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.

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Meditations on Happiness

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Meditations on Happiness

We all just want to be happy. We all search to be happier. We are all scouring for clues to solve that mystery as to why we aren’t fully satisfied in life? So we turn to things like yoga and meditation to help solve the happiness mystery. Surely yoga and meditation will help us to be happy, right? Yes they will but maybe not how we think they will. Much of the immediate “happiness” we get from yoga and meditation is fleeting and finite: a nice yoga butt, the ninja-like ability to do a handstand, 5 minutes not worrying about your finances while sitting in meditation. And as soon as we’ve finished class, we often find ourselves disappointed to be in the exact same place we were before class.

The problem occurs when we use yoga and meditation as self-improvement instruments. We say to ourselves, “If I could just improve my flexibility, forget my aching heart, and calm my busy mind, then I’d be happy.” But what if yoga and meditation aren’t for self-improvement at all? What if they are merely tools that help bring us to Awareness? And that’s it. These practices aren’t for self-improvement because the Self doesn’t need to be fixed.

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But beyond that, in a very practical way this Awareness also helps us to find happiness by clarifying to our conscious mind both what we really want in life as well as helping us recognize it when we’ve received it. In truth, Yoga and meditation simply help us to practice Awareness which in turn reveals the true mystery of happiness: that happiness is presence.


Secret No. 1: Don’t Wait for Happiness, You’re Already Perfect


First, and this is one of life’s biggest lessons, yoga and meditation make you happy by giving you the Awareness that everything simply exists and is perfect in that existence. Including you. You’re already perfect. This Awareness also reveals that happiness just exists, the same way everything else does.

One of the secrets to happiness is to realize that we can’t wait for the events in our lives to align perfectly for us to be happy. You gotta stop waiting for the world to make you happy cuz the world just doesn’t care. You gotta start making the decision to be happy despite the events and circumstances in your life because there will always be something other than yourself to blame for the fact that you’re unhappy. You’re in charge of your emotions. Nobody else is responsible for that job, not your partner or spouse, your kids, your job, your teachers, God—nobody but you.

The stone-cold truth is that the events in our lives are neither good nor bad. They just are. It’s the meaning we assign to those events that triggers the emotions we associate as good or bad. And guess who gets to choose the meaning of each event that happens. You do.

Awareness shows you that this moment is all there is. Stop waiting for happiness. There’s never a more perfect time to be happy as the eternal now. Awareness shows you that you gotta stop looking for happiness outside of yourself. You’ll never find it. It doesn’t exist. If you can’t find happiness inside, you’ll sure as shit never find it outside. That’s just Truth with a capital “T.”

One of the oldest vedic mantras, the Gayatri Mantra, thousands of years old, says that if I truly understood the fact that everything comes from Source, I’d see that I’m no different than the happiness I seek, I’d see that happiness is my essence. (Click below to listen to me chanting this mantra.)

I know what you’re thinking, “That’s shit! life’s hard.”

Sure, life’s hard. Yet through Awareness there’s a happiness that can’t be touched by life’s difficulty. Life is beautiful even in our hardest moments because our struggles represent our growth-evolution of learning to see ourselves as the perfect beings we already are. Our life’s struggles are just like those of a new butterfly struggling to break out of its chrysalis, to unfold into its own magnificence. A butterfly won’t survive without those struggles. And like the joy of the butterfly bouncing triumphantly on the wind, one day we too will celebrate every stitch of pain that birthed our unknown wings.

The late, great Leonard Cohen said it perfectly in his lyrics to the song Anthem:

Ring the bells that still can ring,

Forget your perfect offering.

There is a crack in everything,

And that’s how the light gets in.



Even the rhyme is broken yet these are perhaps some of the most succinct and poignant lyrics ever to remind us that we aren’t perfect despite our brokenness, but because of it.

In order to see our perfection through our brokenness, we must learn to be present when painful emotions arise, enough to feel them fully but without letting them define us. The practice is to realize that while we may experience emotions, what we are is fundamentally larger than emotions. And as much as you can be present with emotions, no matter which one, that presence actually serves to reveal the perfect, luminous thing inside of you which is larger than emotions, call it Awareness, Source, God, Spirit, your True Self— whatever. What you are is Awareness experiencing itself as an emotion, like an otherwise unknown being trying on a costume to understand itself. It’s by being present to your emotions through Awareness that reveals the happiness inside of you, a happiness that can’t be touched by events and circumstances

Being present with your emotions is opposite of pretending that emotions don’t exist, especially difficult emotions.They do exist. They just don’t define you. Plus, remember that every emotion is in flux, here one moment and gone the next. Just like everything else in this loving Universe, it’s part of an orbit. Emotions are part of the game of life, a part of the dream. Awareness is the part of you that’s having the dream, the part that never changes, despite any emotion that may visit. In fact, it’s things like emotions that help to reveal yourself as Awareness.

Yoga and meditation cultivate the Awareness that what we are is a spiritual being having a physical experience. We are coming to know ourselves as the Divine, a force that is fundamentally reduced to love. Divine love is in you and in everybody and everything else in the Universe. When you know that, when you feel that, come what may, nothing can touch you. You’ll even be able to experience things like heartache with love.

So while on the surface, yoga and meditation don’t make you happy, they do cultivate an Awareness which reveals some key secrets to happiness. Namely, it reveals that you are a perfect, Divine being, that you can only find happiness within, and that you’re in charge of defining the events that happen in your life. It’s the challenges in our life that help to illuminate our perfection. Awareness teaches you that what you are fundamentally is happiness (Gayatri Mantra) and that you can’t wait for life to align perfectly to “find” happiness. It also teaches us to be present to our emotions because they don’t define you but are valuable tools that help to illuminate the happiness that exists despite the events and subsequent emotions of life.



Secret No. 2: The Cosmic Taco—Place Your Order, Please.

Another way that Awareness leads us toward happiness is by giving us the clarity to know what we really want in life. Despite the fact that we are perfect just as we are, we are nonetheless hardwired to grow and to evolve. This means that it takes Awareness to realize when we’ve outgrown our current situation. Sometimes our growth is cued by a feeling of being disconnected or unsatisfied with what is. Often this is the Universe saying that we’ve outgrown our current condition and that we need to find something else, like a hermit crab whose outgrown their shell.

The dark side of being hardwired for growth means that for some of us, we are always looking for greener grasses. But with presence, we can hold the paradox that this moment is both perfect as it is and that the Universe is calling on us to grow and move away from it. With presence we also recognize that our current situation is the best and only platform for us to step into our next stage of evolution. In fact, failure to do so—both failure to acknowledge our current situation as well as our failure to grow into what’s calling us forward—ironically traps us in what fundamentally isn’t working for us, just like a prison cell. Failure to evolve from a place of grounded presence traps us in a vicious cycle of reliving our old lessons until we are ready to move on. It’ll be just like Groundhog Day but instead of Bill Murray, it’ll be us living out that drama.

Many of us mistake our itch for growth as unhappiness when it’s really just our own call for evolution knocking on our door. It’s like looking down and seeing that the pants that used to fit you just fine are now riding up around your shins. What’s worse is that most of us might feel the need to grow and look for something new but don’t even know what we are looking for. Here’s a perfect example…

Several years ago I needed to find an apartment. I had exactly one week to find a place and move out and I was really feeling the pressure. Despite the fact that I had looked at literally dozens of apartments I felt like my search was going nowhere. I realized that I was looking at apartments and not really knowing what I was looking for. After examining yet one more apartment that left me massively underwhelmed, I realized that I didn’t even know what I was looking for. So, I went home and wrote down precisely what I wanted, about 15 different criteria, everything down to which neighborhood, the price, what kind of amenities—even the architectural style and age of the building. The very next day, I looked at yet another apartment. It didn’t meet the majority of those criteria. That’s because it met ALL of them— Every. Damn. Detail. I went on to spend some very happy years in that apartment.

Many different yoga and meditation traditions say that consciousness precedes form. It was like the Universe was just waiting for me to put in my order, like the invisible person that lives in the speaker box at the drive-thru, happy to serve me as soon as I made up my mind and tell it what I want.

I believe that the Universe is constantly waiting to give us what we want and like any good teacher, if we’re not asking, it’s not giving. Asking for what we want, visualizing it in a way that is current, possible, and positive, is a way that alerts the Universe that we are ready to receive what the Universe has been waiting to offer all along.

