ARTICLES


HAPPY HOUR WITHOUT THE BOOZE

The New York Times

On a recent rainy afternoon over veggie burgers at NeueHouse, the co-working space in the Flatiron district, three Vedic meditators were discussing drink options for a new kind of happy hour they were organizing.  

Founded by Mr. Watkins, the bimonthly after-work party began in Venice Beach, Calif., where it quickly grew to 200 attendees from 12. On this night, for about the price of a glass of nebbiolo at the NoMad, 90 New Yorkers were submitting to an evening of meditation, “enlightertainment” (including live music and film) and vegan food. “Though meat is an option,” Mr. Watkins said. “We want to be normal.” ...


WELLNESS WARRIORS TO WATCH

mindbodygreen.com

Here at mindbodygreen, we have the privilege of learning from some of the most inspiring wellness leaders out there. On any given day, you can find our staff hitting the mat with master yogis, whipping up plant-based meals alongside innovative chefs, and snagging health tips from leading functional medicine doctors.

Needless to say, we were overwhelmed with options when the time came to choose 20 people who are redefining today's wellness scene. However, we couldn't be more excited to present the final list of thought leaders we see shaping the future of mind-body health.

From dreaming up new forms of yoga to crafting vegan food that even the most devout carnivore would drool over, these wellness warriors have set themselves apart with tremendous accolades—and they're just getting started...


HOW TO MEDITATE ANYWHERE (EVEN IN CROWDED, LOUD PUBLIC PLACES!)

mindbodygreen.com

This week, we’re sharing Watkins’ expert techniques for coping with anxiety and stress. To learn more, check out his mindbodygreen class, Meditation for Anxiety: Guided Sessions to Halt Panic Attacks & Feel Calmer Every Day.

I recently received an email from a meditator in Chicago who was having a hard time finding a suitable meditation spot during work hours. He didn’t want to meditate in a break room, or in a place where someone from work could walk by and see him "sleeping" in the afternoon. He went on to say that the weather in Chicago was not suitable for meditating outside, except on a few occasions.

I live in L.A. where, if worse comes to worse, we can always meditate in our car. But he didn’t have a car. So in response to his email, I decided to conduct an experiment during my recent work trip to New York. I would be there for five days, and I wanted to see if I could find suitable public places to meditate (ideally undisturbed) for 20 minutes...


HERE ARE THE 10 TYPES OF MEDITATORS: WHICH ONE ARE YOU?

mindbodygreen.com

As a meditation teacher, I’ve often marveled at how varied people’s meditation experiences are. For instance, there is the “The Strategic Meditator.” She is someone who enjoys meditating daily without fail, no matter what else is happening in her life. This type of meditator usually reaps the benefits of the practice quickly and lavishly. But there are other types as well. These are not “good” or “bad” types, just personal observations of how some people approach or experience meditation. Here are other types of meditators I've met along the way...


4 PRO TIPS TO MAKE MEDITATION EASY

mindbodygreen.com

If your meditations leave you feeling overwhelmed and frustrated, you may be working too hard to find inner peace. Yes, there is such a thing as trying too hard to meditate.

When a simple practice like meditation becomes associated with hard work, it naturally falls into the dreaded “chore” category — which means you’ll resist doing it until you absolutely have no choice.

Instead, we want meditation to be in the “rest” category, along with sleeping and taking energy-replenishing power naps. And we all know that everyone loves a good nap after a long, trying day.

Getting meditation into the rest category will allow you to feel the benefits a lot easier. And as a result, you’ll look forward to meditating again the next day. But without consistency, you won’t reap the benefits (better sleep, less stress, etc.) as easily, and this may further erode your commitment to a daily practice...


4 TINY TWEAKS TO CLEAR ANXIOUS ENERGY + TURN YOUR HOME INTO A ZEN OASIS

mindbodygreen.com

This week, we’re sharing Watkins’ expert techniques for coping with anxiety and stress. To learn more, check out his mindbodygreen class, Meditation for Anxiety: Guided Sessions to Halt Panic Attacks & Feel Calmer Every Day

One of the reasons anxiety levels are on the rise is due to the fact that for the most part, millennials live in isolation. Thanks to the internet, though, we feel like we're more connected than ever. It gets confusing.

Yet, humans are a tribal species, with deep roots in nature. And the more we can live in alignment with our nature roots, the better equipped we will be to stave off anxiety...


FEELING ANXIOUS? THESE 5 SIMPLE TRICKS COULD HELP

mindbodygreen.com

This week, we’re sharing Watkins’ expert techniques for coping with anxiety and stress. To learn more, check out his mindbodygreen class, Meditation for Anxiety: Guided Sessions to Halt Panic Attacks & Feel Calmer Every Day

Everyone is prone to feeling anxious when they experience certain trigger points.

My trigger points are densely packed crowds of people; loud, noisy places; and feeling overwhelmed with work. Yours may be flying, dogs, and public speaking. Someone else's may be relationship conflicts, a lack of control, and open water swimming.

Regardless of what our trigger points are, here are a handful of tactics for overcoming anxiety—or at the very least, coping with it...


