Light Watkins on The Inner Gym: How Meditation Can Train Consciousness For Happiness

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“Happiness is not a choice. It’s a byproduct of building and cultivating an inner strength so you can ‘be happy’ effortlessly — and without thought.”

Light Watkins

I want to be happy. Everybody wants to be happy.

So why is it so hard to just be happy?

Many self-help gurus present happiness as a choice. The idea that happiness can be produced whenever we want, irrespective of circumstance. Simply learn to flick a certain mental switch and voila!

It’s an intoxicating idea. But is this axiom actually true?

Meet Light Watkins.

Friend, teacher and expert on mindfulness and meditation, Light proffers some interesting and perhaps somewhat controversial counterpoint perspectives on a question that deeply concerns all of us: how to best cultivate happiness?

First, let’s get the obvious out of the way. Beyond his beguiling good looks, Light Watkins is pretty much the coolest name ever. Right?

On a more earnest note, I would characterize Light as a generous, highly accessible and contemplative entrepreneur of mindfulness — always convivial, impressively composed, and quick with a laugh. He has been operating in the meditation space for over 15 years and has been teaching Vedic Meditation since 2003. He’s personally taught nearly 2,000 people to meditate, including bankers, artists, politicians, CEOs, care takers, educators, comedians, rock stars, students, and seekers of all kinds. He is the author of The Inner Gym: A 30-day Workout for Strengthening Happiness, a frequent blogger, TEDx speaker and founder of The Shine Movement. A mashup of TED, Hotel Café & The Self-Realization Fellowship, The Shine is an all volunteer organization that hosts periodic gatherings that use music, film, philanthropy and storytelling to inspire people to do more, give more, and be more.

We cover a lot of ground in this conversation, including:

  • a primer on Vedic Meditation
  • training consciousness like we train the body
  • the importance of consistency in daily routines
  • the distinction between knowledge & understanding
  • Skepticism of new-age gurus & practices
  • the image problem with meditation
  • de-excitation of the mind through mantra
  • the relationship between consciousness & restfulness
  • the impact of meditation on insomnia
  • the difference between biological and chronological time
  • meditation impact on the fight or flight response; and
  • strategies for strengthening happiness

Light inspires me. I love this guy. After listening, I think you will too. I sincerely hope you enjoy our exchange.

How do you cultivate happiness? I’d love to hear about it in the comments section below.

Peace + Plants,


Listen & Subscribe on iTunes | Soundcloud | Stitcher


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Join Light Watkins over the New Year holiday for a choose your own adventure meditation retreat in Costa Rica from Dec 28th to Jan 3rd. For more information visit:

Background, Context & Reference:

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Production, music & sound design by Tyler Piatt. Additional production by Chris Swan. Graphic art by Shawn Patterson.

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