I told this story to a good friend and she told me, “You could probably ask the Cosmos for a taco and open up your hand and, boom, a taco would drop into your hands.” Thus a new term was born, “The Cosmic Taco.” I now use this term to refer to telling the Universe exactly what you want. “Um, yeah, could I please get a beautiful place to live, in France, along with my adorable family, a great job that I love that makes me feel loved, fulfilled, and useful? Oh, and could I get that with avocado and hot sauce? Thanks!”

What do you want on your Cosmic Taco? Make a list. Be specific.

Yoga Nidra

Telling the Universe what you want on your Cosmic Taco is useful for so many reasons, but specifically it clarifies to both your thinking mind and simultaneously to Universal Consciousness what you want so it can begin to dish it out. Like I said, most of us are walking around looking for something other than what we have and we don’t even know what it is we are looking for.

For many of us it’s a matter of what we feel we are worthy of. Remember, you’re the Divine having a human experience. It’s your birthright to have EVERYTHING. Don’t be afraid to ask for exactly what you want. You more than deserve it.

As you get clear with what you want, I promise that you’ll start to notice those thing coming to you from many directions. Don’t be surprised if you start to be bombarded by clues, synergies, and opportunities. Even the songs on the radio will start to get on board to somehow sing to what’s coming through for you. Recently I had a powerful experience where I was feeling overwhelmed by the simple perfection of the lyric, “All you need is love,” and a fucking beetle came and literally landed on my hand. “Yeah, Universe, I know it’s the Beatles.”

Has something like that ever happened to you? Probably. Why is that? It think it’s because the Universe operates in an order and once you get onboard with a trajectory, you’ll see how that ordered thing begins to play out. Chances are, these clues for what you wanted were passing you all along but since you had such a dizzying array of options in front of you, each one just as viable as the next, you were simply blinded by all the myriad options to notice them.

One of the things I’ve learned from Yoga Nidra, the fascinating and transformative type of meditation I’m so passionate about, is that the past and future are abstract concepts and the eternal part of us, the one that’s connected to Universal Consciousness, only exists in the now and exists in a universe of YES—always has, always will—so you have to talk to it in ways that is current and positive. It helps to put yourself on your pathway of growth by creating mantras, aphorisms, or prayers that make a positive statement of truth that will help you grow in that direction, like a pole lashed to a tree to help it grow straight. Don’t speak to your perceived lack or the incompleteness, speak to your inevitable wholeness, to what is real and true in the moment and what is leading you to the next thing layer of wholeness. I heard Judith Lasater once say, “What is worrying but praying for what you don’t want.” Pray for what you do want.

Here’s are two examples for a positive mantras that speak to the power of the moment:

“I’m currently on my road to _____________,”

“Inside, I already have everything I need for____________.”

Both of these examples are realistic, positive, and happening in the moment. Both reflect what my therapist has been telling me for years, “Reach for the stars and keep your feet planted on the ground.” Both are mantras that communicate to the Universe what we want and positions it to help us manifest those things.

Awareness therefore brings us happiness by helping us realize that despite being perfect beings living in a perfect moment, we are nonetheless hardwired to grow. It helps us to know when we need to move on, it gives us the clarity to know what we are looking for, and it does so grounded in the positive reality of what is.

David Whyte is a rockstar in my world. Check out what he says about growing into what we feel we are worthy of in this world.

The True Love

The True Love

There is a faith in loving fiercely
the one who is rightfully yours,
especially if you have
waited years and especially
if part of you never believed
you could deserve this
loved and beckoning hand
held out to you this way.

I am thinking of faith now
and the testaments of loneliness
and what we feel we are
worthy of in this world.

Years ago in the Hebrides,
I remember an old man
who walked every morning
on the grey stones
to the shore of baying seals,
who would press his hat
to his chest in the blustering
salt wind and say his prayer
to the turbulent Jesus
hidden in the water,

and I think of the story
of the storm and everyone
waking and seeing
the distant
yet familiar figure
far across the water
calling to them

and how we are all
preparing for that
abrupt waking,
and that calling,
and that moment
we have to say yes,
except it will
not come so grandly
so Biblically
but more subtly
and intimately in the face
of the one you know
you have to love

so that when
we finally step out of the boat
toward them, we find
everything holds
us, and everything confirms
our courage, and if you wanted
to drown you could,
but you don't
because finally
after all this struggle
and all these years
you simply don't want to
any more
you've simply had enough
of drowning
and you want to live and you
want to love and you will
walk across any territory
and any darkness
however fluid and however
dangerous to take the
one hand you know
belongs in yours.

~David Whyte


I love this because your True Love could be your partner/spouse, kids, job, beliefs, or anything.

What is YOUR True Love?

Secret No. 3: What We Need is Here

Not only must we be clear with what we want, but we gotta learn to recognize it when it comes. I think that between knowing what you want and recognizing it when it’s come, the later is the more difficult and will lead us more quickly to enduring happiness. We cant get so driven to see over the next horizon that we fail to recognize that what we wanted all along is actually lying at our feet. It’s the story of the hero’s journey.

Yoga Nidra

Presence opens our eyes to see what is here and what is real. It teaches us that now is a perfect moment, despite whatever’s happening, and that there will never be a better moment than now. Presence shows you that what you want is here. What you want is not the thing over the next horizon, what you want is being here. Being here is being home. Check out what

I love poets because they have to be so present in order to articulate the moment that’s happening right before them. Check out this showstopper by Wendell Berry:

What We Need Is Here

Geese appear high over us,

pass, and the sky closes. Abandon,

as in love or sleep, holds

them to their way, clear

in the ancient faith: what we need

is here. And we pray, not

for new earth or heaven, but to be

quiet in heart, and in eye,

clear. What we need is here.


~Wendell Berry

Yoga Nidra


I invented a magic mantra for happiness that helps me to see that what I need is here. It helps me to realize that this moment is as perfect as any other can be. That mantra is, “This is EXACTLY what I want to be doing in this moment.” I repeat this phrase even and especially if it feels like what I’m doing in this moment is pretty mundane or average because each time I do, it opens my eyes to the perfection of the moment. The perfect moment is defined by what’s happening but rather how I’m choosing to pay attention. Repeating this mantra instantly locks me into presence and takes me out of perpetual search mode. It helps me to lift my head, open my eyes and all the rest of my senses. As I’m writing this, a nice glass of Bordeaux next to me—fruity and bold—and some dark chocolate with sea salt, I feel myself swinging in the flow of this writing, the keys popping rhythmically under my fingers, and I acknowledge that, THIS is EXACTLY what I want to be doing IN. THIS. MOMENT. This is what I want. I can’t tell you how immensely satisfying it is to acknowledge that. This phrase helps to realize that I’m not waiting for the perfect moment, I’m watching it unfold before me.

And as I clarify what I want with presence, I realize that if I’m on my road to higher growth and I’m actively doing what it takes to move me along my path, then this is the only place I can be and therefore exactly where I want to be. So, yeah here is where I need to be and is the essential ground leading me to my next step forward on my path for growth and discovery. This is the harder lesson.

The last poem I want to share, a poem that has become a beloved friend to me, one which express this vital truth of presence, written by one of my heros—the woman, the wonder, the legend, drum roll please — Mary Oliver!

Mindful


Everyday

I see or hear

something

that more or less

kills me

with delight,

that leaves me

like a needle

in the haystack

Yoga Nidra

of light.

It was what I was born for —

to look, to listen,

to lose myself

inside this soft world —

to instruct myself

over and over

in joy,

and acclamation.

Nor am I talking

about the exceptional,

the fearful, the dreadful,

the very extravagant —

but of the ordinary,

the common, the very drab,

the daily presentations.

Oh, good scholar,

I say to myself,

how can you help

but grow wise

with such teachings

as these —

the untrimmable light

of the world,

the ocean’s shine,

the prayers that are made

out of grass?

~Mary Oliver


I love this poem because it points to presence as the key to happiness, to satisfaction. And that without presence, we will never realize it when what we are searching for has arrived at our feet.

It’s my prayer that you find yourself in the Awareness that you are perfect just the way you are. May you have astounding clarity about what you want in life. And may you find yourself reading this and repeating the magic mantra for happiness, “This is exactly what I want to be doing in this moment.”

Thank you for sharing this moment with me.

Going deeper:

  • Remember that you’re perfect the way you are

  • Put in your order for your cosmic taco, make a detailed list of what you want your life to be

  • Regularly practice the magic mantra for happiness, “This is exactly what I want to be doing in this moment,” no matter what you’re doing in that moment.