THE ONE THING YOU SHOULD DO IF YOU'RE HAVING A PANIC ATTACK

mindbodygreen.com

This week, we’re sharing Watkins’ expert techniques for coping with anxiety and stress. To learn more, check out his mindbodygreen class, Meditation for Anxiety: Guided Sessions to Halt Panic Attacks & Feel Calmer Every Day

A panic attack is by nature mentally debilitating, which means you can't rely on being in a state of mind to always remember what to do in the midst of an attack.

So if you're prone to panic attacks, it's recommended that you practice a specific breathing drill again and again in preparation for future panic attacks.

After all, once the attack begins and your breathing goes, it's hard to claw your way out. The reason we want to practice breathing is because hyperventilation is one of the primary inhibitors of your rational mind. This is why hyperventilating people often forget to exhale, which leads to an increased feeling of drowning or suffocating and increases the fear associated with the panic attack...


MY NO-FAIL, 6-STEP ACCOUNTABILITY PLAN TO MAKE YOUR DREAM A REALITY

mindbodygreen.com

It took me three-and-a-half years to finish writing my first book, The Inner Gym. And if it wasn’t for my iron-clad accountability plan that I put into place after year three, I’d probably still be working on it.

If you’re like me, and you sincerely want to follow through on your passion projects, but you keep coming up with a lot of "important" excuses, then you may also benefit from this simple approach to getting things done.

Here’s how it works...


THE 5 MOST COMMON MEDITATION MYTHS, DEBUNKED 

mindbodygreen.com

There was a time, maybe 20 years ago, when you could only purchase a yoga mat at a yoga studio. Nowadays, you can buy one at any Kmart, which is a clear sign that yoga has saturated the market.

And riding on the heels of the Westernization of yoga is meditation. But unlike yoga, meditation is often misunderstood by those who are new to the practice. Collectively, meditation teachers have done a poor job with explaining what meditation is and how it works, because many of us don’t fully understand it ourselves.

As a result, people who are new to meditation often find it extremely difficult, with scant returns. Others have written it off as a nice idea, and that it's ultimately a waste of time.

How can a practice that is supposed to be so beneficial, also be so challenging? ...


LIGHT WATKINS ON KALE SALADS, FOLLOWING YOUR HEART, HIS FAVORITE CARDIO, AND #WELLTH

mindbodygreen.com

I’ve spent the past year thinking a lot about “wellth”—the idea that success is found in a lifestyle devoted to mental, physical, and emotional health. (I even wrote a book about it.) In this new series, we’re celebrating visionaries who embody what it means to be wellthy. 

Light Watkins is a Santa Monica–based meditation teacher, author, TEDx speaker, and great friend to mbg. He's also a devoted meditation practitioner of 15 years. Here, he shares some of they key components of his healthy lifestyle...


3 SIMPLE MEDITATION TECHNIQUES (PICK ONE & STICK WITH IT)

mindbodygreen.com

Light Watkins is a Santa Monica–based meditation practitioner who has been teaching for the past eight years. This week, we’re sharing Watkins’ expert techniques for coping with anxiety and stress. To learn more, check out his mindbodygreen class, Meditation for Anxiety: Guided Sessions to Halt Panic Attacks & Feel Calmer Every Day.

Ever wonder what you are supposed to be doing in meditation, or if you're even doing it correctly?

There are actually several ways to meditate on your own. Generally speaking, the more structure you have, the better your results will be. Meditation is a practice that becomes exponentially more effective with consistency.

Here are some of my favorite beginner techniques for those wanting to begin a regular meditation practice...


30 SIGNS YOU'RE BENEFITING FROM MEDITATION, EVEN IF IT FEELS LIKE YOU'RE NOT

mindbodygreen.com

Meditation is a practice that can feel wildly counterintuitive. One morning you're floating in a blissful paradise, and the next your mind is busier than Times Square on New Year's Eve. It's sometimes impossible to know whether or not your meditation is actually working.

The mistake new meditators often make is to look for signs of success within the meditation itself. But success in meditation should not be measured by the frequency or content of your thoughts during the practice. True success can only be determined by what happens outside of your daily practice.

Below are 30 less obvious but more accurate ways of gauging success in meditation. In other words, if you're new to meditation and you begin noticing any of the following changes, rest assured your meditation is working in spite of how busy your mind may seem during the practice...


7 SIMPLE HACKS TO IMPROVE YOUR SLEEP TONIGHT

mindbodygreen.com

Does it take you longer than normal to fall asleep? Are you easily awoken in the night? Do you have trouble falling back to sleep once you are awoken, or wake up in the morning tired and wishing that sleep worked better?

If you answered yes to any of these questions, you are most likely sleep deprived.

Being sleep deprived can have serious long-term mental and physical health consequences, such as weight gain, heart problems, an inability to focus, and more.

Here are seven simple hacks that you can use to improve the quality of your sleep, starting tonight...


THE 5-MINUTE PRACTICE THAT TOTALLY TRANSFORMED MY WORKDAY

mindbodygreen.com

We talk a lot on mindbodygreen about the benefits of meditation: clearer thoughts, improved sleep, and increased focus. I meditate sporadically, but it’s far from a consistent practice. It’s something I aspire to, but, you know — life. Since I’m doing the month of mindfulness with the #Mindful30 Challenge, however, there is no excuse good enough.

We’re lucky to have a meditation room at mindbodygreen (how cool is that?!), so after a two-month meditation hiatus I decided to make a visit.

