Tag Archives: yogi

Why There’s No Such Thing as a “Bad” Meditation

shutterstock_63307786My morning meditation was fairly half-assed. I didn’t ride my bike at sunrise to my preferred Buddhist center in Cambridge, over the Mass Ave. bridge with the elegant crew boats manned by chiseled athletes sculling the Charles River below, sit in silence for 45-minutes, and emerge a more kind, patient, and productive person afterward. Sometimes, my meditation is like this, but not today.

Today, it was 5-minutes, dutifully timed by my iPhone. I sat on my loveseat, which is not hippie code-speak for a special form of cushion or zafu. It’s just a loveseat from West Elm. I didn’t even light a candle. No time. No need, really.

It’s tempting to judge this juxtaposition of experiences. One looks, sounds, and feels more Zen. The other looks, sounds, and feels like nothing much. My reason for mentioning any of this is that, in my experience doing yoga and meditating since the age of 16 (I’m now 34), it’s become clear that people genuinely want to meditate. They may even go so far as to get a routine going, perhaps started on a retreat or with the help of a guided program by a local teacher or remote one via the Internet or audio files by Deepak Chopra (friends raved about his 30-day program with Oprah earlier this year) or Jon Kabat-Zinn, to whom I introduce all new meditators (his resources are so lovely and accessible).

Then, we fall off the wagon. It’s not as easy back home as it was in Tulum with the ocean waves crashing outside and only pressing responsibility being to get to the dining hall for fresh fruit and herbal tea afterward. We don’t have much space at home and no real cushion or seat meant for meditating. It’s trash day, and the damn truck outside is so noisy. We’re already late for work. We didn’t get enough sleep. We overslept. I just don’t wanna we mentally whine, or we forget altogether. It happens.

Alternatively, some never try (for any length of time, at least). They mean to. They want to. They hear meditation would be good for them. It reduces stress, relieves anxiety, increases focus, combats depression, and on and on. Many people can practically recite the benefits by heart despite never encountering them. It’s just so hard, they lament, gamely resigned to an immutable fate. They’re just “not good at it.”

Here’s the good news: it’s not possible to be bad at meditation. There’s doing it and not doing it. That’s all. If you want to try: try. And be assured that it doesn’t always look, sound, or feel Zen. Sometimes, it feels wretched or boring or like nothing much at all. It doesn’t matter how long or where you sit, whether roused by an antique Buddhist gong or iPhone.

All experiences of meditation are good and valuable because they cultivate the skill of being present, of strengthening the mind. How many other skills would we expect to master without much practice, especially life-altering ones? Even your chaturanga took a while, didn’t it? Moreover, it’s not only the immediate results of meditation from which we benefit. They accumulate over time, whether 45-minutes here or 5-minutes there. Like modern yoga, depictions and descriptions of meditation can be very skewed, prioritizing the beautiful, effortless, and happy–no itchy noses or furrowed brows– which is why it’s important to gently remind ourselves that these are images.

Forget the images. Forget how other people do it. Grab a spot, set a timer, close your eyes, and breathe. That’s all. It might not look like much, but when it amounts to you being less dominated by your thoughts, emotions, agenda, and judgments and more at peace with yourself, it’s everything you need.

Originally published on my website, Om Gal.

Thich Nhat Hanh’s Greatest Teaching on Love and Mindfulness


The first time I was exposed to well-known Buddhist monk, peace activist, and author Thich Nhat Hanh, who visited Boston over the weekend, was when I read his book, Miracle of Mindfulness in a college course on Buddhism. I still recall one of our homework assignments for the class. We had to wash the dishes…which was awesome for my roommates. I’d pulled dish duty. A monk said so.

But, the assignment wasn’t to wash the dishes the way any of us typically wash the dishes, dashing off a chore so that we can move on to something better. Instead, the assignment required us to wash the dishes while being fully present and mindful. Never mind what happens next. We were learning through real-life practice that the powerful moment–the only one over which we have any guarantee or influence–is the one happening now. Don’t wait until later to be compassionate or kind, attentive and aware. A mind does not get stronger that way. It stays distracted and anxious about what comes next… And after that?… And then what?

