Mantras and Visualizations: Meditations that Sting Like A Bee

“Float like a butterfly. Sting like a bee.”

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muhammad ali.jpg

This was Muhammad Ali’s mantra. Perhaps yoga and mindfulness isn’t often associated with Muhammad Ali, yoga's first principle of non-harming and all that, but he was someone who was particularly adroit in his use of the yogic principle of mantra and visualization. His iconic mantra has become synonymous with a champion. What is the power of mantra and visualization and how can they be used to mold reality like they did for Muhammad Ali, and how can we use these tools to achieve our dreams?




Writing the Script on Reality

Although his mantra practically became his sonic name tag, it wasn’t just a pithy phrase he liked to throw around because it was catchy; it wasn’t his slogan or his attempt at branding himself. Maybe few understood that Ali’s mantra was his access point into his deep inner-source that believed he would be the boxing heavyweight champion of the world. Saying it over and over again was his craft, the practice of helping the logical part of his mind both believe and expect this belief to become reality.

In addition to using his mantra, Muhammad Ali visualized over and over his fight with Sonny Liston where he would win the heavyweight championship. He saw himself win the title thousands of times in his head before ever stepping into the ring. By the time he stepped into the ring, all that was left to do was the final step, the physical practice of what he already knew was true. And Muhammad Ali isn't alone. It was like he theatre of life—he knew the script and on opening night he simply needed to go on stage and perform the play.

It reminds me of a story in the Hindu scripture, The Bhagavad Gita, where the God-turned-mortal Krishna is instructing the warrior prince Arjuna about his duty to fight in an epic battle. At Arjuna’s reluctance, Krishna pulls him aside and informs him that truth and time is not so linear and that the battle has already been fought and won. Knowing this, Krishna told Arujuna that the important thing is that he must go out there and fulfill his dharma, his destiny. Similar to what Ali told himself through visualization and mantra, Krishna told Arjuna to tap into the source of belief of what was already true.

Thought Precedes Form

Many psychologists and neuroscientists will affirm that despite our trust in it, our mind isn’t necessarily the best preceptor of reality; it’s readily subject to prejudice, interpretations, and misapprehension. In yoga philosophy the name for this misapprehension is Avidya, the opposite of clear seeing. Like modern brain science suggests, two people might see the same facts and both have wildly different beliefs about translating those facts. They might even debate what is real. Thus our mind is subject to our own personal beliefs and prejudices. Our mind creates a "reality" from a dizzying array of options suggested by our perceptions, interpretations, and desires. This subjectivity tugs at the very fabric the notion of reality.

Yoga suggests that since our beliefs are so powerful in contributing to our reality, we can use things like mantras and visualization to help us create our reality, perhaps like Muhammad Ali and Arjuna, a reality that somehow in our hearts what we know is already true. We have a bigger part to play in creating our reality than we think. Mantra and visualizations can help.

Beliefs change all the time. One minute you believe in the Tooth Fairy and the next you don’t. In Vedanta, a school of yogic philosophy, the sheath or layer of our being that negotiates beliefs, both conscious and subconscious, is called the Vignana Mayakosha. Yeah, it’s a crazy name this part of our being is perhaps more powerful than we sometimes give it credit.

Dr. Bruce Lipton, an internationally recognized biologist and author who works to bridge science and spirit, says that 95% of our decision making comes from our subconscious. If we can learn to source and even manipulate our subconscious, there's no telling what power we might have over our own world. Visualizations and mantra are two very effective and powerful ways of shaping our world. Muhammad Ali powerfully demonstrated his ability mold his reality of being the heavyweight champion of the world using mantra and visualization.

The Power of Words

Words are powerful. Religious texts like The Bible even says that “In the beginning was the Word . . . and the Word was God.” In the Hindu scripture, The Yoga Sutras, the principle of Satya or truth is the second highest principle behind non-harming because of the power of words. For longer than recorded history, magic, mythic, and religious traditions have regarded certain words, whether vocalized or thought, as both sacred and powerful. I heard one of my yoga teachers, Judeth Lasater, say, “What is worrying but praying for what you don’t want.” Thus is the power of thoughts and words.

So put words to the test. I invite you to choose those words that, like Muhammad Ali, like Arjuna, will manifest your sacred destiny. And I invite you to find a way of reciting them to manifest their power in your life. Maybe you know already your mantra, what words you need to evoke for you to live into your true destiny. Perhaps words like: Power, Clarity, Forgiveness, Strength, etc. Maybe you need to discover what your mantra is.

I invite you to do a meditation in order to distill your clarity on which words are right for you. This meditation doesn’t have to come by spending months in the desert in deep contemplation. Rather, maybe 10 minutes concentrating on clearly answering a few questions for yourself. You’ll know it when it comes. Maybe it will take a few days of meditating for a few minutes each day.

Here’s the mantra-finding process: First, ask yourself what has been reoccurring in your life recently as a theme that you need to pay attention to. Another way to answer this question is to think about what ways the Universe is asking you to grow right now—what challenges are presenting themselves to you now, asking you to grow? Next, don’t allow your thinking mind to take over, here, but rather let the answer to this next question be instinct, the first thing that comes to mind: What does your heart know is your purpose for this world? Distill the answer to these questions down to a phrase or maybe even one word (don’t worry, you can change it if you need to, you don’t have to marry that word for life) but allow yourself to use that word or phrase as your powerful catalyst forward to what you already believe about yourself.

mala beads.jpg

Then, if you’re inclined, grab a mala (you can get these at any crystal and incese, dragon and rainbows shop). They are beaded necklaces with 108 beads on them. The Mala’s will usually have a tassel on them representing the beginning and the end. Hold the mala on the first bead between your right thumb and middle finger, just beyond the tassel. In your mind or aloud, repeat your word or phrase then move to the next bead. Do this over and over again until you come to the end of the mala. If it’s short and you’d like a longer meditation, turn the mala around and repeat the mantra going the other way on the mala until you come back to the tassel. After your meditation watch to see how you see the world differently and how you live into the beliefs that you bring to your mind through mantra.

In addition to discovering your mantra, create a visualization where you see yourself perform what you'd like to arrive for yourself over and over. Remember to use all of your senses and think about it happening in the moment, instead of dreaming for a future. The part of our brain and the part of our consciousness that we are accessing only understand now. Spend a few minutes in visualization to see yourself succeed and just like Muhammad Ali, become the champion of your world.

If you're interested in a free relaxing Beach Paradise visualization, enter your information below.

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Tuition for Life Lessons: A Mediation on Resentment

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Several years ago, while I was still in college and before I started on my yoga career, I worked in a little loan company processing loans. The man who owned this company (we'll call him "Jeff," mostly because that was his name) taught me several valuable things, many about people and others about myself. While some of the lessons he taught me were very costly both in money and in hurt, it was all great tuition for some essential life lessons.

