The Best Piece of Advice I Ever Was Given. ~ Ben Ralston

Via Ben Ralston
on Dec 13, 2012
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I was in an Ashram,

having my hedonistic, narcissistic, capitalist-conditioned mind blown open by a small group of people who dedicate their lives—completely—to the benefit of the world around them. A small group of Swamis.

Before I left I asked my favorite Swami for a piece of advice. Here’s what he said:

“Turn every moment into a Sadhana (spiritual practice) of some kind. For example, when I’m walking from the hall to the canteen I simply focus on my breath. Make every moment sacred. That is the only way to remain disciplined.”

The Sacred is in every moment. And if we find it—by paying attention to our breath, or the feel of the Earth beneath our feet, or the light in our child’s eyes—if we find it (by being present), we stay focused and disciplined.

When we find it we reconnect with an infinite wellspring of motivation, inspiration, and love.

But if we lose it we have lost ourselves.

Please spread the love by sharing this post with others? Tweet it, Facebook share button it, email it. Make it a moment of sacred practice!

And feel free to leave a comment—what’s the best advice you’ve ever been given?


About Ben Ralston

Ben Ralston is a therapist, healer, advanced Sivananda Yoga teacher, and writer. His writings have been read by millions of people and can be found on Elephant Journal, Rebelle Society, and various other portals online. He has been teaching Yoga for 16 years in hotels, ashrams, beaches, gyms and rooftops worldwide. And he runs a busy international therapeutic practice from his home in rural Croatia. Offering sessions in person or via Skype, his therapeutic work is based on healing trauma, and the tools he uses for this are varied – mainly RPT, Shamanism, and energy work. He has also developed some of his own methods, particularly in the area of abuse trauma; ‘resource state’ awareness; and boundary reconstruction. He regularly runs retreats combining Yoga and other energetic exercises with his therapy. He would love nothing more than to see you on one of these retreats, since he believes that this approach to personal development is really the only effective way of bringing love and peace to global human society. Connect with Ben on Facebook. Read more of his writing on his new website with integrated blog! Yes, he's excited about that :)


58 Responses to “The Best Piece of Advice I Ever Was Given. ~ Ben Ralston”

  1. Humored says:

    I'm sorry, but all that occurred was one hedonistic, capitalistic, narcissistic mindset was exchanged for another hedonistic, narcissistic, capitalistic mindset.

    At this point, I equate anyone "spiritual" or "yogic" with a heroin addict, doing anything they can to chase that narcotic "BLISS" dragon.

    Paying for that next "guru's" ashram (capitalism), thinking they're solely the most special thing in the universe, loving themselves FIRST (narcissism), indulging their own wants (not even NEEDS, but WANTS) above all else (hedonism)……

    And completely oblivious to the fact they haven't changed anything about what they're doing but the label, like a brand new pair of underwear that does exactly the same thing as the old brand (cluster B personality disorder, per the DSM).

    None of this impresses me any longer.

    It lacks truth and true conviction.

  2. samira says:

    I think it takes time to get there , breath is the life that we are trying to understand and our hearts always know the truth .
    we construct our own realities and there is no point in getting labelled in any way
    May all be well

  3. Sianna says:

    hmm… interesting.

    While reading this, (and especially the comment directly after), I sat back and thought about what advice I may have gotten and it wasn’t just from one person or one teacher. I have been an observer for as long as I can remember; as a child, from fear of others reactions, I suppose, to now, sometimes with incredulity (“how can someone think or act like that?” 😉 I’m still working on the judgement aspect) but, thinking back, my friend (who was also a massage therapist/healer said to me “observe YOUR reaction in the situation” and “it’s okay to say “no” in a friendship” (ours), whether considered advice or not, it opened up a different world for me. And, when I look back at what advice you were given, it’s kind of the same. Observing = focusing on breath = taking a moment. AND observing one’s own reaction to that observation = focusing or being present.

    So, if we don’t stop once in awhile and “smell the roses”, observe what success or happiness we do have in our lives, say, we lose ourselves and continue in our endless chase/search for … meaning?

    Thanks for letting me share my thoughts.