Before I began, my mind was racing. I felt guilty taking 30 minutes to sit and do nothing while at work and anxious about what emails I’d miss. If I had to stay at the office later than I planned as a result of meditation time, I wouldn’t make yoga class or have time to clean my apartment and do laundry. (The horror!)

Thankfully, my co-workers reminded me of my task, and begrudgingly, I ventured into the meditation room...


7 WAYS PARTNERED MEDITATION WILL IMPROVE YOUR RELATIONSHIP

mindbodygreen.com

More and more couples are realizing that meditation can be a “secret weapon” for staying together and thriving in their partnership. As a longtime meditation teacher, I’ve taught many couples over the years, and here are some key ways that I’ve seen relationships improve when both partners start meditating:

Heightened intuition:

Many couples are either blind to the subtle changes their partners are experiencing or they ignore them, thinking that their partner will eventually revert to their old ways. But when couples begin meditating, they each tend to develop a more refined sense of intuition, which allows them to “see” the subtle changes within their partnership dynamic and address them before they become potentially problematic or, at the very least, adapt to the change...


SNEAKY PLACES YOU CAN MEDITATE ON THE GO

mindbodygreen.com

While it’s ideal to wake up early, enjoy a cup a tea, read from a spiritual book, and sit in front of your meditation alter to dive into bliss for 15 or 20 minutes, some days will inevitably feel frantic and rushed. And you may find yourself racing to school or work without meditating. But all hope is not lost—you can still get your meditation in by taking your practice on the road. Here are some of my favorite go-to public places to meditate, as well as recommendations for who would likely use them...

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15 LITTLE CHOICES THAT WILL MAKE YOU HAPPY NOW

mindbodygreen.com

There’s a science to being happy, and it’s not as complicated as we sometimes think. According to research from happiness expert Sonja Lyubomirsky, only about 10 percent of our happiness comes from external circumstances (where we live, how much money we earn, etc.). We get another 50 percent of our happiness from our genes. And 40 percent is within our control. It comes directly from the choices we make.

Science now tells us that the lifestyle portion of our happiness is the only part that’s within our control, and we can optimize it by making tiny changes in how we live. Here are 15 scientifically proven suggestions for where to start...


7 EXCUSES PEOPLE MAKE FOR NOT MEDITATING (IS YOURS ON THE LIST?)

mindbodygreen.com

Occasionally, we can all talk ourselves out of doing the very things that we know are good for us, whether it's eating clean, exercising, or staying committed to our spiritual practices.

I've personally used some very lame excuses to justify my mediocre behavior in the past, and to be honest, I still do it with new habits I’m trying to form. I also did it in my first few years of meditating.

Below, I've listed some of my old meditation excuses, and some others I’ve heard over the years. I've also included ways to reframe them in an effort to motivate you to begin meditating again...


WHY MEDITATION ISN'T BLISS ALL THE TIME

mindbodygreen.com

I’ll admit that I’ve certainly had my moments of utter bewilderment at the vulgarization of meditation in mass-marketing.

As meditation has with met high-capitalist culture, we’ve witnessed the loss of a certain elegance in how, historically, these techniques were once imparted. I’ll also admit that I’m more than willing to jump on the band-wagon.

I will happily "radiate bliss" and dress in white (and frequently tight) yoga clothes, assume lotus position, make a mudra and smile serenely in front of an ocean backdrop, if it brings more people to the great gift of mind-training techniques. I’m pragmatic and therefore willing to encounter a little personal and professional shame in the name of meditation.

The only qualm I have is that it’s all a bit misleading...

As any experienced meditator will tell you: it isn’t all bliss and bountiful light...


3 REASONS EVERYONE SHOULD TRY ALTERNATE NOSTRIL BREATHING

mindbodygreen.com

Conscious breathing exercises, or pranayama, are a big part of yoga, and they're among the key tools I use as a psychologist — particularly when working with clients who are experiencing stress or anxiety. In Western contexts, diaphragmatic breathing is the most commonly known breathing technique but new scientific research is beginning to shed light on other pranayama techniques and their benefits.

Breathing consciously is a powerful act. The process of breathing sits directly at the interface of our voluntary nervous system (aspects of our physiology under our conscious control) and our autonomic nervous system (aspects generally not under conscious control). It’s a direct path for us to communicate quickly to the brain via what we do with our body. It also offers a direct link for balancing the sympathetic (fight-or-flight) and parasympathetic (rest-and-relax) branches of the nervous system...


HOW MEDITATION LENGTHENS TELOMERES + IMPROVES OVERALL BRAIN POWER

mindbodygreen.com

Editor's note: By now we're all familiar with the many benefits of a regular meditation practice, but do we really know how exactly it's affecting our brain power? Psychologist and meditation expert Dr. Paula Watkins breaks it down for us with plenty of scientific research to back it up.

Here are five ways that meditation changes the brain, and how those changes lead to tangible benefits for you.

1. Meditation keeps your hippocampus healthy to enhance learning and memory.

The hippocampus is a small region of the brain buried deep within the subcortex. It plays important roles in learning, emotion regulation and specifically helps with the consolidation of information, from the short-term to long-term memory.

In 2011, researchers at Harvard were among the first to demonstrate that just eight weeks of mindfulness meditation training caused significant increase in the thickness of the hippocampus...