On Sunday, in Copley Square, I was again reminded how miraculous mindfulness can be. I went with the expectation that I’d sit quietly, among hundreds of other people, in the presence of a revered Zen master, but didn’t anticipate much more. I knew it would feel meaningful and maybe solemn. I imagined we’d hear car horns or passing Duck Tours as we meditated. Quack, quack! I hoped he’d speak a little bit. Hopefully, we could hear and understand him. I momentarily wondered if it was unsafe to congregate in an open and vulnerable public space doing something spiritual, possibly viewed as religious. After all, we were in front of a church, among hundreds of Buddhists, yards from the Boston Marathon finish line, where two bombs went off five months ago to the date.

Trinity Church’s Reverend Dr. William Rich acknowledged this fact as he introduced Thich Nhat Hanh, who was now sitting under the hot sun clad in a knit hat and multiple layers of robes and meditations shawls. Wasn’t he melting? It struck me that it couldn’t be a coincidence, this event to sit in peace and healing near an area subjected to so much suffering a short time ago. The week before had also marked the anniversary of 9/11, the reverend noted. We were still at war and now considering military action in Syria. The day before marked the Jewish holiday of atoning for sins, Yom Kippur. In any number of ways, no matter who you were, the message of the day was clear. We are here to be together in peace. We’re here to practice greater awareness and compassion because the world needs both right now.

Small and centered, the 85-year-old Vietnamese monk in a knitted hat.

Following his introduction, Thich Nhat Hanh did something surprising to some. He said nothing. He didn’t even open his eyes. Instead, he sat silently and meditated, signaling for a typically pulsing cross-section of the city to join him. I don’t recall car horns. Definitely no quacking. A few small children giggled or cried briefly in the crowd, but mostly, it was very quiet.

When he eventually spoke, about 25-minutes later, the famous monk said only this: Breathing in, I am aware of my breath. Breathing out, I am aware of my breath, a simple mantra to set the stage for a talk that would succinctly and poetically teach a diverse group what it means to be mindful and how it creates peace. Next, he said: Breathing in, I enjoy breathing in. Breathing out, I enjoy breathing out.

The mantras and teachings gained momentum from there. We breathed in and out qualities of a mountain’s solidity and stability, water’s stillness and reflection, a flower’s freshness and beauty, and space. Breathing in, I have the element of space within me. Breathing out, I feel free… Space: free. Nothing was too heady. No one was left out. It was the most simple yet moving talk I’ve ever witnessed on meditation or Buddhism. If I was exposed to this teacher first in college, I was now getting schooled in a whole new way.

Then, the talk dovetailed into territory I would not have predicted for an 85-year-old celibate monk: love. It could have easily represented love for a family member or friend, but to hear a monk use the word darling in three different types of mantras suggested romantic love, and it made everyone smile. Darling, I am here. Darling, I know you are here. Darling, I know that you suffer, and I am here for you.  

“The most precious thing you can offer your loved one is your presence,” he said. “To be present means to be there. How can you love, if you are not there?” His voice was gentle, but the message reverberated. Love (romantic or otherwise) doesn’t work if we’re distracted or hiding– behind suffering, the TV, iPhone, alcohol, who knows. We all have our means of avoiding reality, some healthier than others. To love means to understand suffering, our own and our darling’s.

He linked the two segments of the talk seamlessly– the meditation, breathing, and mantras– with his thoughts on love. We practice meditation so that we can restore our presence and feel more stable, free, fresh, and beautiful. “You cannot buy it in a market,” the adorable monk cautioned in his sing-song accent, of the level of presence needed for true love. “You have to produce it yourself.”

Somewhere along the way, my tear ducts started producing an abundance of water. I was overwhelmed. It was too beautiful maybe, the day, his words, the fact that my present moment looked, felt, and sounded the way it did, and I was sharing it with hundreds of other people, some of whom must have been having a similar experience. Their suffering was all around, their love, too. I felt a hand on my arm, which startled me. It was a kind woman offering a tissue. I could hear others nearby also weeping. Monks and nuns were chanting now, singing the name of Avalokiteshvara, the saint of compassion, and a cello played. Damn cello, gets me every time. Vast blue sky space stretched overhead, and the ground on which we sat felt solid and stable. We were being restored.