Please share this with someone. Comment below about what you feel are YOUR secrets to happiness.


Guided Meditations for Sleep

Seeing the Finger of God: New Directions in Jazz

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In 2003, I attended a life-changing concert—Herbie Hancock teamed up with other jazz greats such as Michael Brecker and Roy Hargrove in a quintet to celebrate the music of Miles Davis and John Coltrane, both of whom would have turned a heavenly 77 that year. The two horn players chosen to honor those dead gods of Jazz have themselves now passed on, Brecker in 2007 and Hargrove in 2018, and can count themselves in the numbers of saints who come marching in.

https://www.montreuxjazz.com/herbie-hancock

https://www.montreuxjazz.com/herbie-hancock

Whether yoga asana or jazz, both modes point to that Oneness of being we all share. Both point to and celebrate spirit. The following is a story about this pointing.


Holy


It was Spiritual. There was a moment in the concert when the horns were off stage allowing the rhythm section to solo. The concert hall was dark except for three dim spotlights, each illuminating a musician on stage. Herbie Hancock was hunched over his keys popping dissonant chords like ice on a red-hot stove. John Patitucci's fingers blurred and tangled as they whirred around the fretboard of his double bass. The drummer was nimbly tap-dancing around his set. Popping, clinking, banging, like someone rummaging through a junk drawer. Then, each musician began to play as if oblivious to the other musicians. All three seemed to abandon the song's underlying structure, the musical map that makes playing together possible. They were alone, lost and consumed in the rite of making their own art. Time began to slip away and it became more of an abstract idea than a perceptible pulse. Impossible to find a down-beat.

The music floated like this for eternally long minutes. I could see the music personified on the furrowed brows and grimaces of the musicians. Their notes were together turbulent, raging, furious, and at times lackadaisical. I drifted with the music. Despite the musical trip, however, something was gnawing at me. It was my rational mind wondering how the music could possibly come back together from this entropy, this chaos. I could see no signs that the musicians were following any sort of map in the song's structure. How would the horns know when to come in and start the melody again, the head? How would the rhythm section come back together? And with these questions, my eyes fixed upon the musicians, hypnotized to the scene before me. Afraid to miss a single note, I stared wide-eyed, wondering what would happen next. Minutes and seconds had ceased.

And after an age, suddenly the horns were back on stage. Without a word, and without a cue, without a gesture, not even a glance, the rhythm section simultaneously aligned to a slow, swung 4/4 meter at the precise fraction of a second that both sax and trumpet blew a soft, low, singular, note. The timbre of this note could not be discerned by the nature of the instruments; it was both sax and trumpet. A third horn. A new name. Invisible but right in front of me. And with this new horn they began the head.

All five were playing as individuals, carving out their own signature and personalities with their instrument. Yet despite the apparent autonomy, chaos, and dissonance, every sound by each musician originated from the same steady beat of one shared heart. It is this heart that makes the maps and this heart that sews the musicians together with an invisible thread. My soul was witnessing a miracle. As I watched and heard them play, I was sensing this shared, invisible heart. I was seeing the finger of God.

So What


Like the music, the concert itself had underlying form and context. It was like a séance, summoning Miles Davis and John Coltrane from the grave back to the terrestrial stage, luring them with their own music. In the spirit of Miles Davis and John Coltrane, Herbie's quintet played the music like Miles and Trane would have played it—decidedly different than Miles and Trane would have played it. Different was the context.

Miles Davis and John Coltrane have always been mysteries to me. Mysteries because the beautiful yet complex music they created during their spin on this globe were only facsimiles of what was written on their souls and in their minds. Each time I listen to a Miles or Coltrane record, I search for clues about what was in their souls. Where was their genius. Their records are only blueprints, but by studying these blueprints, someday I hope to hear what their souls were calling out to the world—to me. For now, though, I am a young student to the world of jazz and only have ideas of what these geniuses were singing. Most of it remains a mystery to me.

I WILL BE YOUR LIGHT IN THE WILDERNESS

Directions_in_Music.jpg

To miss the Herbie Hancock Quintet, billed as Utah's hottest jazz event of the year, was almost reason enough to pass up the invitation to go and teach English in Korea for a year. I went to Korea. I arrived as winter was setting in and after a few long, cold months in this new and foreign world of Korea, I finally got a weekend off. While on a bumpy train headed south to sunnier Busan, I happened to notice an ad hidden in the corner of an English newspaper. It announced that in two weeks, the Herbie Hancock quintet would be in Seoul performing the same concert I had missed in Utah. I almost jumped out of my seat with surprise and joy. The Universe likes to spoil me from time to time.

Providence may have brought Herbie Hancock to Korea but I still had my work cut out for me if I wanted to go to the concert. First I had to get a ticket. This was before buying your ticket on the internet was really a thing. My Korean pair-teacher, Eun-hee, my tag-team partner in the MMA ring of teaching children, made several necessary phone calls to Seoul and spent a lot of time helping me secure a ticket. She even paid for my ticket using her own bank account to wire the money. I paid her back in cash. Without a Korean speaker, getting a ticket would have been nearly impossible.

Even after the arduous task of procuring a ticket, it took several days and much drama, to cover my classes. The decision to allow me to go and ask other teachers to take my classes went all the way to the director of our school. Despite the fact that I already had my ticket, ultimately going to see Herbie Hancock was in his hands. He was concerned about the school's constant shortage of native English-speaking teachers. After several days of deliberation he finally he acquiesced and allowed me to go.



PILGRAMAGE


With a ticket waiting for me in Seoul, I taxied to Yousong, a part of town in Daejeon where I was living, and bought my bus ticket to Seoul. While waiting for the bus to leave, I found a bakery. There was nothing good, so instead I went outside and sat on the edge of a shadow in the hopes of catching the last rays of a tepid sun. I faced the sun, closed my eyes and let it penetrate my closed eyelids. I drank it.

During my two and a half hour ride to Seoul I read Dostoevsky's words of devils and angels, saints and sinners, of children. I read of Devils becoming angles. It reminded me that the Universe is mostly good with some interesting variations of good that some call “bad” thrown into the mix.

With only a small day pack stuffed with Karamazov, a subway guide, and my toothbrush, I arrived in Seoul and then hopped onto the subway to make my way to the stop nearest Kung Hee University, the concert venue. As I stepped from the subway station, the winter afternoon met me with a bitter chill. It was cold and sunny, bright and sharp. The oblique rays of the afternoon sun did little to chase away the goose bumps on my skin.

I walked around busy Seoul streets for a while following signs to Kung-hee University. After asking several times for directions I finally arrived at the university. After several more requests for directions to the concert hall, I finally found my the long awaited destination of my pilgrimage. As I walked up a hill I saw the concert hall standing before me like a giant. It was designed after a renaissance cathedral. It looked like Westminster Abbey to me.

Kyunghee University Grand Peace Hall

It had stained glass windows and large, ornate doors, arched ceilings, etc. Its two towers reached high into the deep blue sky like arms to heaven.
Considering all my trouble of getting the ticket, I couldn't shake the pessimistic feeling that somehow, something would prevent me from going to the concert. I had to get my ticket in my hand before I'd believe I was going to see Herbie Hancock in concert. Entering the giant front doors, my lone footsteps echoed off the marble floors as I walked in search of someone who could give me my ticket. A nice woman told me in broken English that they would not being to issue tickets until six. It was only four thirty. Okay, maybe I was a little paranoid. But before leaving to look for a motel room for the night, I decided to look inside the enormous hall to see what it looked like.

Inside I saw a man on the stage warming up on a stand-up bass. Someone in a sound booth above my head shouted to the bassist to plink and on the piano a bit to get a reading. To my complete amazement, Herbie Hancock, having been summoned by his own instrument, walks onto the stage carrying a folder with his music. He was impossible to mistake; impeccably dressed: hip, thick rimmed glasses, a dark suit over a deep purple shirt, and a monotone tie —stylish, modern, but not loud. Herbie replaced the bassist on the piano. I was sitting in the front row of the hall, only fifteen feet from Herbie Hancock! Then it dawned on me that I was about to get a personal, pre-concert concert.

