What does hope mean to you? That’s the inspiration behind the Gaiam Hope Project. We asked experts, authors and readers like you to share stories of hope. Every day for the next month, we’ll publish those stories on GaiamLife.com. You’ll find new ideas to get your happy on, tips to be more optimistic and ways to have a little faith.
If you’re like most people, you have, at some point at least, tried meditation. But if you are also like most people, you’ve probably not found meditation user-friendly enough to become a regular habit.
In addition to the age-old spiritual benefits, thousands of research studies have demonstrated that meditation increases awareness, well-being and equanimity; relieves anxiety, depression and other mental health problems; increases mental clarity; and reduces the stress associated with many medical problems.
Whenever I visit Europe — whether to explore a few former Soviet bloc countries or to take a 2,000-mile driving trip through Italy and Switzerland’s Ticino region — I’m always struck upon “re-entry” into the U.S. by how BIG everything is here at home.
We drive big cars, especially here in Colorado, where every other vehicle seems to be an SUV. Our cars have big cup holders for our venti Frappucinos and Big Gulp sodas. We live in big houses that we furnish with stuff we buy at big-box stores. Our big refrigerators – and often an extra freezer – are crammed full of food we purchase at big supermarkets. And, alas, we ourselves are big, and getting bigger: According to the American Heart Association, more than 70 percent of American adults are overweight, and of those, nearly 38 percent are obese.
Europeans clearly do things differently from us. Yet their ‘smaller’ lives seem in many ways richer and fuller. I’ve begun to notice some of those differences that we might do well to consider. Here are five that really struck me:
Dear Arielle and Brian,
I was married for 30 years and it was always a difficult relationship. I learned many important life lessons throughout it all — even how to forgive betrayal, though we eventually divorced. For the past seven years I have been enjoying my single life, meeting lots of new friends, traveling, redecorating my home, growing spiritually … but this past summer I found out that my ex, now 59, had been living with a woman 20 years younger than him, and she is having his child. (We have two children together, now ages 27 and 29.) The idea that he had started over with a new family hit me hard and brought up much anger, resentment and feelings that he doesn’t deserve happiness. I know this is selfish and un-Christian of me but this is how I am feeling right now. I am in therapy and I have spiritual direction as well, but how do I get to forgiveness? I really want to manifest a new soulmate!
God bless you!
No matter what
No matter where
It’s always home
If love is there.
I grew up with this quote hanging on our kitchen wall. As a little girl, I admired the fine needlework (yes, I grew up in Kansas) rather than the actual message embedded in the thread. As I’ve grown in life and with my yoga practice, I’ve come to fully understand the power behind this simple message. Home and comfort reside in the small things, and love is magically woven into every crevice of our lives when we learn to let go of the story we’re telling ourselves and open our eyes.
This summer I’ve spent a good deal of time upstate in the Catskills where my boyfriend manages a 2,000-acre estate. (Two and a half times the size of Central Park!) This Gilded Age estate includes a once grand 20,000-sq-ft mansion and riding stables. Needless to say, it’s paradise for me, Nature Gal. The abundant wildlife (including bobcat and bear), fresh air, pure spring water and total lack of light pollution has me ‘blissed out in the boonies.’ I believe nature is our ultimate healer, which is the reason I incorporate all things natural into my design work. And I have never felt healthier or happier in my whole life than I have this summer, enveloped in this magical kingdom.
Dear Arielle and Brian,
I’ve been putting out the vibes to call in a soulmate and as a result a couple of my exes are showing up. In particular, I had a reunion with my most recent ex of last year and it was quite magical.
What do you do when you are calling in “the one” and then get distracted by the recycles who become magnetized? And I’m now wondering whether he is “the one”? I realize that it comes down to discerning which one is the right one. In many ways, the familiar has an advantage because they already cherish me and know my heart versus a new man coming in and not knowing much about me. The negative side of this is that it didn’t work before and why go down that road again?
What advice do you have for me?
Ever felt yourself going through the motions of a yoga pose without focus or purpose? I think most yogis who’ve been practicing for a while have this experience, at least sometimes.
Several years ago, I found myself rushing through the Sun Salutation, praying for the series to end so I could move on to asanas I enjoyed more. I hated the way the pose strained my wrist and left me breathless, and it seemed to take forever to get through five or six of them. But since appreciating whatever you’re doing is a key spiritual teaching, I knew I had to do something to change my perspective.
What does it take to manifest the love of your life?
I’ve heard from first-time brides (at 49 and older!), from busy entrepreneurs whose 80-hour-a-week work schedules left little time for romance, and from divorcees and widowers who were convinced that the opportunity for true love had long passed them by. Whether these soulmate success stories come from Russia, Ireland, Spain, South Korea, Nova Scotia, Poland, Iran, Slovenia, Austria, Germany, Norway or the good ’ole U.S. of A., I can always spot the common theme woven throughout them: Those who have successfully manifested their soulmates did so by finding a healthy balance between intending and allowing; between doing and being.
For years, my husband struggled with depression. He doesn’t feel depressed these days, thank goodness, and hasn’t for a while. But for a while there things were pretty rough. I’ve thought a lot about the part I played in his depression. I know, I know, this sounds like a classic co-dependent attitude. But the fact is, during the years my husband was depressed, I myself was a young mother, overwhelmed, uptight and rigid with fear that I was going to screw up. I can’t help but think that we were feeding off each other.