Tag Archives: awareness
Posted on September 24th, 2012 by in Meditation

Just Breathe

I’ve been interviewing healers and spiritual teachers for a while now, and when I ask them how to live a healthier and happier life, many offer the same answer: meditate.

I hate that answer. When I was 19, I attended a 10-day meditation retreat that necessitated giving up my worldly possessions for the length of the stay, not talking, not making eye contact with anyone, and sitting in silence from 6:00 in the morning until 9:00 at night, with short breaks for meals and meditation lectures. By day two, I was like a prisoner of war planning the Great Escape. One morning after breakfast, when no one was looking, I fled the retreat in a frenzy; I just couldn’t sit in silence for 10 days and do nothing. OK, so maybe “fled” is somewhat of an exaggeration, but the bottom line is I couldn’t take it anymore. I’m just not a fan of meditation. An admirer, yes, but not a fan.

But according to Panache Desai, the spiritual teacher and inspirational visionary who chatted with me during our Kripalu Perspectives podcast, you don’t need to meditate to live a healthier and more joyful life—you just need to incorporate one of the essential elements of meditation into your day.

“Watch your breath,” says Desai, “the inhalation and the exhalation.”

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How to Quiet the Mind

How do we bring what we do on the yoga mat into the world? How do we quiet the mind? In this video, Aruni Nan Futuronsky shares her thoughts on how to neutralize suffering and simply be with what is.

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Posted on May 24th, 2012 by in Inner View

Inner View: Ken Nelson

Get to know the people who make Kripalu such a unique place through the personal stories featured in our Inner View series. In this month’s Inner View video, senior Kripalu faculty member Ken Nelson shares a profound experience during pranayama that solidified his practice.

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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 1st, 2012 by in Healthy Living, Meditation, Nutrition

How to Deal with Stress

Taking charge of your stress means taking a holistic view of your health.

Jane, a 45-year-old holistic health worker from Rhode Island, was having trouble dealing with stress—stress about deadlines, stress about her workload, stress about being newly single after the end of a long-term relationship. She also carried a weightier worry about the innumerable things she felt she couldn’t control. “My sense of not knowing—of not having answers to some of my questions about my future—was especially stressful, because I wasn’t sure how to address something that intangible,” Jane says.

She’s hardly alone. Susan B. Lord, MD, who teaches Kripalu’s popular Healthy Living immersion program called Transforming Stress, sees dozens of men and women who come to her program with concerns about their levels of stress. Some people, like Jane, are looking for ways to free themselves from anxieties, while others are seeking solutions to stress that causes emotional anguish as well as serious physical health concerns.

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Posted on February 28th, 2012 by in Ask the Expert, Meditation

Ask the Expert: Sitting in Stillness–Mantras, Metta, and Meditation

In this edition of Ask the Expert, meditation teacher and senior Kripalu faculty member Bhavani Lorraine Nelson answers questions from readers like you.

My mind races when I sit. Can mantras help?

The reason I cover five or six different techniques in my Introduction to Meditation program is because not every type of meditation is effective for everyone. Some people thrive on simply sitting with the breath; for others, the breath is very ephemeral, so the mind has free rein to wander. Some concentration practices can be more engaging for the mind and help it to quiet down. Mantra is one of those—it can be helpful for people who find it difficult to sit simply with the breath.

Recent scientific research on mantra practice shows that it is very soothing to the nervous system because of the repetition. Setting an intention when repeating a mantra adds to the power of the practice. There are different mantras for different goals; practitioners can create a “family” of mantras to use at specific times and for specific purposes. It’s important, though, to have a primary mantra, just as you have a primary yoga practice. To find one, you might start with Thomas Ashley-Farrand’s book Healing Mantras. Choose a mantra that you’re drawn to and can imagine wanting to repeat often.

Is it “cheating” to visualize pretty patterns and concentrate on those, to stop “thinking”?

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