The Buddhist monks and nuns chanting… also the cello. Sniff.

Life will always contain suffering, and it will offer opportunities to cultivate compassion, grow love, and strengthen our minds through presence and practice. Copley Square will always be the place where we went after the marathon to leave flowers, candles, sneakers, and letters. It’s where people cried and prayed  Often, they felt hopeless. Today, a proper memorial resides in the same spot, on the periphery of where Thich Nhat Hanh’s meditation event occurred. The earth, there, hugging the edge of the space where so many people sat in peace and thought about love.

I still hurry through the dishes most of the time, and while writing this post, I wolfed down an apple and peanut butter so fast, I barely tasted either of them. My spoon scrapped the bottom of the bowl, and I thought, heyyy, who ate my snack? But, then, a teacher or moment reminds me of the miracle of mindfulness and skill of being present. How I can always practice, beginning simply with breathing in and breathing out. And, sometimes, the expectations in my mind are blown away by the real-life experience.


Originally published on my website, Om Gal.

Watch Russell Brand Give MSNBC Anchors a Piece of His Mind and Lesson in Manners

Russell Brand, comedian and star of such hits as Get Him to the Greek and Forgetting Sarah Marshall, has been the brunt of many tasteless jokes since he rose to fame. Let’s face it: he’s an attractive guy, with a raunchy sense of humor, and a history of escapades. What many don’t realize, though, is that Brand is also a committed yogi, meditator, writer, activist, and more. His real interests and intents, though, are apparently too “serious” for this group of MSNBC news anchors to explore. So they decide to comment, instead, on his appearance, his accent, and what they see as his inherent silliness. Expecting Brand to dance and sing for them like a good celebrity puppet, the anchors get quite a shock when he turns the joke on them and gives them a piece of his mind.

The confrontation is subtle and never fully explodes, but there does appear to be some tension around that table. After Brand’s lengthy explanation of the examples and global situations informing his upcoming stand-up tour, “Messiah Complex,” one of the anchors can do nothing more than comment on the thickness of the comedian’s accent. More than once Brand has to remind the anchors that he is sitting right there and would prefer not to be referred to as “he” and “him.” Basic manners, people. In the final climactic moments, Brand shows them what real, relevant news-casting might look like, taking over reporting duties altogether.

Sex, drugs, and celebrity aside, there are some basic courtesies we would expect professional news-casters to show their guests. We’re glad Brand had the presence of mind to stand up to them, especially as playfully and endearingly as he did.

What do you think? Does Brand’s response seem reasonable to you?

10 Ways You Know You’ve Become the Ultimate Annoying (and Lovable) Transatlantic Yogi

Meditation RoomMost of us may find ourselves wondering sometimes if it’s an upside down world.

But maybe especially so when the journey you’re making means you have to first go bi-coastal across the USA and then carry on to make a transatlantic crossing all in one transit plan. 6000 miles in under 24hrs, multiple stops – with 300 passengers on each of your flights, tens of thousand of people going through airports with you, airline staff, baggage staff, hotel staff and transit drivers: in 24 hrs of less, you get to see the whole world.

It’s intense.

No one can say that yoga can’t help us when we’re involved in as much intensity as this. It’s relaxing, right? It’s stress relieving. It’s stretching. Everyone can use a little yoga on airport days.

But beware. There are signs that you’ve crossed the line from being someone who sometimes does yoga to being a yogi when you start doing things that are as natural to you as they are probably irritating to people around you – but you really can’t help it!

Because whilst everyone else is just trying to make the whole flight/layover/connection as ‘enjoyable’ an experience as it can be given the circumstances, you may instead be contemplating the extent to which we humans will go just to avoid the sensation of suffering: serving alcohol on airplanes to offer stress and boredom relief; offering continuous in-flight entertainment to provide distraction from long hours; enabling shopping from the air or in airports to give the feeling of pleasure when actually airplanes and airports are all about pressure.

