Psyche and Eros: Knowing The Art of Love

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The story continues . . .  If you didn't read the first part of the story, click here.

Four Impossible Tasks

Psyche has had a tasted love and wants nothing more than to be back with Eros. Tragically, she finds herself exactly where she was previously— destitute on the bleak shores of the ocean. But this time it's different. This time she's willing to do whatever it takes to get back to Eros. No longer will she be passive and just allow things to happen for her.

As she is pleading to the gods for help, one god appears, Aphrodite, Eros' mother and says, "Okay, pretty thing. If you are serious about getting back to see my son again, you must accomplish four tasks." Psyche says that she is willing to do anything. And I don't know if you've really ever studied Greek gods but for most of them, benevolence isn't their thing. Aphrodite either wants to punish Psyche, watch her suffer or both. Or maybe Aphrodite can use this Psyche's energy in her desperate condition to get something she wants . . . from the underworld.

Sorting The Seeds of Love

 Photo cred: http://www.grethexis.com/eros-and-psyche/

Photo cred: http://www.grethexis.com/eros-and-psyche/

First, Aphrodite leads Psyche to a door and says that in this room is some seeds and that for her first task if she is to see Eros, she must sort this pile of different seeds into their respective piles and it must be done by morning time. She opens the door and in this room is an enormous pile of seeds taller than her. Aphrodite smugly closes the door and leaves Psyche to her task. Psyche wants nothing more than to be with Eros but this task is impossible. She desperately tries for a while to sort seeds the best she can but eventually she is overcome with grief and fatigue and falls into a deep sleep. During her sleep an army of ants comes in, sees the task at hand and organize themselves to meticulously and thoroughly sort all of the seeds so that in the morning time when Aphrodite throws open the door, much to both of their amazement, all of the seeds are sorted and organized. Psyche is mute in astonishment. Aphrodite isn't amused but merely points to the next task.

Fiery Fleece

Next, Aphrodite instructs Psyche that she must gather some of the golden fleece of some rams that live in a far-off field. Problem is, that these rams breath fire and will singe you to a crisp if the so much as lay eyes on you. Desperate to find her way back to Eros, Psyche makes her way to the field and is hiding in the reeds. She quickly realizes how impossible it will be to gather the fleece of these incendiary animals before she gets turned into a toasted marshmallow. And just before she turns back in defeat, she hears the wind blow through the reeds and whisper to her that if she waits until the sun sets and the rams retire, she can find the bushes near where the rams like to feed where much of their fleece has rubbed off and she can gather it without the threat of getting burnt to a crisp. This she does and again returns, the impossible task done much to the disappointment of Aphrodite.

 Styx Water

 Photo: http://www.britishmuseum.org/research/collection_online/collection_object_details.aspx?objectId=1442939&partId=1&people=112373&peoA=112373-2-60&page=1

Photo: http://www.britishmuseum.org/research/collection_online/collection_object_details.aspx?objectId=1442939&partId=1&people=112373&peoA=112373-2-60&page=1

Her third task is to gather a goblet of water from the river Styx. She arrives at the gates of the underworld and in strange fashion, the river is raging high above her in the air. There is no way she is going to be able to fill her goblet until an eagle comes down, grabs her cup in his talons, and flies up and fills the cup for her. Aphrodite? Unimpressed.

The Irresistible Lure of Beauty

Persephone's box.jpg

For Psyche's final and ultimate task, she must go all the way through the underworld and find the beautiful Persephone, who has a box with a special ointment that she must bring back to Aphrodite, ointment that will make her more beautiful than any other god. Psyche arrives at the river Styx, is once again overcome with how to even start this journey. As she is contemplating this impossible task of going all the way through hell with its obstacles, dangers, and depths, a tower speaks to her and gives her some crucial instructions. It says that she must first gather some money to pay the boatman to carry across the river Styx, that she must bring with her some sweet treats to give to the animals along the way so they don't eat her, and that no matter what, she must resist all requests made to her for help. The money and sweets aren't a big deal. She accomplishes this without a problem. What's hard for her is when she comes across a man whose donkey has dropped most of its load and who pleads for help. Next some women who look like her mother and grandmother plead for help with their task of weaving. This one hits hard because it is so much like home, remember this is what she did when she wasn't out dating like her friends? Lastly, a dying man pleads to her for help and she must resist trying to help even the dying man. At long last, she meets Persephone who gives her the box of the precious ointment.

It's done. Psyche has completed her tasks. All she needs to do is return the precious ointment to Aphrodite and she will win back her Eros. But instead of rushing straight to Aphrodite, she paused a moment and looked at the box and thought, "Why should Aphrodite get all this good stuff?" And so her curiosity got the best of her and she opened the box. As she opened the box she looked in and never had she seen anything so white, so glimmering, and attractive. Her hand reached uncontrollably into the box and touched the divine contents and because this was stuff meant only for the gods, her mortal body was overcome and she collapsed dead on the spot.

Love Returns

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Again, in Psyche's most desperate hour, the one and only Eros comes swooping down, sees the lifeless Psyche is pierced with love for her and in proper mythic fashion, bends down to give her the most divine, the most loving, the most beautiful kiss that has ever been. Maybe it was Divine Love's purpose (read Eros), maybe it was because Psyche had traveled all the way through hell for true love, or maybe it was the divine ointment in the box, but no sooner did their lips touch than did Psyche gain a rosiness back into her cheeks. Life started to flood back through her veins and soon her eyes fluttered open and she gazed upon her true love, Eros. But this time the gaze was different. To great astonishment, she realized that not only was alive again, but that she was seeing her one and only Eros without vanishing or being cast away, something very drastic had changed. Indeed she had been turned into a god herself and with this divine boon, she and Eros could forever live in love's bliss. At last, Psyche was reborn yet reborn into something much greater than she had ever imagined possible.

What Does This Myth Reveal about You?

The Oracle knew what she was doing when she sent Psyche out to die. The old part of her that wasn't her real, true self needed to die in order to finally become what was possible for her to be. She was more than someone who would marry the Frozen Greek Yogurt geek! She was worthy of the very Eros himself. At this point in the story, she abandons the passive realm of allowing things to simply happen for her and decides to make things happen for herself. Yet, despite her effort, she is met over and over again with impossible tasks. When you are ready to act, expect to be met with the impossible. But don't give up!

 

At first when she is faced with the task of sorting the seeds, she's overcome and falls asleep. Her part of her that was rational, the doer, became overloaded and she conked out. In her sleep, the ants come and did all the work. This represents allowing the tireless work of the subconscious, the dream world or image world to work its magic. And indeed many of life's problems can't be solved in the current rational mindset. We must open up to some unimagined creative force lying within us. This is a time to listen to our dreams, to pay attention to omens, to change our efforts from physical to the trust in the ethereal.

 

When Psyche goes and attempts to gather the golden fleece from the fire-breathing rams, she listens to the wisdom of nature for the most simple, and natural solution. This wasn't rocket science. It was good old, natural, common sense.

 

The eagle flying to fill her cup with water from the river Styx represents a messenger from the divine. Birds often represent that link between heaven and earth. Maybe we further our tasks by not only listening to our dreams and by listening to nature, but also find a mode to tap into our Divine nature through meditation, prayer, or scripture, in whatever form speaks to you.

 

Now, what about the tower? It's pretty strange that the human-made structure of a tower speaks to her and gives her such practical advice. Well, sometimes we need to rely on those things that are already built, already developed, that are solid real and practical. It could be we need to consult a therapist or medication, or do something like go to the unemployment office-whatever. Sometimes we need to use the help of the system or structure that is produced by human beings. The Tower gave some practical advice to Psyche like bringing money and treats to help the passage, but also it gave some difficult advice to avoid helping other people. In this instance, it was a time where she needed to use all her resources to help herself and not fall into that trap of putting others first. Her own ultimate evolution had to be her main concern. Sometimes we identify with being the helper when we need to be helped or just put all of our efforts toward our own rebirth. There is nothing wrong with this and to do otherwise is perhaps an offense to our greatest Divine purpose during times in our lives when we are called to give birth to this new self. And of course, sometimes, we have to go through hell in order to do so. But like in the end of this story we will find ourselves coming through the other side, not only reborn but reborn into a version of ourselves we never imagined with wisdom beyond our compression. Truly we will come to KNOW THYSELF.

 

Socrates is the father of western philosophy and is known by seeking wisdom through inquiring. This method of searching for knowledge by asking questions is known as the Socratic Method.

Socrates said that the one thing really worth knowing is the art of love. And just like Socrates, maybe, through understanding how myths like that of Psyche and Eros might apply to our own lives, we too might come to really KNOW, the the art of love.

How does your life play out like a Greek myth? Please comment below. And share this post! Thanks!

For these articles I drew upon a great book by William Bridges' called, Transitions: Making Sense of Life's Changes, particularly the Epilogue. For more information about this subject, I'd suggest reading it.

Guided Meditations for Sleep

Psyche and Eros: Greek Gods Who Are Dying to Live Part 1.

Psyche and Eros: Greek Gods

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Greek Gods

It is said that long, long ago, in mythic times, there was a woman named Psyche who was the most beautiful woman in the kingdom. She was a Greek God without knowing it. In fact, she was so beautiful that all the eligible men thought her out of their league so she never got asked out. Here's Psyche, the most gorgeous woman in the land, staying home on Saturday night and helping her mom weave instead of partying with her sisters and friends who were hanging with the fine fellas.

Time went on and Psyche's parents began to get worried, all of Psyche's friends were getting married and having families and here's Psyche, as beautiful and sweet and smart as could be but without anyone to share her life with. And it wasn't like she wasn't trying. She'd go out and try to strike up a conversation with the man down at the Frozen Greek Yogurt shop but he would always turn his head away, all bashful like, and eventually start talking to some of the lesser ladies. This happened time and time again much to Psyche's disappointment.

So, Psyche's parents decided to stage an intervention. They decided to go to the great Oracle at Delphi and ask her what to do about their oddly destitute daughter. And with clarity and wisdom, greater than Psyche's parents could understand at the moment, the Oracle told them that they were to take Psyche out to the bleak and craggy cliffs along the shore and leave here there to die. Perplexed and disturbed but faithful, Psyche's parents did just that.

 Photo: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XVMVEXd9WQk

Photo: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XVMVEXd9WQk

Revelations

Now Psyche, bewildered and forsaken, resigned herself to her fate as she lay on the rocks ready to die. She knew that nobody would ever love her and that the only fate for her was death. In this desperate condition, she fell asleep while waiting for the inevitable messenger of death and when she was sleeping, she was visited by a god, but not the one she was expecting. Instead the great god Eros came down and discovered her there distraught and ready to die. He fell in love with her upon first sight, as is want to happen with Greek gods, and asked his friend, the West Wind, to carry her to his palace.

 Photo cred: wallsave.com

Photo cred: wallsave.com

Psyche awoke in Eros's palace. It was dark and even in the shadows, she could sense its opulence and majesty. She didn't know where she was or how she got there. Assuming she had died, she was perplexed because this wasn't what she had understood the underworld was supposed to look like. Where was the river of Styx, where was that terrible underground path winding downward, where was Hades, the god of the underworld?

Soon a figure appeared in the darkness. Though Psyche could not see his face, as he spoke to her she could sense his gentle and kind nature. He explained that he was Eros, that he loved her, and that she was in his palace, and could live there the rest of her days. He told her that she could have whatever her desire fancied so long that she was never to see his face; therefore, he would only meet her in the darkness. Eros then vanished. Finally, her desires to be in love had miraculously been fulfilled.

And so during her days she was treated to scented baths, servants, delicious food and drink, private yoga classes, and anything else she could possibly want. Each night Eros would visit her. Sometimes they would make love, sometimes they would eat together, but they would always fall asleep together.

Disruption in Paradise

 Photo Cred: mythman.com

Photo Cred: mythman.com

However, each time Psyche awoke in the morning, Eros was never there. Psyche had never seen Eros's face, for that was the agreement. Well, Psyche became lonely and one night as Psyche and Eros were enjoying a little pillow talk, she asked him in the darkness if she could have her sisters visit her here in the palace. At first, Eros was adamantly opposed to the idea but he loved Psyche and wanted her to be happy so eventually he relented and allowed her to summon her sisters for a visit.

Psyche's sisters came and fell in love with the place. They loved the palace, the servants, and all the amenities.  Psyche's sisters were perplexed that she had never seen her lover, Eros. The more questions they asked about him the more she realized that she really didn't know much about him at all. "How can you be sure that he's not some monster, some beast who is holding you captive here in this place?" they asked.

This planted a gnawing seed of doubt and curiosity in Psyche's mind. So, later that night after her sisters left, and Eros came for his nightly visit, she lay there in the darkness and waited for Eros to fall asleep. She crept out of bed, grabbed a candle, lit it, and fisted a knife incase indeed he was a monster whereupon she planned to kill him. She crept back to where Eros lay sleeping and as the first ray of light shone upon Eros's face, a shockwave of astonishment sent surged through Psyche's entire body. Never had she seen anyone as beautiful as Eros. Surely he must be a god, she thought. She shivered as she looked at his beauty and the movement caused a drop of wax to drop from her candle and land on Eros's shoulder waking him. When he realized what she had done, he lamented that she had broken the rule and that as a mortal she was bound to leave the palace and never return. And in a flash the West Wind carried her back to that desolate craggy shore where Eros had first laid eyes upon her.