One of the valuable things Jeff taught me, something I'll remember for the rest of my life, was that even more important than processing people's loans, my real job was connecting to the people I served through the loan business. He taught me that It doesn't matter if you're a doctor, teacher, or loan processor, you're real job is to connect to people. Your 9–5 is just the particular lens through which you're called to connect to others.

He also taught me how to focus under pressure and how to organize my tasks around priority. He taught me things about working with people that I've used everyday since I worked there. He showed me parts of myself waiting to come out.

But this article is about what he taught me about forgiveness. 

Everybody has their Kryptonite. Despite Jeff's shining attributes, he wasn't a very good business person. I grew very concerned the day that my paycheck bounced. When I approached him with this dilemma, he asserted that even though the company was in a little slump, everything would soon be ironed out.

It never was.

I liked Jeff and wanted to hang in there for him until he got things figured out. But eventually, I could see the writing on the wall and after a few months of not getting paid, I finally left. When I walked away, he owed me these few months of back pay. What he owed me was a lot of money for a starving student, not to mention that all this happened coincided with Christmas and the tuition deadline for next semester. 

Even though I was the one who offered to stay, I really thought that Jeff would come through and was really hurt when he didn't. I felt really betrayed. Jeff stopped returning my calls. My feeling of hurt turned into betrayal, turned into a bitterness, turned into obsession. I just couldn't let it go. For a while it was all I could think about.

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I wanted some recourse so I called the Labor Commission and filed a complaint, adding to the other employees at the failed loan office.The process was fraught with bureaucracy and dead ends—unfruitful and painfully slow. Eventually, the courts began to subpoena Jeff to arrive in court. I soon realized that I could easily gain my money back if I were only paid five cents every time I heard the Labor Commission say the phrase, "Your file is under review and we'll notify you once we know anything different."

This empty search continued for over two . . . (I pause for effect) YEARS. Each new attempt to resurrect my file brought me more pain and frustration.

Then one night I had a dream. I dreamed that I met Jeff. I saw him not as the evil person I'd made him out to be but as just a simple dude with a five-o'clock shadow (that's the way he always looked, even at 8 am). In my dream, as soon as I saw him, I suddenly got tired of holding this grudge. I forgave him of the whole thing. Completely. In my dream, Jeff didn't seemed very thankful or changed by that fact, nor did he seem really to even notice, but that didn't matter because I had changed. Instead of angry and dark, I was light and free. So, I woke up that next morning let it go. I let it all go. I was astounded how easily it was to forget about after that moment.

It took me several years to understand that even though Jeff had done me wrong, he still taught me some very valuable things. I began to think that my lost wages as a tuition paid for some very valuable lessons. Unbeknownst to me, my lessons weren't over yet.

One day, more than a decade later, I heard something on the radio that reminded me of Jeff. I hadn't even thought about Jeff since I'd had that dream about a decade previous. By this time in my life, I lived in a completely different town more than 50 miles away and had given up the world of mortgage lending for yoga teaching. I don't even remember what it was on the radio but whatever it was reminded me about all the great things that Jeff had taught me. I felt not only healed from all the resentment and pain but like I'd even grown from the experience I'd had at the failing mortgage office. Proud, I said to myself, "If I ever meet Jeff again, I promise that I will vocally forgive him and thank him for what he has taught me."

Something else I've learned is that when you call out to Destiny, prepare for an all-out a bare-knuckle brawl. She'll come and she'll test you just like you asked her to. She'll give you what you wanted but expect a little more blood—your blood.

Beehive Tea Rom, the cafe where I saw Jeff

Beehive Tea Rom, the cafe where I saw Jeff

So, almost exactly an hour later after calling out to the Universe that I'd forgive Jeff if I ever saw him, I was nursing a cup of Raspberry Mint tea in a cafe when over my shoulder I heard a disturbingly familiar voice. I didn't have to turn my head to know that it was Jeff and despite the warm tea, my insides turned to ice. 

I sat there listening to his voice as I burst into a cold sweat. And despite the fact that I'd just told Destiny that I'd forgive Jeff if I ever ran into him, now that it came to it, I wasn't so sure. I hadn't seen him in a decade. There was bad blood between us. I'd even subpoenaed him in court. Would he even remember me? Would he want to hit me?

As I debated within myself, he started to get up to leave. If I was going to act, it had to be now. I took a deep breath, stood up, and stepped toward him. "Hey, Jeff. I don't know if you remember me but I used to work for you at the mortgage company." He paused for a moment with a stunned look in his eyes. He took a step back probably wondering if I wanted to hit him. I explained to him quite frankly how he had hurt me then just as mater-of-factly said, "But you know what? I forgive you." I then explained to him all the things that I learned from him and that if I ever ran into him, I'd thank him for those valuable life lessons.

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He just stood there stunned. He made no apologies, no explanation. He simply told me that I made his day. I made mine, too.

And no, he didn't write me out a check for the back pay.

That day, I realized that the money I'd lost was a relatively inexpensive tuition for the life lessons I'd learned. Some of the biggest lessons I learned through that experience were that holding a grudge only hurts me and forgiveness heals that hurt. That and to watch out when you call out to Density.

Our yoga and meditation practice is one way of creating intention and therefore dancing with Destiny. It's a way of producing an Awareness to see that even the muddy waters of our bitterness and pain can lead us to see the lotus of our own love, the nature of our True Being. Ultimately, we'll find that our blossoming love rests in our ability to be flexible and teachable to the lessons that beset us each day.

 

Would you mind sharing this?


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Yoga Nidra

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Yoga Nidra is form of Self-inquiry where we come to know our deepest, truest selves as Awareness. We do this through conscious relaxation and through a vivid exploration of the ego to understand our “Both And” nature which is truly the Divine essence of the Universe as it seeks to know itself through and as us, a beautiful and localized version of this divine Source.

As you experience your True Nature you feel one with all things—infinite, and whole. Such wholeness leads naturally to profound healing, boundless equanimity, and and understanding of your life, unparalleled by every-day thinking. Stress, trauma, and scarcity seem insignificant after you've experienced the part of you that is infinitely larger than any of these smaller experiences. Truly, through Yoga Nidra you see into the vastness of the Universe that is within you.

Yoga Nidra vs Other Meditation

What’s the difference between Yoga Nidra and guided meditation? I often describe Yoga Nidra as a guided meditation. However, one of the main differences between Yoga Nidra and other forms of mindfulness is that in this form of mindfulness you try to get relaxed as possible. Unlike other forms of meditation, it’s ok if you fall asleep—the part of you that we are working with, your deep Awareness, is still paying attention, even if your waking mind is asleep. In fact, Nidra means sleep. More appropriately, Nidra means that liminal realm of consciousness that lies between waking and dreaming, between the conscious mind and the subconscious mind. Sometimes the deep conscious work that is going on in Yoga Nidra requires that the rational, thinking mind fall asleep and become anesthetized, as if there were a surgery that needed to occur on the soul and the rational mind simply would be best to check out for a while.