And you might consciously decide not to seek pleasure as a response to pressure. You might choose to respond to the 6000 mile half-way-round-the-world 24 hour ride with the commitment to maintain as much stillness as you can for every single moment of the journey, so that when you get to your final destination you have all the energy, poise, and clarity you need to do whatever in the world you would go such a distance to do.

If you’re doing these 10 things, be warned: you’re a transatlantic traveling yogi, taking the journey at a pace all of your own, quite possibly irritating others with your daft and baffling ways, breathing in and breathing out as the world keeps turning, and things just keep moving – and maybe, you wouldn’t have it any other way…

  1. As soon as your transatlantic flight is in the air, you don’t even think about viewing the film choices because instead you have a short list of favorite mantras that you love silently chanting, and now you’re thinking about which ones you’ll repeat for each one of the hours that you’re in the air – and wondering what sequence it would be best to do them in…no, really.
  2. On a transatlantic flight you get up after a few hours in the air and start doing gentle ‘stretches’ in the aisle that happen to involve casually balancing on your left leg, whilst your right arm (that you’d casually stretched in to the air a few seconds ago) stoops down to pick up your right foot a few inches below the right toes from the inside, and you begin kicking the right leg out as far as you can without anyone really properly noticing, before bringing it back to the ground: acting again as if nothing really just happened and you were just having a regular little stretch…. like… ‘What?’
  3. You genuinely wonder at 3am in the morning on a transatlantic flight, when the cabin is in complete darkness, and everyone is either asleep, or wearing those eye masks or watching films that look like they’re glowing in the dark, if anyone would really notice or mind if you went for a full downward facing dog in the aisle, just to really stretch things out – and you find you’re asked by the flight attendants to not do that as they still need clear access to the aisles at all times.
  4. You ask the flight attendants for hot water every time they come by with the drinks cart and cheerfully hand them over your own reusable flask that you brought with you for the trip – and they say ‘Don’t you want me throw that tea bag out?’ And you reply ‘No, it’s rose and tulsi. It can take another round of hot water yet…’ Because it’s your favorite soothing thing in the world. And they oblige, but you can see they’re a little bit dismayed.
  5. The flight attendants feel so bad for you when they offer you ‘beef, chicken or pasta’ because you – with a sincerely sad face tell them you thought you ordered a vegan menu choice or a raw fruit platter when you made your reservation – that they come back 20 minutes later with small pots of fresh pineapple and melon and say ‘Your order just isn’t here, but we found some of these… could this work for you? Would this help?’ And then they smile because they see that you too are deeply smiling again.
  6. You call your family/friends/lover/life partner/colleagues from the airport when you land to let them know that you’ve arrived and and you say ‘My hips are so tight from just sitting in that air conditioned cylinder for so long. They really need to breathe…’ You notice there is silence at the other end of the phone.
  7. Your smiling, patient, unargumentative demeanour baffles all the airline staff who have to speak to you when your airline sent you to the wrong terminal for your connecting flight resulting in you missing the flight altogether, spending the night (at your expense) in a hotel and your airline trying to charge you $200 to book you on a next day flight – because you understand that your guru is giving you a chance to live your yoga under pressure: at once giving you the opportunity to burn karma and practice equanimity in all circumstances even though there’s a part of you that is so tired you could actually burst out crying.
  8. You see an orange robed Buddhist monk at the airport lounge whilst waiting for your connection and get kind of excited to think how maybe he’ll sit next to you and together you’ll talk about ‘Dharma’ – and you witness yourself feeling a little deflated when he walks right by you with great purpose and heads straight to the Costa Coffee instead. And whilst you notice (without any judgement) how assertive your ego is being, at the same time you seriously wonder if you should follow him to Costa and sit next to him in case he wants to talk…erm, ‘sangha’ – but, thankfully, your wisdom kicks in and instead you decide to go and get some more hot water and watch a video instead.
  9. You are delighted to get internet connection at the airport whilst waiting for your connection because you can finally catch up on some video entertainment – and you choose to watch videos of Himalayan babas teaching ancient yogic techniques to activate the pineal gland.
  10. You do your best to approach the hours and hours of your life that are being played out in airports in between flights with easiness – because after all, the more time there is in between ‘doing’, the more time there is for ‘being’ – and you find you can tune out the sound of warehouse trollies, baggage trollies, crowds coming out of elevators, and babies crying as you go deeper in your sadhana (be it asana, meditation, or chanting) under florescent strip lights.