MEDITATION WILL REFINE YOUR BS-METER + 4 OTHER SURPRISING BENEFITS

mindbodygreen.com

Most of the strongest benefits of meditation occur outside of your practice, in other parts of your life. I’ve personally taught close to 2,000 people to meditate, and here are some common improvements that I’ve seen in the lives of my meditation students:

1. Whatever is bad about you will fade into the background.

What’s “good” or “bad” are subjective terms that often have no basis in reality. However, we all have aspects of ourselves that we may not be proud of. It could be overeating, indulging in pornography, biting our nails, physical laziness, displaying bad behavior in relationships, or some other undesirable trait. We know we have the ability to do better, but we can’t find the motivation to make the necessary changes that doing better would require. One of the most significant benefits of meditation is that it helps to release stress from our bodies—and you can bet that stress plays a role in nearly every bad habit and unpleasant characteristic that we are ashamed of but can’t seem to change. With daily practice, our bodies get liberated from the shackling effects of stress, and we find that our bad habits no longer have the same grip on us as before...


HOW TO GET THE EFFECTS OF MASTURBATING WITHOUT DOING IT

mindbodygreen.com

There's no denying that people love to masturbate. It's the second most common human sex act, according to Martha Cornog inThe Big Book of Masturbation. People masturbate for a variety of reasons, aside from the obvious sexual benefits:

  • To create a sense of well-being
  • To improve sleep
  • To increase self-esteem and improve body image
  • To reduce stress
  • To ease tension and pain

While masturbation helps us cope with the above issues, it may not be the best natural remedy for overcoming them. In 2011, Scientific American published a groundbreaking article comparing the benefits derived through orgasm to those that occur in the other activity that people do right before going to sleep: meditation...


7 SUPER SIMPLE TIPS FOR ANYONE WHO IS NEW TO MEDITATING

mindbodygreen.com

Are you determined to teach yourself how to meditate and start a new daily routine? Good! There are countless benefits to a daily meditation practice, though it might be challenging to get started. If you're new to meditation, you’ll want to make sure you follow this cheat sheet of insider tips, strategies, and best practices, so you get the most out of your efforts.

There’s no rule that says meditation is only effective if done on the floor.

1. Make friends with your mind.

Monkey mind syndrome (when you're trying to concentrate but your mind is jumping around) is incredibly common, as you will learn when you start meditating. The way to overcome it might surprise you...


A QUICK MENTAL EXERCISE TO BRIGHTEN YOUR OUTLOOK

mindbodygreen.com

During my first years living in Los Angeles, I made a daily ritual of jogging up Runyon Canyon, a rocky, inclined hiking trail nestled in the Hollywood Hills. My good friend Will joined me on most mornings. Our slow, uphill runs served as strong exercise, as well as opportunities to workshop solutions to everyday work, family, and relationship challenges. Since we were both full-time yoga teachers, many of the resolutions we came up with incorporated Eastern principles, such as being “Self-referral.”

Self-referral means looking within yourself to uncover the root of a challenge or complaint — as opposed to being “object-referral,” which means to blame a problem on someone else, or external circumstances. For instance, I experienced a decline in modeling jobs during my last couple of years living in New York. I initially blamed it on the economy, but I also knew that I was no longer passionate about being a fashion model.

Was my lack of bookings a reflection of the down economy (the object), or my lack of passion (the Self)? Being Self-referral means you give equal consideration to your mindset and actions surrounding a problem as the potential cause of the problem; after all, our thoughts have creative power. In my case, there were other models who were thriving in the fashion industry, while I was barely scraping by — so it couldn’t have solely been the economy...


5 BOOKS THAT WILL INSPIRE YOU TO FINALLY TAKE THAT LEAP OF FAITH

mindbodygreen.com

Have you thought about making a career change? Perhaps doing something you feel more passionate about? Or quitting your job and traveling the world?

You're not the only one. Many of us indulge in these types of fantasies. And some people actually act on it — there’s a historical precedent of people with established careers leaping into the unknown, in search of a life with more meaning and fulfillment.

When I was in my early 20s, I quit my dream job in advertising to travel the world and “find myself.” Cliché, I know. Of course, leaving behind the financial security was scary. But looking back, it was the best decision I ever made, and the thrill of not knowing how it would all turn out made it that much more exciting.

One thing that helped me immensely was reading the tales of others who’d embarked upon similar journeys. Here, I want to share with you five of my favorite books about people who traded a life of outer stability for an exploration into something greater — their passion. Warning: Each of these books will cause you to seriously reconsider your status quo and make big changes in your life.

1. Be Here Now

Be Here Now, with its unmistakable indigo cover and brown-paper-bag pages has long been a gateway book for quitting your job and going on a spiritual quest. It’s the firsthand account of how Dr. Richard Alpert, a professor who had been handed “the keys to the kingdom,” by Harvard’s psychology department, transformed into the Western luminary we now know as Ram Dass...


10 AMAZING BENEFITS OF MEDITATING EVERY MORNING

mindbodygreen.com

My morning routine has been the same for years: I wake up at around 6 a.m. in eager anticipation of my first meditation of the day. I start by freshening up in the bathroom, then I go back to my bed and sit with my eyes closed for 20 minutes before getting ready for work. I’ve been following this routine each day for more than a decade.