The bass player/part-time piano plinker turned out to be John Patitucci, a highly acclaimed bass player and bandleader billed for this tour. I was surprised at the obsequious deference he gave Herbie. After all, he's no rookie. Moreover, he'd been touring with Herbie for more than a year, and after a year of playing with someone, I assumed that they'd be chummy. Perhaps the marking of a true student is one who recognizes the master.

https://www.celebrity-direct.com/hire-jazz-musicians-classic-broadway-singers/hire-herbie-hancock/

https://www.celebrity-direct.com/hire-jazz-musicians-classic-broadway-singers/hire-herbie-hancock/

Then the sound check began. Herbie and John pulled out the sheet music that Herbie toted onto the stage and together they penciled in some changes, analyzing the music meticulously, note by note, measure by measure. Later in the performance, when they came to that reworked spot, I'd never have guessed that they hadn't been born playing it perfectly.

Soon, Michael Brecker—rigid, tall, quiet— walked onto the stage, saxophone in hand. He stood listening to the rhythm section and would often play a head or a solo to give context to the rhythm sections chords. A few minutes later on swaggered the trumpet player Roy Hargrove. He was as laid back and cool as they come. He sat, so lazily that he almost lay, on a stool a couple paces away from the band. This acted as sort of his ring corner when the rhythm section or Brecker was going at it. He sat listening, lost in his own thoughts, and raised his trumpet to play when the music called for it.

Once during the sound check, the rhythm section was plowing through some chords and Roy Hargrove pulled up his horn and played a line. To me it sounded like any regular jazz line but Michael Brecker broke his frozen stance and burst out with a guffaw, looked over to Roy Hargrove, and shouted, "Good one!" Roy was telling jokes on his trumpet. I wished I understood the punch line—musically esoteric. A few minutes later, still in a joking mood, Roy Hargrove began a solo, this time using the melody to Kenny Rogers's country hit, The Gambler.

During the sound check, I had the rare chance to witness not only these musicians' music, but more importantly I got to see their personalities, raw and exposed in a way that is impossible in front of a crowded concert hall. Herbie was funky, funky, funky, like an old southern woman cooking fried chicken on the porch. Herbie had wonderful blues face: a painfully blissful grimace evoked by the music.

Michael Brecker was stiff, reserved, tall, foreboding, and looming. I could sense that he has secrets going on behind his quiet eyes. By this time, he was experiencing the deleterious effects of Leukemia.

Roy Hargrove was there to play. He's got secrets, too but he's so hip, he knows that even he doesn't even understand them.

John Patitucci has a happy, kind face. He's defining characteristic is his virtuosity on his bass. Still, he isn't trying to prove anything. He just does it and does it damn well.

https://www.express.co.uk/entertainment/films/802783/Willy-Wonka-Gene-Wilder-Charlie-Golden-Ticket-Chocolate-Factory

https://www.express.co.uk/entertainment/films/802783/Willy-Wonka-Gene-Wilder-Charlie-Golden-Ticket-Chocolate-Factory

The drummer (I forget his name) was a great drummer—a furry but never over bearing. He knew his place. He was actually a replacement for Brian Blade, the regular drummer who couldn't finish the tour.

I also had the chance to see them carve into and analyze the music, measure-by-measure, analyzing chords, rhythms and harmonics. They talked about the music as if they were seeing it for the first time. Everyone offered suggestions and they penciled them in.


After two hours of this pre-concert concert, the ushers shoed me out. By now it was late enough that I was able to get my ticket from the ticket office, which I stashed safely away in my wallet. I felt like I was Charlie Bucket finding a golden ticket.

The concert still didn't start for an hour and I hadn't found a motel room for the night. It was dark outside as I left the concert hall. The cold blew through my canvas coat unmercifully. Walking down the busy streets near the university, it didn't take long to see that the neighborhood of Seoul I was in was more suited to a nightclub a nice, clean motel. As I began to walk, I realized that I hadn't eaten since breakfast and instead of worrying about a motel, I concentrated on getting something to eat. I decided on pizza. Unfortunately, it was only a take out restaurant, so I took my pizza next door to Baskin Robins and ate it sitting at a one-person table. I wasn't in the mood for ice cream but I needed to rent a table so I bought a jr. cup of Chocolate Brownie and watched it melt as I ate my small pizza.

I finished dinner and headed back through the crowded streets to the concert hall. I walked back into the lobby of the concert hall, which was teaming by now with hundreds of people. I saw Herbie Hancock CDs for sale (recorded at an earlier concert) and without hearing a note, I had to have one. I couldn't help myself.

The concert was only minutes away. I entered the hall and easily found my seat in the back of the hall on the ground level. As I sat there, an island in the sea of this great hall, I relaxed and mused on fact that everything had fallen into place. Eventually, the lights dimmed and the band came out onto the stage. The crowd roared with applause. As soon as the lights began to dim, I followed about 50 other cheap ticket buyers, and bolted for an empty seat closer to the stage.


HYMN

The concert was flawless. The musicians' communication must have been very subtle because throughout the entire concert, no one spoke a word, no one nodded or gave any sort of cues, but all five were in sync the entire time, playing exactly at the right time when someone's solo finished, or when there was a segue into another song, or when the timing suddenly changed to something very abstract.


Herbie played elegantly and assertively dissonant. He was Herbie Hancock: funkiness embellishing polished musical prose. Over the almost 6 decades that he's been playing music, Herbie, like Miles and Coltrane, has invented many of the contemporary rules of jazz. Much of the joy of this evening was the rare pleasure of seeing a master of masters at work and watching him have so much fun doing it.

The entire concert had a Herbie flavor. Herbie was the roux in the gumbo, holding it all together.

https://www.rockol.it/testi-di/roy-hargrove

https://www.rockol.it/testi-di/roy-hargrove

I loved Roy Hargrove's playing. It was heartfelt, cool, and at times manic. He wasn't trying to be a diva. He wasn't trying to be another Miles Davis. Roy was an interpreter, expressing in his own language what he read from blueprints to the soul THE master of jazz. He was Roy Hargrove putting a spin on Miles tunes. The spin was the point. Miles spun.

One my favorite songs of the night was a song that Roy Hargrove wrote, called The Poet. It honors Miles and tells an emotional musical story about Miles' character. When Roy took his solo, I was particularly honed to what Roy was saying with his trumpet. As he played, he told me: if you look in your heart, look deep inside, look way down, keep going deeper, and listen really carefully, amid the discord of life you will find the answer to what you are looking for. You'll find the peaceful and beautiful melody of your deepest inner soul. But be patient and diligent because it will be fleeting; nonetheless, be privy to it. It's there and it's the peace and joy that always resides in you.

https://fanpix.famousfix.com/gallery/michael-brecker

https://fanpix.famousfix.com/gallery/michael-brecker

Michael Brecker was the greatest surprise. I had never seen him play and from what I judged of his personality during the sound check, he seemed more like an emotionally repressed corporate lawyer or stockbroker than an expressive sax player. But when he sprang for a solo during the concert, he really sang from his soul; he didn't just play notes. Somehow both his contemplative stage presence and his wildly expressive solos portends his death 4 years later. Michael Brecker died January 13, 2007. The fact that I was able to see this modern sax genius is now invaluable to me.

He really showed his soul and mastery of his instrument during his solo piece, Naima, the infamous and signature Coltrane ballad. At one point during Naima, it sounded like Michael Brecker wasn't even blowing into his horn but rather screaming into it, his eyes squinted shut, his fingers ripping up and down the keys. I was amazed that someone so apparently closed could express so earnestly and honestly.

https://news.jazzline.com/news/airport-tsa-instrument-damage-john-patitucci-bass/

https://news.jazzline.com/news/airport-tsa-instrument-damage-john-patitucci-bass/

John Patitucci was a storyteller with his music. At the beginning of So What/Impressions, the rest of the band left the stage and gave John 10 minutes alone to tell his story. He sounded and looked like he was praying—pouring his heart out to God as he plucked deep, warm, notes from his strings.

John showed me that music is like a novel or a play—full of wit, rhetoric, surprises, and plot twists. As he was hunched over his bass, his fingers were plucking out his story, and it felt like he was leading us through a gothic castle by the light of a candle, showing the tapestries, the candelabras, the great halls. During his tour, suddenly and without any notice, he jumped hard on a low and inharmonic note. It startled me, like he was throwing open closet door with a skeleton inside. Surprises.

CODA


The band played for two and a half hours and finished with two encores. As the house lights came on people began to shuffle to the doors. I was in awe of what I'd just seen. I was glad I was alone because I didn't want to talk to anyone. I was speechless. I eventually left my seat and entered the already packed lobby. But before going out the door and leaving to find a motel, something inside me said, "Stop. Just be in this moment. Something is going to happen . . . " And there I stood, looking at ornate architecture of the concert hall, my mind poring over the concert and I wondered how I could put it all into words.