Yoga Nidra is Identifying as Awareness

Another main difference between Yoga Nidra and other forms of meditation is that one of your primary goals is to identify as Awareness itself. A Yoga Nidra practice is one where you lie down and are led through a layering of deeper and deeper awareness. You’ll first become aware of your immediate surroundings and then you’ll start to notice the many different things that filter through your attention in any given moment. Soon you start to notice that the changing things you’re aware of all point to a constant Awareness. Then, as you begin to feel and experience yourself as Awareness, you move into a more profound experience of Self. You feel yourself as Awareness, coming to know itself as whatever you’re aware of in that moment, like different costumes you can wear to practice knowing yourself.

Yoga Nidra

Therefore, the effects of Yoga Nidra are as profound as they are relaxing. Through practicing this deep awareness, you experience yourself, your REAL self, without boundaries, fears, or limitations. You open up to astounding and beautiful clarity about who you are. It opens you to feel at one with all things, increases your capacity for love, and helps you to be more compassionate. It shows you your gifts for the world, shows you your strength and power, and helps you feel as though someone has turned up all the colors of your life. Yoga Nidra is perhaps the most effective way I know to manage and eliminate trauma and stress.

The world desperately needs more Yoga Nidra and more qualified Yoga Nidra instructors. Practicing Yoga Nidra is easy but teaching it effectively can be complex. I’d love to share my knowledge of teaching Yoga Nidra with you.

If you are interested in learning more about this profound and illuminating practice, please take a look at either my Online Yoga Nidra Teacher Training or my Online Yoga Nidra Course: Sourcing Your True Power.


Enjoy this Yoga Nidra recording!


Guided Meditations for Sleep

Kissing Cops and Gilets Jaunes

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So, one afternoon as I was walking back to our apartment, I ran into a protest led by the Gilet Jaunes. I’m not sure if you’re up on French politics but the Gilet Jaunes are a group of protesters, a movement that’s been happening in France since November, 2018. These are yellow-vest-wearing protestors who oppose mostly the financial direction of the French government, namely the raising of taxes on certain things like gas.

Now you gotta remember that since the French Revolution, protesting for the French people has been a national pastime—they truly identify the ability to call bullshit on the government.

Well, unlike most protests in France, this one’s gotten violent at times and thousands of people have been arrested and several people have even died. Before coming to France, I was boning up on my language skills, listening to the French news, and hearing about these protests and I really hoped that I didn’t encounter any of them while I was in France.

Like I said, one day, I’m walking back to my apartment and I’m pushing my son in the stroller through one of the main squares in Nice, Place Garibaldi, when I see a Gilet Jaunes protest happening. But this is Nice, where everything is more tranquil and more laissez-faire and so instead of protesters lobbing bricks and molotov cocktail bombs, these protestors (most of whom couldn’t even be bothered to wear the damn yellow vest) looked like they were gossiping, dancing, or otherwise enjoying an afternoon together in the square. People were sharing cheese.

Now whenever a protest happens in France, the French riot police automatically show up. So on the other side of the square, a safe distance from the half-hearted Nice faction of the Gilet Jaunes, was a full arsenal of riot cops: big dudes who look like they were recently pulled from a rugby field somewhere but instead of rugby jerseys, they were wearing Kevlar armor.

I don’t care how tough you are, in France you greet your friends, both men and women, with a kiss on both cheeks. So I witnessed these riot cops filing out of their battle vans and arriving on the “riot scene,” each big and burly cop, dressed to the teeth for battle, greeting EVERY other cop with a gentle kiss on both cheeks. This created something akin to a wedding line of kissing cops.

Sure, there may be civil unrest but it’s no reason to be uncivilized. I wished I could have pulled out my phone to capture that priceless moment of lackadaisical protestors and kissing cops but I feared that doing so would violate some unspoken code of propriety so I merely pushed my stroller along my way.

A few days later, while I was holed up, writing in the apartment, Sen and Elio were down at the beach enjoying themselves until a really, really, obnoxiously drunk guy came up and started to harass everyone in the vicinity. Another guy, not far from Sen and Elio who was trying to enjoy the beach was really getting bothered by Drunk Guy

France has really increased its military presence in public places in the last few years due to terrorist attacks and so it’s not uncommon to see the camo-and-beret-clad, machine-gun-and-flack-jacket sporting army dudes patrolling in little platoons around town.

Well, the guy on the beach (heretofore known as Angry Guy) had finally reached his boiling point with Drunk Guy (who really was being an ass) and Angry Guy made a big to-do toward the nearest beret with a machine gun to do something about Drunk Guy.

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Army Dude then very calmly walked down the stairs from the Pramenade to the beach, loaded machine gun strapped to his chest, and spoke gently to Drunk Guy and Angry Guy. He then gently helped Drunk Guy by the arm up the stairs, away from the beach toward the Pramenade. Drunk Guy proceeded to sit on the 20’ wall overlooking the beach, fall off said wall (only 20’) get back up without anything broken, including his bottle of wine.

At this point, Army Guy gently walked down the stairs again and helped Drunk Guy up the stairs and sent him walking along his way with an encouragement to stop bothering people.

As Sen told the story, it was clear that Army Guy had 100% of the power. Drunk Guy was of African decent, by the way. But despite Army Guy’s power, he was still the most civilized, gentle, and rational one of the bunch and the entire event passed such that the perfect afternoon in Nice wasn’t disturbed by any unnecessary violence or drama. The worst thing that happened was probably the headache for Drunk Guy the next day who vaguely remembered falling off a wall . . . and something about camouflage.

A few days later, I was sitting in a cafe with Elio—I was writing in my journal and sipping an espresso while he was munching on a croissant—when a small platoon of these Army Guys came in, grabbed a few tables and proceeded to munch on their own croissants and espressos before heading off to make their patrols. Apparently this happens every day at this cafe.

What all of these snapshots show me is that even in times of unrest there can be civility, culture, and even gentleness

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Meditations on Snow

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This is a picture of the Buddha.

 

He's in there somewhere, hibernating, meditating.

The Buddha is sitting where he likes it best, summer or winter: on the deck above the carport.

Meditations on Snow

He doesn’t need to be on display, doesn’t need to brag to his massive Instagram following (and you should see it) that he’s been meditating under this blanket of snow for the last 42 hours.

He’s doing it now. Simply being. Watch him go. Or not go.

It’s quiet, standing in the snow just watching him.

Don’t we all have a Buddha in there somewhere? Maybe he’s hibernating, maybe he’s sleeping, but he’s there. It's the ability to simply be with what is, even if that's buried under several inches of snow.