The story will be continued . . .

Life Lessons

So, like many of us, there were aspects of Psyche's life that didn't seem to be working well. That old life needed to face a sort of death in order for a rebirth to happen. It meant the end of her old life as she knew it. And though her new life with Eros was something new and exciting, it wasn't without sacrifices.

Often times when life isn't working, maybe it's an old relationship or job or belief system that doesn't bring us alive anymore, that old life has to suffer a death. In this myth, the Oracle represents our deep inner-wisdom that prevails over any conscious or rational thought. This wisdom can also be facilitated by a teacher or mentor who might be able to see clearly. The Oracle could also represent the mysterious circumstances of life that sometimes simply work themselves out in a way that end up being perfect for us in the long run.

And even though Psyche's new life seemed perfect in some ways, Psyche had the wisdom to betray the old, rigid beliefs, value systems and agreements, the dogma of her decision with Eros which kept her captive in a realm that she thought would make her happy but was itself a limiting paradigm. Something told Psyche that this wasn't the end of her evolution, that some bigger step needed to occur even though it probably wasn't a conscious decision. In this first part of the story there is little or no effort for any of these decisions, things simply happened and appeared for her.

What are the parts of your life that need to die? Old beliefs about place, self, work, family sometimes need to die in order to find a new version of ourselves. I don't know what I feel about reincarnation, but I certainly feel like I've lived several lives within this life. I'm someone very different than even five years ago. Can you resonate with that? What are the ways that your life seems to have changed? Have you experienced any sort of death re birth, maybe without very much effort on your part? What are the old agreements and beliefs you need to let go of in order to truly embrace this new life for yourself.

Join me next week as Psyche starts to make some very conscious decisions. . .

Scott

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Yoga: What I Learned Teaching in New York

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Yoga New York

Yoga Worries/Revelations

Pure Yoga New York

A year ago, I moved to New York City, having spent the previous 15 years successfully making my entire living teaching yoga in Salt Lake City. Honestly, I worried whether or not by moving to such a big town I'd drown in a sea of amazing yoga teachers and be forgotten and have to go and wait tables. 

Well, that didn't happen. On the contrary, I was able to land auditions and teaching gigs at some of the best yoga studios in New York and was completely delighted by my experience teaching yoga in New York. Even though my wife and I decided that New York isn't our forever place, my year there helped me to discover a few  essential things about teaching, things which I think you might be interested in. 

So, there are 8.5 million people in New York and it seems that every other person in New York is a yoga teacher. And while NYC has a lot of yoga teachers, I found that they aren't all good or very experienced teachers. And what I mean by a "good" teacher is one who is nuanced, ones who stands out, is original, and who has a lot of experience teaching anything other than a generic vinyasa flow class. 

Don't get me wrong, there were still a ton of extraordinary teachers in New York and one of the things that helped me stand out from other teachers and land some of those great teaching gigs was my ability to teach Yoga Nidra.
 

 

Standing Out

If you don’t know about Yoga Nidra, it’s a form of guided meditation that helps people reach profound levels of relaxation and awareness. It's very healing and illuminating. People love it because it's as profound as it is relaxing, anybody can do it, and people often get great mind-blowing results, from their very first session. 

Yoga Nidra is a bit of a niche practice but I’ve been pleasantly surprised at how popular Yoga Nidra has become. Both in Salt Lake and New York, Yoga Nidra is always one of my greatest attended regular classes.

I’ve spent the last 10 years studying and teaching Yoga Nidra, and it's truly changed/revealed who I am  as a person and as a teacher. I hope you can tell how passionate I am about it. While receiving Yoga Nidra is relaxing and easy, teaching it can be very complex. I'd love to share my decade of experience teaching Yoga Nidra with you. 

 

Offerings

20-Hr. Yoga Nidra Immersion

Virtual or In-Person July 20–22 2018

While I’m in Salt Lake City for a few months, besides offering classes, privates, retreats, and trainings, I'm offering a 20-hr. Yoga Nidra Immersion (July 20–22). This Yoga Nidra immersion is a unique opportunity to learn about your own deep True Nature, as well as to learn how to teach Yoga Nidra, both to a group and in one-on-one sessions, which are conducted quite differently. You’ll get a certification with this training and it will count as continuing education hours with Yoga Alliance. Plus, you’ll be able to develop a skill that will immensely benefit your students, help you gain more students, and distinguish yourself from other yoga teachers, no matter where you teach. Yoga Nidra is also a great way to develop a robust online presence.

Besides teaching Yoga Nidra, New York taught me volumes about teaching in general and specifically my own teaching. I’m much more prepared to teach on a larger scale than before and I’m excited about new ways in which I’m growing as a teacher.

One thing I practiced and refined was how to get into some of the best yoga studios in the country. In my Yoga Teacher Mentor Program curriculum, I offer a proven strategy to get hired at the studio you want to teach at. It had been a while since I needed to "bust in" to a studio, and have never needed to audition to teach, but I followed my own strategy to get in and it worked like a charm. Of course I brought my best teaching to the audition, but with so many yoga teachers in NYC, even getting an audition is nearly impossible. My strategy to get hooked up with good studios even helped me to network with some of the best studios in the country outside of NYC, including making introductions to people who are running national yoga festivals

Even though not every NYC yoga teacher is fabulous, there are still plenty of really incredible teachers, many of whom I could learn from for the rest of my days. And there are enough great teachers in NYC such that I knew I had to bring my A-game to every class; there's no way I could phone it in.

Yoga Teacher Mentor Program

To ensure I was offering my best, I had to look at  many of the ways that my teaching had become stale or rote. Man, that's hard to do! As a teacher, I think it's hard to see the ways we've become stale because we think it's just the way we teach, or think that our way of teaching is a best practice of teaching. I was very fortunate to get some spot on feedback about my teaching from a nationally renowned teacher, feedback that helped me improve my teaching immensely. I began experimenting and tweeking small things about my teaching which made a big difference in the way my students received my teaching and what I felt of as my role as the teacher. 

If you are interested in really refining your practice of teaching, learning how to reach more students, or make a career from teaching yoga, I’d love to talk to you about my Yoga Teacher Mentor Program. This is a one-on-one mentorship where together, we develop a very personalized curriculum as we discover your talents and leverage them into helping you become an even more extraordinary teacher, making the kind of money you deserve. This mentor program pays for itself as new opportunities arise from the knowledge and experience you gain from this program. Plus, if you register for the Mentor Program, you’ll get the 20-hr. Yoga Nidra Immersion for free.

Wherever your life takes you, may you always teach yoga and may you always strive to bring your A-game. The world truly needs what only you have to offer. 

What are the ways in which you are growing as a teacher or know you need to grow as a teacher? Leave a comment!

Namaste,

Scott

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The Courage to Take Plan B

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Salt Lake City Yoga

It took a lot of courage to pick up our roots in Salt Lake City, leave the familiar, what we were good at and what was easy, to move across the country to New York and start over new with the hope of what was calling to us. I believe it took even more courage to acknowledge that the original plan wasn’t working out, and despite the fact that we don’t have a solid plan for what’s next, to move away from NYC because it’s the right thing to do.

Normally, I think that being in this position, not knowing exactly what’s coming next, would scare the shit out of me, but somehow I’m strangely calm and excited for the adventure of living in the not knowing. Seneca and I feel extremely lucky to be able to come back to SLC for a while as we are figuring out our next move.

We both realize that despite our short tenure in New York, there was no failure in moving away and that moving there a year ago was the right thing for us to do, just as it’s the right thing to move away now.

New York taught us both volumes about ourselves and what is important to us. Here are a few of the things that New York taught me . . . .

The biggest lesson, and most important by degrees of exponents, is how much I love Seneca, how important she is to me, and how lucky I am to have her as my partner in life. At first, I was attached to the idea of staying in New York but soon moved beyond that as I realized that what we needed as a couple and a family is a place where we could all thrive in body, mind, and spirit.

Next, I had a year of mostly teaching weekends and evenings and being at home with Elio during the days. It was great to be a dad. We tore up those Brooklyn playgrounds, I tell you what! We made great friends with our local bagel lady, Maria. Plus, Elio was so good at meeting new kids wherever we went. This year together was a special opportunity to deepen our bond.

New York taught me bundles about teaching yoga. I took classes from some truly incredible teachers who influenced me tremendously. I feel like I always try to bring my A-game whenever I teach; however, New York made me stretch in both bold and subtle ways. New York gave me a good look at all the ways I had become rote or at least perhaps too comfortable in my teaching and stretched me to expand who I am as a teacher.

There’s nothing like changing your environment and audience to refine your craft. New York yoga audiences can be hard to read and with such great yoga going on there, even harder to impress. I used this opportunity of being in a new town to experiment by consciously changing up many of my most common teaching practices, all the while still being Scott Moore (whoever that is). I consciously experimented changing a few critical teaching practices because I wanted to teach myself how to be more dynamic as a teacher and meet the needs of an even broader spectrum of people.

20. hr. Yoga Nidra Immersion

July 20–22 

Online or Virtual

One of my biggest worries moving from Salt Lake City to New York was whether or not my teaching would translate to a different, bigger audience. I mean, some of the best yoga teachers in the country work in New York. I remember one of my long-time yoga students graciously telling me upon leaving SLC to simply be myself and that students in NYC would appreciate it. That was a great bit of advice, one that I applied from the get go. I still told stories, used humor when it was appropriate, played my clarinet, etc.  

After one of my first yoga classes, a student approached me and told me that she thought I was a great teacher and refreshingly different than many NYC teachers, that I taught a great yoga class while not demonstrating too much self-importance. That meant a lot to me. And one of the things I learned in New York yoga studios was how to blend in even more into the background and let the yoga do the teaching rather than my personality.

Another thing I learned was the art of the hussle. New York is a big town with a lot of people and it felt like very few things there were fluid, easy, and streamlined. You had to be very patient, creative, and economical with your all of your tasks and time. I found I simply couldn't stack my day so tightly because NYC’s volume of people and its infrastructure makes impossible to do as much. In Utah, people can get in their car and go to Costco, Home Depot, and Ikea all in the same day and still have time to come home and clean the house before going out to an outdoor concert that evening. In New York, you’d see a guy on the subway with a roll of bubble wrap under his arm and a self-satisfied look on his face like he had really accomplished something important that day and was going to go home and celebrate by cracking a beer.

I also learned how fun and stimulating a big city can be. New York is a great town! I saw some great concerts, ate and drank at some incredible restaurants and bars, and loved just being in the city, walking those city streets, strolling the parks, and hoisting the stroller in and out of the subway stations.

I met some lovely, warm people in New York. I am very touched by all the regular students who frequented my class. Much like Salt Lake, New Yorkers are very dedicated to the teachers they like. It was certainly sad to leave them but hopefully we can stay connected through my blog, online courses, retreats, this newsletter, and hopefully frequent visits back with the promise of workshops and classes.

So as Seneca and I are back in Utah, while we figure out our next step, we are committed to staying connected to our hearts during this transition so that whatever decision we make for home and work is rooted in our heart rather than our head, or even worse, our fears. We are both giving ourselves more time for our meditation, yoga practice, journaling, visioning, and fun. Surely this is the recipe for creating the conditions to discern the direction for our family.

I’m so grateful for Salt Lake City’s warm welcome and the opportunity to teach classes at 21st Yoga as well as corporate gigs, privates, retreats, workshops, and immersions. I’ll keep my schedule updated on my website so you can see what’s coming up. If you live in Salt Lake City, I’d love to see you at class soon. If you don’t live in Salt Lake City, consider joining me for a retreat or join me virtually for the Yoga Nidra Immersion, July 20–22.

I know that I’m not the only person with questions about the future or who is in a state of transition. So, here’s to whatever’s next and resting in the unknown!

May we all have the courage to draw inward and open our eyes see our guiding stars in the universe of our hearts. And may we be quiet enough in mind and open enough in spirit to hear those soft and true words which will illuminate our paths.

What do you do to stay grounded during periods of transition? Please leave a comment below. 

Thanks!

PS

The following is a great article about Yoga for Men that I think you'd appreciate, whether or not you're a man. 

Hawaii Yoga

The Magic of Going with The Flow

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It’s been almost two weeks since I finished my yoga retreat along the Amalfi Coast in Italy, just enough time to come home, get settled a bit, and fly to Ireland to support my dear friend, Kim Dastrup on her retreat along the Cliffs of Moher in Ireland.