Ironically, I don’t consider myself to be a particularly disciplined person. Like many people, I don’t look forward to doing things that don’t provide me with some type of immediate gratification. But I stick to my because it not only leaves me with a tangible feeling of clarity to start my day, but the ripple effects of meditating extend throughout other important areas of my day and life.

Surely you’ve heard about all the scientific benefits of how meditation changes your brain and rests the body. But here are 10 practical, unexpected benefits that occur as a direct result of a consistent morning meditation routine:

1. It’ll be easier for you to switch on “beast mode.”

For men, meditation can cause our testosterone levels to increase, which results in bigger, stronger muscles, and more energy while working out. Plus, your workout will seem much more enticing when you’re more rested and less stressed — a by-product of your morning meditation...


SAD? ANGRY? HAPPY? HERE'S A MEDITATION FOR YOU

mindbodygreen.com

If you think you always need to be calm in order to meditate, that's like saying you're too out of shape to hop on a treadmill. In fact, there are meditation techniques you can use to rebalance certain moods. If you’re feeling pissed at someone, for instance, there’s a meditation for that. Dealing with a heavy loss? There’s a technique for that, too.

So let's think of meditation as a "treadmill" for becoming more relaxed, especially when you’re feeling emotional. In fact, that’s exactly when you should run to meditate (no pun intended)! Here are four quick and simple meditation techniques for rebalancing common moods we all experience...


15 THINGS I’VE LEARNED FROM TEACHING MEDITATION FOR 10 YEARS

mindbodygreen.com

If you would’ve asked me during my childhood in Alabama what I wanted to be when I grew up, becoming a meditation teacher wouldn’t have been one of my answers. Even as an adult, I didn’t know I wanted to teach meditation — that is, until I met my meditation teacher when I was 29 years old.

I was between careers, and got invited to a meditation talk. I went along reluctantly, and as soon as the meditation teacher came out and started talking, I thought to myself, “Now that’s what I’m meant to do.” Funny how life works. A few years later, I went to India with my meditation teacher and about a dozen of his other proteges, and over three months he trained us in the ancient ways of becoming a meditation teacher.

I started teaching meditation from my one bedroom apartment in West Hollywood in 2007. Since then, I’ve taught nearly 2,000 people personally to meditate — in living rooms, yoga studios, wellness centers, nightclubs (that happened once in Miami), hotels, parks, you name it. I’ve taught people from all walks of life. Here are some of the more remarkable things I’ve learned from teaching meditation..


7 RADICAL WAYS TO RECLAIM RESPONSIBILITY FOR YOUR OWN HAPPINESS

mindbodygreen.com

A recent Harris poll reported that only 33% of Americans describe themselves as being “very happy.”

So does that mean that not all happiness is equal? Assuming there are different grades of happiness, how can we go from minimal, short-term happiness, to long-term happiness which no doubt equates to being very happy?

Short-term happiness would be the thinnest form of happiness, I imagine, because it means you’re only happy for a reason. In other words, you got a new job, a new relationship, or maybe you’re finally getting that divorce — and therefore, you’re happy.

And while no form of happiness is permanent, this form of happiness appears to be the most fleeting. Because what happens if you don’t like your new job, or if your new partner leaves you for someone else after a week? The initial happiness will probably fade quicker than a temporary tattoo.

Being very happy, on the other hand, is where your happiness can survive work drama or bleak dating prospects...


5 MISTAKES NEW MEDITATORS MAKE + WHAT TO DO INSTEAD

mindbodygreen.com

A recent Harris poll reported that only 33% of Americans describe themselves as being “very happy.”

So does that mean that not all happiness is equal? Assuming there are different grades of happiness, how can we go from minimal, short-term happiness, to long-term happiness which no doubt equates to being very happy?

Short-term happiness would be the thinnest form of happiness, I imagine, because it means you’re only happy for a reason. In other words, you got a new job, a new relationship, or maybe you’re finally getting that divorce — and therefore, you’re happy.

And while no form of happiness is permanent, this form of happiness appears to be the most fleeting. Because what happens if you don’t like your new job, or if your new partner leaves you for someone else after a week? The initial happiness will probably fade quicker than a temporary tattoo.

Being very happy, on the other hand, is where your happiness can survive work drama or bleak dating prospects...


TRY THIS 3-MINUTE MEDITATION TO CHILL OUT

mindbodygreen.com

I call this the three-minute mind shower. It’s a quick and effective practice for releasing stress, balancing your nervous system, and refreshing your mind that you can use at any time throughout your day. Below I'll walk you through the meditation minute by minute; then set your timer and get started!

1. Minute 1

Bring your awareness into your body and mind. Begin with the breath — tune in and explore the quality of your breath in this moment. Move to your body; notice what sensations are present in this moment. Now ask yourself what is the nature of my emotions and mind in this moment? Welcome all experiences...


HOW LONG SHOULD YOU MEDITATE?

mindbodygreen.com

Do you often wonder how long you should meditate for?

Is it 20 minutes twice daily, or once-a-day for an hour? What about ten minutes in the morning?

I call this the "optimal dosage question" and it gets asked, pretty much without fail, whenever the topic of meditation is being discussed. What's often behind it is a desire to know, "What's the minimum I need to practice in order to get results?".