  4. Humored says:

    "You sound anything but humored, Humored.
    You sound cynical, jaded, judgemental, and lost.
    And most of what you write is a total projection. I didn't mention any "Guru's", The ashram where I stayed didn't have any aspiring Gurus.
    I didn't mention Bliss.
    If you want truth and conviction, you have to find it in yourself first my friend. Don't throw the baby out with the bathwater."

    "With respect, there is a great difference between judgement (discernment), and judgementalism (being excessively critical).
    The former is a sign of intelligence, perhaps even compassion.
    The latter is a sign of fear – it is a reactive behavior that masks an underlying pain."

    Be that as it may, those supposedly following spiritual paths (yoga, buddhism, etc) have conflated the two, and are:

    "And completely oblivious to the fact they haven't changed anything about what they're doing but the label, like a brand new pair of underwear that does exactly the same thing as the old brand (cluster B personality disorder, per the DSM)."

    I leave this here.

  5. om om om says:

    om bolo sat guru sivananda maharaja ki jai!
    om bolo sri guru vishnu devananda maharaja ki jai!
    om tat sat

  6. matthias.staber says:

    my heart lama (wangdor rinpoche) told me this piece of advice right the first time we met:

    “when you believe in your thoughts, you are in samsara”

    thats a life long one I guess…

    and the best one that my dharmabrother aaron got from H.H. Chetsang Rinpoche after asking him about loneliness (relationship wise, the wish to be with someone special) and dharmapractice.

    H.H. said something like:

    I dont know much about love relationships as I am an ordained monk, but I do know that we are never alone, because we are connected with everything.

    and concerning dharma practice – one dedicates him/herself completely.

    especially the second part is like a wakeup call every week or two. it is so hard and so demanding, can you imagine to dedicate yourself completely to dharma? thats though to say the least.

    hope you enjoy

  7. DTKB says:

    There is relatively new support (and ongoing research) out there for people who are recovering from interactions with Psychopaths/Sociopaths/Narcissists/Anti-Social Personality Disorder, Cluster b, Axis II, etc. (the experts can't even agree about what to call it). Nonetheless, education is important, as well as learning about healthy boundaries, and healthy healing. Two great web resources:
    I received the gift of learning more about those things as well as discernment vs. judgmentalism.

  8. She Knits says:

    The two best pieces of advice I ever received were "Stop thinking so much, you'll hurt your brain" and "EVERY time on the brakes, check the rear view mirror."

    So true, on so many levels :)


  9. She Knits says:

    Heehee, "every time you step on the brakes…" Another lesson in being present and mindful. Reread before posting!

  10. dave says:

    @ Humored
    Is it ok if I tackle a 22 km hike to the top of the Drakensburg, and revel in the sunset, all the while congratulating myself for making the effort? Can I be overjoyed in the space around me, and feel like in this stillness, where all I hear is my own breath, I see the presence of God? Or do I rather worry about what type of personality disorder I exhibit by bringing God, attainment and myself into the same equation…? Can I study hard and feel great that I did something of my own volition, for my own purposes and imparted a sense of meaning into my life through the achievement of a goal I set myself? Or is there too many I's in that sentence? And should I concern myself with the fact that somebody else displays a great sense of learning on matters that enable him to toot his own cyberhorn in response to somebody relating a moment of insight garnered from the simple process of WORKING for it?
    You seem very clear on the failings of an experience that had nothing to with you, without actually contributing much of any relevance to the discourse, or sharing something that you experienced on your path. And you can do that, you know? Have a path, a purpose, a quest to call your own. If that is narcissism, then I am proud to be one (see what I did there…).
    Careful of not criticising your own reflection…

    Ps: G#d$mn, I'm glad I don't have to stress every time I attend a yoga class, or climb a mountain, or focus my attention on myself, or feel like going to India, or be proud of my University marks or…

    Namaste, my narcissilly brother.

  11. FullnessInEmptiness says:

    Funny you can't see something that doesn't exist within you. I've lived in an ashram and do yoga and know clusters of people that do the same from the same ashram in India and I've never seen more outreach to the poor and those in need on a global scale than those that have a focus on what it is that we may call finding the "Divine" within ourselves. You can't experience your own true nature and not feel connection to all other beings and the Universe at large. It's not possible. To see narcissism and all that you have said here (can't say I could read most of it it )says it all. Truth is simple. But not easy. The complexity of your argument answers the argument. If you can't put your Truth in a sentence then you are in samsara chasing your own projections.
    May the Peace of God be upon you. And Love fill you. Namaste.

