Guru (/ˈɡuːruː/ or “goo-roo”) is a Sanskrit term for a teacher, guide, expert, or master.
With so much happening in the world, you may long to escape to a remote mountaintop with a guru and a goat for a breath of fresh air. While this escape may not be feasible, there are ways to cope with life here on earth at lower altitudes. While ancient spiritual dwellers seeking wisdom and guidance may have climbed to mountaintops to speak to all-knowing gurus, today we have laptops and phone applications.
The global pandemic has accelerated this move to more digital, on-demand approaches to mental health. It is important to note that apps, beauty rituals and playlists do not replace the expertise of trained medical professionals. However, digital resources offer easy, affordable ways to integrate mental health practices into your real, daily life. For most of us, these apps integrate easily into our local environments – from our crowded cities to our isolated homes. We can’t control what happens in the world around us, but we can strive to find inner peace and balance.
We are all simultaneously student and teachers, helping each other on an endless journey.
Having a “guru” to help to guide us in these rituals is particularly helpful. A guru doesn’t have to be a spiritual leader. In fact, a guru can just be someone or something that guides you and keeps you grounded. If this year has taught us anything, it is that no one has the answers to anything… Ever. We are all simultaneously student and teachers, helping each other on an endless journey. These “gurus on-the-go” can help make this journey more peaceful and enjoyable. After all, isn’t that the point of it all?
I sleep with Harry Styles and wake up with Lebron James. Not a dream; it’s the Calm app. You’ll find plenty of other celebrity voices on the app, including Ellie Goulding, Kygo and Sam Smith. My personal favorite is writer and narrator, Tamara Levitt. Her daily meditations have become my source of calm to weather any storm. Pun intended.
Levitt’s voice is gentle, melodic and almost hypnotic. She helps millions of people fall asleep every night all over the world. Each session combines personal, relatable stories with global concepts of mindfulness to help listeners escape from reality while also learning effective methods to apply to real life on a practical level. Listen to sessions while you walk down the street. Click the 4-minute “Panic SOS” when you need it. And don’t miss the sleep ASMR recordings.
Everyone should have a British man’s voice in their head all day long. Andy Puddicombe is the founder and guiding voice behind the popular Headspace app.
Patience in 5 minutes? Check. Clarity in 3 minutes? Done. Addressing anxiety, stress or self-esteem issues? Explore the app’s longer, more in-depth series. The “singles” meditations provide listeners with a fix of “emergency” mental medicine. These meditations address timely themes like adapting to sudden change, difficult conversations and managing conflict. Headspace is the perfect meditation resource for people who fear the word “meditation” itself. Combat a range of mental challenges, from exam preparation to fears of flying to sleep problems. The “nighttime SOS” helps guide you back into slumber after waking up in the middle of the night.
Shhh… Jesse Israel is leading a silent revolution. He’s the founder of the mass meditation movement, The Big Quiet. The movement gathers thousands of people to meditate in major cities across the US. Most recently joining Oprah on her 2020 Vision tour, Israel continues to help people quiet the noise of daily life.
For example, he offers a range of online assistance to meditation: 90 second-meditations for balancing the nervous system, guided meditations on Audible, and full meditation courses. This modern male guru wears jeans, sneakers and a hoodie. Ancient meditation techniques now have a Brooklyn-infused, cool kid vibe. Follow @thebigquiet and @jesseisrael on Instagram to stay cool in all senses of the term.
In a world that is struggling to catch its breath, Susan Oubari is helping people breathe again. An American-Parisian, Susan offers long distance breathwork unlike anything your lungs, body and mind have every experienced. Susan’s Breathe in Paris class combines work, mindfulness, spiritual coaching, and reiki for an unparalleled mind and body transformation. Find her on Instagram.
Max & Me products are part-natural skincare, part-energy and part-magic. This unique brand describes itself as “a love story beyond beauty.” Why? The brand is the product of a real-life love story between Max & Tanja Gruber from Austria. This collection of high vibe skincare essentials fits magical ingredients and energy into beautiful packaging. In fact, each product is infused with powerful, all-natural ingredients and healing capabilities. Nourishing every inch of the skin with Max & Me is an act of self-love.