It's a Western question, with a Western mindset.

To put it simply, we are all different. Neuroscience knows this. Psychology knows this. Turns out even the Buddha knew this. The Abhidhamma (a Buddhist psychology text) is explicit in clarifying that different people will respond to different meditation techniques and should be taught according to their individual needs...


9 THINGS YOU NEED TO KNOW TODAY 

mindbodygreen.com

1. Micro greens are like, really good for you.

Science tells us that micro greens (kind of like sprouts) can have four to six times more nutrients than "mature" greens. The bad news is they're much more expensive. Luckily, you can grow your own! (Time)

2. Brits are getting more active.

Sales of fitness trackers and smartwatches are up 118 percent in 2015. (Wareable)

3. Some of your favorite retail brands are also super-sustainable.

Corporate Knights, a "magazine for clean capitalism," ranked 100 of the world's most sustainable corporations. The top 20 included activewear brand Adidas and H&M, thanks to their Conscious Collection. (Racked) ...


NYC IS ABOUT TO MAKE HISTORY WITH A MASS MEDITATION IN CENTRAL PARK

mindbodygreen.com

With meditation fast becoming mainstream, the mission behind The Big Quiet is to deepen our real-time interactions with others and make meditation a part of our culture — much like music, art and food — fostering a sense of community and interconnectedness. The free event is hosted by Medi Club, a group of hundreds of "modern meditators" along with the folks at SummerStage.

Jesse Israel, a Medi Club member, wants to show New Yorkers that meditation doesn't have to be new agey. "We're hosting the event to create awareness for meditation within modern city living," he said in an email.

Newcomers to the practice are welcome, too — Medi Club members will be available onsite for guidance. They'll also be sharing a simple 5-minute meditation technique, though no teachers will actually be leading the meditation. Everyone is invited to practice the style of meditation that resonates with them the most.

Meditation teacher and frequent mindbodygreen contributor Light Watkins will be there, ready for meditation to taken center stage. "The Big Quiet is to meditators what the Star Trek Convention is for Trekkies," he said, "we've been holed up in our apartments meditating alone and finally we get to do it with a large community of like-minded folks." ...


DON'T FALL FOR THESE 3 MEDITATION MYTHS

mindbodygreen.com

Do you find meditation difficult? Then it just might surprise you that the "common knowledge" about how to meditate, can often be based on myth and misconception.

Here are three common myths about meditation, and how to debunk them.

Myth #1: You have to free your mind of thoughts.

Tempting as this is to believe, it's simply just not true. Ask any experienced meditator and they'll set you straight.

Here's the thing: mind's think! It's what they do. Just as it is the nature of the heart to beat, it is the nature of the mind to think. Thinking is not necessarily a problem  actually, it's rather essential. But problems arise when we give up our power to thoughts  we believe them, react to them and can no longer see them for what they really are...


WHAT EVERYONE SHOULD KNOW ABOUT POSITIVE PSYCHOLOGY

mindbodygreen.com

Happiness isn't merely the absence of suffering. Happiness is a big concept to define, and I won’t even attempt a thorough exploration here (there are entire — and really big — books on that topic for the interested reader), but thanks to developments in positive psychology in recent decades, we can determine some key factors that foster freakishly high levels of happiness, vitality and well-being. They include:

  • optimism
  • realization and cultivation of character strength
  • insight and self-awareness
  • purpose, passion and meaning
  • mindfulness of moments

Knowledge of these facts and virtues is one thing, but in many ways happiness means swimming upstream against some pretty ingrained biological and cultural patterns that take us in the opposite direction.

Optimism is great, but the human brain has a negativity bias. Thankfully, optimism can be learned, because brains can be (re) trained...


INSTEAD OF MAKING A NEW YEAR'S RESOLUTION, TRY THIS

mindbodygreen.com

Let’s get one thing clear: I'm not against New Year’s Resolutions. It’s just that I’ve found something better. There’s an almost sacred symbolism embedded in the New Year celebration, and I’m all for that. It’s a time for renewal, a time to review, reflect and re-prioritize for the year ahead. The problem is that it’s a whole year ahead, which means (a) it doesn’t take a year to make a stable change, and (b) it takes a lot less than a year to forget a promise you made to yourself.

Perhaps all went well with your last resolution. If so, you might like to stop reading. If not, join me, because this isn't an article about New Year’s resolutions. 

Thanks to my yoga practice, I discovered the New and Full Moon Rhythm as an alternative to the New Year’s resolution, and when I started it felt like a “duh” moment — like, “Why haven’t I been doing this my whole life? It seems so sensible.” It also fits with my understanding of human behavior change and where my training as a clinical psychologist meets my training and practice as a yogini.

New Moon Resolutions and Full Moon Reflections have changed my life, and in watching clients I’ve seen this rhythm work equally well for yogis and non-yogis alike. Suffice it to say this approach isn’t unique to yoga. In many cultures, the new and full moon periods are sacred times for ritual, ceremony and the setting of intentions/goals...