  12. Ben_Ralston says:

    Amen. And hallelujah too, while I'm at it :)

  13. […] a comment—what's the best advice you've ever been given? … Continue reading here: The Best Piece of Advice I Ever Was Given ~ Ben Ralston | elephant … ← Jovan Belcher Allegedly Murdered Kasandra Perkins Over Paternity … 7 Ingredients […]

  14. Humored says:

    All I have to say is "Wow"
    Not only does this display of commenting make precisely the point I was making, but the other humoruos factor is that it's all been done after removing my ability to comment further.

  15. Humored says:

    And I mean that in all due repect.

    If no one points this out, you will NEVER see it.

    "Funny you can't see something that doesn't exist within you."

    To which I say: "The finger pointing outward should always point at themselves, FIRST."

    I've done my introspection, and, and have made it my mission to abolish all the narcissism prevalent in "hispter spirituality"

    I again direct you to the following:


  16. Humored says:

    And yes, I am "humored"

    I am humored how non-abusive reference comments can be deleted, and in how if the commenting does not agree with fluff, no matter how RESPECTFUL, and NON-POINTED it may be, the IP is blocked, and the ability to comment is eiminated.

    Truly spiritual people accept and consider ideas that may differ from their own

  17. Humored says:

    The best, impartial, and most astute commenting was from Padma and DTKB.

    In my opinion, the rest has been from the "cult of personality".

    And I guarantee all of these comments, because I differ with that very same cult, will also be deleted, and this IP blocked.

  18. dave says:

    Wow, I'm sorry for being proud of what I do and happy with my life…? And I'm no hipster, everybody knows the bands I like and my ankles don't show when I wear long pants. But whatever dude or lady, you do yours, I'll do mine.

  19. Pat says:

    Everything comes at the appointed time

  20. James says:

    Simple, but powerful advice. Thanks, Ben.

  21. […] The Best Piece of Advice I Ever Was Given. ~ Ben Ralston […]

  22. chang says:

    how do i find an ashram?

  23. dave says:

    Give it a rest bro.

    My word, you really have an annoying bee up your bonnet, you know. Here is my tidbit of spiritual wisdom: Chill out.

    Chang, go for it. Life is too short to think your online opinion is gonna change the world. Live you life, and try not to be a dick, and everything will be okey dokey. Work hard and share your success and happiness. Maybe write a blog. Or whatever.

    Good grief.


  24. […] advice: whenever you are struggling, always come back to the basics: breath, relaxation, and […]

  25. dave says:

    Thanks Ben.
    Dealing with 40 8 year-olds a day teaches you a thing or two about patience.

    Merry Christmas, Happy Hanekuh and wonderful whatevers to you all :)

  26. karlsaliter says:

    I also spend time in ashrams and meditation centers when I can manage to. It is an honor to pause and be surrounded by people who focus on finding what is next internally. Sometimes I believe the most important work on earth is happening in spiritual communities. 17 years ago in Woodstock at Karma Triyana, Tenzin Monk told me

    "After your meditation, don't judge your meditation. It happened. That is enough."

    Thank you for a great short piece on such an important topic.

  27. Beefalie says:

    The best advice I was ever given: "Be yourself."

  28. Laima says:

    Best advice I’ve got was an observation from a friend who said “everyone serves a purpose of some kind. And it is always something important”. The fact is you never know what it is. You can be a narcissist who teaches someone to be at peace as well as someone so perfect by a book can give a good example on bullying. Eater way everyone need all those lessons. We need Ghandi and Mother Theresa’s examples in our lives, but what would happen if everyone in this world would be just like them? Light doesn’t go without darkness- Yoga Sutras will support this if you study them (or any religion). So embrace it all, then we can find harmony. We all need each other no matter who we are or what we do or where we go wrong. Manifest your passion and then please it! Namaste

  29. Rosa Duran says:

    Great article/advice; however that last sentence rings untrue because the second you realize you’ve lost yourself in thought- that is presence to the now once gain, and again and…

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