Exploring group devotion in India's Kumbh Mela pilgrimage.
Clutter is anything that gets in the way of what matters most to you. It can certainly be material—unwanted trinkets and clothes that no longer fit—but clutter also can be spiritual, emotional, and psychological.
Maybe you’ve found yourself unable to meditate or pray because you can’t stop thinking about an insensitive remark your coworker made. Or you’ve filled hours of your life with worry and irritation about something you can’t control. Perhaps you’re still mad at a college roommate who has owed you rent money for decades, or the memory of an embarrassing moment in your past sometimes creeps into your thoughts and leaves you cringing and mortified for hours.
These aggravations and other negative thoughts about people and situations can get in the way of an intentional life focused on the things you actually value. Regrets, anger, frustrations, anxieties, envy, and other nonproductive emotions may be depleting your limited energy. And, unfortunately, mental clutter doesn’t magically disappear; the only way to alleviate mental clutter is to deal with it.
I wouldn't exactly call depression a gift, but I’ve come to accept the restless emptiness and nagging sadness as signals from my soul instead of merely the symptoms of an illness to be excised.
According to Darwin’s theory of evolution and “the survival of the fittest,” the strongest survive to pass on their genes to the next generation. This is why even today our brains give us a rewarding hit of joy when we have sex (babies help a species survive) and devour high-calorie foods—today’s hedonistic delight once meant the difference between life and starvation.
It’s also why we feel good when we help others, says Dr. James Doty, the director of Project Compassion and a clinical professor of neurosurgery at Stanford.
“Kindness is our genetic imperative that has been there for millions of years,” he says. “When you look at humans and animals, science shows that it is the kindest and most cooperative who survive long term. The cruel and ruthless might get a short-term gain, but cruelty and ruthlessness are not good solutions for a species to survive.”
We must teach our children about religion for three reasons. First, human beings are intrinsically religious: for thousands of years we have inquired into the meaning of life, often expressing our thoughts in the form of religious myth, ritual, and theology. Teaching our children about religion helps cultivate the art of existential inquiry: learning to ask and answer the core questions of life: Who am I? Where did I come from? Where am I going? and Why?
Second, human beings often use religion to justify warring against one another. Teaching our children about the human origins of religion helps them to resist religiously sanctioned violence.
Third, our children live in a world where working constructively with one’s neighbors requires an understanding of our neighbors’ religion. Teaching our children about religion helps them to build more stable and loving communities.
I glance at my watch quickly, at the risk of spilling some of the Sancerre in my glass. It’s almost 10 p.m., and I’m doing the sleep-math in my head. If I go to bed by 11, I’ll get only seven hours before I have to wake up and prepare the traps. Oberon, Ariel and Puck will be waiting for me on the sidewalk as they have these last two months since emerging, blinking tiny eyes, from the depths of the garbage-filled ravine where they were born, seeking their daily meal. They trust me now, and it’s time...
“Jane rescues cats! Don’t you, Jane?”
Twenty years after she introduced a new generation to "A Course in Miracles" in her bestselling book, "A Return to Love," Marianne Williamson is still taking on the world—with a renewed call to political activism.
“Our foods do more than nourish our bodies. They feed our souls,” said the late Inuit activist Ingmar Egede in Silent Snow: The Slow Poisoning of the Arctic by Marla Cone. “When I eat Inuit foods, I know who I am. I feel the connection to our ocean and to our land, to our people, to our way of life.”
Kelly Vickers had his hands full helping one Albuquerque family survive the happiest time of the year.
The family “had been devoutly Christian, but after the couple divorced, the father became an atheist,” he recalls. When it was the dad’s time with the children, he would spend it actively dismantling the moral values the mother was trying to install. It took all his skills as a professional mediator for Vickers to guide them “to a place of mutual respect and past the hard line of the beliefs.”
The first time my yoga teacher encouraged me to go upside down into a headstand, I yelped.
My outburst was just loud enough to let everyone in the class—especially me—know that I was petrified. Stiff as an ancient tree turned to stone, I had to be told to breathe. While some people give no thought to going upside down, it was a Herculean challenge for me. I practiced for four years before I felt comfortable going up away from a wall, unassisted. I’ve since learned that the poses I find most difficult, whatever they may be, have the richest rewards.