 

All the heavy work for the retreat happens the months prior to the retreat through bookings and emails and such but once we are all there, I can lean back and settle into that thing I truly love to do which is to teach yoga and meditation. There’s so much planning involved for every little detail of the experience. I really want everyone to feel nurtured for the entire event and provide the right conditions for them to touch that deep part of themselves that only yoga and meditation can. However, one thing I’ve had to develop is the skill in being able to learn to read the energy that is coming toward you and to go with the flow rather than trying to push the current. It was a lesson to learn to be spontaneous despite all of the planning and wanting to control things to be perfect. Somethings you simply can’t control and to try to do so will diminish the opportunity.

 

Every day on the retreat was excellent but one day was impossibly perfect mostly because of our ability to just go with the flow and accept everything that came our way.

 

Amalfi Coast yoga

We woke up for our early morning sun salutations, pranayama, and meditation session, had breakfast, and then did our mid-morning flow practice. I had a set plan for each practice but based on how people were moving, what everyone was feeling, I altered each practice despite my plans. For example, I intended for a long meditation in the morning practice but I could really feel the groups need to move. Still, I knew we’d be hiking later that day so I didn’t teach too many poses that cooked the legs.

 

After, our morning practice, we ate lunch then embarked on a hike for the afternoon with the possibility of a swim in the cerulean blue ocean of the Amalfi Coast.

 

Before we left for the hike, Franz, one of our Italian hosts, pulled me aside and quickly informed me that his cousin (he seems to have an entire country of cousins) was planning a “sunset concert and pizza party” and that it would cost about €15 per person but if we wanted to we could do that for dinner rather than having our regularly planned dinner at the retreat center. He gave me no other details.

 

This was certainly a deviation from our plan but something told me despite the relative lack of details, this was going to be really cool. So on a whim I made the executive decision that this is what we’d all do for the evening, despite the lack of details.

 

Amalfi Coast Yoga
Amalfi Coast Yoga

Molly, our other Italian host, left with us do drive a to where we would begin the hike. Again, we didn’t have all the details of the trip but knew it would be cool. People wondered how strenuous the hike would be, how deep the water would be, what the temperature would be, and honestly I didn’t know. Even with our host with us who had hiked this trail many times, we simply couldn’t plan for all the details of the rigor and temperature etc. but then again, nor could we plan  for or expect the stunning beauty we experienced along the way.

 

We parked the van and began our long hike which we learned was a pretty steep downhill. It finished up at a tower overlooking the ocean, something which looked straight out of Game of Thrones or Lord of the Rings. To the side of the tower was a slightly sketchy path leading down to the ocean and some of our group decided that the hike was enough and hedged their bets and didn’t hike down to the ocean. For those of us who did, we found a 20-ft. cliff and further down a slight ledge from which to jump into the swelling, lapis currents of the ocean.

 

Each ocean has its own personality and this one was deep and blue and welcoming. Soon several of us were in the water and a lightness and gaiety took over the attitude of the group. People were laughing and jumping from the cliff. Even after a small jellyfish stung two of the swimmers there was a bit of hilarity examining the sting marks on one of the retreater’s butt.

 

After a good long swim, we got out, dried off, and made the ascent back up the hill. It felt much steeper on the way back, especially carrying my now sleeping toddler.

 

Panting, hot, and sweating (and some of us taking turns carrying a sleeping child) we crested the hill feeling exhilarated by the ocean and the hike. At the top of the hill, not far from where we had parked the vans, a few men, in typical Italian restaurant owner fashion, gestured for us to sit at an outdoor table, nothing more than a plastic folding table and some chairs, for a glass of water, limoncello, or beer. It took exactly no coercion for us to sit at their table and order their food and drink and we cooled off, laughing about the hike, the swim, and jellyfish.

Amalfi Coast Yoga
 
Amalfi Coast Yoga
Amalfi Coast Yoga
 
Amalfi Coast Yoga

Once we got home and showered up, we enjoyed a relaxing afternoon practice, with a much needed dose of Yoga Nida (guided guided meditation). Again, I’d planned a bit of movement for the afternoon practice but feeling the energy of the group, I kept it very chilled out and focused largely on the Yoga Nidra.

 

After practice we got dressed up for our sunset concert. I was expecting a garage band in noisy town square with pizza from a nearby mom ’n pops. But instead the van wound its way up the steep hills near Sorrento, latticed with vineyards and lemon orchards, only to stop at an majestic, private villa. We got out of the van and marveled at the stunning villa and walked its immaculate grounds overlooking the bay of Naples. The villa was hundreds of years old and restored to a stunning rustic elegance. We sat outside under a gazebo, sipping prosecco and watching the sun dip into the bay. Meanwhile my little guy instantly made friends with a few older Italian kids whose parents had brought them.

 

 

After a about a half an hour of settling in, happy to be resting our legs, sore from our hike, to our great pleasure, two musicians in tuxedos came out, took a graceful bow, and sat down and began effortlessly and flawlessly plucking away at the most sublime classical music for mandolin and guitar.

Amalfi Coast Yoga
Amalfi Coast Yoga

 

A collective smile spread across our faces as their music stirred our hearts, their perfectly harmonizing notes echoing off the hills. It all felt so perfect and impossible. After each song we erupted with applause and bursting with joy and happiness over the perfection of the moment.

 

After a few numbers, another man in a tuxedo came out and began singing Italian and Spanish opera selections with a powerful but smooth tenor’s bravato. Not only was the music enchanting, but the joy of the musicians as they played and sang that was positively contagious. After each number, we offered a genuine smiles gushing applause and the musicians beamed with smiles and laughter and the joy of it all.

 
Amalfi Coast Yoga
Amalfi Coast Yoga
Amalfi Coast Yoga
Amalfi Coast Yoga

Eventually, with the sun set and music done, we stood around and marveled at the surprise and beauty of such a fantastic evening. Soon, a beautiful old woman began bringing homemade pizzas from the kitchen, baked in its original wood burning oven. The pizzas were unbelievable and we all stood around sharing stories and laughing while night deepened.

 

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Periodically, I’d meet up with Elio who had spent the entire night thrilled at running around with his new buddies. At one moment, Elio took me by the hand and led me away from the party to the dark edge of the property, intent on showing me something very important. He led me by the hand to the dark edge of the spacious property and pointed into a grove of lemon trees lit up by hundreds of miniature shooting stars, the fairy-glow of fireflies. “Can you see the monster eyes, Papa?” Elio said in wonder.

 

 

New York Yoga Teacher

After the party wound down, we were still on a high and forced the van driver to stop off for some gelato in the nearby town next to the retreat center. We came home with our faces sore from smiling and laughing and marveling over the unforgettable day, everything from the yoga, the hiking and swimming, and then the unforgettable concert and party we had at the villa. None of it could have been expected or planned for. It all just happened and was beautiful and magical.

 

This experience clearly taught me how when you go with the flow rather than trying to control every aspect of every detail, you open yourself to things otherwise magical and unknown.

 

Tell me a story about when you were surprised by going with the flow.

Here's Why Working Out With Your Partner Can Benefit Your Relationship

by guest writer Esben Lukas

 Source: Unsplash

Source: Unsplash

Working out on your own can be rewarding in itself. But there may be a better way to enjoy sweating out toxins and building muscle like exercising with your significant other! Physical fitness will not only positively affect your overall health and well-being, but your relationships as well. In fact

Scott Moore Yoga previously tackled partner fitness activities and how they promote increased intimacy among couples. That being said, here are some of the other amazing benefits partner workouts can do for you.

1. Promotes support and motivation

Psychology Today notes that someone else's presence affects your ability to perform an activity for the better. Couples who workout together will naturally cheer each other on and encourage each other to reach their goals. Plus, you will start to be more accountable for your workouts. Having someone to lean on while you rough it out at the gym, yoga studio, or open field makes things more bearable and interesting. You can even create shared goals or workout routines so that you can execute some of the moves together! This type of camaraderie will transcend outside of your workouts and will develop a supportive type of relationship between the two of you in the long run.

2. Boosts overall self-confidence

It's normal for couples to feel insecure at some point during their relationship. Sometimes, this can stem from feeling like you lack something in the physical department. If that’s the case, there's no place like the gym to improve your body image and show off your moves. Plus, exercising releases endorphins, which are also known as 'happy hormones'. Endorphins play a certain role in a person's mood, making you feel more content, confident, and secure. If you and your partner feel good, there will be no reason to dwell on negative thoughts, resulting in a happier relationship and improved self-worth.

3. Guaranteed quality time

With all the work, errands, and personal commitments you both have to get done in your own time, working out together is guaranteed quality time for the two of you. Real Simple emphasizes that spending time together opens communication lines, which in turn strengthens your bond as a couple. Making it a point to always exercise together can also translate to prioritizing each other.

4. Increases emotional bond

Most likely, working out together will help you find your groove as a couple and allow you to experience doing something new together for fun as well. Watch as the other aspects of your romantic life get positively affected by couple workouts, too! Foxy Bingo explains how you and your partner can have fun outside the gym by doing activities such as giving each other a massage. Engaging in a shared activity will promote the feeling of being loved and trusted by your partner, and that you truly enjoy each other's company. Shared activities like these can also help make you feel more comfortable and open with each other.

Good relationships take time and work. By having a common anchor in the form of working out together, you are already exerting effort into improving your relationship.

Truth in 15 Words

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DSC_4766.jpg



Success isn't about fame or fortune. Success is only measured by happiness, awareness, and love.


Period.


(Drop the mic. Walk off stage)



How do YOU measure success?

 


 
 
Truth in 15 Words
 
 
 
 
 

How To Relieve Stress

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 Photo by David Newkirk

Photo by David Newkirk

learn how to relieve stress

Can I get real for a sec? 

I freak out sometimes. 

People often assume that because I teach yoga I never get stressed. I assure you, nothing could be further from the truth. NYC has been great, it's been fun, and it's caused me to stretch and grow in ways I didn't know imaginable. But sometimes it feels like this town is kicking my ass.

Fortunately, I've got some tools. 

I've taught Yoga for Anxiety courses, not because I never get stressed, but because sometimes I freak out too and sometimes I use the tools yoga has taught me to help me manage stress. Don't get me wrong, I don't pretend to always have the answer for stress. Despite my experience with meditation, breathing techniques, and stress-relieving yoga poses, sometimes I still find myself self-medicating with Ben and Jerry's.
 
Here's what I do when I get stressed and I'd love to hear what helps you when you get stressed.

First, I take a bunch of fat sighs out my mouth, mostly when I'm driving or alone and can really let it fly without turning heads. I try to make it as dramatic as possible. I think this helps. This is a natural tension releasing technique that a lot of mammals use. Also, I'll try to relax my jaw and notice whether my stress lessens even by doing just a couple of sighs. Sometimes when I’m really worked up, I'll sigh for 5 minutes or so.

Next, I'll practice ujjayi breath, whisper breath. A lot of you know this but it's the breathing you use during yoga practice where you breathe in and out of your nostrils and put a little whisper in the back of your throat, elongating your breaths. It really helps. This form of breathing activates your parasympathetic nervous system, the opposite of your flight or flight nervous response. Try it, it's a miracle for stress.
 
Often when I feel stress, I will also do something physically active, like go to a yoga class, put on my running shoes and hit a trail, or even just take a 10 minute walk around the block, even if I don't have the time to do so. It's incredible how my perception changes when I get outside or at least get moving for a bit.

Wallace Stevens once wrote, "Sometimes the truth depends upon a walk around the lake."

Yoga explores the relationship between mind and body. If my body can relax, maybe my mind can follow. Putting some endorphins in my body and some oxygen in my brain is a great way to make me feel good and clear my mind.
 
Next, I'll actually look the bull straight into the eyes and see my stress for what it is. I'll try a meditation technique where I try to adopt the role as the observer rather than the one who is oppressed by stress. The other day, I felt like I was feeling a lot of stress and caught myself trying to avoid it or pretend it wasn't there. I had a few minutes to meditate and instead of mentally escaping it, I decided to look at it straight on. I closed my eyes and noticed how my body felt in response to the stress. I observed the images in my mind and emotions in my heart and thoughts in my brain, everything associated with this stress and tried to just observe it rather than fix it.

As I looked inside, this feeling inside me felt like a cold, metal vice along my chest. The more I looked at it, and just observed it, the more I realized that what I was feeling was more like protective armor than oppressive stress. It suddenly felt less like worry and more like my call to action to both do something about what was worrying me as well as practice self care.

Through my meditation, my observation, I was able to see this feeling for what it was instead of trying to avoid it and worry about the monster I felt was breathing down my neck.
 
Overall, I'm doing wonderful in NYC. These stress relieving techniques certainly help when ever I feel less than wonderful. I

can assure you I'll continue to use these techniques throughout my life. Maybe you can use some of these techniques if you find yourself freaking out. Try to do some breathing techniques, come to a yoga class, or try to meditate.

Of all these aforementioned techniques, I realize, too, that the only thing yoga class does not incorporate is the Ben and Jerry's therapy. Maybe after class we should go and get some ice cream and talk about our problems. 

What are the tools that help you work with stress?

I've built an entire learning module complete with stress relieving Yoga Nidra practice, breathing exercises, discussions, and additional recourses. It's built like my online courses. This is free awesome and totally free. 

