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

By August 30, 2015January 19th, 20247 Comments

“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


Connect with Light: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram

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:

Notable People Discussed in today’s podcast:

Related Podcasts You Might Enjoy:

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

*Disclosure:Books and products denoted with an asterisk are hyperlinked to an affiliate program. We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to and affiliated sites.

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  • Diane Lindsay says:

    As a regular listener on Itunes, I’ve learned from, and been inspired by, so many of your interesting and thoughtful podcasts. This one, with Light Watkins, has been one of the most helpful for me- Thank you both for such a great conversation!

    I live in a very very rural ( as in: what- does- a- plant- based- diet- mean? meditation?? foreigners-do-all-sorts-of bizarre-things) part of southwest France. Your podcast is a vital part of my ultra slim support system here, and I could not be more grateful to you for all of your hard work. While actually not all of us can really ,in fact, afford to fly here and there for personal instruction or gatherings, it can nevertheless be invaluable just to to feel a part of, and to learn from, such generous and open hearted spirits. Thank you!!

  • Tommy F says:

    Rich, thanks for bring us “The Light”. His truly is the coolest name. Loved his analogy about a 747 jumbo jet needing to pick up enough speed/traction, before the laws of aerodynamics and physics allow the plane to swift through the air, effortlessly. The initial runway is the difficult part of meditation practice, which we need to persevere through, until the mindful, peaceful and happy fruits of meditation avail themselves.

    “You cannot always control what goes on outside. But you can always control what goes on inside.” ~ Wayne Dyer


  • Karen says:

    Same here Diane! I live in rural Northern Sweden and am an avid listener to Rich, so I agree with everything you wrote!! 😊

  • alex says:

    Hi! I dont know why but i have a problem do download most of your podcast episodes onto my iphone. I can listen to it if i dont download the whole episode but i want to save the whole one and listen to it later(without internet connection). It always starts to download again and again really weird.

  • rick says:

    Your programs keep getting better. I look forward to every one. Thanks and best wishes.

  • Marine says:

    amazing episode!

  • Elise says:

    Loved this episode and the podcasts in general. I just started meditating and it is really inspiring to hear form someone like Light Watkins! I just have one suggestion for an area in which the pods could be improved: maybe have a few more women as guests?

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