This is a beautiful time of year sit by the fire, close your eyes, and go inside.
Winter snows brings life water all year long.

 

Here’s my favorite winter poem by Billy Collins which is perfect for this time of year.

Shoveling Snow With Buddha



In the usual iconography of the temple or the local Wok

you would never see him doing such a thing,

tossing the dry snow over a mountain

of his bare, round shoulder,

his hair tied in a knot,

a model of concentration.

Sitting is more his speed, if that is the word

for what he does, or does not do.

Even the season is wrong for him.

In all his manifestations, is it not warm or slightly humid?

Is this not implied by his serene expression,

that smile so wide it wraps itself around the waist of the universe?

But here we are, working our way down the driveway,

one shovelful at a time.

We toss the light powder into the clear air.

We feel the cold mist on our faces.

And with every heave we disappear

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and become lost to each other

in these sudden clouds of our own making,

these fountain-bursts of snow.

This is so much better than a sermon in church,

I say out loud, but Buddha keeps on shoveling.

This is the true religion, the religion of snow,

and sunlight and winter geese barking in the sky,

I say, but he is too busy to hear me.

He has thrown himself into shoveling snow

as if it were the purpose of existence,

as if the sign of a perfect life were a clear driveway

you could back the car down easily

and drive off into the vanities of the world

with a broken heater fan and a song on the radio.

All morning long we work side by side,

me with my commentary

and he inside his generous pocket of silence,

until the hour is nearly noon

and the snow is piled high all around us;

then, I hear him speak.

After this, he asks,

can we go inside and play cards?

Certainly, I reply, and I will heat some milk

and bring cups of hot chocolate to the table

while you shuffle the deck.

and our boots stand dripping by the door.

Aaah, says the Buddha, lifting his eyes

and leaning for a moment on his shovel

before he drives the thin blade again

deep into the glittering white snow.

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Yoga Nidra Meditation: Does Your Inner 3-Year-Old Need to Go Nighty Night?

Who else can relate to the this . . .

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My 3-year-old has two settings— turbo and asleep.

One evening last summer, he was spraying the driveway with the hose. When we told him that he had to stop spraying because it was his bedtime, he became absolutely undone with emotion. He erupted into screams of anger, morphed into an inconsolable sadness, then began desperate pleading, which then cycled back to anger, more sadness, (this time accompanied with a slumped-over super-sad walk) and more pleading . . . This went on for several minutes making a performance that could have earned him a Tony Award.

I remember standing there unphased, merely watching this drama play out. As the adult with a grander perspective, not only did I not have to get pulled into his emotion, but my heart opened up to him. I could see this situation for what it was: he’s a 3-year-old ball of raw emotion. I understood that because it was his bedtime, he was very tired and crankiness gets amplified when you’re tired. I also had the perspective that his whole world at that moment was spraying the driveway and now his world had ended because of something as arbitrary as bedtime. But thanks to my adult perspective, I could simply observe his tantrum without having an opinion about it.

Minutes later, my son was sleeping peacefully in his bed.

Photo https://o-meditation.com/2017/02/24/awareness-j-krishnamurti/

Photo https://o-meditation.com/2017/02/24/awareness-j-krishnamurti/

Krishnamurti, one of the preeminent yoga minds of the last century, said it best when he proffered that “The highest form of intelligence is observation without assessment.” He’s saying that our highest Self is one that can merely witness something and not react to it.

“Yeah, that’s great when you’re observing your kid throw a fit, but how to you learn to not have an opinion about your own serious adult emotions like stress, worry, or anxiety?” The answer is perhaps easier than you think: observation through relaxation.

I know what you’re thinking and I’m not minimizing these serious emotions. It’s like when you’re worked up into a lather over something and someone rather gratuitously says, “Hey, just relax.” And how often do you then pause, drink in that sage advice, and emerge smiling from immediate relief? Never, because it’s stupid, completely unhelpful, advice.

Like Einstein said, “No problem can ever be solved by the same level of consciousness that created it.” You’ve got to change your state to make any kind of progress forward on a problem.

If you’ve read my blog or emails for long you know how much I love the relaxing from of guided meditation called Yoga Nidra. I Love Yoga Nidra because it brilliantly changes your state of consciousness by using relaxation and observation to arrive at your highest intelligence, or True Self. Your True self is like the adult part of you with the grand perspective that can simply observe without yielding to the 3-year-old part of you with all it’s of its emotions, reactions, and drama.

In fact, relaxation isn’t just merely the byproduct of Yoga Nidra. It’s the special sauce that performs the impossible. Not only can you learn to witness emotions rather than getting sucked in by them, but with Yoga Nidra you also learn that it’s the emotions themselves which are the catalyst that bring you to experience your True Self, that place of boundless equanimity, empowerment, and perspective. Through relaxation, Yoga Nidra changes your consciousness and illuminates your adult perspective which sees everything in your life for what it is: information.

Modern psychology supports this idea of relaxation being the game-changer for state change and stress reduction. Important discoveries during the last century have shown that a person cannot feel both stress and relaxation simultaneously. Therefore, in a state of deep relaxation like in Yoga Nidra, one might skillfully and gradually begin to introduce stressors like emotions into your awareness, but because you’re deeply relaxed, you’ll find that you can merely observe the emotions or stressors and see them as information. You counter-condition against stress and soon begin to identify as the all-seeing calm adult rather than the myopic tantrumy 3-year-old.

This is huge!

What’s more, simply observing an emotion without reacting to it can often break the insidious, downward-spiral that emotions can sometimes inflict on our psyche. In just a few minutes of a skillfully-guided Yoga Nidra practice, you may begin to experience your own “highest intelligence” and begin a new relationship with your emotions.

Simply put, when you practice Yoga Nidra, you put your inner 3-year-old to bed. Maybe that’s why everyone falls asleep during Yoga Nidra. Don’t worry, it still works even when you sleep, cuz the part of you that I’m speaking to is something beyond your rational mind and is always paying attention.

Click the button below to listen to this free Yoga Nidra practice I created called Awakening Through Body and Emotions. It’s designed to help you become very relaxed in your body before leading you through some fairly benign emotions to help you see past emotions and experience your True Self. It’s about 30 minutes long and I’d love to hear back from you about your experience. I also set this to some original chill music: me playing the clarinet with a drone in the background. I hope you like it.

Also, if this topic of using relaxation and observation to rejigger your relationship to emotions resonates with you, this is what my entire 6-week Yoga Nidra series will be about starting THIS Sunday at 9 am MST. This is a virtual Yoga Nidra series (live and online) where we will be exploring the theme, The Magic of Maya: Working Through Illusion, to learn to access the inner adult inside of you for your own change of consciousness and to experience your own boundless equanimity and learn to witness things like emotions. Please join me!