But you always do open your eyes every 5 minutes or so in case said trollies, or crowds or children need to get past you – because somewhere inside you you have preserved enough sanity to remember that Yoga is not about escaping the world, but about showing up in it fully present, and of becoming aware of what, in this present moment, the next right action could be.

I made it to the other side today.

LAX-LHR done.
LGW-EDI: pending.
Nearly done. Two hours to go.
The florescent strips are shining bright. And I am breathing.
Om Shanti.


Originally published on my blog, The Modern Girl’s Guide to Spirituality.

Lessons from a Warrior: Creating Quality, Not Quantity in Your Yoga Practice

Do Yoga in New ColoursBy Richelle Morgan

Each time I step onto my mat, it’s a brand new experience. Some days I feel like a rock star. Strong, fluid, graceful, on top of the world. Other days… meh, not so much. I’m awkward, tired, unfocused and completely out of tune with my body, breath, and spirit. We all have those days. Where we want to crawl back under the covers and play hooky from life, but it’s on those days that experience has taught me that I need my practice the most. That the mere act of stepping onto my mat would help shift my perspective. And that I didn’t have to be a rock star everyday… that I was enough and exactly where I needed to be.

But I didn’t always feel this way. I used to step onto my mat as though I were competing… I needed to be stronger, push harder, dig deeper. I didn’t listen. I wasn’t connected to what was going on with my body, my soul, my heart. Fast forward to injury, frustration, and self-depreciation. I now know that the only competition I was in was with myself and my ego. In those early days of my practice, I had heard that what happens on your mat reflects what’s going on off your mat. In that time I was overworked, stressed, scattered, and dulled by my life, and I scoffed at that idea. The physicality of my practice was creating a blanket for me to hide under and my ego was leading the way.

And then one day, every changed. It started out as a simple home practice. A typical morning following an online podcast. Moving, breathing, flowing and then I was asked to pause in Warrior ll. To settle in and get cozy, as I like to say. Alignment cues were given. And then a bombshell was dropped. Five minutes. We were going to stay here for five minutes and notice what came up. My monkey mind started to chatter, loud and clear. The heat in my front thigh began to simmer. And every excuse I could think of was surfacing to tempt me out of the pose. But I chose to stay in the pose. I chose to notice, to pay attention to the voice inside my head. To really and truly listen to what my body was telling me. I settled into my breath, relaxed my shoulders, and turned the volume down on the conversation happening inside me. And in those brief five minutes, it happened. Yoga happened. A light bulb went off and as I allowed myself to just be, I became more aware. I realized that I was allowing my habits off my mat to make their way onto my mat. That my excuses, my tendency to push too much, to scatter myself too thin, to judge and criticize myself for not doing, giving, being enough had made it’s way into my practice. And it was up to me to flush it out.

That simple practice of staying present in the pose, of paying attention to what my body is capable of changed my practice. I have always taught self-love, self-appreciation, and believing in your inner strength and nourishing it so that it grows, but in those days I was not teaching myself those same beliefs. Once I started to pay attention, to really connect to the details of my asanas, to develop quality over quantity, to give myself credit each and every time I made the choice to step onto my mat, a shift happened. Clarity was born and what I was creating on my mat started to mirror itself in my daily life. I became more grounded, focused, stronger and engaged. I opened my heart to let life and all it’s messy splendor find its way in. It wasn’t easy and it meant facing the darker sides of myself. But I knew that if I dug in and continued on this path, after the storms cleared, I would be able to face life’s challenges with a quiet strength and the knowledge that I was enough.

