Posted on November 3rd, 2012 by in Words from the Wise

Can I Live A Fulfilled Life?

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?

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Posted on November 2nd, 2012 by in Kripalu Kitchen

Whole Grains for Hearty Vegetarian Meals

One of the things I love about cooking with whole grains—in addition to amazing nutritional value—is the versatility and the myriad possibilities of creating great new dishes from leftovers. This month I’ve taken one large pot of plain brown rice and turned it into six meals. Here’s how:

First, make an extra-large batch of plain brown rice (short or medium grain). Start with 3 cups of dry rice and 5½ cups of water; you’ll end up with close to 9 cups of cooked rice. Enjoy the brown rice the first night with stir-fried vegetables and a protein of choice (tofu, nuts, organic chicken, or fresh fish)—this is meal number one.

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Posted on November 1st, 2012 by in Healthy Living, Life Lessons

Election 2012: Can We Agree to Disagree?

In the late ‘60s, feminists coined—and very often employed—the phrase “the personal is political,” and never before has it rung truer. The recent party conventions were deeply personal, with moving onstage tales of hardship that ranged from growing up black in the South to delivering babies prematurely. Social media, meanwhile, lets us express our views—and hear about others’—more explicitly and aggressively than ever before. Views with which we don’t agree often come as a shock, if not a personal blow: I have a friend who thinks that?

“What is it about politics that hits us so emotionally?” asks Aruni Nan Futuronsky, a certified life coach and program advisor in Kripalu Healthy Living programs. While we may be used to—and even welcome—differences of opinion among family and friends in other arenas, politics often seems to warrant a less accepting view. We get defensive and argumentative. We feel very strongly. We try to convince others to see our side—and we often fail. That’s where the philosophies we learn in our yoga practice come into play, says Aruni. “Yoga teaches us to take action and to express our truth, but not get stuck on the outcome,” she says. That is, speak your mind—but don’t expect to change someone else’s.

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Posted on October 31st, 2012 by in Healthy Living, Yoga

Self-Discipline Isn’t Unlimited

Ever wonder why it’s easy to call forth self-discipline one moment, but difficult in another?  Several years ago, researcher Dr. Roy Baumeister, a professor of psychology at the University of Florida, pondered the same question. To understand why self-discipline can be elusive, Dr. Baumeister and his team ran an experiment: they wanted to know whether or not self-discipline was like a muscle—something that could be weakened with overuse. To test this question, they brought a group of hungry subjects into their lab and had each subject enter into a room with a bowl of cookies and a bowl of radishes on a table.  They told half of the group not to eat the cookies, but instead to eat the radishes. The other group could eat whatever they wanted. (They all ate the cookies.) Then, immediately following this experience, the subjects were brought into another room, where they were asked to complete a complex math problem. In actuality, the math problem was insolvable—the researchers were actually measuring how long the subjects persevered in trying to complete it.

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Posted on October 30th, 2012 by in Relationships

My First Spiritual Liaison

Lori Shridhare, guest blogger

One late evening in August 1990, I sat alone in the Bologna train station in northern Italy, frustrated that I had missed my overnight train to France. I was winding down my summer of backpacking through Europe and my last year as a teenager. Hot and sweaty, I had no choice but to take a local train with no sleeping cars for the hour-long journey to Milan, then several more hours to Lyon. I climbed aboard the crowded train and sat in a car with a priest and three women. As I settled into my seat, Walkman hugging my ears, a tall, distinguished twenty-something young man sat in the remaining seat across from me. His wavy blondish-brown hair curled behind his ears, with strands falling along his designer glasses. What stood out most to me were his clear aqua eyes, his suspenders strapped over his lavender button-down shirt, and his sharp nose. He looked like a European fashion model, and I hoped he’d be sitting across from me all night.

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Posted on October 29th, 2012 by in Healthy Living, Life Lessons, Meditation

Meditation in Action

How meditation can help you be a better friend.

Meditation has long been celebrated for all it can do for us, among the benefits: lower blood pressure, reduce stress, help us sleep, and even possibly help us lose weight. But a recent study also found that meditation might help us be better friends and partners. Researchers at Emory University in Atlanta found that many participants who had practiced eight weeks of meditation showed significant improvement in their ability to identify the emotions of people in photos based on their expressions. That is, they were more in tune with the feelings of others.

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Posted on October 28th, 2012 by in Moment of Quiet

Moment of Yoga

“In the end, all yogas lead to one great Yoga.” —Swami Kripalu

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Posted on October 27th, 2012 by in Wake-Up Call, Words from the Wise

Self-Sufficient Yogi?

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.

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Posted on October 26th, 2012 by in Kripalu Kitchen

Relationships and Food: Compromise in the Kitchen

Every relationship has its milestone moments—the ones that not only change the course of one’s life but also perhaps even more significantly for a chef, change the look of one’s kitchen! Yes, I did it. I made the ultimate sacrifice for love this past weekend as I bade a fond farewell to my beloved six- burner, deep red Bertazonni range (and having total control of my kitchen) and moved in with my fiancée, Jim.

We’d decided on the plan months before, and for the past few weeks I’ve been clearing out the old: organizing and packing up a life lived 16 years in one place. And then came moving day. In a blink of an eye every knife, pot, pan, bowl, spatula, whisk, and tea accoutrement was packed away out of site only to reappear hidden deep inside a box stacked high in the middle of what was to be their new home– at least for some of them.  Ah, mergers! Unlike our previous cohabitating experiences with our first spouses when we were each young and less encumbered with stuff, Jim and I faced the daunting equation of adding one home to one home and producing “one” home!

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Permission to Practice

Let me simply say that I didn’t just fall off the mat. Recently, confronted with life on life’s terms, I plummeted, plunged, and wildly tumbled, losing all foothold to the practices that give me perspective and trust. There is good news in this tale though I found my way back relatively quickly. But, in this breach, I endured much self-inflicted struggle and pain.

This story is canine-related. My dogs, Lucy Kay Doodle and Zac Joey Doodle, are gifts of love and growth for me. In their fuzzy, larger-than-life Muppet-ness, they bring me such lessons.They are shiny mirrors into which I see my behavior, recognize my strengths and growth, and see beyond my old patterns of limited thinking. Simply put, my dogs are my teachers. They help me grow.

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