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Celebrating Mindfulness Day: A Q&A With Leading Meditation Teachers

Happy Mindfulness Day!  Over the last decade, the 12th of September has emerged as a day to highlight and explore all things mindfulness. So, I’ve teamed up with Mindful.org and Mindfulness.com to celebrate all things mindfulness. This year we’ve picked the theme of Mindfulness for Well-being. What does “well-being” really mean in the context of mindfulness? How can this ancient practice adapt and evolve to address the multifaceted challenges we face in today’s society? This Mindfulness Day, we take a moment to pause, reflect, and dive deep int...

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The Gospel according to James Baldwin

Share “Baldwin calls us to many things, but ultimately what I think I know best after this long journey is that life is beautiful and it is meant to be lived, and we all have to have the courage to live it. “Baldwin said that you have to go the way your blood beats. 'If you don’t live the only life you have,' he said, 'you won’t live some other life, you won’t live any life at all. That’s the only advice you can give anybody.' “At the end of this process, I don’t have the sense that Baldwin was any more flawless than I am. Far from it. But in h...

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The Gospel according to James Baldwin

Share Some people know James Baldwin as a novelist, essayist, and memoirist. He is one of the great American writers of the second half of the twentieth century. Others know him from the big screen, having seen I Am not Your Negro (read our review here) or If Beale Street Could Talk. There will be more films to come. Baldwin was born in Harlem in 1924. Great spiritual leaders of our time have lauded the writer’s influence on them. Eboo Patel is one of these; ten years ago Eboo (one of our Living Spiritual Teachers) wrote of Baldwin’s Notes of a...

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Mindfulness for Suicide Prevention: A Teacher’s Experience

Suicide prevention is an urgent and complex issue in mental health services. In the book Mindfulness and the Transformation of Despair: Working with People at Risk of Suicide, Mark Williams and his coauthors speak to fellow clinicians and researchers, acknowledging the crux of the condition: “Suicidal people are hardly ever certain that they want to die, but they certainly do not want to go on living in such pain…and our job is to help them find a way of living alongside the difficulties, making peace with despair, and giving them a chance to e...

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Forest Bath Right Down This Path

Share Therapist and nature enthusiast Lisa Robinson knows that children can be some of our best teachers. Often they see what really matters and make sure that we do, too. They're especially good at reawakening wonder in us. In this story, a little girl named Kayla shares a picnic with her cell-phone-obsessed father. She parents him: offering him carrots, packing up their picnic while he scrolls through screens. For whatever reason, this dad can't pull himself away from his phone to be present to his daughter. Sadly, that's not an unrealistic p...

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5 Mindful Habits for Living Each Day to the Fullest

When we live in the present moment rather than on autopilot, caught up in our thoughts, we increase our capacity for a feeling of vibrant aliveness, a sharp sense of presence in daily life. I feel this as a vibration that courses through my body in moments of awe. It happens when I hear the enchanting calls of a flock of geese. I feel it when I see the full moon light up the sky, illuminating the lake near my house, or when a friend or stranger greets me with a warm hello. It is a feeling of wonderment, warmth, and love—a knowing that says, “I ...

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Death Nesting

Share “Mental soothing can happen in many forms. It might feel good to talk about life events as they are unfolding. Some people find comfort in talking about ailments that others have instead of focusing on their own. Soothing can also happen with turning away from the painful challenges at hand. “Here are some additional suggestions: “Cover or remove mirrors if the dying person prefers not to see their reflection. As we die, our appearance changes and our perception of our appearance changes. In addition, clinging to how we look and who we ar...

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Death Nesting

Share This is a book of spiritual practices, rituals, and personal stories that we might call “necessary” wisdom: wisdom that we would probably avoid, if we could. But everyone dies, and every person must face the death of someone they love sooner or later. For that reason, the book is unique and important. Anne-Marie Keppel is a death doula — a companion to those who are dying, just as the more common birth doula is a companion to someone about to give birth. Keppel cares for people through their dying process and teaches friends and community...

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How Non-Attachment Can Help Us Succeed

I didn’t realize I was attached to my identity as a runner until I got injured. I remember the doctor sitting me down and suggesting I take up water aerobics, walking, or pilates. But, “I am a runner!” I was so resistant to trying other forms of movement that I spent a few weeks not moving at all because I refused to see myself as anything other than “a runner.”  Therein lies the problem with attachment—you become inflexible. For me, my attachment to being “a runner” got in the way of my values of moving and caring for my body.  What are you at...

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Wonderfully Wired Brains

Share Louise Gooding's Wonderfully Wired Brains has the potential to slice right through misunderstandings, taunting, and bullying among kids and create kinder and more respectful learning and play environments. There's no overestimating the value of a book with that power, because children who respect others tend to grow into compassionate adults. Gooding greets readers by saying that her brain is wired with ADHD and also with her "likes, dislikes, fears, memories, thoughts, and feelings." After explaining a bit about how her brain works, she ...

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Dog Lessons

Share “I grew up in rural Minnesota and went to a small high school where it was common, after high school football games, for teenage boys with raging hormones and still-developing frontal lobes to get into fights for no good reason. It was expected. “We could all learn from the signaling, negotiating, and fight-avoidance strategy of dogs. “Wolves and dogs have evolved strategies to avoid conflict. In Animals Make Us Human, Temple Grandin notes that wolves have specific strategies for escalating or deescalating conflict. Wolf puppies learn fif...