So the next time you step onto your mat, take notice. Take a moment and just be. And then as you start to move, pay attention to the habits you’ve created. To the voice that rises when things get uncomfortable. Try to stay in a pose a little longer and focus on the quality of your breath, the details in your alignment. And when that little voice comes up that self-judges, criticizes or tempts you out of the pose, turn the volume down with love, a soft smile and quiet strength. And know that you are exactly where you need to be.

* * *

IMG_6276Richelle Morgan is a wanderlusting yogi, teacher, coach and mama to three dogs and a cat. She lives & teaches from the heart, embracing stumbles, challenges and triumphs along the way as an opportunity to learn and grow stronger. Her sense of adventure, playfulness and attention to alignment weaves itself throughout her teaching and she encourages her yogis to have fun on their mats as they push beyond their perceived boundaries. In 2010, her lust for travel and adventurous soul found her hosting her first yoga retreat on the beaches of Tulum, Mexico, where she now lives, teaches, and plays.

Photo credit: Lululemon

Urban Yogis: Russell Brand Dishes on Sex, Drugs, and Yoga

In the latest installment of “Urban Yogis” on The Chopra Well, Ashtanga instructor Eddie Stern interviews Russell Brand on yoga, addiction, and personal growth. Brand describes his journey from drug addiction, which began for him at an early age, to discovering the power of yoga. He describes the addiction as a “spiritual problem,” something he turned to as a way of looking for solutions to the existential dilemmas of existence. Now freed from his addiction, Brand strives to “see God in everything” and live moment to moment on a spiritual path. Check out part 1 of the interview:

Are you surprised to see this side of Russell Brand? What’s your favorite Brand movie or moment? Tell us your thoughts in the comments section below!

Subscribe to The Chopra Well and stay tuned for parts 2 and 3 of Russell Brand’s interview!

7 Animals Doing Yoga Outdoors to Celebrate Earth Day

Happy Earth Day! Today people around the world are observing the sacredness of nature, as well as human beings’ responsibility to amend the damage we’ve done to the environment. Through festivals, clean-up projects, community work, and more, cities around the globe celebrate what this day means to them, given their unique relationship to the earth. Getting outside and being in nature can be a great way to connect to the land and take stock of the work ahead to promote a sustainable planet.

These 7 animals already have the right idea: Get centered, be in nature, and celebrate Earth Day with some classic yoga poses.

Padmasana – Lotus pose


Vasisthasana – Side plank pose


Bhujangasana – Cobra pose


Utkatasana – Chair pose


Ananda Balasana – Happy baby pose


Balasana – Child’s pose

Screen Shot 2013-04-22 at 8.00.00 AM

 Savasana – Corpse pose

Screen Shot 2013-04-22 at 8.01.16 AM

How do you celebrate Earth Day?

Photo credits: Unknown

Peace Begins with Me

"The LORD is my Light..."By TL Cullen

I have been thinking a lot about this statement and how I can be the peace I wish to see in the world. I’ve had quite a turbulent time emotionally these last couple of years and it is these experiences that have driven me to search for techniques to restore my inner peace. Consistently be the best version of myself. Consistency, now that is the part that I really struggle with.

My hope is that by changing my perspective of life from defending the beliefs and behaviour of my ego to one of cooperation and support that it will remind others of their compassionate supportive nature. Consistently be the best version of themselves.

On my way to work this morning I witness road rage, a driver beeps and abuses a lady riding her bike. The bus driver argues with the man who can’t work out his bus ticket. These serve as reminders of peace so I buy the guy a ride on my ticket. It reminds to me to smile and connect with people on the street as I walk to work, people I would normally ignore. It reminds me to hold my tongue when my ego wants to defend me and say things that I know peace would never think let alone say.

I’m 35 years old so I forgive myself, daily….hourly, and figure that 35 years of habits running subconsciously are going to take more to reprogram than buying a bus ticket. But I do it anyway because I know that all these small things everyday represent the good in me. That well of unconditional love, compassion and kindness that we all carry around with us. They make me strive to do more and be accountable for my actions and inaction.

I once heard a saying that has stuck with me “anyone can be a Hitler or a Mother Teresa” (words to that effect). All it takes is choice. It’s so easy to go through life on autopilot and forget that we have choice. Recognising that I have a choice to be either I know instantly who I would rather be. Then
why is it so hard sometimes?