IS YOUR MENTAL DIET BRINGING YOU DOWN?

mindbodygreen.com

What we put in our bodies runs deep. Deep into our veins, deep into the cells that make up “us.” This we know. We know that a teaspoon of sugar triggers an immediate cascade of reactions — insulin is secreted and the adrenals fire into action. In the long term, dozens, hundreds and (gasp) thousands of teaspoons of sugar can have enormous consequences. Diabetes, anyone? Fancy chronic inflammation, mood swings?

But what about what we put into our minds? Just how deep does the information we register run? What happens in the brain and nervous system when we watch pointless violence? What happens when we eat up advertising designed (yes, intentionally) to make us think we’re not enough — that we need more stuff to be OK? What happens when we cultivate thoughts of separation? What happens within our minds when we act on those thoughts?

What we do with our minds runs deep, and our mental diets matter...


10 PITFALLS KEEPING YOU FROM AN AWESOME MEDITATION

mindbodygreen.com

There are many guidelines out there for how to meditate. But it’s also good to understand whatnot to do in meditation. Here are 10 common pitfalls that keep you from getting the full benefit of your practice. 

1. Engaging in a power struggle

Your mind wants to use your meditation time to think about your unpaid bills, but you would rather focus on a white light image. Guess which thoughts are going to win? The thoughts about bills. Every time. The more you resist them, the more they will persist. So if you want to make meditation feel a hundred times easier, practice leaning in to the unwanted thoughts, and surprisingly, they will start to go away on their own...


YES, MEDITATION CAN MAKE YOU A BETTER PERSON

mindbodygreen.com

We humans can be nasty things. Dr Zimbardo’s now famous 1971 psychology experiments and any basic history lesson make that abundantly clear. I didn’t go to a private girls school but I’m often told that’s a whole other lesson in meanness itself. We get drawn into separating "us" from "them" to the point of inter-group conflict (on minor and mass scales) and our brains (yes, our brains) are hardwired to discriminate and categorize our human brothers and sisters according to surface similarities.

On the other hand, we humans can also be an awesomely benevolent, compassionate and loving species. Hot off the research presses, we have a creative study exploring how a six-week practice of loving-kindness meditation can reduce stigmatizing and discriminatory attitudes towards homeless people. Interestingly, just talking about loving-kindness didn’t produce the same positive result — it turns out you have to actually do the practice...


EVERYONE HAS A TO-DO LIST. HERE'S HOW TO MAKE IT PART OF YOUR MEDITATION

mindbodygreen.com

Ah, those to-do lists. Thoughts about all the "stuff" we need to do are a special part of meditation — especially for us modern folk.

We sit, and we focus on our breath. We do so for approximately 25 seconds before we focus on what I like to call the mental choreography of our day. We create the list(s), run through the moves, shuffle, reschedule and post reminders — including the reminder to meditate. Then we return to the breath.

Mental choreography is often viewed as a problem and hindrance, something that gets in the way of the meditative "good stuff." But, as usual, the problem is only a problem when we perceive it to be.

Planning for the future (including the movements of the day ahead) is a part of our brain’s job description. It knows that rehearsal is important for performance and rehearse it will do. Such planning is hardwired into the most ancient structures of the brain. In fact, it’s all part of how the brain copes with the uncertainty of the future. When we understand, and accept, that (and why) the mind will wander off onto our to-do lists, we can learn to accept both moments of mental choreography as well as the moments in between...


7 SUREFIRE SIGNS YOU'RE FOLLOWING YOUR HEART

mindbodygreen.com

Why do we often second-guess the messages and directives from our heart? Isn’t the heart supposed to be looking out for our best interests — a sort of internal GPS for our personal growth and evolution? 

Maybe it’s because unlike the clear directions we get from the GPS, heart messages can sometimes feel vague, often leading us out of our comfort zone. Or, we want to be sure that it’s truly our heart we’re following and not our head.

If there have been times of confusion in deciphering which are the genuine heart messages, here's a little primer to let you know when you’re on the right track...


8 WIDELY HELD BELIEFS YOU'LL RECONSIDER AFTER YOU START MEDITATING

mindbodygreen.com

Daily meditation, like many other foundational practices, can uproot and shed light onto some of the nearest and dearest beliefs we hold about ourselves and the world we live in.

Over time and practice, some of those beliefs will be reshaped, while others might be replaced completely by much higher levels of understanding that you will inevitably experience within.

My 15 years of meditating have influenced me to re-examine several of my most strongly-held beliefs about how life works, and my place in it.

Here are some of the more commonly held beliefs that I’ve heard other long-term meditators bring into question after their first few years of daily meditation...


9 COMMON QUESTIONS ABOUT MEDITATION THAT WILL LEAD YOU ASTRAY

mindbodygreen.com

Now that meditation has escaped from hippie communes and infiltrated the highest levels of government (Rep. Tim Ryan), finance (Ray Dalio), business (Richard Branson), sports (Phil Jackson), entertainment (Jerry Seinfeld), hip-hop (Russell Simmons), and tech (Google Headquarters), more people are searching for meditation than ever before.

The only problem is, figuring out how to start meditating often leaves the beginner feeling confused. I don't blame them; when it comes to getting a solid foundation with meditation, many of the obvious questions you may think to ask will actually lead you down a deeper rabbit hole of confusion.

Below, we’ll take a look at each common question, why it’s misleading, and look at better way to find the information that will lead you to a sustainable meditation practice...


