Meditation can be the doorway through which we enter into deeper connection with the world within us and around us. At the beginning of his five-day retreat at Kripalu, The Wise and Loving Heart, Jack Kornfield reflects on the benefits and blessings of meditation.
Meditation Lets Us Look Inside Ourselves to See the Whole World
Jack Kornfield, PhD, is a clinical psychologist, author, and one of the most well-known teachers of Buddhism in the West. He’s a founding teacher of the Insight Meditation Society in Barre, Massachusetts, and Spirit Rock Center in California. Here, he talks about meditation, his signature loving-kindness practice, an upcoming Kripalu retreat, and why he loves to teach.
What’s at the core of the trainings you teach? The trainings are centered in equanimity and balance—it’s the training of the heart and mind to stay balanced. I teach a series of steps for equanimity, beginning with reflections on the vastness of time and changing circumstances, ever-changing winds of gain and loss, praise and loss, pleasure and pain. Training has to do with reflecting on the value of keeping a peaceful heart and envisioning others with compassion. We realize that people can love enormously, and that you can’t love on behalf of someone else; we try to understand the limits of love. It’s also using a series of deep intentions: May I live with peace in the joys and sorrows of the world. May you find peace.
Think about the word fast. Close your eyes. What do you see? I see a blur of cars, the color red, an e-mail inbox filling faster than I can click. Now what’s happening in your body? I get a little panicky, scared, overwhelmed, worried that I can’t keep up, that I’m missing out, that the [...]
When she was growing up, Lauren-Victoria (Tori) Hellrung’s family raised guide dogs in their home, so Tori has always been sensitive to the needs of people with visual impairments. After completing her yoga teacher training at Kripalu in 2009, Tori went home to Montreal and immediately started a class for legally blind adults at the MAB–Mackay Rehabilitation Centre (at the MAB site, formerly known as the Montreal Association for the Blind).
“When I started, I didn’t realize the impact this program would have on their lives,” Tori says. “As I began to learn about the community, it became clear that beyond the gym and aquafitness, my students had no other physical outlets, since most sports are not accessible to blind people. They had no other way of exploring their bodies’ potential, and none as mindful as yoga. I have not heard of a program other than my own in the Montreal area that provides this kind of opportunity for students to be in their bodies in a safe, spiritual, and physical way.”
Forget about enjoying the holidays: More and more, the majority of us just want to make it through. Which is why a meditation practice—proven to counter stress, beat depression and illness, keep energy levels up, and help encourage better sleep—can come in especially handy this time of year. The best part: You don’t need to invest a lot of time or commitment (and, unlike most everything else this season, it’s totally free). Angela Wilson, MA, Manager of Evidence-Based Yoga Curriculum for Kripalu’s Institute for Extraordinary Living, offers the following tips for practicing on-the-go mindfulness: no quiet room, dimmed lights, or mat required.
The fields of Positive Psychology, mind-body medicine, yoga, and the spiritual disciplines offer wisdom—culled from research and centuries of experience—that can sustain our unique over-40 needs. Here are five of these wisdom teachings.
1. Remember that change is possible at any time. Not only is our brain plastic (able to be “remapped” toward greater health, calm, memory, and reduction of pain) but also our thoughts and feelings can be reshaped on a daily basis. We can begin to experience positive transformation within days—a transformation that can be sustained over a lifetime.
Ashley Winseck, guest blogger
Doing yoga at home is considered a vital part of deepening your personal practice. While it may be intimidating to attempt a practice without the guidance of an instructor and a weekly class, rest assured that you don’t need to be a super yogi to create a home yoga practice.
Create a habit.
Just like taking care of your car or brushing your teeth, your yoga practice should (and will!) become a habit and a standard part of your daily routine. Kripalu Yoga teacher Evelyn Gonzalez leads workshops at Kriplau designed to help people determine how to start practicing yoga at home. Using her personal experiences to guide others, she says, “If I go for months without a regular yoga routine I can feel my body start to fall a part.” The goal is to get to the point at which no doing yoga would be like not brushing your teeth, not getting your car’s oil changed.