When you apply the “Sweet Serenity” Mask & Wash, “stir a beautiful word or a loving thought into the mixing of your mask with water.” Then, massage the “I Am the Light” serum into your skin. Enrich your complexion with white fir, pink lotus, frangipani and cypriol. In addition to promoting glowing skin, these ingredients “encourage a powerful connection to the third eye.” Each product is a ritual unto itself, with “brightening and awakening powers” that will “guide you towards inner wisdom, intuition and inspiration.” Use the products together for the full beauty experience, which is not too far from escaping into a magical Austrian forest with fairies.
Face masks and rollers infused with healing gemstones and charged with powerful reiki energy? Yes, please. Celebrity esthetician and Reiki expert, Lejla Cas, founded Knesko to fuse the healing power of crystals with skincare. While she offers at-home Reiki sessions for distance healing, you can really feel her energy in each product. She develops each signature mask with gemstones like diamonds, rose quartz and black pearls. Then, she charges them with Reiki energy and a mantra. These are more than just face masks – they are sensorial experiences for the skin, mind, body and spirit.
Both the masks and the rollers offer nourishing energies for nurturing self-care rituals. For example, you can activate your third eye chakra with the Nano Gold Repair Collagen Face Mask. Alternatively, activate your crown chakra, release stress and tap into your creativity with the Diamond Radiance Face Mask. As instructed, repeat the affirmation “I am love” during your bath while using the Rose Quartz Gemstone Roller. If you would rather focus on intuition, pair the Green Jade Face Roller with the Nano Gold mask.
Credit: Morgan Harper Nichols
I am convinced that Morgan Harper Nichols can see into my mind. She always seems to post the right words at the right time. I feel like she is my personal guru, although millions of people across the world feel the same. With everything from artwork and poetry to prose and song, Morgan uses her platforms to remind others that they are not alone. You can access her uplifting inspiration on Instagram, through her weekly newsletters, books, podcast or app. While words can be hurtful or dangerous on social media, Morgan Harper Nichols proves that words also have an incredible power to heal. Her words are timeless expressions of hope, especially during the pandemic.
A few other modern gurus whose Instawords and art always inspire:
Tara Stiles started a yoga revolution more than a decade ago. Now a modern day guru, she has been pioneering new ways of moving and living ever since. I’ve always wished I could put Tara Stiles in my pocket, and now I can! The new Strala Yoga app makes ancient movement-based disciplines like yoga, shiatsu and tai chi ‘cool’ and accessible. All you could want in a wise sage is now on your phone screen in a chill, Brooklyn apartment.
The app features everything from full yoga trainings and retreats to hour-long tai chi classes to quick workouts for busy days. Stiles’ philosophy of movement is simple, but unique. In an increasingly homogeneous yoga world, Stiles stands out with her authenticity and tell-it-like-it-is approach to movement and wellness.
The Class is a movement revolution. Taryn Toomey’s boutique studio in NYC has become an international sweat fest of epic proportions. The Class has amassed a cult following of celebrities and at-home workout lovers looking for holistic hard-core exercise program. In fact, The Class blends yoga, pilates, cardio, dance, cathartic emotional releases and perfectly curated playlists.
While Alicia Keys, Gisele Bundchen and Naomi Watts are among the many high profile fans, The Class is designed for everyone. Taryn herself remains down-to-earth despite her rapid rise to fitness fame. Her team of positivity pioneers, including Natalie Kuhn, has helped her transfer this physical class into the COVID-provoked digital space. Be prepared to sweat, scream and sob.
Because when all else fails, look to the stars. AstroStyle is your source for daily, weekly and monthly horoscopes plus general star-powered (literally) advice on life and love that takes a modern, understandable approach to the Zodiac. Keep up with the AstroTwins on Instagram.
Rebecca Leffler is a Paris-based writer and journalist who, after a career as the French correspondent for The Hollywood Reporter and as a film critic on Canal+, traded red carpets for green smoothies. She’s written five books about healthy lifestyle from Paris to NYC and beyond, including Très Green, Très Clean, Très Chic: Eat (and Live!) the New French way with plant-based, gluten-free recipes for every season, and most recently Le Nouveau Manuel de la Cuisine Végétale. Rebecca has pioneered the “vegolution” in Paris, where she continues to organize events focusing on healthy eating, yoga and la vie en rose… And green! You can keep up with Rebecca on Instagram!