Each session will be recorded and transcribed so if the time doesn’t work for you, you can always catch the session at a time that works for you. Check out the details below

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By the end of this course you’ll be ready to teach Yoga Nidra!

6-Week Virtual Yoga Nidra Series

January 20–February 24

Meditation/Mindfulness with Eating

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Meditation vs. Mindfulness

Photo by Alex Adams

Photo by Alex Adams

There's a distinction between meditation and mindfulness.

I'd qualify mindfulness as the act of being present with whatever task is at hand. Indeed meditation is an acute form of mindfulness but usually constitutes a more rigorous form of concentration or awareness. Regular meditation practice causes us to live in a very mindful way, doing regular kinds of things with more presence. Things like eating.


Presence Through Senses

Many meditation traditions and philosophies argue that our identity relies solely upon our ability to be present. If we are not present, we really don't exist. Surely there's a lot to chew on there, but the essence of that idea is that our True Nature relies upon being here and now, no matter what you're doing.

Our senses are an excellent way of practicing presence because they are constantly giving us real time information about what is happening right in the moment. One of the particularly delightful ways of practicing mindfulness is through what we do hopefully at least a few times a day: eating


Not only does eating involve all of our sense, it is perhaps the most intimate thing we do on a regular basis besides making love. Why not make love to your food? And like any good lover will tell you, it's no good unless you're present.

I think food is fascinating. In fact, one of my favorite classes in college was called A Feast of Food Ways and was an entire semester exploring the folklore around food. We explored what food means culturally, spiritually, and globally. Not only was that semester a feast of information, but we literally treated ourselves to tantalizing delights in every class. That class made food such a sensual subject that I don't think I'll ever look at the ritual of eating food ever again

Food Ritual

So, why not make eating a ritual? A ritual is a physical action that evokes a spiritual significance. If eating is the sustaining of our very being, how can eating NOT be a ritual? How could we ever absentmindedly shove Cheerios into the largest hole in our face while not tasting a thing and checking our Facebook profile? With presence, even a bowl of Cheerios could be a feast.

One of my friends said that the best meal he ever ate was a granola bar on mile 20 of an ultra- marathon. It's all about presence and context, right?

So why not make your next meal and every meal, a seance of seduction, a ritual of resplendence? All it takes is a little bit of mindfulness.


How To Eat Mindfully


  • Unplug. Put away your phone and turn it on silent. No reading, computer work, or television during meals.

  • Sit. Put with your feet on the floor. This grounds you and helps to put you into the moment.

  • Pause. Take a big breath and give yourself a moment of gratitude before plunging into your meal. Notice the smells, textures, and colors. Perhaps even contemplate the hands and energy it took to arrive at your table, including the miracle of Mother Earth growing it for you.

  • Taste. As you put it into your mouth, close your eyes for a moment and taste it the way a sommelier would taste it: notice its signature of the earth, the subtleties and varieties of favors. Can you name all the different ingredients? Feel the textures and temperatures.

  • Slow down. Chew your food and wait until you've swallowed before putting another small bite into your mouth.

  • Notice when you begin to feel sated and stop eating before you start to regret shoving that last bite into your pie whole.

  • If you have a moment after your meal, take a slow stroll. My Ayruvedic teacher taught me to take a 1000-step stroll after each meal. She also told me to eat until only 2/3 full and to eat what my body feels like it wants and craves rather that what I "should" eat (look up Ayruvedic diet information for eating tips for your constitution. My friend Sunny is an Ayruvedic practitioner and expert at such stuff. Contact her for a consult). Notice your level of satisfaction after each meal. A meal of candy bars feels terrible.

    I'd love to hear about your food rituals and what your experience is with mindful eating. Please leave a comment below.

Mantra Meditation Made Simple

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Photo by Scott Moore Copyright © 2019 Scott Moore Yoga LLC

Photo by Scott Moore Copyright © 2019 Scott Moore Yoga LLC

Today, I want to talk briefly about Mantra meditation. Mantra is a Sanskrit word which comes from the words Manis, meaning mind, and Tra, which is the beginning of the word to transcend. So, literally through your mind, you may transcend into deeper layers of knowing.

A mantra is simply repeating a word or phrase over and over again.

The idea is to loose yourself in the repetition of the words. I've done a lot of mantra practice and have found it very powerful. There is something magical that happens when you engage your soul in this way. Meditation is about focus. It's powerful to focusing on one word or phrase.

We all know words have power:

"In the beginning was the word."
The Bible John 1:1

"The pen is mightier than the sword."
Edward Bulwer-Lytton

"Words are flowing out like endless rain into a paper cup."
The Beatles

There are thousands of mantras. Some mantras are chanted in Sanskrit, other Tibetan, others Latin, or whatever language you normally speak.

I want to share two of my favorite mantras.

The first evokes the Hindu god Ganesh. He's the remover of obstacles, the Lord of auspicious beginnings, and is the love-child of consciousness and form.

Om Gam Ganapataye Namaha.
This loosely translates into, "“Yo! Ganesh. I honor you and invite your power into my life."

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The next mantra I want to share with you is the Gayatri Mantra. It's one of the most popular and oldest mantras in the world.

oṃ bhūr bhuvaḥ svaḥ
tatsaviturvareṇyaṃ
bhargo devasyadhīmahi
dhiyo yo naḥ prachodayāt

My favorite translation of this mantra is:
Everything on the earth and the sky and in between 
is arising from one effulgent source.
If my thoughts, words, and deeds reflected a complete understanding of this unity,
I would be the peace I'm seeking in this moment.

meditation mala beads

Give it a try!

Choose one of these mantras, or one of your own. It could be a simple phrase or even one word. Set your timer on Insight for 15 minutes and repeat these words over and over again, out loud, for the entire time. 

If you are familiar with mala beads or prayer beads, you can hold your beads and every time you complete the chant, move your fingers to the next bead. Give it a try.

PS

Here’s a great article about using mala beads

Online Yoga Nidra Meditation Training: The Magic of Maya Working Through Illusion

Photo by David Newkirk

Photo by David Newkirk

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We're well into the new year and I hope the sun is smiling on you, even if you live in a place where the sun doesn't raise the temp above freezing.

This year has been already so rich for me and every day I practice staying present to everything that arises, in part thanks to my 31-Day Meditation Challenge.

One thing I've learned is that meditation doesn't prevent things like emotions such as fear or anxiety from arising in me, but trains me to be cool with what does arise. It teaches me to welcome whatever comes my way, recognize it for what it is—no more no less. Ultimately it trains me to be merely the witness of that thing. Then, from that place of observation, I may choose to respond to the information rather than react. Strange how emotions like fear and anxiety seem to come around less and less when I stop resisting them and let them be what they are, mere bits of information.

I'm still human, though, and once in a while I might still lose my $#1€, but the more I meditate, the less it happens.