I hadn't paused for more than two minutes when my attention focused on a nearby crowd of about 10 people. They were gathering around the stage manager who had just came from back stage. I remembered him from the sound check. I heard the stage manager say to them in English, "I'll ask Herbie if he has time to see you," after which there was brief silence, a quick Korean translation by one better English speakers followed by an outburst of undefiled giddiness. I didn’t know who these giggling girls were but I decided that under no circumstances was I going to not somehow accompany them to see Herbie Hancock. A few minutes later, the stage manager came back and announced to them that they could come back inside the concert hall and after Herbie finished talking to a reporter, they could go backstage and meet them. I simply melted into their numbers as they slipped back through the auditorium doors to wait for the chance to go backstage. They were quite an intimate crowd and it wasn't long before they noticed the stray white guy hanging around. Instead of pushing me away, though, they warmly befriended me.

Apparently, they were part of an organization that is based loosely around Buddhism and celebrates world peace through music. They said that Herbie Hancock and Wayne Shorter (sax player and musical brother of Herbie for many decades) are among the organization's principle and most prestigious members. My new friends admitted that none of them knew Herbie Hancock's music very well. In fact, they admitted that they were only recently trying to learn to appreciate jazz so as to support Herbie Hancock and Wayne Shorter. It was the first jazz concert that any of them had ever been to.

During the 15 minutes that we were waiting for the stage manager to come back, I swapped email addresses with at least five people as others flashed photos of me. I was the exotic stray white guy.

Eventually, the stage manager came back and said that we could go back stage. We rushed down back hallways to a posh and dimly-lighted waiting room. Herbie was standing, talking to a reporter as a photographer busily flashed photos. Roy Hargrove, in his usual stance, half sat, half lay on a low plush chair near the wall. He looked like he'd just hopped out of a hot tub after a hard day's work—spent. His long dreads were covered by an enormous bini and he was wrapped in a gray, wool, New-York-style coat that came to his knees.

My rule against pestering celebrities for autographs was overridden by the magnitude of this moment. Having unwrapped my CD and removed the insert, I timidly approached Roy Hargrove. I couldn't help but sound like an obsequious snail as I peeped out, "Mr. Hargrove, your music was very spiritual to me." He looked at me for a moment and paused, a little surprised by my words. "Thank you," another pause. "Thank you." I could sense that this was the end of our meaningful conversation and so I asked, "Would you please?" as I handed him a pen and the cd insert. He said nothing, only flashed his autograph across my insert. I thanked him and he nodded back in a tired response, only the way a jazz cat can.

I saw the drummer (damn, I wish I remembered his name) lingering about and he politely signed my cd sleeve.


Now Herbie was done talking to the reporter and my newly adopted family, the family of the jazz challenged, was showering him with flowers and gifts and snapping photos. He smiled and happily spoke to us as a group. Even after his long performance, Herbie was amicable and appreciative of our praise. He gladly signed autographs and smiled as he smelled each bouquet that was thrust into his arms. All I could do was stand there as part of the crowd. I wanted to blurt out, like a puberty stricken high school kid, "Herbie! even if these people don't know Hancock from Handel, I know you to be a musical legend and I understand this concert in context of the last 50 years of jazz and modern music. Thank you for this concert. It is a dream come true!" My thoughts must have been printed on my forehead because just as he said he couldn't sign any more autographs, he took my cd sleeve, signed it, and graciously bowed out.

HA! Triumph! I couldn't believe this was happening to me.

Michael Brecker was standing talking to some other stage managers, and understandably loathing us for keeping Herbie, and therefore him, from heading back to the hotel and getting some sleep. His was the only autograph I was missing. I had to do it. So I approached him and told him that I loved his music and that I was a saxophonist as well. I told him he was an inspiration. Without a word, he signed my cd sleeve. Cold. The way he looks. I don't blame him. I'd be annoyed too.

THE LONE AND DREARY WORLD


We watched the band leave and then we followed out the same doors. It had begun to snow. The wind had picked up and it was colder than before. My new friends began to ask me what my plan was for spending the night. I told them about where I planned to search for a motel. They informed me that I probably wouldn't find anything there and that they would take me to a stop on the subway where I could find good, inexpensive lodging.

jimjillbang.jpg

We hopped on the subway and chatted for the 25 minutes it took us to get to our stop. They walked me to a bright, clean jim jill bong (a 24-hr spa. . . kind of) where for six bucks you can bathe, exercise, watch TV, use the internet, eat, sing karaoke, get electronic chair massages (that was fun) or just lounge and talk to your friends and family. The jim jill bong also had communal sleeping rooms, separated for men and women.

I changed into the issued t-shirt and shorts and then sat on a mat in the corner with my journal and tried to write down as many of my feelings as possible. By now it was about 1 am and the desire for sleep soon clouded my thoughts. I grabbed a foam pillow and took a corner of the sleeping room. Other men's snoring made real sleep impossible, but I was able to take a series of short naps, which helped.

The next day, I caught a train back to Daejeon. During the two-hour train ride home, I stared out the window and thought about my entire miracle of hearing the music, meeting the band, and meeting these new friends.


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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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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:

Online Yoga Nidra Teacher Training

Become a qualified Yoga Nidra Teacher

  • 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.

Leaves Falling: The Beauty of Disillusion

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The following is a version of an article I wrote for Conscious Life News

 
Dogma of Fall Leaves

I wish I knew the beauty of leaves falling.

To whom are we beautiful when we go?

~David Ignato


And to whom are we beautiful as we go? This poem seems to point to the fact that even in our failing, there is a part of creation and therefore a part of ourselves that can grant a magnificence to any loss.

A beautiful concept. A bittersweet truth. Perhaps this is why Autumn is so colorful: it is the opulent  funeral procession of the death of so much. It is the rush of fireworks before the quiet stillness of winter.


Shiva Nataraj

Shiva

Many of the Hindu statues tell stories and offers insight which transcends dogma. The Shiva Nataraj, the Dancing Shiva, is a storytelling icon depicting Shiva, the creator of the universe, and illustrates his five acts which, in part, give understanding of death and dissolution. Through understanding the Shiva Nataraj, we too might understand "the beauty of leaves falling" as penned by poet David Ignato.

This statue depicts a person with several arms holding different tools, his hair on fire, body wreathed in flames, standing on an impish creature with one leg, and his other leg in motion.

Creation

In his first hand, Shiva holds a drum putting everything into motion through vibration. It's true that everything from the smallest particle to the largest galaxy, even the Universe itself, is in constant motion. As a musician, I love the idea of DJ Shiva laying down the backbeat that sets the Universe into motion. This represents the birth and spring in our lives and the events and circumstances therein.

Sustaining

His next hand holds a mudra or a gesture called the abhaya mudra. This Mudra is the power of sustaining. It's like Shiva is saying, "I've built this, now I'm supporting and nourishing it." For me this represents summer time when everything is in full bloom and thriving. It's also a reminder to be present, especially to our tendency to get attached to things when they are going well, or looking over our shoulder for the other shoe to drop. If possible be right in the moment as things are. The subtle message here is that things are in flux and don't get either attached or resist what's inevitably in flux.

Death and Disillusion

In his third hand, Shiva is holding a flame suggesting not to get too attached because just as soon as he will give birth to and sustain something, he'll also burn it down. This flame reminds you that not only does everything has a life cycle, but that even as things are changing and dying they do so as part of a perfect cycle. Shiva has no remorse about any of this, he simply stares straight ahead with a little grin as if to say, "This is what death looks like," meanwhile the beautiful fall colors are exploding in their passing.

Concealment

So, when you're at your lowest point, your house has just been razed to the ground and you're really hoping Shiva will give you a helping hand, he does just the opposite. His fourth arm is concealing his heart. At the moment when we are humbled and look to a higher power at our low points he covers his arm to say, "You don't learn heart of God for free." Sometimes this feels like just when you couldn't get any lower, you in fact do.

This lowest point is what Shiva is standing on, a little demon thing called the apasmara and represents the unrealized, naive or innocent part of ourselves. Shiva is standing on this representation of a part of ourselves, not in any way to be mean or spiteful, but rather as a way of literally taking a stand for our higher selves.


