Russell Simmons on Making Time for Yoga & Meditation — & How You Can Too

Excerpt from The Happy Vegan

You probably weren’t expecting a section on yoga and meditation in a vegan book, but there’s simply no way I could encourage you to give up animal products without telling you about what I consider to be the two best tools for the job.

I’ve met people who said they tried a vegan diet, but claimed it didn’t stick. They were committed for a moment, but then drifted back to their old (bad) habits. They might blame their relapse on a number of factors— time, money, taste, acceptance— but I don’t buy those excuses. To me, it all comes down to mindfulness. When you can approach your entire life— not just your diet— mindfully, you’re going to be able to make the right decisions and stick to them. When you’re distracted, it’ll always be an uphill battle…

[Read more from Russell Simmons: Becoming Vegan Made Me Happier]Happy Vegan Russell Simmons

Like yoga, meditation helps pull you out of your distracted state and allows you to reconnect with your body and your mind. It’s said, and I believe, that there’s a piece of God inside all of us. When we meditate, we get to touch that piece.

Doing so allows us to reconnect with the needs of both our body and our spirit. When you sit in silence in meditation, it allows you to shut out all the noise of the world and hear God’s instructions on what is healthy and unhealthy.

A distracted mind is much more likely to be tripped up by all the bullshit out there in the world. It’s not so much that we choose to do dumb or hurtful things. It’s more that we ignore that voice of God telling us not to do them.

When you meditate, however, it become impossible to ignore that voice. When you sit in silence every day, instead of getting your instructions from the world, you get them from the spirit. As a person who is nonreligious but deeply spiritual, I believe that should be our goal in life. To move according to the spirit, instead of the world…

[5 Simple Steps for Easily Starting a Meditation Practice]

…In addition to helping you make better choices, yoga and meditation also both build discipline. Yoga and meditation have transformed my life, but I had to develop a lot of self-​control to practice them every day. For fifteen years, I’ve meditated every morning as soon as I woke up, but there are still plenty of times where I’d much rather hit the snooze button and go back to bed for another twenty minutes. Just as there are plenty of afternoons where I’m working on a new TV or film project and I don’t feel like dropping everything so that I can rush off to my 6:30 hot yoga class. Still, I honor my commitment every time because I know that thirty seconds into that meditation I’ll feel so peaceful. Or that after spending an hour sweating like a slave in hot yoga, I’m going to stand up and feel like I’m in heaven.

As I said, I’m not a religious person, but I do follow those practices religiously. I’d rather be late to a breakfast meeting than skip my morning meditation. My assistants are constantly tinkering with my schedule, but they know that my yoga is nonnegotiable. There’s no deal, no meeting, no conference call that’s more important to me than taking the time to go to class and get my body and mind right. I know that ultimately I can accomplish a lot more with the grace and peace that come from yoga and meditation than with the frustration and anxiety that result from rushing unconsciously through your day.

[Read Maria Shriver’s latest ‘I’ve Been Thinking’ essay]

No matter how you arrive at the decision to cut animal products out of your diet— concerns about your health, fears for the environment, or outrage over the treatment of the animals— a lifestyle switch of that magnitude might feel intimidating at first. Meditation and yoga will help you find the courage and discipline to take the first steps. They say that learning the guitar is easier if you know the piano first. I believe it’s the same with yoga and meditation and giving up animal products. If you incorporate them into your lifestyle first, removing animal products will be a much smoother transition.


Reprinted from The Happy Vegan by arrangement with Avery, a member of Penguin Group (USA) LLC, A Penguin Random House Company. Copyright © 2015, Russell Simmons & Chris Morrow

{Image credit: Sven van der Pluijm, Unsplash}

About the Author

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Russell Simmons has been hugely influential in various business and media ventures including Def Jam Recordings, Phat Farm, All Def Digital (ADD), RushCard, Def Pictures, and many more. He is the author of the New York Times bestsellers Success Through StillnessSuper Rich, and Do You! A native New Yorker, Russell is the proud father of two daughters. Connect with him on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter

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