Let me know how it goes!

Balance: Healing Body, Mind, and Spirit

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Be More With Less Giveaway

A few months ago, I was thrilled to receive an email from a friend and longtime student, Courtney Carver. She was in New York promoting her new book, Soulful Simplicity: How Living with Less Can Lead to So Much More. She wanted to reach out to her NYC signing event because she said that I had played a significant role in the evolution of the book.

See, almost 15 years ago when I was living in Salt Lake City, I got a phone call from Courtney. She was interested in private yoga sessions because she needed help finding balance in her life. She was crazy-stressed, working a poisonous and impossibly demanding job, and felt maxed out in every facet of her life.

Her abrupt wake up call for a lifestyle change came when after repeated visits to the doctor to answer some nagging questions about why she just felt so “off,” she was diagnosed with MS. And from the moment of her diagnosis she was determined to make some drastic changes to her life.

Courtney and I started meeting for private yoga sessions at 5am a few times a week because that was the only time either of us could meet and it was important enough to make it work. Together, we developed a yoga program to support her “getting her life back,” as she put it, by energizing her body, freeing her mind, and healing her heart.

We didn’t have a lot of time and her MS dictated that each practice be distilled to its essence. It couldn’t be too hot or too intense, nor too cool or too easy. We calibrated each yoga practice using the foundational principles of sukham and sthiram, the balancing principle of ease and effort. As a result, Courtney didn’t get exhausted or sluggish during our yoga practices. By eliminating the excess and practicing balance, we created a sustainable, personal yoga practice that eventually produced magical results. Her health and vitality began to return, her mind felt clear, and she felt as though some deep healing was happening in her heart.

Kauai.jpeg

Of course at the time I didn’t know that I was involved in the beginning of something extraordinary. This notion of eliminating excess and practicing balance soon stretched beyond her mat into the practice of her life. Courtney knew she needed to simplify her life to heal her body, mind, and heart and to find her real purpose for the world. But soon she discovered that simplifying her life was her purpose for the world.

Courtney eventually began a movement called Be More with Less. It’s message: simplify, simplify, simplify and discover how you come alive when you free yourself of the shackles of stress, the burden of an overly-demanding lifestyle, and the heaviness of owning too much stuff. Her movement took off and, all the while practicing balance, she has built an enormous audience with social media platforms, speaking engagements, a robust blog, podcasts, and most importantly her brilliant, new, and successful book, Soulful Simplicity: How Living with Less Can Lead to So Much More. Have you heard of her Project 333? That's Courtney. Project 333 was featured in O,  The Oprah Magazine. Yeah, she's big time. 
 

The Be More with Less message mirrors something I believe, practice, and teach which is that mastery is about getting more by doing less. By learning and using yoga and mindfulness techniques of connecting body, mind, and spirit with movement, mindfulness, and breath, you avail yourself of a quality of being that is optimal to a point that is almost unimaginable. This quality of being is your birthright, the way your life is supposed to feel and comes not as the product of effort but only as the product of balance.

 Courtney Carver's Book Signing Event NYC Jan 15, 2018

Courtney Carver's Book Signing Event NYC Jan 15, 2018

Though MS is supposed to be degenerative, Courtney says that she feels more alive now than she did before she was diagnosed with MS. Finding balance was the crucial lesson that helped Courtney “get her life back,” one that she would eventually share with hundreds of thousands of people across the world. And while I know that my role in her courageous and inspiring story was relatively small, I’m nonetheless very proud to have played it.

I’m not sure how many books she signed before her NYC book signing event, but you can be sure that I was the first in line at the NYC signing to proudly get an autograph.

This story has many themes. Finding balance for optimization and healing is one. Another theme is about sharing your gifts to create massive benefit for the world as well as deep, satisfying work for yourself.  

Sourcing Your Heart's Gift

Online Yoga and Meditations Course Starts April 23

I recently created an online yoga and meditation course called Sourcing Your Heart’s Gift. It’s an engaging journey about finding deep personal satisfaction and generously serving the world by sourcing your heart to discover your purpose. I loved building it and in the process my heart grew exponentially. It’s been wonderfully successful and I’m eager to run it again. The next course begins in one week on April 23.

By creating the Be More with Less movement several years ago, Courtney found her heart’s gift for the world and is bravely sharing it and actively making the world a better place. My heart’s gift for the world is sharing yoga and meditation so that people like Courtney can go out into the world and share the gifts that they are destined to share.

 

What is your gift that you need to share with the world?

I invite you to join me on this heart-felt journey of self discovery.

GIVEAWAY!

This is cool . . .

Courtney and I have teamed up to offer a joint giveaway. This giveaway is going to make you smile. I've teamed up with Courtney to help you know your heart. We'll be choosing two winners (one from a comment on this Instagram post and one from a comment on Courtney's post) by random drawing on April 18th to win membership to my online course, Sourcing Your Heart's Gift (including yoga, meditation, and a journey straight to your heart and a signed copy of her new book #SoulfulSimplicity. Learn more about my course with this  link. If you’d like to win, follow these 4 simple steps.

1. Like this post.

2. Comment with something that fills your heart.

3. Tag a friend who would like this book for an extra chance to win.

4. Head over to @bemorewithless and enter to win on her post (same image)

Horse Medicine

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Horse Medicine.jpg

I've had the great pleasure of leading mindfulness and yoga retreats at Wild Heart Horse Sanctuary, a sanctuary that houses rescues wild mustangs in Park City, Utah. Sonya Richins is a wonderful woman with an enormous heart and limitless energy to devote to saving these beautiful animals. At the sanctuary, we experience "horse medicine" which teaches us volumes about ourselves in relationship to these majestic animals. 

Typically, we begin our day with some yoga and meditation and explore some of the mystical qualities of these beautiful animals. We then do an exercise where we simply observe the horses and journal about what we noticed.

In simple observation, it is clear to see which horse is the diva, which one the protector, which one is aloof, etc. It's incredible how easy it is to relate to the personality of the horses.  

Perhaps one of the most profound experiences for me is always the opportunity to simply be present with the animals. We practice holding our own ground and approaching these mustangs neither aggressively or in a creeping manner. Sonya taught us to be in relationship with these horses rather than assert ourselves upon them.

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I remember during one retreat when it was my turn to approach the lead stallion, Kokepelli. I noticed him slightly back away so I paused and also took a step back. I waited and watched. After a few moments Kokepelli lifted his head toward me and looked at me. I took a few confident but calm steps toward him and he didn't move but remained calm as if he expected me. A few more steps and Kokepelli seemed eager for me to approach him. After several minutes, we were standing with our foreheads together, me scratching behind his ears. We were two parts of one bigger thing, man and horse. I could feel an enormous trust between us, a bond that still exists today.

There is a wonderful poem by Mary Oliver  called Wild Geese that starts:

You do not have to be good

You do not have to walk on your knees

For a hundred miles through the desert, repenting

You only have to let the soft animal of your body

Love what it loves

This reminds me that we are animals. It reminds me that we need to learn to work and heal our bodies, minds, and spirits on our their terms through invitation and not aggression or willpower.

We must listen to our bodies and create a relationship with it and wait for it to tell us how to take the next step. If we listen, we will eventually stand in complete connection with this physical part of our being, just like you can connect with any other animal. Learn to trust it. It will trust you.

I invite you to learn to trust the animal of your body this week.

Yoga Retreat in Tulum Mexico Sept. 15-21

Registration Ends April 18 2018

(GTA) Grand Theft Auto: A Study in Mindfulness pt. 2

Part 2: Chubby Hula Dancer Rides Again!

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This post won't make sense unless you read pt. 1 so go back and read the previous post and then come back to read this one. 

GTA

(Grand Theft Auto)

GTA.JPG

When my truck, Nina, was literally stolen from out of my hands, being very nearly killed in the process, it gave me a lot of time for reflection if only for the simple fact that it takes longer to walk places instead of drive. And despite being "mindfully pissed off" about the whole thing, I also had time to reflect on the many family members, friends, and acquaintances who had stepped up to help me,  whether that was to loan me their car, offer to take me somewhere, or simply share space, laugh, and swap stories. 

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After telling the yoga community about getting my truck stolen, many people said that they would also like to have a 1" sticker on the back of their car because it reminded them of the Wendell Berry poem that states that the greatest journey we will ever travel is the journey of 1" "by which  we arrive at the ground at our feet and learn to be at home."

I made more stickers and sold them to anyone who wanted them for $5. If I could only sell a couple thousand of those stickers, I could buy myself a nice reliable car and enjoy the metaphor of the ground at my feet rather than the cold, hard truth of it.

One woman, Penny, who bought a sticker also gave me a bag of Four Barrel coffee, the brand of coffee the sell at The Rose Establishment, (the coffee shop I went to directly after getting my truck stolen) and attached a note to it that said, "Because anyone who just got their ride stolen deserves a good cup of coffee." I was touched that she'd not only remembered my story but would also go out of her way to give me such a special, and heart-felt gift. Plus, it was damn fine coffee. 

My friend Nan let me drive her car for a few days.

My dad is awesome. He's retired and during my transportation crisis he allowed me to borrow his car for a few weeks.

Then, my good friends Christy and Brian called me and said that they owned two cars and were looking to get rid of one, the one parked in an auto-cocoon in the driveway which needed some repairs on the clutch. It was a 2001 Subaru Forester. We agreed that we'd tow it to my trusty mechanic, Peak Performance, and if the repairs weren't too extensive, I could pay for the repairs and $500 for the car. Fortunately, the repairs were only $300 and so for $800, I scored a car that ran better than my previous ride.

She's had low miles, clean interior, AC, cruise control—the whole bit. Getting that car felt like a big win. My dad also helped me get the Subaru to the shop and even sat with me at the DMV while I registered it (I know, right?). Then we went the Red Iguana for Mexican food, because everyone who just got a new ride deserves "killer Mexican food."

I had wheels again! And as I rolled down the street, I was overcome with the generosity of my friends and family. 

I brought the Subaru home and parked her in the driveway and what really made the experience complete is when I put another 1" sticker on the back. Then, she really felt like part of the family. 

Then, just two day after I started rolling around in my sweet, sweet Forester, I received a phone call from the police department informing me that they had found my truck! They asked me if I could come right then and pick it up. It wasn't far away, stashed in the parking lot of an apartment complex about 5 miles away.

I told the SLCPD that I was literally about 5 minutes from jumping in and teaching my Thursday morning 10:15 am Restore Yoga class and that there was no way I could come right then, but that I'd be free in about an hour and a half. They informed me that they had called the fingerprinting team who needed to dust the truck before they could release it to me anyway and that if I called back as soon as I was done with my class, there was a possibility that I'd avoid having to pay tow and impound fees.

See, in order to protect my vehicle from whomever stole it, the police have to tow it from where they found it and impound it so Truck Thief can't come and move it somewhere else. The down side is that this isn't a service the city offers for free. I'm the one who has to pay for tow and impound, usually runs around $200.

So, as I'm teaching my Restore Yoga class, questions like, "What kind of shape is my Nina in? What did they take and does it even run?" were swimming through my head and making it difficult to concentrate. After class, I wasted no time calling the police department and told them that I was on my way. They informed me that they had already called the tow truck but if I got to Nina before the tow truck did, I could avoid her from getting hoisted away.

I was off and soon learned just how speedy my new Subaru could be as I broke a few land speed records to get there. Just as I showed up, the tow truck operator was at that moment hoisting Nina onto the back of his truck. She looked frightened and battered but generally ok. I approached him and explained the situation. He told me flatly that he'd been given orders by the cops to tow my truck and that nothing but the OK from the cops could stop him from taking it. I tried fruitlessly to explain and even tried calling the officer to have him explain the situation but my phone at the time was in its palliative care stage of its life. Like many in this state, was about  to go to cell phone heaven and the battery just wasn't working well. Every time I connected to the SLCPD my phone decided to spontaneously power down and preventing me from getting the OK not to tow my car.  So, exacerbated, I told the guy, "Fine,  tow it and I'll meet you at the impound yard so I can talk to your boss."

I zipped over to the impound yard, a lovely place that looked like a parking lot for zombies. I entered the make-shift office, a long narrow room with dirty carpet, a couch that looked like it had been towed from off on the side of the road, and an obscenely large television blaring loud day-time TV commercials.

Behind the desk sat someone who upon first sight clearly displayed a super power—apathy.  I pled my case to Apathyman. I told him that I didn't want to have to pay $200 to impound and tow my car when the police said I didn't have to pay. He began using his super power immediately and mumbled something about being powerless, other than his obvious super power for Apathy, of course. Defiantly, I asked to talk to his boss.  Apathyman gave me a number to call to Bossman, who must have taught Apathyman everything he knew. He only said, "Let me make a phone call." Five seconds later the phone in the office where I was standing rang. It was Bossman talking again to Apathyman. In mere seconds, Apathyman hung up the phone and informed me that they were going to impound my car. To see them work together was almost inspiring, they were like the Stokton to Malone duo of shittiness.