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Dog Lessons

Share This winsome book tells stories of dogs the author has known, mostly those with whom he has spent his long and eventful life. “We grew old together,” he writes about his dog Nellie. “We wore down the same path, constant companions.” Nellie suffered cancer (it took her left eye), and she limped after three surgeries on her back legs. But in the end, she teaches Hersch Wilson something about life and death. After Nellie, who was a big dog, comes stories of smaller dogs, including a Chihuahua. Sometimes there are what Wilson calls “dog lesso...

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Hedge Lion

Share When an imaginative, vivacious girl named Ida notices that a hedge near her home is actually a lion disguising himself, how can she help him and his roar emerge? This challenge and Ida's persistent enthusiasm make Hedge Lion a special tale of burgeoning friendship. It's the quirky little things that make a storybook friendship memorable (think, for instance, of Rosie and Rasmus or Daisy). In Hedge Lion, which Robyn Wilson-Owen both wrote and illustrated, the "little things" include Ida's yellow overalls which match the lion's fur, her con...

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Past Lives

Greta Lee as Nora, John Magaro as her husband Arthur, and Teo Yoo as Hae Sung

Share Celine Song directed and wrote the broadly autobiographical Past Lives, a gorgeously filmed meditation on love, friendship, memory, and who we are to the people we meet in our past, present, and future lives. Na Young (Greta Lee) and Hae Sung (Teo Yoo) were childhood friends in Korea before her family immigrated to Canada. This separation sets their lives on different trajectories: Na Young becomes Nora, a playwright in New York City; she eventually marries Arthur (John Magaro), also a writer, and they live a somewhat Bohemian life in the...

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What We Know (Or Think We Know) About Happiness

Happiness is a slippery little devil. For some, happiness could be as uncomplicated as earning enough to feed your family, or as basic as clean drinking water or safe streets to walk down. However, if you find yourself fortunate enough to have a stable home and hearth, you might be surprised when happiness feels elusive. When we are no longer fighting to survive, our notions of happiness can become an endless search for the perfect dream vacation, or some gooey, delicious food. Or depending upon your appetites, happiness might be linked to high...

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Utmost Charity: A Call to Deeper Love

Share “As we confront the crisis of civilization culminating in the specter of humanicide, is there an alternative to the present plunge of humanity toward the abyss of utmost violence? “There is an alternative. It is the commitment to the practice of charity. . . . Charity, as a way of life, has never been tried on a national, let alone worldwide scale. . . . The only fully adequate alternative to utmost violence is utmost charity. This is the practice of mutual love in personal relationships and among nations, even to the point of dying for t...

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We Survived the End of the World

Share “To talk about the way fear operates within cultures is uncomfortable, painful, and even dangerous. Yet if we want to avoid repeating history, it is a challenge we must accept. To reconcile the emotional apartheid of colonialism, we must find a sliver of common ground on which both the abused and abuser may stand together in the full light of truth and justice. Other prophetic voices than Native American — voices like Mahatma Gandhi and Nelson Mandela — have called us to this apocalyptic process before. They have demonstrated that reconci...

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We Survived the End of the World

Share Charleston, who serves as serves as the theologian in residence at Berkeley Divinity School at Yale University, is one of the most prolific Native American authors of spirituality and spiritual practice. This book has grown out of “the idea that people can survive an apocalypse” — a topic that a Native elder knows very well indeed. In this regard, Charleston’s book reminded us of one published in 1995: The Jew in the Lotus, by Rodger Kamenetz. It revealed conversations between H.H. the Dalai Lama and Jewish leaders, when the Dalai Lama as...

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The Voices of Nature

Share I love this book for how grounded it is in real science and yet how earnestly the scientist who wrote it wants to communicate with non-scientists. He uses exclamation points, for instance, to demonstrate enthusiasm. Here’s one example, where we see his delight in the evidence he’s sharing: “If 2000 years ago Pliny the Elder had already noted in his Natural History that the parrot was a good imitator, it is to the Austrian Ferdinand Pernau that we owe the first documented observations on the learning of song by birds. That was in 1720!” He...

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The Voices of Nature

Share “When two humans enter into a conversation, they follow the unwritten rules of practicing alternation (each one speaks in turn) and observing avoidance (one does not speak when the other speaks). These rules of alternation and avoidance are respected, more or less, as you can see in many examples if you watch televised debates. But when they are broken too often, the conversation stops (except on TV!). “During our sound journey, we met animals that vocalized almost alone (the deer that bellows occasionally in solitude) or, on the contrary...

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About TAO of Light

Yoga is a practice for everyone because it meets you exactly where you are in the present moment. From beginner students to advanced yogis and everything in between, Tao of Light Yoga welcomes everybody at all levels of their journey. There is a place for everyone inside our studio and it is our goal to make each and every student feel at home. It is your time on your mat that is important to us. We, at Tao of Light, will create a space that provides modern comfort for an ancient practice. As both a yoga studio and a sangha, we honor the tradition of the practice while respecting the diversity and individual beliefs of our students.

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