Misadventures of a Garden State Yogi: A guide to living authentically


College students have mastered the art of finding excuses not to do something. I can’t get dinner with a friend because I need to go to the gym. I can’t get go out because I need to start my paper. I can’t start my paper because I need to go out.

I can’t read for pleasure because I need to read for school.

Of all the sacrifices that college students make on a regular basis, the sacrifice of reading for pleasure may be the most tragic. Sure, we may all be swamped with homework, much of which includes perusing dense textbooks until our eyeballs feel like they just might fall out. So, what is our solution to this? How do we take time for ourselves when we get a break from our swamped workloads?

We stalk our acquaintances on Facebook. We tweet, we retweet, and we favorite the tweets that don’t quite make the cut. We text our friends and email our parents. Somewhere in the midst of this technological stampede, “me-time” turned into “everyone-but-me-time.”

Reading Misadventures of a Garden State Yogi by Brian Leaf is the perfect way to ground yourself in the intended definition of leisure time, not only because you will, in fact, be reading for pleasure, but also because you will be exposed to a new outlook on relieving stress without staring at a screen.

Misadventures of a Garden State Yogi is a memoir of Leaf’s experiences with yoga, which he began as a freshman at Georgetown to switch things up in his otherwise regimented schedule. In his very first class, Leaf realized that he needed to drop the things that physically and mentally ailed him — specifically, the stress of devoting his life to a perceived calling as a champion debater — and devote himself to the practice of yoga.

With this fateful decision, Leaf embarked on a process of self-understanding in both mind and body. As he learned to center his psyche with highly regimented yoga practices, he saw his bodily ailments subside as well. Years of suffering from colitis, a stress-induced inflammation of the colon that inflicted him with ulcers and a body full of tubes and medications, were met with a peaceful solution when Leaf realized that tending to his own anxiety could remedy his ailment better than any prescription.

In an age when the definitions of religion and spirituality have become increasingly divergent, Leaf’s journey — which becomes less metaphorical when he embarks on a cross-country road trip — encompasses the necessity of gaining self-awareness and becoming the best version of yourself. To make it a little bit easier, he offers his “Eight Keys to Happiness,” a sincere and simple list of elements that lead to self-fulfillment. He backs up each idea with stories of his own (mis)adventures that brought him to where he is today, keeping the steps applicable to everyone from a seasoned yogi to a person whose future involves a daily trip to the office.

In an interview with Gavel Media, Leaf offered sage advice for readers who are in the process of self-discovery in college. "College is a great time to commit to living authentically. In all your relationships and interactions, be fearless, honest, and relaxed!" he said.

Next time you're sitting in your dorm wasting away on social media, consider closing your laptop and opening up a book instead. After reading Misadventures of a Garden State Yogi, you may even find yourself inspired to unroll a yoga mat.

School, major and year: A&S, English and communication, 2014

Hometown: Acton, MA, but my parents recently moved to Beacon Hill, which is way cooler.

What makes the Gavel so BANGin’? Everyone is just the perfect amount of weird. It is one of very few environments in which I don't feel like the weirdest person in the room.
If you could go back in time and give yourself a pep talk the night before you moved into BC as a freshman, what is the most important piece of advice that you would give to your former self? I would offer myself a friendly reminder that everyone comes to college friend-less, and therefore looking for friends. Before coming to BC, I pictured myself eating every meal in solitude because I forgot that I wasn't the only person who would be entering day one without really knowing anybody. That was silly of me.
What is your favorite study spot on campus? Stuart law classrooms.
What is your go-to meal at Late Night? Mozzarella sticks.
What is the #1 most played song on your iTunes? "Gong Li" -- Red Hot Chili Peppers.
What is the best Halloween costume that you have ever worn? I was a Hershey's kiss as a toddler. Aaaaaand I rocked it.
If you could befriend the main characters from any TV show or movie, who would you choose and why? "The Office," because I have always thought that Jim and Pam would appreciate my sense of humor.