To add insult to injury, Apathyman also told me that I couldn't just pay the fee and roll away. I didn't even know if my car rolled. He told me that in order to get my truck back, I'd need to go to the DMV to get an impound release form then bring it back to the impound yard, pay the fee and then I could take the car. It's easier to adopt a baby from Russia than it is to get your car outta hock. 

I left my truck at the impound yard and rolled away fuming mad. I had another yoga class to teach and I wondered how I was going to try to teach being centered when things were so crazy in my own head. 

I made arrangements with my good friend John to pick me up after my class. We went to the DMV and then back to the Zombie Parking Lot and the House of Hopelessness, home of Apathy Man, to get my truck back. We spend all afternoon running around and attending to the minutia. Finally, I'd retrieved the necessary forms, paid the fees, and Apathyman reluctantly gave me back the keys to my truck.

Just then it dawned on me that I hadn't even seen the inside of my truck. I wasn't sure what they'd stolen, what condition it was in, or if the truck would even start. So with reticence, I approached Nina. As I opened the door, I saw the front console was torn up a bit, the result of stealing my car stereo that wasn't working anyway. I think there's a special pawn shop for car stereos that don't work, very valuable in certain markets. Truck Thief had ransacked everything leaving it a total mess. I opened the shell and looked in the bed and saw that they had stolen my and my wife's yoga mats, cuz even truck thieves need to get centered and loosen up the muscles that tighten up during dramatic heists. I hoped that one day I would see him in class reevaluating the direction of his life. 

Then it dawned on me—something important was missing. More important than my stereo, more important than my yoga mat. Oh, no! Where was Chubby Hula Dashboard Dancer! She wasn't on the dash! They kidnapped her, NOOOOOOOOO, those bastards!

Feeling broken hearted, abused, and completely frustrated, I tried my best to put my dashboard back together the best I could. Then I sat in the seat and put the key in the ignition and prayed she would start. Can you fuel a car on anger and despair?

Even before she was stolen, Nina sounded pretty hard thanks to her rusted out muffler and non-existent tail pipe. To my great surprise she did fire up however, now she sounded more like Howlin' Wolf than Nina Simome. But at least she ran.

I rolled out of the Zombie Parking Lot and waved a thank you to my friend John who sped away. I drove straight to my trusty mechanic, Peak Performance. They kindly looked Nina over and informed me that she was basically fine but that Truck Thief had stolen the catalytic converter, part of the exhaust system, because there is some precious metals in there, like palladium, the same stuff my wedding ring is made of. I would have to get that fixed if I wanted to drive the Truck. I drove directly to the muffler shop and asked them to please hook me up with another catalytic converter and while you were at it, fix the tailpipe, all of which was going to cost me around another $450.

I took the bus home feeling sorry for myself after such an emotional and harrying day. But as I was walking home from the bus stop I couldn't help but think of all the people who had helped me out. I thought of everyone who had wished me well and offered condolences and an understanding moment of bewilderment after seeing my ride stolen. I thought of Nan who loaned me her car for a few days, and my dad,  who let me tool around in his truck for almost two weeks. I thought of Brian and Christy who gave me a screaming deal on a new ride. I thought of how nice it was to ride my bike places. I thought of how nice, accommodating and professional, Peak Performance had been to have fixed my new ride and advise me on my old one. I thought of John who helped me out by running me all over town, who had shown up on my door steep the day Nina had been stolen asking if there were anything he could do, like run errands or just offer a listening ear. I thought of the cops who'd found it and who despite everything really had an air of generosity in their tone. All of that. My pity party didn't last long in the face of all that generosity and good will.

So, the next day, I rode my bike a few miles to pick up my truck from the muffler shop. I put my bike in the back of Nina and drove away, quieter than ever I can remember her sounding, feeling like this truck hadn't run that well and sounded that good in several years. And even though I knew it would add to the rust, I decided to go against protocol to give Nina a wash. I took her to a car wash and spent the better part of an hour cleaning her inside and out. I wanted to get the kidnaped feeling scrubbed off of her. It was a little traumatizing to see my fingerprints still smeared on the dirty window on the driver-side from where I'd tried to hold on as the guy was literally stealing my truck from my own hands. You see, I caught him in the act but not fast enough to stop him from bolting off and almost running me over in the process. I reassembled the dash, the result of ripping off my stereo. Then, other than the hole where my stereo used to be, everything was back to normal. Better than normal, really.

chubby hula dancer.jpg

And then to my immense surprise and pleasure as I was vacuuming under the seat, guess who was hiding? Yes, Chubby Hula Dashboard Dancer!  From what I can deduce, sometime during her kidnapping, she used all her hula-power strength  to unstick herself from the dash and jumped down to hide under the seat to wait for the storm of car thieving to pass. I picked her up, brushed the dust off of her blue plastic grass skirt and placed her redemptively back on the center stage of the dash.

As I dove away from the carwash, without a song on the radio (without a radio), just the satisfaction of a clean car and my Chubby Hula Dashboard Dancer swaying to the smooth purr of a well-exhausted engine, I felt that everything was right in the world.  Watching Chubby Hula Dashboard Dancer's happy dance reminded me that somehow, every moment is an opportunity for celebration.

Whoever stole my truck, my stereo, my catalytic converter, and my yoga mats also gave me something in return. Something very small but unspeakably valuable. Resting in the seat next to the dismantled dash and various trash, was a blue rubber bracelet honoring the tragedy of the Boston Marathon bombing. Fascinating, right? This bracelet is a symbol of people coming together in the time of such tragedy and horror.

Boston Bracelet.jpg

And that's exactly what this bracelet did for me. This bracelet reminded me that despite any tragedy or fiasco, ranging from a bombing to getting your ride stolen, human beings have an amazing power to come together and to show up, love, and support to one another in the face of hardship. I roll more smoothly and with more ease after all this truck stealing business.

For a few years,  I kept that blue bracelet in the hole in the dashboard where my stereo used to be. I rarely think of the guy who stole from me but often think of those who gave to me, so generously and lovingly from their hearts at a time of trouble. That bracelet reminds me how good people can be.

Despite everything, getting my car stolen has shown me that yes, there are some careless, rude, and probably desperate people who might steal your ride simply for the low-hanging fruit of its parts and almost worthless stuff inside, but that there are dozens more people who will freely give of their love, help, and support quicker than you can say "hotwire my ride." This experience of getting my truck stolen has reinforced my faith in people more than tarnished it. And even though the whole thing experience me around $1500, I'm the richer for it. I'm rich in the form of friendships, love, and support. I'm rich in the mere experience. The story itself makes me rich. 

It's my prayer that as we practice yoga and meditation, we look inside and see is a being filled with love and light. May we understand our own brightness and then spend our energy shining our light into the dark corners of the world. My invitation to you is to choose some way to shine your light to others today. Send a text and let someone know you're thinking about them. Offer to help someone out on the side of the road. Understand your light and use it to brighten everything around you. Maybe this good will is what really makes Chubby Hula Dashboard Dancer move. Not jazz organ. 

The way to steal someone's heart is by giving your own. 

Who knows, maybe one day while teaching a yoga class, I'll recognize my yoga mat under someone else's feet. I'll know that the person on that mat is on their way to finding the light that is within them, regardless if they stole a ride to get there. We are all on this journey together, though some of us tend to take the long and hard road to get there. 

Namaste, everyone, including you, Truck Thief. I honor the light that shines inside of me and shines inside of you . . . somewhere. Thank you for ripping off my ride to show me the meaning of generosity, love, and kindness. 


Grand Theft Auto: A Study in Mindfulness

Yoga Amalfi Coast

Yoga Retreat Along the Amalfi Coast

May 26–June 2 2018. Only 3 Spots Left!

Part 1: Chubby Hula Dancer's Last Ride

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Ever feel like life is all some absurd cartoon? Let me fill you in. This story is how my truck got stolen and how it helped me be more mindful. 

See, I used to drive a wonderful old truck ('93 Nissan) which was very generously given to me in February 2006 when crisis came to visit for a winter. Different story, different day. 

chubby hula dancer.jpg

My truck's name was Nina cuz she was red and sultry like Nina Simone and sounded like she'd been smoking without a filter and drinking gasoline her entire life. Over the years, I'd put a little money into her to keep her running, but largely she was a wonderfully reliable part of my life.

Nina was a great old lady. She was missing a tailpipe, her radio was broken, sun visors missing, driver's side mirror broken, and one of the windows on her shell was shattered, but she started up almost every time. It was a stark moment when I realized that the exterior had reached such a point of dereliction that washing her would only harm her more. 

I had a constant companion riding shotgun in this rusty ride. Affixed to the dash was Chubby Hula Dashboard Dancer. Over the years I'd learned that we share a love for jazz organ music. I know this because that's when did her best dancing. I mean she REALLY got into it. I'd often car-dance along with her but I couldn't compare to the sweet moves of Chubby Hula Dashboard Dancer.

1"

Another fun feature of my ride was the sticker on the back window which read 1". You know those stickers people post on the back of their cars that simply say 26.2? They are bragging rights for those who have trod the distance of a marathon. Well, I made a sticker in the same style that simply read 1". And yes, in a hyper-masculine world of lift kits and truck nuts it takes someone very secure in his manhood to roll around town with a 1" sticker on the back of his truck.

The sticker is a references to one of my favorite poems by Wendell Berry called "A Spiritual Journey." 

"A Spiritual Journey"

26.2.jpg

And the world cannot be discovered by a journey of miles,

no matter how long,

but only by a spiritual journey, a journey of one inch,

very arduous and humbling and joyful,

by which we arrive at the ground at our own feet,

Nina 1 inch.jpg

and learn to be at home.

To me, this poem reminds me that the greatest journey I will ever travel or the greatest place I might ever hope to arrive is the distance of 1", to the ground at my own feet, the awareness of my True Self, the real, Divine me, and to feel at home in my own heart, and to know whatever lives there.

Honeymoon is Over

So, in August of  2014 my wife and I were living in Salt Lake City. We'd only been married for a few months and already we had been through tremendous highs and lows. Literally one week prior to getting married, I'd closed the doors on the two yoga studios I owned, both of which had been limping along for years. But getting married was bliss and we'd just come home from our honeymoon to Greece and Spain where we lay on the beach, ate pastries with abandon, and fell deeper in love with each other.

Before getting married, I had been under enormous stress and now, back from our honeymoon, I was eager to move forward in my life with more bliss, happiness and stability.

Not long after coming home from our honeymoon, Seneca's car, received a terminal diagnosis from the auto shop and we decided to sell it—I posted it online and it sold in 14 minutes for cash. So, for a few weeks were sharing my truck. Sharing a car made getting around a little tricky but we managed. Compared to the stress I'd already had that summer, the stress of sharing a car was nothing.  

Super-human Core Strength

One Saturday we decided to drive my truck down to the Farmers Market. We parked and walked the few blocks over to buy our produce. 

On our way back, we returned to the place I'd parked my truck and it wasn't there. Instead, it was parked about 100 feet away in a different spot. Confused, I started to think through the possibilities: Had I left the truck out of gear? Maybe it started to roll and someone had kindly parked it on flat ground for me? Was I parked illegally and law enforcement had moved it? Was there a free valet service at the Farmers Market? I hadn't given anybody my keys.

 

None of these options made sense and as I got closer to my truck I saw someone milling about it and it dawned on me what was happening—someone was stealing my truck at that moment!

I broke into a dead sprint toward my truck and the Truck Thief. Truck Thief saw that his heist's owner was bearing down toward him and panicked. He immediately jumped into the cab and started the engine. I saw that he had parked in front of a large concrete barrier and couldn't move forward and I soon arrived arrived to the back of the truck before he could back up preventing him from getting away. I began to scream at him to stop stealing my truck. 

At that moment, Truck Thief and I had the exact same thought: There's no way to steal this truck with someone standing behind it. Truck Thief soon thought of a different option, one I had not considered up to that point, which was to run over the lesser of the two obstacles blocking his way (read the crazy dude standing with his hands on the back, screaming).  Without a hesitation, Truck Thief threw Nina into reverse and floored it. Fortunately the tires we pretty bald, giving me a warning screech and a half of a second delay to jumped out of the way. 

As the truck whizzed past me,  I did the first thing that came to mind which was to grab onto the half-rolled window on the driver's side and proceeded to run with him as he was backing at an incredible speed. I don't know what I was hoping for with that desperate action. I'm a yoga teacher and I know that with enough core strength you can do anything. Perhaps I thought that if I could just lift the car up, immobilizing all four wheels, I could hold it there until the cops came. For a brief second we were our faces were mere inches apart. And though I was so close, I honestly can't say what his face looked like because it wildly distorted with a look that said, "Holy shit! That dude's running next to me and holding onto the window while I'm stealing his ride!" 

He then popped the truck into gear and shot off, ripping my hands from the window and tearing out of the parking lot then down the road like a fugitive, leaving me standing there like an idiot—but an idiot who didn't get ran over. Seneca stood 50 feet away and watched the entire event transpire in complete horror.

