by Dani Shapiro As I write this, I’m somewhere between L.A. and New York, sitting next to my sleeping husband. It’s the first time ever that we’ve taken a flight together, without our son. We’ve each taken countless flights solo, and we’ve flown together as a family (the crazy thinking being that if we go down, […]
Sometimes a seemingly simple gesture, phrase, mantra, or anecdote inspires us to pause and take note. Here, we share such tidbits from the Kripalu community.
Getting stuck is normal. Whether it’s cheating on your healthy diet or struggling with writer’s block, it’s bound to happen. What matters is how we deal with it—can we get back up, dust ourselves off, and start all over again? Feeling like we’ve failed or can’t do anything right can take us to a place […]
Lara Tupper, guest blogger “There’s a book I want you to read,” says my cousin Becky. She’s been saying this for months and I haven’t been listening—it’s 2009 and this particular book is everywhere. I pretend to enjoy dreary literary galleys instead, which I occasionally review for a clever literary magazine for about .0001 cent […]
Each of us is born with a unique gift—and a sacred duty to fulfill its promise. Do you have a clear sense of your purpose in life? I’m asking all my friends this question these days. I guess I’m preoccupied with it because I’m going through a phase—at midlife—of wondering about my own life. You’d […]
Life lessons on the yogic path by Jennifer Mattson, guest blogger “If you’re not failing, you’re not trying anything.” —Woody Allen Nobody likes to fail. But whether it’s falling out of a headstand in yoga class, or trying a new recipe that ends up in the garbage, failure is inevitable—and it’s how we learn. We […]
The following excerpt is taken from Stephen Cope’s well-known book, Yoga and the Quest for the True Self. In it, he guides the contemporary reader through the philosophies and practices of yoga in a thoughtful way that demystifies them and brings us to a greater understanding of ourselves. You see, I want a lot. Perhaps I […]
One morning, as I was meditating, I realized that I needed to write a book. But I had the distinct feeling that, before I could get started, I had to clean my office. By myself. Not hire a cleaner, but get down and scrub. So I cleaned. I braved the spiderwebs. I filed piles of […]
J. L. Johnson, guest blogger
When Edmund Hillary set foot on the summit of Mount Everest in 1953, it was his greatest feat: a first ascent that would forever link his name, along with that of his Sherpa guide, Tenzing Norgay, to the world’s highest peak. But it wasn’t his greatest challenge. That would come in 1975, when Hillary’s wife and 16-year-old daughter were killed in a plane crash. “It changed everything,” he told Time magazine. “My life disappeared.”
Hillary did eventually remarry, and carried on with vital environmental and humanitarian work in his beloved Nepal. When he died in 2008, it was as a climbing legend who had conquered the unconquerable—but also as a husband and father who’d spent years tackling a much more personal obstacle.
Whether it’s loss of a job or loss of a loved one, accident or illness, sooner or later we all find something daunting that is standing in our life’s path: An obstacle. A roadblock. Or, as suggested by Kripalu Healthy Living faculty member Maria Sirois, PsyD, a mountain: something that can seem insurmountable but can help us learn to value the climbing process itself and give us greater perspective as we rise.
Where we look for answers to this question can make all the difference between fantasies and dreams come true.
I’ve been teaching at Kripalu for more than 15 years now—and throughout most of that time, I’ve been Kripalu’s Senior Scholar-in-Residence. Each year, I teach hundreds of people in hatha yoga programs, in yoga philosophy programs, and in personal growth programs. Sometimes I feel like I’ve inadvertently landed on one of the great pilgrimage routes of modern times, seeing—as we do here at Kripalu—a river of more than 32,000 contemporary seekers a year: modern versions, sometimes, of the ribald seekers of Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales or the more innocent characters of Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress.
Each of these contemporary pilgrims brings along his or her own story, of course, and each story is compelling. But over the years I’ve come to see that these stories, unique as they are on the surface, often have one central longing at their core, one insistent question: How can I live fully?
Our seekers phrase this question in so many different ways: How can I live a passionate and authentic human life? How can I discover the full potential of this human mind, body, spirit?
The other day at the end of a vinyasa yoga class I did my usual thing of plopping down and gearing up for Savasana with no blanket or sweater to get warm and cozy. Being in a large, chilly room, I sensed that I might need extra warmth but paid no mind. The teacher, Andrew, prompted us to “Take this time to allow the hard work to land, and nurture your self in resting pose.” Upon hitting the deck and doing my utmost to actually get comfortable—doing a brief body scan to relax myself—I lay there wondering why my need to be self-sufficient had, yet again, left me bare-skinned and frigid, trying to relax my shivering bones into Corpse pose.
Being somewhat small in stature, and a good-natured vata/pitta, my tendency is to be high energy and cold most of the time. Andrew started to walk around the room, his soothing voice gently guiding the group into a restful state, and asked anyone who might want a blanket to raise their hand. I pondered his offer and observed myself as I refused to raise my hand, even though I was chilly and unable to settle comfortably into Savasana.