So today, I want to share two things with you that are related to this idea of learning to observe emotions. I think you'll love them: My Yoga Nidra series coming up, and a fun story I wrote called Lessons in Fear…

First, I want to tell you how excited I am about my 6-week virtual Yoga Nidra series starting Jan. 20th called, The Magic of Maya: Working Through Illusion.

Yoga Nidra is a relaxing and profound guided meditation aimed to help you experience your True Nature. The most essential premise of Yoga Nidra is that your True Nature is whole and perfect, a being of limitless power, boundless equanimity, with a cosmic perspective that has no need for worry. Anything in contrast to that is an illusion. But rather than trying to transcend illusion, what if you could actually use it to discover and experience your True Self?

One of the questions we'll explore in this course is, "What if emotions aren't 'real,' but just an illusion of reality and how do we actually use these illusions to uncover what is true and experience our True Self?"

This understanding is one of the things that Yoga Nidra has taught me and countless other people and what I want to offer to you through this this Yoga Nidra series.

This series will be 6 sessions, each around 75 min. During each session, I'll lead you through a verrrry relaxing Yoga Nidra practice (guided meditation), offer an engaging and thought-provoking teaching, and open the conversation to all for comments and questions.

I'll be recording each session and will be offering the recording and a transcript of it for review, or in case you have to miss a session you can watch or read it later.

One of the best features of this series is that you'll be in the comfort of your own home but joined virtually with me and other students all over the world.

In addition to access to the live classes you’ll also receive a Yoga Nidra digital library which includes:

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  • Audio/Video recording of each of the sessions

  • A transcript of each of the sessions

  • Access to dozens of other Yoga Nidra recordings

  • Helpful tips and links to videos, recordings, books, and articles to expand your Yoga Nidra education

  • Clarinet Lullaby, a high-quality audio recording of me playing the clarinet set to ocean waves and a background drone for the purpose of deep relaxation and meditation.

You'll end the each session and the entire series with a deeper experience and understanding of the profound nature of your Self. Plus you'll have lifetime access to all the practices and materials.

In addition, Yoga Nidra also helps with:

  • Reduction or elimination of stress

  • Profound relaxation

  • A deeper, richer, and more present life

  • Spiritual growth and understanding

  • Greater presence in relationships, work, and the community

  • Greater mental clarity

  • Clear sense of purpose

  • Better sleep


It's like napping your way to enlightenment!

One of the things I love about Yoga Nidra is that ANYONE can do it.

Registration is now open! I can't wait for this to start. I'd love for you to join me. This really is a must-attend series that you can do from the comfort of your own home.

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Online Yoga Nidra Training

I’ve been studying and practicing Yoga Nidra for more than a decade and I’m here to say that this simple, relaxing form of meditation has changed my world-view, spiritual progression, and yoga career more than any other thing. I’ve just put together an online Yoga Nidra training and I’d be honored if you took a look.

I think the best bumper sticker for Yoga Nidra would read: “Yoga Nidra: Napping Your Way to Enlightenment.”

And I’m only kind of kidding, here. What Yoga Nidra does is give you the experience of yoga, the felt sense of Oneness with all things for a true understanding of Self, through a process of deep awareness and relaxation. The relaxation inherent in Yoga Nidra puts you into the Nidra mind state, a liminal state between waking and dreaming consciousness and allows you to experience yourself outside of the rigid confines of our ego. It might sound more complicated and philosophical than it needs to, but simply put: Yoga Nidra is as relaxing as it is profound.

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I’ve learned volumes about Yoga Nidra since I’ve been teaching it and would love to share it with you. I’ve shared Yoga Nidra with literally 10s of thousands of people and have discovered so much about teaching it. I have seen first-hand how easily and deeply this practice helps people and feel it’s my gift and pleasure in this life to share Yoga Nidra with the world. I’d love to help you learn how to teach Yoga Nidra so that you can bless the lives of the people in your realm.

Also, as a career yoga teacher who has taught in New York, San Francisco, Utah, Europe, and elsewhere, Yoga Nidra has been one of the factors that has made me stand out from the thousands of other yoga teachers.

I’ve created this 20-hour online Yoga Nidra Teacher Training which contains:

  • audio recordings of lecture and practice

  • Several Yoga Nidra practices

  • Yoga Nidra Scripts to follow

  • Breathing and mindfulness practices

  • Helpful links and downloads

  • Access to dozens of Yoga Nidra class recordings


What Is Yoga Nidra?

Online Yoga Nidra Teacher Training

Yoga Nidra is the relaxing and mystical journey deep into the inner-realms of consciousness where through a guided meditation, you get to experience your True Nature, something that feels one with all things, infinite, and whole. Such wholeness leads naturally to profound healing, boundless equanimity, and and understanding of your life, unparalleled by every-day thinking. Stress, trauma, and scarcity seem insignificant after you've experienced the part of you that is infinitely larger than any of these smaller experiences. Truly, through Yoga Nidra you see into the vastness of the Universe that is within you.

Learn this transformative practice for your own soul evolution as well as learning how to lead others through this life-changing practice. This could be the most important work you do in a great long time.

One of the things that differentiates Yoga Nidra from other forms of mindfulness is its emphasis on getting relaxed as the gateway to experiencing your True Nature, that of Awareness itself. 

The effects of Yoga Nidra are as profound as they are relaxing. Through practicing  awareness, you experience yourself, your REAL self, without boundaries, fears, or limitations. You open up to astounding and beautiful clarity about who you are. It opens you to feel at one with all things, increases your capacity for love, and helps you to be more compassionate. It shows you your gifts for the world, shows you your strength and power, and helps you feel as though someone has turned up all the colors of your life. Yoga Nidra is perhaps the most effective way I know to manage and eliminate trauma and stress.

Indeed, Yoga Nidra has been one of the most profound and spiritual practices I’ve ever encountered. And I’m not alone. Millions of people love this practice. One of the reasons why is because people often receive expansive insight, nurturing relaxation, and deep healing from just one session. 

Personally, I discovered Yoga Nidra in 2004 and have had the  privilege of learning this  important practice from some of the worlds leading Yoga Nidra experts. I’ve spent the last 10 years mastering the art of teaching of Yoga Nidra and I’ve been privileged to work with literally thousands of students worldwide through live classes, recordings, workshops, webinars, lectures, and online courses.

The world desperately needs more Yoga Nidra and more qualified Yoga Nidra instructors. Practicing Yoga Nidra is easy but teaching it effectively can be complex. I’d love to share my knowledge of teaching Yoga Nidra with you. 

This 20-hour Yoga Nidra intensive is designed to deepen your knowledge of Self through Yoga Nidra as you learn to guide yourself and others through effective and varied Yoga Nidra practices. It is perfect both for teachers and students who simply want to deepen their practice of Yoga Nidra.