Revelation

Revelation Scott Moore Yoga

And once the old self has fully been put asunder, with the only limb left, Shiva last leg is swinging upward to invite you back into the a new and elevated cycle of new birth, sustainment, death and dissolution, concealment and revelation. Here is where everything is revealed and we continue to ride the circle in a spiral of evolution and growth. After such revolutions, there is no going back. And after several times around one might begin to start to expect the different cycles as they appear.

With the full picture in mind, whenever we encounter death, change, or dissolution we can resist it less and perhaps see if for what it is, one of the beautiful steps on our way to our full understanding being.

Mary Oliver writes about learning to accept death and loss in her poem, Maker of All Things, Even Healings. I love the title of the poem because it suggests that the healing, the bringing back to life for a fuller measure of life as in the Dancing Shiva, comes only after accepting death which she does so humbly.

All night

under the pines

the fox

moves through the darkness

with a mouthful of teeth

and a reputation for death

which it deserves.

In the spicy

villages of the mice

he is famous,

his nose

in the grass

is like an earthquake,

his feet

on the path

is a message so absolute

that the mouse, hearing it,

makes himself

as small as he can

as he sits silent

or, trembling, goes on

hunting among the grasses

for the ripe seeds.



Maker of All Things,

including appetite,

including stealth,

including the fear that makes

all of us, sometime or other,

flee for the sake

of our small and precious lives,

let me abide in your shadow--

let me hold on

to the edge of your robe

as you determine

what you must let be lost

and what will be saved.




As we celebrate the panoply of fall colors, may we, too, remember the beauty of leaves falling, the beauty and magnificence of this amazing dance in which we are all twirling, living and dying.

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Yoga Nidra and The Holy Trinity: An Online or In-Person Yoga Nidra Retreat

I’m planning a special Yoga Nidra evening and I can’t wait to tell you all about it. This will be available either as an online Yoga Nidra offering or in-person, depending on where you live.

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Yoga Nidra

Click for other trainings, courses, and recordings.

Throughout history, three has always been a sacred number. Think of all the celebrated threes: body, mind, and spirit; earth, wind, and fire; Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, Brahma, Vishnu, Shiva; Shiva, Shakti, and Ganesh; Buddha, Sangha, Dharma; Bacon, Lettuce, and Tomato . . . the list is endless.

Online Yoga nidra Ganesh kauai.jpg

There is something cosmic and mysterious about the concept of the Trinity. One is in isolation, two is a binary, but when you add a third dimension, you open to whole larger than the sum of its parts. It’s only by transcending a singularity or duality into a trinity that true vision occurs.

Perhaps the best way to explore, and even better to experience, this unity of the Trinity, and allow it to open our consciousness into a unity of all things, is through a particularly powerful form of guided meditation called Yoga Nidra. The objective of Yoga Nidra is to open to a felt sense of Awareness, Oneness, or your True Self. One of the techniques to do this, is to explore deep and profound attention to the singularity, then the duality, and then to open to our Awareness, our True Nature, by inviting the holding of those two elements together to make a third, complete, and unified wholeness.

This isn’t an intellectual exercise. It’s a practice and an experience.

I invite you to explore your own True Nature by experiencing a felt sense of Awareness through a special evening of Yoga Nidra. It’s easy but profound. Beginners and experts alike are welcome to join this special evening. This will be held at a beautiful residence nestled into the granite majesty of the Wasatch mountains, just a half mile up Little Cottonwood Canyon.

At this special event, we will have a discussion/lecture about the nature of the Trinity, how it appears throughout history, myths, and in our own practical lives. We will move and change our bodies through gentle yoga poses to become receptive to our deeper and True Nature. Then, we’ll experience some specialized breathing techniques to harmonize our energy. Finally we will enter into a profound and relaxing Yoga Nidra practice which is specific to this concept of the Trinity and which will take you into deeper relaxation as the portal into understanding some of the mysteries of the cosmos.

This evening of Yoga Nidra will be deeper and more specialized than a class at the studio.

After we will have a Q&A followed by a potluck dinner.

 
 
Online Yoga Nidra Trinity 1.jpg
Online Yoga Nidra Trinity 3.png
 
online yoga nidra

You will receive an audio recording copy of the lecture, the movement and breathing practice, as well as the Yoga Nidra recording itself to continue plumbing the depths of your True Nature and expand your experience of your felt sense of Awareness.

Space is very limited. Virtual access available via Zoom if you don’t live in Salt Lake City. If you opt for virtual access you will also receive the recordings.

Saturday, November 17 5–8:30 pm Mountain Time $23

Beginners and experts welcome.

You’ll leave feeling relaxed, nourished, and with a grander vision of your life and your True Nature.


I Know The Truth

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There was a derelict shed behind the forgotten house where my grandfather kept his old tractor which used to plow an acre-size garden, his pride and joy and his reason for living, the only thing left of his family’s inheritance.

At 5 years old, I remember stepping into the old shed, my eyes adjusting to the dark as I breathed shallowly the imposing scent of gasoline and dirt. It smelled of rotting time, deceased decades, the bones of an age I never knew.

I remember seeing the rotting timbers which held the place together, the collection of rusted Utah license plates hanging on the wall, and a blunt chopping stump with an axe embedded permanently within, an agricultural Excalibur.

Against one wall was a sloping pile of silky-black coal, chunks the size of misshapen grapefruits, fossils revealing a forgotten time when people heated house and hearth by shoveling these bulky blocks into furnaces. As my great-grandparents died, so did their need for coal and this pile of forgotten fuel stood as a mute reminder of the invariability death.

I know the truth

Mostly, I remember sitting on top of that old tractor in its wide seat, looking over to see the enormous rear tires dwarfing the small front ones. I remember trying to reach the clutch and gas and pedals with my short, child's legs and handling the stick. The top of the gear shifter was decorated with a black skull.

Now, the message of it tells me that we are all dust. “Go ahead,” it seemed to whisper. “Plant, sow, till. But one day you too will be planted in this earth and that is the simple, hard truth, a truth as rigid as the axe embedded into the stump, and as true as there is soil to plant in."

Decades later, many of my own years buried, the shed has now probably been razed. Today, I'm increasingly aware of my own mortality as I see family members and loved ones, one by one, young and old, whose harvest times have arrived and are themselves planted in the earth.

And so like everyone else, I try to make meaning of the relatively small time I enjoy walking on top of this earth instead of being buried beneath it. The poet Maria Tsvetaeva speaks to this perfectly when she says in her poem, I Know The Truth:


I know the truth – give up all other truths!

Marina Tsvetaeva.jpg

No need for people anywhere on earth to struggle.

Look – it is evening, look, it is nearly night:

what do you speak of, poets, lovers, generals?

The wind is level now, the earth is wet with dew,

the storm of stars in the sky will turn to quiet.

And soon all of us will sleep under the earth, we

who never let each other sleep above it.



When I read the first line “I know the truth – give up all other truths!” my mind snaps to attention. What monumental truth has she discovered and needs to tell me? To me, she’s asking the human race to stop struggling and look at the beauty of the world, the night, and of course the oncoming dusk of our own lives. She says, take a look at the world around us and see how we are all part of the big picture.

Written in a time in Soviet history when poets were persecuted and killed, Maria Tsvetaeva makes a beautiful inclusion of the generals, the very people who sought to eliminate poets, “what do you speak of, poets, lovers, generals?” and by so doing, speaks to a bigger truth, even beyond the threat of her own death, that we are all human, subject to the same fate, “And soon all of us will sleep under the earth . . . .”

By pointing to the fact that, “all of us will sleep under the earth, we/ who never let each other sleep above it”, she uses her voice as a poet, an oracle, to illuminate the futility of struggling with each other when we will all eventually experience the same fate.

This is not a message of doom and gloom. It’s a wake-up call to practice being in the here and now and to look beyond dogma and idealism and search for the divine humanity everyone including “lovers, poets, generals.” I’m sure all of us fit into one if not all three of those categories

Scott Moore Yoga

What does it mean to be human and how do we truly appreciate another day in the sun?


Both poetry and poses are a chance to practice being human. Through them, we practice the vicissitudes of living, the ups and downs, the tension release, the struggles and joys. Perhaps mostly we practice cultivating paying attention before the sun has set and it is too late.

And by practicing, my hope is that we find something within us, something deep down that we can call real, something that we find to be fundamentally beautiful and good. Finding this within, even to a small degree, may we look around and find the same quality in everything else, particularly those people around us, family, loved ones, strangers.

