Life Lessons

Kripalu life coaches share their experiences and pearls of wisdom.

Posted on July 19th, 2012 by in Healthy Living, Life Lessons, Studies, News, and Trends

What, us worry? Better than anyone.

In his new memoir,Monkey Mind, Daniel Smith describes a life spent in near- constant panic. He’d have recurring nightmares about premature death. He’d wrestle over the decision between ketchup and barbecue sauce. He’d sweat, a lot. In Monkey Mind—the title comes from the Buddhist term meaning “unsettled, restless”—Smith, now mostly recovered though still no stranger to the panic attack, uses humor and blunt-force honesty to describe what is an ever-present, and very American, condition: worry.

These days, everyone’s a worrier. Nearly one in five Americans suffer from an anxiety disorder. If there were an international war of worriers, we’d be winning: According to a recent World Health Organization study, 31 percent of Americans are likely to suffer from an anxiety issue at some point in their lives. Compare that to second-place Colombia, where the anxious top out at 25.3 percent. Even those in developing countries are less likely to fret: According to the 2002 World Mental Health Survey, people in developing-world countries are up to five times less likely to show clinically significant anxiety levels than Americans. Until, that is, they move here.

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Posted on July 10th, 2012 by in Life Lessons

Let Your Inner Child Come Out and Play

Summer and fun go hand-in-hand. The richness of the season gives us permission to open up and to let go, in body, mind, and spirit. So this is the perfect time to reinvent—and recommit to—your playful inner child.

Our childhood memories often act as doorways to pleasure and laughter. Along with the more challenging memories of childhood, remembering the freedom and spontaneity of our young selves can inform our adult selves in healthy and relaxing ways.

What summer activities lit you up as a kid? Did you enjoy swimming in the creek? Riding your bike to a new destination and having a picnic once you arrived? Going for a long walk as the sun set? Visiting amusement parks or the zoo?

When we give ourselves that which lights us up, so many arenas of the positive unfold, and the simple relaxation that results from having fun is a profound gift. Emotionally, we benefit so deeply from laughing, from letting go. And spiritually, the connection we feel while letting go into fun is profound. As Rumi says, “The door is round and open.”

So go ahead, choose one childhood outdoor activity. Give yourself this gift—the gift of summer, the gift of laughter, the gift of childhood, the gift of fun.

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Posted on July 5th, 2012 by in Life Lessons

Do Something Different

Look out the window. How many ways can you notice the rebirth of the earth? Take in the color of the grass, the bright hues emanating from the flowers. Listen to the sounds of the birds rejoicing in life. We, too, are of this earth and share this capacity for renewal. Unlike the flowers and grass and birds, however, we need to consciously shift our behavior in order for renewal to unfold.

Here are some steps to help you cultivate that unfolding. These actions require focus and commitment, but as you take them, relax into the flow. Be the creator of your life. Generate circumstances that inspire you to come alive.

Approach something differently: Perhaps you can shake up your morning routine. If you usually get up and read the paper, try going for a walk or meditating instead. Eat breakfast outside instead of in your kitchen, or give yourself some time in the morning to write a poem. Break out of your weekend routine and plan an adventure—an excursion to the beach or a museum, a picnic with friends. Make a date with yourself to do it. Schedule it into your calendar. Create a perfect playful day for yourself.

Is there something creative that you’re interested in pursuing? Give yourself the time to explore it. Watercolors? Pottery? Find a class, and enlist a support group for yourself as you investigate this interest.

Have you started a new class or ritual lately? Have you done something completely outside of your comfort zone just to try something new? Share with us!

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Posted on June 25th, 2012 by in Life Lessons

The Practice of Being Present

Yoga teaches us how to reestablish the innate balance that exists between body, mind, and spirit. When our minds get out of balance, they overextend, becoming busy and overworked. As a result, we lose connection to the wisdom of our bodies and the depth of our spirits. Practicing being in the moment trains the mind […]

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Posted on June 18th, 2012 by in Life Lessons, Yoga

The Yoga of Living: Leadership, Love, and Freedom

Yoga, ultimately, is so much more than Downward-Facing Dog. Rather, it’s a process, the way in which we engage with life, with our experiences, both on and off the mat. Yoga teaches us to get comfortable with being uncomfortable, and with the mystery of life. It offers us a map to help us get on the path of living our lives to the fullest, and finding the leader within—the inner voice that guides us into discovering who we really are.

The yoga of living asks fundamental questions such as:

What kind of world do I want to live in?

How can I create my own existence?

How do I say yes to my life?

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Posted on June 16th, 2012 by in Life Lessons

Riding the Waves

How can we suffer less when faced with tough situations? Think about those times when things don’t go as planned or hoped for—at work, for example, or in a relationship. In these moments, we often wish that things were different: “If only _________.”

Sound familiar?

But, as Kripalu Senior Life Coach Aruni Nan Futuronsky states in her R&R retreat workshop Riding the Waves, yoga teaches us that we can’t control reality. But, when we allow ourselves to simply be in the present moment, softening our grip and letting go of expectations, we can begin to open our perspectives.

As Aruni says, allowing ourselves to feel whatever it is we’re feeling with any given experience can help us find equanimity with whatever life gives us. From that foundation, we can shift our awareness from struggling to acceptance.

One powerful way to ride the waves of life’s challenges is one of the benchmarks of the Kripalu tradition. It’s a practice called BRFWA, which stands for Breathe, Relax, Feel, Watch, Allow. Next time you feel anxious or uncertain about a situation you’re facing, try the following techniques and see what happens.

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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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