After it was all done, we stood there staring at each other with a look like, "Well, that just happened." It was over in 10 seconds or less.

We called the police. They filed a report.

Then we walked a half block to one of Salt Lake City's best coffee shops, The Rose Establishment, to have some coffee and wait for someone to come and give us a ride. While waiting for our ride, I posted on social media, "Because when someone has just stolen your truck, you deserve a really nice cup of coffee." While waiting for the baristas to make our brew, it dawned on me that in a matter of two weeks, we had gone from having two cars, to one, to none. And while we don't mind walking, it feels differently when you gotta walk cuz someone ripped off your ride.

Mindfully Pissed

HuggerMuggerPY_48.jpg

Here's where this get's a little deep. This might sound out there but, even while my truck was being stolen and then directly after, I felt a strange sense of grand awareness about the whole thing. Even while it was happening, I could see that in the big picture, what's true is that getting your truck stolen really isn't that big a deal. In fact, in some ways it feels completely absurd, like I'm staring in my own cartoon, as my friend Nan puts it. I'm sure I'd feel differently if the guy had ran over me. 

Yet with the very same awareness that getting your truck stolen is ultimately inconsequential, came the realization that what is also true is that my smaller self has real and intense feelings about getting my truck stolen. Despite my intermittent "grand awareness," the stoic and bland "it-is-what-it-is" mindset doesn't cut it with me. Not entirely. "What it is" sucks! And to deny that is to deny the part of me that despite not having the grand awareness, still exists, at least to some degree.

Yoga and meditation has taught me not to deny my feelings but rather to drink them in and thereby use them to illuminate the True Self, tools for practicing being aware. 

Awareness of the True Self is actually about freedom. The freedom , for example, is to be absolutely present with emotions, not to deny them. So with that in mind, I felt free to choose to be mindfully pissed off and honored my primal need to shout loudly through my clenched teeth every four letter word I know . . . besides love . . . and hope . . . and nice.

I wonder if Truck Thief was thinking to himself, "I'm very mindfully pinching this dude's ride. Vrrr-Ommmmmm."?

As I saw my truck reseed into the distance, my 1" sticker reminded me that the crucial step along the journey toward the True Self is to be at home in my heart and to learn to be comfortable with everything as just it is. This spiritual journey of 1", like Wendell Berry says,  is "arduous, humbling and joyful by which I arrive at the ground at my feel and learn to be at home." And at that moment I was forced into learning this lesson which lay at my feet because for the unforeseeable future, I would be walking. 

Driving It Home

May our practice, whether on or off the mat, be to strive to always experience this "arduous, humbling and joyful" journey of the human experience to the fullest, and use the events which befall us as tools to become ever more aware of our True Self. Be the small self of emotions and the True Self with the grand perspective. Practice this and be responsible and kind to other people. 

 GIF at https://tenor.com/

GIF at https://tenor.com/

Sometimes this life really does feel like some wild Sponge Bob Square Pants episode that the Divine is Netflixing alone on some late night while drinking a beer and eating some non-GMO corn chips and salsa.

In the big picture getting my truck stolen wasn't very important. I actually enjoyed riding my bike for a while, burning off some of the pastries I ate while on my honeymoon, and simultaneously burning off some of the anger resulting from getting my ride pinched. 

I'm sure Chubby Hula Dashboard Dancer never danced for Truck Thief as wildly as she did for me. 

And while I pedaled around Salt Lake City,  I hoped that Truck Thief would return my truck with a full tank of gas.

The story continues . . . 


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    I Don't Know The Name of This Bird

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    wolf creek snow.jpg

    White Eyes

    White-Eyes
    by Mary Oliver
     
    In winter
        all the singing is in
             the tops of the trees
                  where the wind-bird
     
    with its white eyes
        shoves and pushes
             among the branches.
                  Like any of us
     
    he wants to go to sleep,
        but he's restless-
             he has an idea,
                  and slowly it unfolds
     
    from under his beating wings
        as long as he stays awake
             But his big, round music, after all,
                 is too breathy to last.
     
    So, it's over.
        In the pine-crown
             he makes his nest,
                  he's done all he can.
     
    I don't know the name of this bird,
        I only imagine his glittering beak
             tucked in a white wing
                  while the clouds-
     
    which he has summoned
        from the north-
             which he has taught
                  to be mild, and silent-
     
    thicken, and begin to fall
        into the world below
             like stars, or the feathers
                  of some unimaginable bird
    that loves us,
        that is asleep now, and silent-
             that has turned itself
                  into snow.
     
    I read this poem and imagine this Spirit-Bird wrestling with its ideas in the tops of the trees manifesting as the brilliant winter storms we sometimes experience in winter.

    I think of this Spirit-Bird as something large and definitive, a creator or director, or maybe simply a grand observer, who puffs and blows the turbulence we all sense in the storms of the sky, and the storms of our lives. I imagine this Spirit-Bird as blustery at times, yes, but also as a being who ultimately touches me with Divine love, a real touch, by sending gentle, delicate, and cold kisses floating through the air in the form of snowflakes, landing silently on my face and shoulders and eyes.

    Like Mary Oliver says, I don't know the name of this bird. But I can feel it whatever it is. Sometimes, it stops me in my tracks along this tempestuous journey of life, ankle-deep in dark and cold, my brow furrowed and mind brimming with business, and lifts my gaze for a moment to watch its dazzling spectacle of fat, silent flakes filter through the streetlight or moonlight.

    The beauty of it all!

    I don't know the name of this bird, but I can feel its breath move through me in yoga. It makes my body move and sway, undulate and reach. It arrests my busy mind and opens my eyes.

    Come out of the cold, both physically and spiritually, and warm up with a yoga practice. Watch as The Spirit-Bird, or whatever name you give it, slowly unfolds its ideas and gives you divine kisses through breath and movement. Then you'll feel it too outside in the form of snow or rain or cold, anything, but nevertheless touches everything around you. 


    Selfie Conscious

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     https://9gag.com/gag/ag3Pe1K/mona-lisa-selfie

    https://9gag.com/gag/ag3Pe1K/mona-lisa-selfie

    The following is a rewrite of a piece I did a few years ago and which was recently published on Medium  under the title Selfie Awareness. It outlines and experience I had which taught me more about being conscious with trying to capture the moment with photos and selfies. 

    A few years ago, I was in Paris for the first time, visiting the Louvre, perhaps the finest art museum in the world. While there were many paintings I’d been waiting my entire life to see, and I know I’m cliché here, the Mona Lisa was primo on my list.

    I mean, almost 60 years ago, they tried to insure the Mona Lisa for 100 million dollars* but had problems because many felt that the sum was much too low, and that was 1960s dollars. Today, they value the painting at closer to 800 million!

    Fun fact: Napoleon used to have the Mona Lisa hanging on his bedroom wall and would spend hours in rapture starting at it.

    So finally here, and giddy with anticipation, I stepped into the spacious, well-lit gallery, dying to get a glimpse of the most (in)valuable painting in the world. There she was at last! At a distance, I could see the renaissance rockstar enshrined on her own dedicated wall, protected behind a guardrail and bulletproof glass, and flanked by two bouncers.

    Suddenly, the hallowed hush of the Louvre was irreverently replaced by the din of excitable tourists. As I approached her, I felt pressed in a hot vice of adoring fans, all craning to ogle the most mysterious woman on canvas. The venue felt transformed into an arena at a rock concert where I was squeezing through hordes of fans, desperately hoping to making eye contact with that infamous seductrice and her inimitable half-smile.

    As I jockeyed my way forward, I began to notice something very peculiar. Nobody was looking at the paining. Not really. Rather, everyone was looking at the viewfinder on their smartphones, tablets, and cameras. More than taking a moment to drink in this priceless work of art, most people were worried about getting the perfect photo of it.

     http://catnapsintransit.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/07/1382338_10151797344753183_1393716417_n.jpg

    http://catnapsintransit.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/07/1382338_10151797344753183_1393716417_n.jpg

     http://www.bbc.com/news/av/entertainment-arts-35031568/does-mona-lisa-have-a-hidden-personality

    http://www.bbc.com/news/av/entertainment-arts-35031568/does-mona-lisa-have-a-hidden-personality

    And as I looked around at the crowd, I noticed a distinct pattern. People would fire off several photos, including a few selfies with the Mona Lisa, then without so much as a pause, would scurry off to some other masterpiece to do likewise. For what? To brag to their friends that they were in the same room as the Mona Lisa but never took a second to actually see it?

    Something about this phenomenon is natural human behavior. Hasn’t everyone been guilty of experiencing something extraordinary, a resplendent sunset, an aromatic cup of coffee, or a masterpiece like the Mona Lisa, and we’re afraid the moment will end, so we try to capture it with a photo because doing so and posting it to social media will somehow make it permanent?

    And have you ever tried to show some innocent, unsuspecting person the photos of that moment? It goes like this, “Here’s the great hotel I stayed at, only it’s so much nicer than the photo suggests, you should really see it. Oh, and here’s the most amazing latte I had at the perfect café, but you had to be there, this photo doesn’t do it justice. Here’s the Mona Lisa but she’s much smaller than you’d expect. . . ”

    This is when you look up to see your friend’s eyes gloss over or start to check their watch. The photos don’t translate because the optics of the picture represents only the smallest part of what you hopefully experienced in the moment. Or which perhaps you didn’t experience . . .

    Trying to capture any moment ironically prevents you from having it in the first place. It’s because you’re thinking about the future rather than experiencing the present. To really experience a moment requires a practiced presence with all of your senses. Your senses are an incredible tool for presence.

     Photo permission by John Cottrell

    Photo permission by John Cottrell

    Without being present to the experience, when you’re back at home, looking at your dozen or so selfies with the Mona Lisa, you’ll have no connection to that moment. The photos will mean about as much to you as they would to your friend whom you abused with photos of your latte The photos won’t recall an experience you thought you had because you never really had the experience to begin with.

    And this is getting a little Zen here, but since our identity is the product of our ability to pay attention, if you weren’t present with all of your senses, there was really no “you” to have the experience in the first place.

    I’m just as guilty as the next guy of trying to capture the moment with a photo. But by bringing my unconscious actions to consciousness, I can deliberately make a choice to do something different.

    So never take photos, right? Never post anything on social media? No, let’s not be luddites. But maybe try having the moment first, then if you want to, take a photo to remember a moment you truly experienced.

    And sometimes, try allowing yourself to simply experience a moment without a camera. Soak it up and be 100% there by consciously involving all of your senses, raw and unfiltered.

    Before there were cameras or smartphones, people had to use memories to recall experiences. Go old-school and create a real mental repository of experienced events. What did the light look like in the gallery? What does the smell of paint of canvas evoke to your imagination? What sounds did you hear in the gallery? What were the textures and temperatures you felt on your skin? How did it taste? And remember that if you try to taste the Mona Lisa you better be prepared to lose a tongue.

    I realize that it’s a little glib to simply say simply, “be present.” But practices like yoga and meditation help us to establish presence as our default when we are having any experience, whether mundane or extraordinary. And with presence, even an otherwise mundane experience can prove to be extraordinary once your come senses alive.

    Without presence, even the miraculous or priceless moments (read experiencing the Mona Lisa) will pass you by without leaving an impression. I’m thinking about those simple but perfect moments like hanging with our kids, focusing on good work, or experiencing live music, dance, or poetry. To receive the gift of these moments truly requires presence.

     

    The immortal poet Rainer Maria Rilke speaks to being existentially destitute as the result of lack of presence in his rather stark poem, "Already The Ripening Barberries Are Red."

    Rilke.jpg
    Already the ripening barberries are red,
    and the old asters hardly breathe in their beds.
    Those who are not rich now as summer goes
    will wait and wait and never be themselves.
    Those who cannot quietly close their eyes,
    certain that there is vision after vision
    inside, simply waiting until nighttime
    to rise all around them in the darkness
    it’s all over for them, they feel old and tired.
    Nothing else will come;
    no more days will open,
    and everything that does happen
    will cheat them.
    Even you, my God. And you are like a stone
    that draws them daily deeper into the depths.

    He’s saying that without presence, without any poetic imagination for things as they are or could be, you’ll never experience the heaven which is here. Indeed, he suggests that even the notion of God offering you a future heaven is itself like a stone drawing you deeper into the depths of hell, the product of unconsciousness.

    I teach yoga for a living and sometimes in a yoga class, I see the fidgets, the distant stares, and the vacancy of someone whose mind is somewhere else. It happens to all of us sometime or other. Still, I want to say, “Come back. We’ve missed you. Be here now. Be there later.”

     https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mr._Miyagi

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mr._Miyagi

    When you sense you’re having an extraordinary moment, or hell in any moment, try closing your eyes and run through all of your senses for a minute or two. Then open your eyes and add the most dominant sense. Ask yourself, how does this make me feel? Truly involve all your senses to practice being completely present to the experience.

    This might all sound like a Mr. Miyagi mantra and probably is. But hey, that dude could break boards with his forehead so that’s gotta count for something. Plus you can’t break boards with your forehead if your head is somewhere else.

