5 Steps to an Enlightened Life

There are unquestionable benefits to living in this Age of Information; the sharing of new ideas and advancements can now be accomplished in the blink of an eye. But not all of these innovations are necessarily good for us. Considering our digital access and excess, it is more important than ever that we are protective of the incredible investment of energy that we make to these technologies, sometimes at the detriment of our own well-being.

For this reason thousands flock to the yoga gatherings led by Sadhguru Jaggi Vasudev, a renowned Indian spiritual leader, who has dedicated his life to help people live a more fulfilled life. The demand for these teachings has brought him all over the world, transcending language barriers, while opening schools in South India’s Velliangiri Mountains and Tennessee’s Cumberland Plateau, with more to come, through his Isha Foundation.

“The problem now is that people have become so goal oriented that they keep one of their eyes constantly on that goal,” he says. “But that leaves you with only one eye to find your way through the day. And that is very inefficient.”

Following a speaking engagement at the United Nations for International Yoga Day, Sadhguru shared some advice for a more enlightened life.

Spend better.

This is not about money. This is about the ultimate human asset: energy. “There is a lot of talk about managing time, but this is impractical,” says Sadhguru. “Time will bow to no man, but what you can do is manage your energy and how you use it. Make sure that you are constantly striving to enhance your efforts, and don’t be afraid of cutting out negative practices or people. Living a more effective life is not about time management, it is about proper self-management.”

Choose your travel destinations wisely.

For most people vacation is a precious commodity, so when you are looking for the right place to spend your coveted few days, avoid the same old cities or all-inclusive resorts, look for somewhere that will inspire. Sadhguru has seen many cities all over the world, but he admits to being especially moved by a recent trip to Africa, where he is opening a new school. “This is a place where there are dozens of volcanic lakes and thick jungle,” he says. “There is still strength left in the soil, because the region remains untouched by modern artifice. Most people walk around like they are not of this Earth, these people look like they just popped out of it.”

Start a yoga practice.

Though yoga has recently become more popular in the United States, Sadhguru expresses that what most Americans consider yoga is really “just bending and twisting” at this point. In its truer form, it should also be a time of meditation and of connection with the Earth. “It is important that you find a teacher who is not just looking to rattle off positions,” he says. “This is not just about muscular flexibility, though, it is learning the flexibility of life.”

Eat fresh food.

Sadhguru believes the idea that there is a definite link between American illness and the common diet. “The design of our bodies is fantastic, there is no question about that,” he says. “But what kind of material are you putting in it? The way that Americans eat is atrocious. Everything is old, sometimes months old. You will see that when you eat fresh food, you are in a much better place. In India, if we cook a meal, we will eat it within an hour and a half, because after that, negative energy starts to grow in it.” When at home the yogi enjoys a self-prepared bowl of Methi Rice (a traditional Indian dish) with fresh fenugreek leaves and turmeric along with other herbs. “I make the best Methi Rice in the world,” he boasts.

Face adversity with grace.

Vergil had it right when he wrote, "Perhaps one day it will be pleasing to recall such hardships." Easier said than done when you're in the thick of a rough period, but Sadhguru says that too much of the population today, especially in this connected world, let outside experiences dictate how they feel. “Every emotional experience is generated from within,” he explains. “This world will never happen your particular way 100 percent, but that is good, because if it did, where would [you] go? Take comfort in the fact that the world is going someone’s way at any given time. People tend to let negative situations take a toll on who they are, but it is more important that you protect what is going on inside through yoga and meditation.”