by Erin Lehn Floresca
Leonard Perlmutter, founder of the American Meditation Institute (AMI), in Averill Park, and author of The Heart and Science of Yoga: Empowering Self-Care Program for a Happy, Healthy, Joyful Life, begins each day with a morning meditation. It’s just one of the many creative tools he uses to exercise his inner wisdom so he can deal with life from a place of fullness. “If we have the right tools, everything is easy,” he says. “But in this culture, we’re not provided the tools. We’re not educated to trust ourselves, and with most people, this brings about a sense of lack. We grow dependent on outside sources that are often wrong, and then we struggle in our day-to-day lives.”
Perlmutter, who wholeheartedly believes that the key to everything we need is within us, has made it his mission to teach others how to tap into their own inner wisdom and thrive––even in the midst of a chaotic world. “With every thought, word and deed, we’re either enhancing or diminishing our creative energy,” he explains. “Now, more than ever, people need practical, effective tools to deal with all of the demanding and complex issues going on in our world—personal, professional, political, environmental. And yoga science provides us those tools.”
In 1991, Perlmutter’s meditation master, Swami Rama, of the Himalayas, initiated him into the oldest, continuous health and wisdom tradition in the world. In 1996, as a direct disciple of Rama, Perlmutter was instructed to begin teaching that ancient knowledge in modern America. “I took the responsibility very seriously, although I hadn’t been told what to teach or where,” he recalls. “I soon recognized that the only curriculum I felt qualified to offer others was what I practiced myself.”
Once he came to that realization, Perlmutter began examining his own practice and sat down at the computer to summarize his findings. “My personal practice explored many areas, such as the contemplation of who I am [as both a human and spiritual being], the systematic procedure for meditation, the effect of the breath on the mind and body, how to optimize the power of the mind and easy-gentle yoga to exercise the body,” he explains.
Another aspect of his personal practice was adherence to ayurvedic medical principles. “Ayurveda teaches us about the unique nature of each person’s body and what it needs to function at its best,” says this yoga master. “This includes the contemplation of previous and future actions, the determination not to repeat unskillful actions and the use of prayer as an important element in helping us to live with greater purpose and reward.”
His own principles and practices became the outline for Perlmutter’s classes, and soon afterward, he founded the American Meditation Institute, in Averill Park, to begin teaching those principles to others. Over the years, as his practice and understanding deepened, the lessons he learned became the framework for his acclaimed book on yoga science.
One compelling chapter of Perlmutter’s all-encompassing treatise on yoga science and philosophy focuses on the secret formula for happiness. “Recognizing that desire is the fuel for all human action, the ancient sages conceived of a scientific formula, D = E + W + C (desire = energy + willpower + creativity),” he explains. “Desire is just the fuel for action. Nothing starts without a desire. We’re all looking for happiness, health, security and freedom from fear, but not every desire brings us to fulfillment. In fact, many desires take us in the opposite direction. When we serve desires that conflict with our own inner wisdom, we eventually reduce our reserves of energy, will power and creativity––but we have another option. We can learn the art of sacrificing an unhelpful desire and transforming its power into useable energy, will power and creativity to help us receive what we really need.”
Perlmutter attests that when we can align our outer actions with our inner wisdom, we’ll experience more happiness. “The practice of yoga science provides us abundant energy, will power and creativity to help us fulfill the purpose of life––without pain, misery or bondage.”
The American Meditation Institute is located at 60 Garner Rd., in Averill Park. Registration is open now for Perlmutter’s trademarked six-week program, The Heart and Science of Yoga. It is accredited for physicians and nurses for 18 continuing medical education credits. AMI will host its annual Thanksgiving dinner fundraiser and chamber music concert from 6 to 10 p.m., Nov. 17. For more information or to register for an upcoming program, call 518-674-8714 or visit AmericanMeditation.org.
Erin Lehn Floresca is a frequent contributor to Natural Awakenings magazine.