May we, through practicing yoga and therefore better understanding ourselves, see the beauty, majesty and miracle of everything.

Perhaps this is what it means to truly see.






Why I Wake Early

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Sun Salutations

I awake today and sit enjoying the silence of a beautiful morning. Even as I sit, I'm watching the bright morning sun dance its procession around my front room. It is playing with the crystal hung in my eastern window and splattering rainbow prisms across each wall.

Even as I look, the color changes and fades, showing me that the earth is revolving around this sun. Things are changing. As I look out the window the sun is celebrating these early autumn trees with its light, making the yellow leaves explode with color against a cloudless and pale-blue sky. I see a small bird sitting in a shadow who decides to leap up higher and rest in the bright sun's warmth. And then it begins to sing.

Aren't we all like this bird, eager for the creature comforts of warmth on our skin, eager to leave the shadows for the sun and the opportunity to feel life pulsing through our veins, eager to feel how we may reflect that same brightness and joy through our song?

And perhaps this is why in yoga we practice celebrating the sun with Surya Namaskar, or sun salutations. Surya means "sun" and Namaskar means "a deep honoring." You might notice the same root word Namas as the base of the word Namaste, another Sanskrit word meaning to honor the True Nature or heart of hearts, the most sacred element and potential of another. Surya Namaskar is like offering a Namaste to our source, the sun, as it brings life to us and everything on this planet and we're dependent on it for all aspects of our well-being. Sun salutations are also a physical practice, a ritual, for acknowledging and honoring anything else you feel is your source (God, Creation, the Universe, Buddha nature, or whatever). But just as important, this practice reveals that we are part of that source and reflect a bit of that same light within ourselves. By acknowledging this similarity between ourselves and our source we empower ourselves with the memory of our True Nature. We are not dark creatures in a dark world, and where there is shadow, we can choose to leave it for the sun or shine light into it. We are beings of light, filled with life and love. And we are here to celebrate that, to learn from it, and to shine our light everywhere.

Mary Oliver.jpg

Uinta Mountain Yoga Retreat October 5–7, 2018

Mary Oliver says in her poem Why I Wake Early:

Hello, sun in my face.
Hello, you who made the morning
and spread it over the fields
and into the faces of the tulips
and the nodding morning glories,
and into the windows of, even, the
miserable and the crotchety -

best preacher that ever was,
dear star, that just happens
to be where you are in the universe
to keep us from ever-darkness,
to ease us with warm touching,
to hold us in the great hands of light -
good morning, good morning, good morning.

Watch, now, how I start the day
in happiness, in kindness.

Please join me this week as we practice Surya Namaskar and other poses to remind ourselves of this bigger picture. We show gratitude, rekindle our fire, and celebrate our own light.

Scott

Yoga Hawaii.jpeg

Women Protecting Women Online

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I’ve been getting my hair cut from the same woman for something like 25 years. It had been a while since I’d had a cut and recently while she was snipping away at my curls, I asked her if she were dating anyone. She proceeded to tell me a story of the horrors of online dating, specifically the D-bags she was encountering through the online dating world, actions that amount to nothing less than abuse.

Best Yoga Blogs

A while ago, even before the #MeToo Movement, I wrote an article entitled, “What It Means to Be A Man.” I wrote this article because I felt that one of the most important lessons of yoga is to find balance. Despite many advancements in our social culture, there’s still a stark inequality between the rights and abuses of men and women. As a man, I see the need for men to have better role models, better ideals for women and humanity as a whole, and a better and more complete concept of Self, one that is in alignment with the balance of the Universe.

Recently, I was made aware of a great article entitled, “The Empowering Internet Safety Guide for Women,” written by women for women that makes everyone aware of the abuses of women on the internet and gives helpful and actionable steps to protect one’s self from these abuses. It tackles everything from harassment on social media, namely Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and SnapChat, to harassment at work, online dating sexual harassment and more.

I’m including a bit of the article below and hope you’ll click to read the rest of it. I’m an advocate for all people’s equality, including and especially equality for women. Please pass this along. I feel it’s crucial information for today.


Namaste



The Empowering Internet Safety Guide for Women

Have you ever been harassed in the street? Received a crass message on a dating app? Had a coworker make a comment about your appearance that just didn’t sit right?

You’re not alone.

With the #MeToo movement, it’s easy to log onto Twitter or Facebook and see just how many women are victims of sexual harassment. Whether in person or online, women everywhere have experienced it in one way or another. And with all the new ways the internet has opened avenues of communication, online harassment is more prevalent than ever.

According to a study by the Pew Research Center, most online abuse takes place on social media. Although men are also subject to online harassment – which includes name calling, derision, and physical threats – the study found that online, women are more than twice as likely as men to experience sexual harassment.

In addition, more than half of women ages 18-29 report having been sent sexually explicit images without their consent.

This number is only growing, and while 70% of women believe online harassment to be a major problem, not many know how to prevent it.

Women are often targeted simply because they are women. Attacks are often sexualized or misogynistic, and rhetoric tends to focus on their bodies and sexual violence. This is both physically and emotionally damaging, and women are often intimidated into silence, preferring to disengage rather than put themselves at risk.

However, there are ways we can protect ourselves.

This guide was written with the intention of empowering women to navigate the internet without fear. We discuss common occurrences in which women are subject to harassment in their daily lives – on social media, at work, while dating, and more – and give tips and advice on how women can take control.

It is important for us to note that some of the advice given here encourages anonymity, rather than risking being targeted. While this may seem to run counter to the idea of encouraging self-expression, we believe that every woman should be empowered to make that choice for herself.

Our job is to give you the tools you need to do that.

We hope this guide encourages women everywhere to defend and protect themselves, and to stand up to sexual harassment, both on and off the web.

Continue reading . . .

Please share.


20-Hr. Yoga Nidra Immersion

Online or in-person. September 28–30 2018

visualization beach

Valuing Perplexity

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Yoga Nidra Training

We all have problems. We all grapple with the unknown, about the big things like the origin of the Universe, sure, but more specifically about our own complicated life. We all want to solve our problems as quickly and painlessly as possible.


But sometimes it is only by questioning or struggling that we are driven to earnestly understand an otherwise hidden part of ourselves. Sometimes it is working through our struggles that we truly come to understand our full potential. Our questions fuel us to open our hearts, to seek for inspiration, to perform the necessary work, and more profoundly, to abandon our will to the grander wisdom of the Divine, whatever your concept of that is.

We must at once be willing to seek and do. What's most difficult is that we must also be willing to sit comfortably and simply be with what we don't know or understand. And sometimes to get real answers we must be willing to sit in our own darkness for a while.

This human tendency for control occurs regularly in our yoga practice as many of us strive to either know everything there is to know about yoga or try to perfect our poses.

Instead, let us practice this week the yoga principle of Santosha, or contentment, by learning to sit with and even value perplexity, to sit in the not knowing. There is a practice of allowing things to be just the way they are, perfect with our problems, as unseen forces that are working in mysterious ways to evolve your body, mind, and heart. 

The following poem by David Whyte seems to speak directly to learning from the not knowing and leaning into the darkness rather than running from it.

 

Sweet Darkness
by David Whyte
 

20-Hr. Yoga Nidra Training

Virtual or in-Person

September 28–30 2018

When your eyes are tired

the world is tired also.

 

When your vision has gone

no part of the world can find you.

 

Time to go into the dark

where the night has eyes

Meditation for Sleep

to recognize its own.

 

There you can be sure

you are not beyond love.

 

The dark will be your womb 

tonight.

 

The night will give you a horizon

further than you can see.

 

You must learn one thing.

The world was made to be free in.

 

Give up all the other worlds

except the one to which you belong.

 

Sometimes it takes darkness and the sweet

confinement of your aloneness

to learn

 

anything or anyone

that does not bring you alive

 

is too small for you.

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

psych and Eros.gif

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

Beach Paradise Visualization.jpeg

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

Learning My Calling

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Yoga Teachers Workshop

In 2003, I had only been teaching yoga for a few years.

I was a new yoga teacher trying really, really hard to make my living by only teaching yoga. My skills were average, I didn't have many teaching gigs, and the ones I had didn't pay very well. I was in a bind because while I loved teaching yoga, I needed to provide for my family. I had to make a change.

So one evening after class, I announced to my students that sadly, I was going to have to quit this yoga thing and get a "real job."