8 THINGS I WISH EVERYONE WOULD STOP SAYING ABOUT MEDITATION

mindbodygreen.com

Now that meditation is becoming more of a mainstream thing, there is a sea of confusion around many aspects of the practice such as:

  • How best to learn
  • What to do about all of the thoughts
  • Whether you even need to meditate

This lack of understanding is leading well-intentioned practitioners and poorly-trained teachers to imply things about meditation that are at best misleading, and at worst, contributing to the mass ignorance surrounding this beautiful, yet simple practice.

Here I’ll break down some of the most common misinformed remarks you've probably heard about meditation, which will hopefully bring you some clarity and greater comprehension...


4 REASONS THIS MEDITATION TEACHER WON'T DO AYAHUASCA

mindbodygreen.com

Every now and again, a meditation student of mine will ask me what I think about ayahuasca.

For those who don’t know, ayahuasca is a non-addictive plant medicine that you drink in a controlled environment (ideally with an expertly-trained shaman present). Over the course of several hours, typically overnight, ayahuasca can cause you to have intense visions, psycho-emotional releases and physical purging.

Reported benefits include clarity about your life choices and physical detoxification. Some are even calling it "the new juice cleanse."

"While I’m all for a good detox, I don’t have to detox everything out in one night." ...


MEDITATION CHRONICLES (PART 1) 

A REAL-WORLD VIEW INTO THE LIFE OF A MEDITATION TEACHER

Medium.com ( "The Lighthouse")

This morning, I woke up without an alarm at around 6:30am, gathered my thoughts for about five or ten minutes, and then slid up to the headboard of my bed, grabbed the pashmina that I keep at the foot of my bed and wrapped it around me. I then opened my iPhone digital clock app, sat it on one side of me while Peewee, my girlfriend’s pug, snuggled up to the other side, and I closed my eyes to begin my morning meditation.

The beginning of the experience was full of thoughts about the coming day. I glanced at my clock periodically. Peewee began snoring, which kept me more surface than usual, and there was one point about 12 minutes in where I wished the time was going by faster. I remember having to make a conscious choice to stick with it. And the next thing I knew, I had over-meditated by a few minutes...


THE STIFFEST YOGA TEACHER IN L.A.

Medium.com ("The Lighthouse")

The year was 1998. I was living New York City and working in fashion.

One night, while weight-lifting at Equinox gym on the Upper West Side of Manhattan, I noticed about a dozen radiant young women congregating outside of the group fitness room. Strapped to their bare shoulders were rolled-up rubber mats.

These women seemed different from the garden-variety aerobic-types. They were all barefoot, and each had a distinct fairy-like glow.

About halfway through my second set of shoulder presses, the door opened and the fairies began quietly filing into the dimly-lit group fitness room.

With the urgency and precision of a heat-seeking missile, my 25-year old hormones convinced me to skip the rest of my workout and investigate whatever was happening in that room...


THE 10 COMMANDMENTS OF NEW-AGE SPIRITUALITY

Medium.com ("The Lighthouse")

I could be wrong about these, but…

  1. Thou shalt never profess “I am spiritual, not religious.” We get it… you identify primarily with your spirit. When you are asked the inappropriate question, “Are you religious?” and you answer, “I’m spiritual, not religious,” it’s a bit condescending because A) One thing has nothing to do with the other, and B) We all identify with our spirit to some degree. It’s like a black person answering the same question with, “I am black, not religious.” The correct answer is simply, “No, I’m not religious.” ...

THE NEW SUCCESS

HOW TO MEASURE SUCCESS IN THE MILLENNIAL ERA

Medium.com ("The Lighthouse")

Financial

Old: How much money did you make?
New: How much money did you give?

Relationship

Old: How long did it last?
New: To what degree could you be yourself?

Business

Old: Length of employment & amount of raises
New: Having passion & purpose ...


WHAT IT’S LIKE TO GIVE A TED TALK

15 UNEXPECTED THINGS I LEARNED FROM GIVING MY TEDX TALK IN VENICE BEACH

Medium.com ("The Lighthouse")

I received an email in December 2014, inviting me to give a TED talk on meditation in February 2015 in Venice, CA.

One of the members of the selection committee for TEDx Venice Beach had just completedmy meditation training, and thought that it would be good to include a talk about meditation.

I eagerly accepted and began six weeks of intense preparation, neglecting just about everything else I had on my plate, including promotions for my new book that was just published a couple of weeks before...


THE EVOLUTION OF THE SHINE

A BEHIND-THE-SCENES LOOK AT STARTING A MOVEMENT TO INSPIRE

Medium.com ("The Lighthouse")

After living in L.A. for over twelve years, I realized how Los Angelenos are starved for community, or at least the kind of community that leaves you feeling uplifted.

I also have a wide range of interests:

As a meditation teacher, naturally I see a fit for meditation in many of the activities that I do. If I camp, I meditate. If I take a road trip, I meditate. If I party, I also want to meditate. Like most people, I also love good storytelling. Music-wise, I listen to everything from Tupac to Krishna Das. I am obsessed with asking people (and strangers in particular) hypothetical questions. And I really love stand-up comedy, often listening to Bill Burr, Louis C.K., and Katt Williams while I’m driving or while working out.

There was obviously no place to go in Los Angeles that had the confluence of all of those experiences.