    This week, I invite you to practice being fully present in all your experiences whether mundane or extraordinary. Be completely present by using all your senses and truly experience the moment.

    When that’s done, then you can take your selfie.

     

    Have you had an experience like this? Have you ever tried to capture the moment and realized that by doing so, you actually lost the moment? Leave your comments below. 

    Do you mind sharing this with a friend?


    JOIN ME, ONLY A FEW SPOTS LEFT!

    The Meaning of Life: To Join The Dance

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    HuggerMuggerPY_520.jpg

    Once, just before beginning a yoga class, I asked if anyone had any requests for poses. One woman raised her hand and timidly asked, “I don’t have a pose to request but . . . um . . . why is that guy standing on a baby?” pointing to the five-foot statue of the Shiva Nataraj, the Royal Dancer, on the altar of our studio.

    I replied that the statue represents the dance between us and the cosmos as we uncover the secrets of our hearts to evolve into our highest beings.

    Shiva represents the creator of the universe. He has many arms to depict his many tasks and invitations as we experience our own personal evolution. He is the god-amalgam of consciousness and movement, of order and chaos. He is grinning as his hair is literally on fire, riding the wave of chaos in the universe.

    In his first hand, he is holding a drum, creating a vibration which is the heartbeat for the entire universe. In his second hand, he is displaying the abhaya mudra, the compassionate and sacred gesture that holds and sustains us on our path. With his third hand, he is holding a flame suggesting that we don’t get too comfortable with things because as soon as he creates it, he will also destroy it.

    It’s his last arm which is truly the most provocative. His last arm conceals his heart. He creates you, builds up and tells you you’re wonderful, only to scorch you to ash when you least expect.  When you’re at your lowest point, hoping for a little help from the big guy, he covers his heart in a gesture that says, “I’m not going to give this sacred heart away for free, you must earn your way back to your new life. And by the way, you can never go back to where you were. You’re coming back but better, stronger, and wiser.”

    apasmara.jpg

    Now, why is that Shiva standing on a baby, again? It’s actually not a baby but an impish being called the Apasmara who represents the ignorant or unrealized version of ourselves. Shiva is literally taking a stand for your higher, most divine self. He’s squelching the old version of you and with his other leg, his only remaining limb, inviting you back into the dance of birth, growth, sustaining, destruction, and rebirth, but on a new and more enlightened level the likes of which you couldn’t not imagine in your old way of being. That’s why he had to burn the old you to a crisp.

     

     By Shiva_as_the_Lord_of_Dance_LACMA.jpg, photographed by the LACMA.derivative work: Julia\talk, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=14771931

    By Shiva_as_the_Lord_of_Dance_LACMA.jpg, photographed by the LACMA.derivative work: Julia\talk, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=14771931

    The statue depicts Shiva looking compassionately but directly straight into your eyes with a fierce imperative that says, “This is your destiny to discover the mysteries of your heart and grow into what I know you to be. Come and join the dance!”

    Perhaps this statue represents an invitation to you to join the dance and step up to the next stage of your own evolution. Perhaps there is something inside of you that is sensing or needing a change. Are you embarking on a new stage of life? Are looking to make a bold move in your career or your relationship? Would you like to discover or reignite the flame of your calling in life, your heart’s gift to the world, and learn how to boldly share it? Sharing your heart’s gift to the world is your ultimate life’s work.

    This is your invitation, just like the statue. I’m asking you to step up, connect to your heart, and courageously make your next bold move. It’s not easy. There’s work involved but I’m here to help.

    I invite you to join me for my next online course, Sourcing Your Heart’s Gift, your guide to help you to do the work necessary for your next evolution. This work will come in the form of Yoga Nidra (guided meditation), yoga, breathing practices, journaling, and more.

    Join the dance. This course starts today. There’s no better time than now to step up.


    Sourcing Your Heart’s Gift: February 12–March 26.

     

    You’ll love these modules:

    Week 1: Uncover or Rediscover the Mystery of Your Heart: Walking your Dharma

    In this module, we will begin the process of discovering or rediscovering the terrain of your heart. We will lay the foundation for personal optimization with the introduction of simple but powerful daily breathing and mindfulness exercises. We will discuss and experience ourselves as the universal origin of all things, or Source, and feel that kernel of Source which resides in our hearts. How does your heart answer these questions: What is your life’s path, how do you begin to find it, and what does it look like to follow it? We also will explore the notion of Dharma, or your life’s pathway.

    Week 2: Sourcing your Heart to Truly Know Thyself

    In this module, we will follow the yoga process of self-discovery as outlined by the Yoga Sutras. How does the heat of transformation lead us to self-knowledge and ultimately letting go of control over the process? What does it mean to be at one with all things and how does that help us to know ourselves and our heart’s gift for the world? We will model our self-inquiry after Socrates and his journey to seek wisdom and ultimately “know thyself.” In this module we will seek out the wise, prophetic Oracle that lives within our hearts.

    Week 3: Breathing Life into Your Gift

    In this module we will practice using our prana (life-force energy) to move into the realm of the extraordinary. We will breathe onto embers of our hearts with “Heart’s Breath” to stoke our heart’s boldness. We will also explore what it means to live forward with your heart’s gift for the world with some wild visualizations coupled with practical planning about sharing our heart’s gift to the world. What do you do when you find yourself in a rut, and how can your favorite childhood book help you remember your purpose? As you learn to go with the flow, you’ll begin to notice everyday how life seems to be going your way and supporting you as you share your heart’s gift with the world.

    Week 4: Braveheart: Sourcing and Leveraging Fear to Blast Forward

    In this module, we will examine fear as a driving force for good, one that will move us forward along our path instead of causing us to retreat. We will reexamine the notion of fear and understand it’s true message as one of attention and action rather than retreat and hide. We will see fear for what it is, a messenger and an invitation to experience our True Self. When grounded in our identity as Source, fear becomes almost fun. In this module we will be inspired in the face of fear and walk away with empowering and simply tools to harness and leverage our fear to go out and kick ass!

    Week 5: Ultimate Success

    What does it mean to succeed? Success isn’t necessarily about financial or social status. It’s about the satisfaction of sharting your heart’s gift with the world. In this module we will begin to set up the metrics for success which you will be able to track everyday to recognize success every day. You’ll create your own success with small mile markers which turn into vast journeys. You’ll notice how every day you are moving through life grounded in the satisfaction of real and lasting success. Your confidence will rise and you will glow with success each day, a quality that will be contagious to those around you.

    Week 6: Time to Jump: Sharing Your Gift with the World, Stay the Course, and Unimaginable Possibilities

    Now that we are familiar with our heart’s gift for the world, know how to laugh in the face of fear, and understand what success looks and feels like, we will do some exciting visualizations, some practical journaling, and some powerful action to share it. This module will prepare us like never before to move boldly into the world, ready to share our heart’s gift. In this module we will learn the spirit of Joe Polish’s quote, “The world gives to givers and takes from takers.” This will be an exciting moment!

    This is an online course with modules being released each week for 6 weeks. In it you’ll find:

    • A weekly live Yoga Nidra session where you will join students from all over the world. This will be followed by a group discussion where we can share our journey together

    • A profound weekly recorded Yoga Nidra practice exploring the theme of each module

    • A daily optimization practice, including a short daily meditation, breathing exercise, and mantra designed to help you start your day at your best

    • Weekly instruction about the theme and process for the week

    • A weekly journaling exercise to hear yourself speak the unfiltered wisdom of your heart

    • Calls to action to apply the heart wisdom unearthed through each module

    • Supporting materials including affirmations, quotes, articles, videos, podcasts, and interviews

    You can also do this course at your own pace. All of the material will be available to review when you’re ready. You can move as fast or as slowly through the content as you’d like. Even the live sessions will be recorded so you can review those later if you have to miss a session. And I offer a no questions asked, money-back guarantee if the course doesn’t meet your expectations.

    $79

    The world needs your gifts. Please join me.

    As soon as you register, you’ll receive a welcome email and the instructions to access the course material.

    I’m so excited about this and I’d love you to join me. Remember, today is the last day you can register. Join the dance!

    Namaste,

    Scott




     

    This Is Courage

    Will you do a quick courage exercise with me?

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    Courage

    What is your biggest dream? Is it to be an actor, to write a NYT bestseller, or to run an ultra marathon? What is it? Give yourself a second to visualize how incredible it will feel to succeed at this dream, and do so by involving all of your senses. Allow the excitement which surrounds that dream to surface in your heart.

    After a minute or two, ask yourself what perceived limitations seem to stand in your way between where you are now in relation to that dream and where you dream to be. And while there might be a hundred practical reasons why it’s not “reasonable” to reach for your dream, I ask you to get real and ask yourself about how much of that perceived limitation simply comes from good old fear.

    How often is fear getting in the way of you having the kind of life you want to live?

    Now, close your eyes for a few seconds and give yourself a few deep breaths into your heart. Connect to your heart by remembering something that you love, maybe your biggest dream, and bring to mind again the excitement you feel when you imagine your biggest dream. Now you are connected to your heart and from this place, re-examine your fears with a full heart. Any new insights?

    This is courage.

    cour·age

    ˈkərij/

    noun

    1. the ability to do something that frightens one.

    Courage comes from the French word for heart, Coeur. It literally means full of heart. Courage isn’t the opposite of fear but rather is the action of putting fear in its proper place. Some may argue that fear is good, it keeps us alive. I say that fear merely keeps us safe. We must learn to walk through the flames of our fears, with full courage, toward that which makes us truly alive.

    Living courageously, from your heart, gives you a relationship with your world that is beyond fear, a presence and perspective that can hold life’s losses and joys, struggles and possibilities, understanding that life’s joy is bigger than merely ease and comfort.  

    caroline-paul-sffd-293.jpg

    Caroline Paul is a NYT Best Seller and was one of the first women ever to serve in the San Francisco Fire Department. She was on an elite team that performed very dangerous rescues. Caroline is expert at acting courageously in the face of fear and speaks about doing so in one of her books, The Gutsy Girl: Escapades for Your Life of Epic Adventure. Paul says that courage can be taught, that it’s okay to have fear, but that despite fear you must take action. She encourages a practice called micro-bravery, which is doing small courageous acts regularly to build your courage muscles. After all, your heart is a muscle.

    Fear is an excellent tool to help you be present. To use fear as a tool, instead of pushing it away, lean into it. Notice how your body feels fear and ask fear what it’s really trying telling you. With this presence, you’ll begin to notice the other emotions that often coexist alongside fear when taking important action in your life. Emotions like excitement and anticipation sometimes have the same physiological effect but are very different than fear. Don’t let fear squash these other emotions, but  put it in the back of the line of emotions, instead of the front where it often it is used to being.

    Bungee-Jumping-compressed.jpg

    Speaking of fear, I’m deathly afraid of bungee jumping. The mere thought of it makes my stomach churn and adrenaline begin to pump through my body. That’s a fear which simply keeps me safe. While there may be some sort of small value in “conquering” that fear by going out and jumping off a bridge with rubber bands strapped to my ankles, I believe that there is really no benefit to humanity or myself for doing so and therefore will most likely go to my grave having never bungee jumped.

    I have a greater fear, however, involving what I’m doing right here—teaching and writing about yoga and mindfulness. It’s scary to expose myself (my spirit, my thoughts feelings, and fears) by stepping up in front of a room to lead a class or push send on an email to thousands of people. Each time I send an email, I’m afraid that it will be riddled with typos and that people will learn my dark secret that I can’t spell my way out of a paper bag.

    Send Anxiety.png
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    The reason teaching and writing about yoga causes me fear is because it’s one of my greatest dreams and my heart’s gift to the world to share yoga and meditation with people to make the world a better place. I’m afraid of not reaching my potential or failing in my job. I think it's a very big deal and I take it very seriously. But, I look at those fears squarely in the face and practice courage by continuing to step in front of the room to teach and sitting down to write and publish. Often times, I hover over the publish or send button wondering why I do it. Then with courage, I push send, close my laptop, and walk away knowing I just made one small, brave step. I practice this courage regularly because I believe that what I do matters, both to me and to the world. I still have fear around teaching and writing but I’ve also built up my courage greatly and push those fears to the back and bring excitement and possibility of connecting to people to the front. Plus, the more you do it, the more confidence you have about it.

    The world doesn’t care if I bungee jump.  I yield to that fear and it keeps me safe. However, the world does care if I connect people to their best selves through yoga and meditation so I walk past that fear in the hope to possibly make a difference in people’s lives and therefore I experience courage which make feel truly alive.

    What is one small, courageous step you could take today that will push you toward your dream? You don’t have to register for an ultra marathon today but maybe you could go buy some shoes and begin walking.

    Or perhaps that small, courageous step might be to register for my next course: Sourcing Your Heart’s Gift. It’s an online yoga and meditation course that helps you live an extraordinary life from your heart. The world needs your gifts. Dive deep into your heart to discover and develop your purpose and courageously share them with the world. 
     

