and the time devoted to others. This is the moment to consider getting in touch with your own heart and reconnecting to your essence.

The center of the body is the seat of the heart chakra, the energy center that contains our ability to give and to receive freely. It’s the seat of compassion and holds within it the more positive emotions of joy, love, and tenderness. When we are too busy to tend to ourselves, we literally shut down our hearts, and our channel for connection and love becomes clogged.

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Posted on March 29th, 2012 by in Life Lessons

The Sound of Silent Breakfast

In the early morning hours, when the sun creeps in and the symphonic sounds of nature begin their song, there is an air of potency. In a culture obsessed with fast pace and endless to-dos, we are gifted a spacious segment of time every 24 hours when we can choose to begin our day in tune with nature’s grace.

Breakfast—the sacred ritual of breaking the fast of the night cycle—is the perfect opportunity to commence the day with mindfulness and an open heart. Instead of the usual frantic rush of a meal eaten on the go, or with news in the background, or in the midst of a stressful conversation, what would shift for you if this meal was taken in quiet sanctuary? To come into the kitchen, feel the ground below, make the connection with food, and prepare the meal with intent? To sit and take a breath, feel the air above, and offer gratitude for seed, farmer, and cook? To chew one bite at a time, notice your internal dialogue, and make the choice to stay present? All of these inquires of awareness are ones I was introduced to at Kripalu back in 2003 when I started volunteering. Each morning meal at Kripalu is taken in silence: It’s a time to start the day in a mindful space of being.

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Posted on March 17th, 2012 by in Life Lessons

I Could be More Creative, If Only…

Lori Shridhare, Guest Blogger

If this sentiment sounds familiar, you’re not alone. With dozens of books on the market that help nurture one’s creativity, this movement (as it might be called) is gaining in popularity. Of course, this is not surprising. Who doesn’t want to be more creative in life? Whether you aspire to enjoy more creativity as an artist-in-training or as CEO of a corporation, enhancing your know-how in this area can bring more success—and, most importantly—fulfillment.

As a writer, nothing thrills me more than to experience the fullness and abundance that envelop me when ideas are flowing. Conversely, nothing frightens me more than when I experience what I can only describe as a loss of grounding—when I’m faced with a vacuum. I wish I could provide the magic solution to overcoming the trepidation that strikes when I feel uncreative and out of touch. What I’ve learned is to cultivate patience in recapturing this part of my self. As you search for peace, stillness, and tranquility in life, so too will creativity come. Over the years, I’ve watched my own cycles of ups and downs and have learned to accept them rather than react to them. Just as, while meditating, I attempt to simply observe my mind while it continues to have thoughts, in the midst of daily activities, I’m learning to embrace the universal challenges that come with maintaining creativity.

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Posted on March 8th, 2012 by in Life Lessons

Occupy Yourself

I’m beside myself with worry.

I can see my mother standing at the kitchen sink in our childhood house, her hands immersed in soapsuds, proclaiming this. It was a phrase she used a lot when I was young. How confusing to my childhood brain! There she was, standing in front of me, clearly only one mother, not two. How could she be—beside herself?

I’ve been thinking about this phrase a lot these days, which, according to the Dictionary of Word Origins by Jordan Almond, was used “because the ancients believed that soul and body could part and that under great emotional stress the soul would actually leave the body. When this happened a person was ‘beside himself”.”

Living yoga off the mat seems to be the ultimate coming together of self—the unity, the yoking of body, mind, and spirit—the antithesis of being “beside one’s self.” My mother was speaking her 1950s understanding of how to cope with stress and with feelings. Hers is the model that I learned, the model that today brings me suffering. As 2012 unfolds, I am committed to practicing the ancient and ultimately relevant model of unity consciousness, a powerful and effective way to cope with life. As I come into awareness of what is, as I relax around it, transformation occurs.

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Posted on March 3rd, 2012 by in Healthy Living, Life Lessons

What should you be doing with your life?

In this excerpt from her book The Prosperity Plan: Ten Steps to Beating the Odds and Creating Extraordinary Wealth (and Happiness), life coach and sought-after speaker Laura Berman Fortgang offers her interpretation of right livelihood, along with suggestions for discovering what it is you’re meant to do.

I don’t believe there is only one form that your right livelihood, passion, or purpose must take. There are many ways that it can be expressed. What has become clear to me after years of working with people so that they may recognize their purpose and right work is that it is not a matter of one project, passion, or job; rather, it is a way of being, a talent, a unique attribute you have that cannot be repeated by anyone, because no one else can be you. And that quality or strength expressed through you can fit into a myriad of job descriptions.

Ultimately, it is not what you do that will make you happy but how you feel when you are doing it. Who it allows you to be is the secret to the joy.

Chances are, there is a theme that has followed you throughout your life and through different jobs. Until it is discovered, named, and brought into your awareness, it will never register with you as being important. When you identify it, name it, and see how it has always been a part of you, you will have confirmation that you are supposed to amplify that part of yourself and allow it to be the criterion for your choice of work.

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