So I give a homeless man all the change left in my wallet but this time I engage in conversation, peace wins over fear, making those around me awkwardly shuffle on their feet desperate for the traffic light to change but at least they react. For a brief moment they return from autopilot to this world where they can make a real difference. It they choose to.

Individuals do make a positive impact on the world. I know this because I am one and I have given many positive things to this world. But I know that does not give me permission to revert back to the negativity that can settle in my mind. There is no point system involved in this process. I am committed to being the best version of myself.

What if individuals in power on the world stage chose peace? Chose to put their collective ego aside and began to demonstrate peace. These conflicts are old so I forgive them daily…hourly for not choosing the peace that is very much possible. The road less travelled. I know that years of habits running subconsciously through this world will take more than the seemingly difficult changes required to reprogram it but I hope they do it anyway.

Much Love.

* * *

IMG_0276Having written for business for 16 years I have turned my attention to myself and begun the long overdue process of questioning my habits and beliefs and the effect they’ve had on my life so far. My passion is to find a balance between supporting others and loving myself in a non-ego way. My hope is that writing about my experiences will inspire others to have the confidence to be themselves, flaws and all, and to use the space that clearing self-sabotaging habits leaves to be the best version of themselves.

Saving Whales and Surviving Cancer: Five Stories to Start the Week with Inspiration

Here are five honest, humble, and endearing stories. It’s not about being exceptional or perfect. The key is to make the most of what we have, to spin the modest straw of our lives into gold. And when that doesn’t work, we can at least have a good laugh at our muddled attempts and move on. (And then go save a whale… Just kidding.)

But actually…

Would you jump into the ocean to save a 40-foot whale from a shark net? This extraordinary man did.

Man Single-Handedly Saves Whale Trapped in Net (Care2)

This woman is truly fierce and such an inspiration. She writes about losing her leg at age 15 and finding strength in developing a yoga practice.

Cancer Took my Leg, Not my Spirit (Positively Positive)

Not a helicopter mom, not a ‘free range’ mom – this woman describes herself as the “Trying-Not-To-Lose-It Mom.” Sounds like something many can relate to…

What Maggie’s Crayon Reminded Me About Parenting (Huff Post)

From marketing to grave digging – some fun first job stories.

‘My Parents Got Me My First Job’: 8 True Stories (The Grindstone)

And here’s an alternative look at what a ‘yogi’ can be – no mat, no downward-facing dog, no quinoa burgers. Just an open mind and a compassionate heart.

The Flyest Yogi Without a Mat (MindBodyGreen)

A Yoga Hero in the Gulf

I’m gonna venture to say that many of us have numbed to the tragic situation in the Gulf of Mexico. In the same way that you were numb to the poor kid who’d show up to school with three wads of Kleenex stuck to gushing zits on his chin, temple, and cheek. You might have acknowledged him but be honest, you wouldn’t come too close.  

The tragedy in the Gulf is a whole other kind of gusher and LA yoga teacher Brock Cahill is one of the few willing not just to come close but to actually lead a mission and make an impact.  Brock has a particular fascination with sea turtles who are suffering a hellish fate, as we speak. BP is towing collection booms behind fishing trawlers to wrangle oil on the surface, and once collected, burn the oil to get rid of it. In the process, sea turtles, pelicans, fish, and anything close to or on the surface is being burned alive. Even if the burning stops, the turtles are embalmed in oil, and dying by the minute.

Leaving for the Gulf tomorrow, Brock is working fast and furious to raise the money to work with boat captain Mike Ellis (watch video).  Wearing protective suits and ventilators, they will rescue the sea turtles one by one from the poisoned water.  Yes they’re just two dudes making the tiniest impact in a massive tragedy, but I believe Brock represents something much bigger. The earth is a living being… gushing, dirty, and hurting. As much as we want to help, many of us (myself included) realistically won’t come close. But let’s rally behind a man who will!

I encourage you to donate and support Brock’s mission:

–email him at: brock@gravitycowboy.com

—-to donate, check out the website: 



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