    Registration ends next Monday, February 12th!

    If you've ever been moved by any of my emails, would you mind please forwarding this onto some friends who could use this message or post it on social media? It helps me enormously.

    Namaste,


    Sourcing Your Heart's Gift

    an online meditation and yoga course designed to help you to dive deep into your heart to discover and develop your purpose and courageously share it with the world.

    6 weeks February 12—March 26

    To The Brim My Heart Was Full

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    Lake District.jpg

    Do you remember learning about William Wordsworth in your high school English class? He was a big deal among the British Romantic poets, lived late 18th/early 19th century, was Britain’s poet laureate for a spell, and was the kind of poet that other poets write poems about. (By the way, in case you were wondering, this is what an English major ends up doing for a living—teaching yoga, writing about it ad nauseam, and making endless references to poetry and poets and how they are all basically pointing to the same thing—presence.)

    So, as a child, Wordsworth and his siblings were basically orphaned. Though relatives became reluctant guardians, from an early age William had enormous pressure on him to choose a respectable career which would enable him to move out and support himself and his sister, Dorothy. William was incredibly close to Dorothy, who was of a social class that simply wouldn’t allow her to work.
     

    His guardians expected William to become a vicar for the Church of England, a respectable career, but one for which Wordsworth had no love. William’s love was poetry, but to his guardians, poetry was the career-equivalent of homelessness.

    As a young man, one early-summer’s morning, Wordsworth was walking across the meadows and heathlands toward his home at Hawkshead, no doubt burdened by the tension between following his passion of poetry and taking a job doing what others expected him to do.

    As he walked, the sun began to rise and light up his senses with a splendor of the majestic landscape, also brightening and dissolving his dark and heavy worries. Soon, he was brimming with joy, drunk with the dawning light on the meadows, the dew and vapors on the heath, and a vision of the “sea laughing at a distance.” He speaks to this magical moment in perhaps his finest and most enduring poem, Prelude, in which he says,

         Ah! need I say, dear Friend! that to the brim
         My heart was full . . .

    And then, with his heart brimming, with his senses thrumming, the dawning light of the morning began to work a miracle on his heart by illuminating it to the sure and deep knowing of its gift for the world as a poet. It’s as if God, the Cosmos, or Creation—whatever—spoke and made promises to him that he must follow poetry, must offer it as a gift to the world, and that it would all work out.

    Check it out. In the same poem he says,

         . . . I made no vows, but vows
         Were then made for me; bond unknown to me
         Was given, that I should be, else sinning greatly,
         A dedicated Spirit. On I walked
         In thankful blessedness, which yet survives.

     

    Boom! Drop the mic. Walk off stage.

     

    drop the mic.gif

    And from that moment forward, with such clarity, joy, and peace in his heart, Wiliam never doubted his purpose again.

    And speaking of the Church, with this sure knowledge of his heart’s gift to the world as a poet, Wordsworth felt he would be sinning greatly against an even higher power than the Church if he didn’t honor the vow which was so clearly made to his heart.

    Spoiler: being a poet worked out great for Wordsworth. Actually, more than great because Wordsworth devoted himself to poetry and set up a house for himself and his sister where they could immerse themselves in the craft of poetry. Dorothy was also a poet and this setup gave her the freedom to write. William and Dorothy were a poetry tour de force as they lived a life of all things poetry. They would discuss, analyze, and workshop poems and upon completion, Dorothy would pen them in her immaculate handwriting.

    Perhaps most importantly to William, his sister Dorothy was his purest love, his North Star, and his muse. If he would have relented to a career in the Church, he would have been exiled from his two loves, Dorothy and poetry.

     

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    Ultimately, my point here is that with presence you too can hear (or have heard) the vows that the world is making to your heart about your gift to the world. It may not be as public or as grandiose as William Wordsworth’s but regardless, is nonetheless just as important, the world needs it just as much, and it is your own private marriage to the world.

    I always say that poets are yogis with a pen, or yogis are poets with poses. In both disciplines, one comes to know themselves, their True Nature, by practicing regular and abiding presence. Whether poet or plumber, it takes a fierce presence in conversation with that thing that is larger than all of us, but to which all play an integral part, in order to do any good work in this world.
     

    This week, I invite you to practice listening. Go to a yoga class. Sit and meditate. Go on a walk and leave your phone at home. Open up to creation by drinking in your senses, a profound and delicious way of practicing presence. Listen and hear the world speak to your heart. Allow your heart to speak to your mind.

    I also invite you to join me for my next Yoga Nidra course: Sourcing Your Heart’s Gift, a supportive practice that regularly takes you deep inside to hear and develop your heart’s gift for the world.

    This is the last week to register!

    Namaste,

    Scott


    Sourcing Your Heart's Gift: an online meditation and yoga course designed to help you to dive deep into your heart to discover and develop your purpose and courageously share it with the world.

    February 12–March 25 2018

    Go with the Flow: Following Your Life's Purpose

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    River.jpeg

    It’s your life’s deepest work to discover, unlock, and share your heart’s gift with the world. And to know it requires a deep and regular turning inward, to learn to know your heart through regular practices like yoga and meditation.

    Yoga and meditation are perfect mediums to help you reveal your heart’s gift because they simply reveal what already exists inside of you. These practices help you to come to know your True Self, and when you are aligned with this infinite part of you, the part that is tapped into your Universal blueprint, your purpose, your gift becomes clear to your conscious mind and so does the invitation to share it with the world.

    As you begin to tap into your heart through meditation and yoga, you begin to hear it whisper its purpose. That message becomes clearer and clearer the more you listen. But it takes time and dedicated work to arrive. Likewise it takes work and inspiration to learn how to give this gift to the world. But when you abandon yourself to the work of discovering and offering your heart’s gift to the world, you’ll be amazed at what starts to align and proliferate in your life.

    In part, this alignment happens because you’ve suddenly started swimming in tandem with the current of your life’s purpose, rather than against it. That’s not to say there won’t be obstacles in the way. It simply means that when obstacles do arrive, you’ll know that they are the ones that were meant for you and that will give you the courage and insight to surmount them.

     

    Enter your email address to receive one of the most relaxing and profound methods of meditating I've ever experienced. This will help you to regularly listen to your heart. Then, I'll send you some of my best practices for meditation. Regular meditation will begin to uncover the jewel of your heart and teach you things about yourself you didn't know, namely it will refine or define your heart's gift for the world and will help you to learn how to share it with the world. 

    Please join me for my next online Yoga Nidra, yoga, and optimization course beginning on February 12 2018

     

    Sourcing Your Heart's Gift 

    an online meditation and yoga course designed to help you to dive deep into your heart to discover and develop your purpose and courageously share it with the world.

    February 12- March 25 2018

    Would you mind sharing this?

    Sourcing Your Heart's Gift: What is the Meaning of Life?

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    What is the meaning of life? Specifically, what is the meaning of YOUR life?

    What if Vincent Van Gogh were a Real Estate Agent, Rather Than a Painter?

    What is a heart’s gift? It’s that thing a person was put on Earth to share and by so doing makes it a better, more-evolved, and more beautiful place.

    Your heart’s gift is the thing that only you can offer the world, in the way that only you can offer it. Your heart’s gift can be public or private, subtle or grandiose, but it is what you were meant to share.

    Can you imagine a world where everyone shared their heart’s gift?

     

    sourcing your heart's gift

    Watch this video to understand how to understand how you make make the biggest difference for the world and find the greatest personal satisfaction in life.

    an online meditation and yoga course designed to help you to dive deep into your heart to discover and develop your purpose and courageously share it with the world.

    February 12- March 25 2018

    Please share this with your friends! Thank you!

     

    Join me for the retreat of a lifetime!

    May 26-June2 2018

    I Have A Dream

    I Have a Dream

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    12 hours before the March on Washington, where Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. would deliver his iconic I Have a Dream speech, he still didn't know what he was going to say. But on that historical day, August 28th 1963, Dr. King lead the march, and on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial delivered one of the most important speeches in American history. 

     

    In his speech, Dr. King references the opening lines of Shakespeare's Richard III's when he said, "This sweltering summer of the Negro's legitimate discontent will not pass until there is an invigorating autumn. . ." portending the change of season in America's social climate.

    Free At Last!

    But toward the end of his speech, something miraculous happened. The famous gospel singer Mahalia Jackson was nearby and used her commanding voice to shout, "Tell them about the dream, Martin."

    At that point Dr. King stopped delivering his prepared speech. He stood powerfully and began preaching to the quarter of a million people in attendance on the lawn of the memorial, and prophetically to the millions and millions of people who have since heard his words, punctuating each point with "I Have a Dream."

    According to U.S Representative John Lewis who also spoke that day, "Dr. King had the power, the ability, and the capacity to transform those steps on the Lincoln Memorial into a monumental area that will forever be recognized. . . he educated, he inspired, he informed not just the people there, but people throughout America and unborn generations." more than 50 years later, we are those generations.

     

    Free at last!

    Part of the power of Dr. King's I Have a Dream speech was his important references. In it, Dr. King references not only Shakespeare, the Bible, gospel spirituals, political and religious leaders, the Emancipation Proclamation and the Constitution, but also Dr. King's speech and entire social message was a strong, tacit reference to the principle of non-violent revolution for the sake of making lasting social change. This principle of non-violence was championed by the social revolution led by Mahatma Gandhi who referenced the ancient Yoga Sutras. In Sanskrit the word Ahimsa means non-violence. The Yoga Sutras state that in order to become one's highest self, one must embrace the seminal principle of non-violence which is truly the gateway of unconditional love.

    In fact, Dr. King was so inspired by Gandhi that in 1959 he visited Gandhi's birthplace in Gujarat, India. This visit left a profound impression of the concept of non-violent civil disobedience and further strengthened Dr. King's commitment toward America's struggle for human rights. And just like in India, it was a non-violent revolution that drove lasting change in America's social attitudes.

    Free at Last!

    In his speech, Dr. King also references transformational heat. In the Yoga Sutras, Tapas is defined as the heat necessary for transformation, like pottery fired in a kiln. Yoga means union. In yoga, we practice implementing this transformational heat to bind body, mind, and heart in our own person to work toward our highest self. With this proverbial heat, we then direct and bind the larger body of our family, our community, our nation, and our world in the spirit of its highest self. Growing pains are evidence of Tapas. Certainly there were growing pains in the Human Rights Movement. This heat was Rosa Parks refusing to give up her seat on the bus. It was The Montgomery Bus Boycott in 1955. It was The March on Washington in 1963. It was Bloody Sunday in 1965. The heat that causes change can be necessarily uncomfortable, sometimes outright painful. Dr. King was on the burning tip of the spear of social transformation, a searing heat that would eventually take his life. But because of the heat of this social movement, The March on Washington and the I Have a Dream speech were two events that helped signal America's transformation of becoming a greater nation. That speech marked and catalyzed significant growth in this country. We are still growing. 

    Transformation starts with an individual. Gandhi said,

    "If we could change ourselves, the tendencies in the world would also change. As a man changes his own nature, so does the attitude of the world change towards him.... We need not wait to see what others do."

    How are we willing to step into that heat of personal transformation? Are we willing to personally grow to ensure a strong body, bright mind, and open heart and grow into our highest potential? Are we willing to stand up for an injustice? And how do we make that change both as an individual and as a nation that allows all parts to grow stronger rather than being cut or compromised? Surely this is a difficult task. To ensure mutual growth, we change while practicing non-violence, Ahimsa. Like Gandhi and Dr. King discovered, Ahimsa is both the personal and global non-violent revolution that makes lasting change. Whether it's internal change like greater mindfulness or a more healthy body or external political or social change like gun control, same-sex marriage, political partisanship, undocumented immigrants, or anything else, the question is how can we instigate a change that invites all parts to grow in the process?   

     

    We've grown as a nation since 1963 but we still have much more to do to honor all the beings who live here. It is because of leaders like Martin Luther King Jr. that we have a strong foothold on freedom, a firm platform where we can step into America's future and truly become the nation that our forefathers like Washington, Jefferson, Lincoln, Kennedy and leaders like Dr. King believed we could be, one where people dare to dream. We can't go back and we can never unlearn what we've learned.

    We can move forward. We can grow individually and as a nation by referencing the past. We can reference both the failures of social inequality, and the inspiration of the I Have a Dream speech, as mile markers that will direct us toward protecting the freedoms that make us all grow closer to actualizing our highest potential, individually and as a nation.

    And we can use the principles of non-violence (Ahimsa) through understanding the principle of heat necessary for transformation (Tapas) to help us in this practice. We can practice moving toward a future where, like Dr. King says, children of all races (and I believe given current social and political issues he would include people of all sexual orientation, documented and undocumented immigrants, gun lovers and gun haters, Republican and Democrats etc.) could all hold hands and with exuberance shout the refrain, "Free at last! free at last! thank God almighty, we are free at last!" 

    Join me this week as we continue Dr. Kings legacy by practicing transformation through non-violence and growing individually as the first step to continuing our growth as a nation.