This intensive will be available through audio recordings and through a manual in the form of a PDF.

Upon completion of this immersion you’ll receive:

  • A library of Yoga Nidra training that you can access whenever you’d like

  • A deeper understanding of Self through Yoga Nidra

  • A course of profound relaxation

  • A full audio recording of the training for practice and continued learning

  • Several Yoga Nidra scripts to use

  • Yoga Immersion PDF workbook

  • A certificate of completion

  • Yoga Alliance Continuing Education Credit (if needed). This counts as 20 hours of non-contact hours.



What Others are Saying



“I have studied with Scott for years, since the days of his Prana studio in Trolley Square, and his compassion, engagement, and base of knowledge makes him one of my favorite teachers. He was one of the first teachers to teach me Yoga Nidra. So when he offered a Nidra immersion and training I jumped on it. Only ... I wasn’t in the area. I was in Michigan. I attended the immersion, training, and additional Sunday workshop remotely - in real time, using Zoom set up by Scott. It worked flawlessly, and the experience was wonderful. If you are interested in any classes he offers, but can’t physically attend, do not hesitate to attend remotely. You will still be a full participant and receive the full impact of Scott’s clarity and teaching skills.”

— Lesley DuTemple

“Scott’s Yoga Nidra Teacher Training was an excellent blend of information, inspiration, and application. I love his way of organizing and presenting of the abundance of material. Scott is very authentic and has a way of connecting and empowering his student to feel confident to utilize the tools he provides. I am so thankful to have the Yoga Nidra as part of my toolbox of offerings!”

— -Jackie Wheeler, Yoga Teacher/Studio Owner



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This Course Covers

  • Philosophy of Yoga Nidra

  • Myths and Chants

  • Yoga Nidra for Healing/Trauma/Stress

  • Yoga Nidra for Performance

  • The Power of Visualizations

  • Subtle Body Study and Practice

  • Koshas

  • Pranayama

  • Incorporating Yoga Nidra into Yoga

  • Mindfulness

  • Effective Teaching Methods

  • Role as Teacher

  • Self Practice

  • Group Teaching

  • One-on-one Teaching

By the end of this immersion you will be ready to teach Yoga Nidra!

When you register, you'll immediately have access to the information.

Please email me with questions!

Lessons In Fear

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Coleman Barks Guest House

In 2009, I attend and co-hosted a yoga retreat in the tropical wonderland of Costa Rica. One of the greatest appeals about the retreat was the fact that we got to live right in the thick of the rainforest. The prospect of living so proximal to nature was certainly alluring; however, I must admit that something I didn't think through completely was the fact  that moving into the  rain forest meant becoming roommates with those already living there, i.e., alien insects, poisonous frogs and deadly scorpions, leopards, jaguars, pumas, and really, really, really big spiders.
 
One night, I was turning down the covers (you see where this is going), preparing to hop into bed, when I encountered a rainforest roommate who also happened to be the biggest damn spider in the history of the world. He was big and brown and hairy and by the look of him could easily do push-ups with a Volkswagen on his back.

Crouched on the floor, conspicuously poised right next to the bedpost, the spider made it quite obvious to me that his plan was to wait quietly next to my bed, unnoticed, until I went to sleep, and then stealthily crawl up the bedpost, latch onto my jugular vein, and suck me dry, like the unrequited, wanton yearnings of a pallid male model in the tweener saga "Twilight."
 

At first I just stood there, stunned (this is their first attack tactic, you know; they stun you with their mere presence so that you are too afraid to run away, and then they come over and eat you whole.) I knew that I couldn't kill it; I get the guilts when I kill a mosquito, let alone something big enough to have its own Facebook page. Besides, I think you need a permit to kill an animal that big.
 
I grabbed a glass jar and went back into the other room, where I crouched and looked at the spider. He was looking back at me.

He didn't move.

I didn't move.

I told myself that I was trying to wear him down. After a long time in that position, I performed the most courageous act I've ever executed in my life: I sprang forward and with lightning-quick reflexes placed the jar over the spider.

Suddenly, the heretofore static Goliath leapt into a frenzy of motion, slithering and squirming, trying fruitlessly to find purchase for any of his eight legs upon the smooth walls of his new glass prison.

I grabbed a stack of poems I planned to share at the retreat and slid the paper underneath the jar, a new floor for the spider. Now with the spider between jar and paper, I felt confident to lift him up and take him next door to our friend Molly, who was fascinated with all the flora and fauna of the rain forest. I knew she'd love this.
 
After we all ooed and ahhhed, and had a good communal freakout, we decided to set our captive free. We walked down the path so that the 8-legged monster would be dissuaded to simply crawl back to my room and continue on with his plan to kill me. We lifted the jar off the spider and quickly backed away.

To show us that he wasn't afraid, the spider just sat there and smugly claimed ownership of the stack of poems he was resting on. "Let's see how strong you crazy bi-peds are now that I don't have this glass force field around me," he said with all 40 billion of his eyes.

So we did the only logical thing: we photographed the beast so we could show our friends the next day just how monstrous this spider was. We planned on posting it on social media and wondered if we could link to the spiders page.
 
It wasn't until I looked at the photos the next day that I realized just how perfect the scene was. This spider was stretched, all eight hairy legs of him, upon the poem called the "Guest House" by Rumi (translated by Coleman Barks). In this poem, the 13th century Persian Sufi mystic asserts that life is a guest house and that we must entertain everything that comes to our door. The poem goes something like this: "This being human is a guest house. Every morning a new arrival. A joy a depression, a meanness, a 900 lb spider who wants to kill you. . ." My translation might be different than Coleman Barks's.
 
Rumi says that we are to entertain everything that comes our way because, who knows, the event that happens to show up on our doorstep, though uninvited, may be the very thing we need, or the very thing to prepare us for something else that comes next; it may teach us something important and valuable.

For me, yoga is such wonderful training to keep me aware and open enough to see these visitors as lessons and teachers, as well as handle them with some poise and grace when they come knockin'.
 
What I learned from my unexpected visitor:

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You have to take whatever comes, good or bad. We cannot always control what comes our way, but we can control how we react to it
In itself, the difficult act of just staying open to what shows up changes us, heals us, transforms us
Some things happen for a reason. Other things just happen
Often what scares us most isn't malicious but just another part of the world following its own script
Oh, and make sure that when sleeping in the rainforest you check around your bed before you hop in

 
The Guesthouse


This being human is a guest house.
Every morning a new arrival.

A joy, a depression, a meanness,
some momentary awareness comes
as an unexpected visitor.

Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they're a crowd of sorrows,
who violently sweep your house
empty of its furniture,
still, treat each guest honorably.
He may be clearing you out
for some new delight.

The dark thought, the shame, the malice,
meet them at the door laughing,
and invite them in.

Be grateful for whoever comes,
because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond.

Scott

Kauai Yoga

Lionel Richie is My Guru

Lionel Richie Plaque.jpg

A few years ago, my wife and I were driving home from dinner at my Dad’s house.

During dinner my dad was playing what I felt was some god-awful, nails-on-the-chalkboard, Soft Rock musical desecration on the stereo, Lionel Richie’s Greatest hits or something, I can’t remember, but on the drive home, I couldn’t stop going off about how terrible the music was and why was it that my dad even like that shit in the first place, and bla bla bla.

After several long minutes of spewing my terrible opinions about the music I felt I’d been subjected to, it was suddenly as if the Universe had heard enough of my verbal vomiting and pushed mute on my mouth. With a stroke of sudden self-awareness, I heard myself blathering on about something so inconsequential and for no reason other than to satisfy some habitual downward spiral of negativity. With clarion insight, I checked my complaining mid-sentence and the next words that came out of my mouth changed my life: “I don’t need to have an opinion about that.”

This phrase immediately canonized into my mind as my new mantra. At that moment, I saw both how useless my ranting was as well as the immense energy I was putting into spewing my acrid opinions all over those unfortunate enough to be in my company. God bless my wife, Seneca, who said nothing the entire car ride home but who, I’m sure, was enduring every Soft Rock epithet with thinning patience.

“I don’t need to have an opinion about that. Who cares if my dad listens to Lionel Richie’s Greatest Hits?!” From that moment forward, I decided that Lionel Richie was something I simply didn’t need to waste calories criticizing. And more importantly, I discovered the magical truth that I have the choice to turn my opinions off and that when I do, I feel empowered, unperturbed, and frankly happier. So simple!

Can I suggest that you begin using this mantra immediately for massive and astounding results for not only your attitude toward the world but also the world’s attitude toward you? I’m really not over selling this.

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The people with whom I’ve shared this mantra are loving it. I shared it at a meditation event I cohosted a few weeks before the holidays last year. A few weeks later I received a message from a couple who had attended the event and who said that the mantra, “I don’t need to have an opinion about that,” had single-handedly saved Christmas. Another woman wrote me recently to say that as she was driving to do be interviewed on television, she confronted the nervous knots in her stomach with “I don’t need to have an opinion about that,” and watched her nervousness completely dissolve. These people are not alone. In fact, since I’ve been sharing this mantra, I’ve received such a preponderance of positive feedback from it that I’ve decided this mantra deserves its own post.

Simple mantra. Profound implications. One reason it’s profound is because it provokes us to change our identity from one that defines itself by the mosaic of our ever-changing opinions, to one that identifies with the unchangeable Observer Self.

The credo of the Opinionator is “I critique therefore I am.” But the Opinionator fundamentally misunderstands their identity. Despite the fact that negative opinions are insidious, addictive, and low-vibration, opinions are fundamentally changeable so identifying with opinions and indulging in their fleeting existence sets us up for a massive existential disappointment.

Instead, identifying as an observer, even momentarily by doing something like repeating this mantra, is identifying with something much more real, what sages and spiritual traditions like yoga call the Observer Self, or True Self. The Observer Self is larger than our opinions and has the presence to pause and watch an opinion form and perhaps even choose to let it float on by down the river of consciousness.

This practice of merely observing something rather than reacting to it with an opinion is what Krishnamurti meant when he said, “The highest form of intelligence is observation without assessment.” Practicing this kind of intelligence leads us toward experiencing the state of our true inheritance, that of boundless equanimity, a state that can’t be shaken, not even by the immense weight of Lionel Richie’s Greatest Hits. Boundless equanimity is the natural comportment of our Observer Self and practicing identifying as the Observer Self rather than the Opinionator not only feels better but will also lead us to deeper stages of consciousness that can only come by deep observation.  

As your consciousness develops by practicing and living this mantra, you’ll feel more at one with the world and it will feel more at one with you. You’ll be surprised to see new and old friends materialize around you, friends who maybe shied away from the cantankerous person you used to be. Suddenly you’ll have friends again, and together you can talk about Lionel Richie!

Since Lionel Richie was the guru to bring me to this practice of objectivity, then perhaps I should be dancin’ on the ceiling . . . or place a shrine for him on my alter . . . or at least not be such a hater.  

Truly at the end of the day, I realize that with a little distance and some objectivity about my opinions, I actually really like Lionel Richie’s music. He’s a happenin’ soul artist whose work has endured for decades. My previous opinions were undoubtedly wrapped up myriad other things that had nothing to do with Lionel. Once I could get some breathing distance from my opinions, I could recognize that.

Yes, yes, yes. It is true that we do need some of our opinions. It’s true that we must very deliberately add our conscious opinion and deliberate action to help make a better world for everyone. I would proffer nonetheless that the more we practice the no-opinion mantra about small stuff, especially stuff around our family (man, that’s a difficult practice!), the more we will be able to apply our energies toward those issues that truly deserve an opinion and action. And we will act from a conscious place of response rather than unconscious reaction.

Plus, as practiced Observers, we will gain the compassionate ground to discuss and even debate important issues from our highest nature, with respect for those who have different opinions. And as practiced listeners and not reactionary opinion-spewers, maybe we’ll be able to inspire a similar respect from others.

May we learn first to listen, to our hearts as well as those of others, and then respond to the call to action and not be pulled off our compassionate ground by circumstances, the rash opinions of others, or the incendiary sounds of Soft Rock. Practicing the no-opinion mantra is a powerful practice to that end.

I invite you to start using “I don’t need to have an opinion about that,” today, at least for the small stuff.

And if after all this, you decide that you’re really happy with your tired menagerie of opinions. . . well, I don’t need to have an opinion about that. 

Meditation

There's Something In The Tea

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I lived in Korea for a year teaching English and studying meditation. I loved to explore the locals-only part of this fascinating country.

One day a few friends and I wandered into a tea shop in the old part of town. At the back of the shop was a man, dressed in the Han Bok, the traditional Korean habit, who noticed us enter the shop.

Without a word he began to prepare tea. It took us a few moments to wander to the back of the store. By the time we noticed the man sitting behind a small wooden table, the water was hot. He motioned for us to join him. Delighted, we sat on a few cushions lying on the floor in front of the low table. He poured the tea into the pot and allowed the tea to steep.

After a few minutes, he laid out a few delicate tea cups and performed the proper ceremony to serve tea.

He didn't speak English. We didn't speak Korean. Together we spoke the language of human beings sharing tea. We simply sat in each other's presence and enjoyed tea. We didn't need to make small talk. We didn't need to make charades. Words would have been excessive.

Several long minutes passed. Then, we rose and bowed humbly to him. He smiled and bowed humbly back. We left the shop but he has never left our hearts.

There's something in the tea.


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