After class, a student and friend named Cristy, approached me with tears in her eyes and pleaded with me, "you CAN'T quit! You do what you do so I can do what I do. I'm a mom of 4 kids under the age of 5 and I need you to teach yoga." This conversation would change my life. 

True, I needed to start earning a living, but my conversation with Cristy showed me just how important yoga is for people, that the world needs good yoga instruction. Suddenly, I felt as though the world was callingme to teach yoga. And while I didn't even know if one could support themselves on something like teaching yoga, I was going to give it a try. 

So, rather than quitting the yoga thing and finding a different job that would simply pay the bills, I decided to take a risk and go all in with yoga. And bit by bit, I started to get more teaching opportunities. The more I taught, the more skillful I became. It took a while, but eventually I was thrilled to be making a living by teaching yoga.

Norm Nemrow

Norm Nemrow

After a few years of teaching yoga full-time, I had learned those essential tools I needed to help me be a more effective teacher. The better I got at teaching, the more opportunities came my way. Eventually, I had more great-paying teaching opportunities than I could handle and had to give most of them away to other teachers!

It reminds me of something that Norm Nemrow, my favorite business prof in college told me. He gave me his simple formula for success:

Yoga Teachers Workshop

Interest breeds excellence. Excellence breeds opportunities. 

Certainly, I was experiencing the fulfillment of this promise. And all these years later, I'm still at it.

I'll never forget Cristy who reminded me how important yoga can be. I take that very seriously and endeavor to give my all in every class I teach. 

I believe that the world needs good yoga. I feel like teaching yoga is how I do my part to make the world a better place. I believe that when people are skillfully guided to to connect body, mind, and spirit through yoga, they can meet their personal conditions to do what they do to make the world a better place, be that being a mom, lawyer, doctor, Crusty the Clown, or whatever. 

Thank you to all of you who believe in me and have encouraged on this path. I truly love it!

I'm truly passionate about teaching yoga. If you are too, I'd love to continue to make the world a better place by helping other teachers learn what took me so long to learn about how to teach effectively and make a living doing so. 

I'm offering an online Yoga Teachers Workshop this Saturday. I'm doing it online and recording it so you can join from wherever you live and if you can't make the time work for you, you can watch it when is most convenient for you. 

Do you have a calling? Is it also to teach? If so, how did you know you were supposed to teach yoga. If not teaching yoga, how did you know the calling when you did? Leave messages in the comments section below. 

 

Join me for the yoga retreat of a lifetime along Southern Italy's Amalfi Coast May 26-June 2 2018.

3 Special Yogic Techniques for a HOT Valentine’s

Scott Moore Yoga

Ayurveda is the sister-science of yoga, a discipline that promotes wholeness through self-observation and therapeutics such as diet, daily practices like meditation, herbal medicines, and Ayurvedic treatments.

The following is a fun recipe for a holistic Ayurveda Valentine’s experience which combines partner Abhyanga massage (an oil massage), The Heart Meditation, and a relaxing I Love You bath. Not only will this mélange of therapies wildly benefit your individual and collective body, mind, and spirit, but it’s also an inexpensive Valentine’s idea that will powerfully ignite your passion and prove to be downright sexy.

Plan on spending at least an hour for this event

Step 1: Get the Stuff You’ll Need

  • 4-5 towels and a washcloth you don’t mind getting oily

  • A space heater or method to warm up the bathroom to a comfortable temperature

  • Abhyanga oil. Try getting 12-16 oz. of organic sesame oil, the purer the better. Pure olive oil or safflower oil are good too but sesame is the best. Avoid coconut oil—according to Ayurvedic prescriptions, it’s not the right oil for the winter time for most body types

  • 40 pieces (minimum) of small paper notes, preferably cut into hearts

  • 2 pillows or meditation cushions

  • A timer—a kitchen timer or your phone works great but if you’re using your phone, make sure the ringer is off

  • Optional: tea lights if you like the candle-lit vibe

  • Optional: essential oils like lavender (calming), rosewood (passionate), ylang ylang (energizing), or sandalwood (grounding heart), to lightly sent your Abhyanga oil and perhaps bathwater

 

Surprise your Valentine with a luxury yoga retreat to the Tuscany!

Step 2: Make the Preparations

  • Start by warming the bathroom, especially if this will take a several minutes

  • While the bathroom is warming, write your I Love Yous on the small pieces of paper. To do this, keep half of the small papers and give half to your partner. Each of you will spend a few minutes and write on each paper one phrase starting with, “I love_______” and fill in the blank. Several examples might be, “I love the way you smell,” “I love to wake up next to you,” “I love how nurturing you are to our children,” “I love to feel your kisses on my neck” “I love it when you (fill in intimate details here) me,” etc. Remember to make them personal and specific. They can be fun, silly, emotional, intimate, or sexy. One phrase per paper. Once you’ve both filled out your papers, don’t show them to your partner yet. Place them in individual envelopes and put them near the tub where they won’t get oily or wet

  • If you’d like to use essential oils in your I Love You Bath, keep your oil near the bathtub for later

  • Place one or two towels in the empty bathtub and one or two towels on the floor over the meditation cushions or pillows

  • Prepare your Abhyanga oil (the sesame oil) by gently warming it on the stove. Use the entire jar. Don’t let it get too hot, you don’t want to cook it. You may wish to add a few drops of essential oils to scent it. Once warm, put the Abhyanga oil into a bowl and put it in the bathroom

 

Step 3: The Abhyanga Massage

Sesame Oil

Abhyanga is a full-body oil massage that can be done by yourself or by a therapist or in this case, your Valentine’s Day partner. This luxurious treatment has extensive benefits ranging from calming the nervous system, lubricating the soft tissues of the body, and creating an auric protection for you and your partner’s energy both individually and collectively. Couple’s Abhyanga will also create an emotional and energetic bond and serve to heal emotional wounds or to further strengthen the heart connection and passion between you.

To perform couple’s Abhyanga, you and your partner will remove your clothing and step into the empty bathtub onto one or two towels in the bottom of the empty bathtub to prevent slipping and to absorb the oil from going down the drain and potentially clogging it.

Bring your warmed (but not hot) oil with you. Now begin to dip your hands into the oil and each of you will simultaneously massage the oil slowly onto your partner’s body. It’s important to cover every surface of your partner’s body completely but be careful not to get the oil into your partner’s eyes, especially if you have used essential oils. Without too much oil on your hands, massage your partner’s scalp. Oiling the hair is itself an excellent treatment, but if you don’t want to get your hair too oily, don’t rub too much oil through the hair. The Abhyanga process should take several minutes. This will get . . . hot.

When you feel finished with the massage, either wrap a towel around you or remain naked, but exit the tub and sit on the towels you’ve placed on the bathroom floor over the meditation cushions or pillows. It’s important to allow additional time for the oil from the Abhyanga to continue to absorb into your skin, so you’re going to be an oily mess for a few minutes. Just enjoy it. Make sure the temperature in the bathroom is warm—nothing puts you out of balance and kills the mood like the cold.

 

Step 4: Prepare for the Heart Meditation and I Love You Bath

Remove the towel(s) from the bottom of the bathtub and begin to fill it with warm water. Remember to remove or unplug the space heater if it’s still on. Space heaters and water don’t mix. Even the magic of Ayurveda can’t heal electrocution! You want your bath water temperature to be very warm but not quite piping-hot. While the tub is filling, (apply essential oils to the water if desired), you may continue massaging each other. Since you’ve got a few minutes, try telling each other one of your favorite memories you have with your parter, or tell them how you fell in love with them. Once the bath is full, turn off the water and, sit (you’re still oily) on the towels covering meditation cushions or pillows and begin the Heart Meditation.

 

Step 5: The Heart Meditation

The Heart Meditation is a breathing, meditation, and energy practice designed to use tantric techniques to bring you and your partner closer together and strengthen and celebrate your heart-connection. Set a timer for 5 or 10 minutes. Then, begin gazing directly into each other’s eyes and maintain this gaze throughout the entire Heart Meditation. Attempt to keep unbroken eye contact during the entire meditation.

Begin the timer and establish eye contact with your partner and attempt to keep this gaze for the entire duration of the Heart Meditation. It’s incredible how quickly this will build intimacy. While gazing, begin to breathe slowly and deeply and match the breath pattern of your partner. Use ujjayi breath if possible. This tandem breath will cultivate your individual and shared heart energy.

As you inhale, relax and visualize your breath moving in through your nostrils, past your heart, and down into your open pelvis. As you exhale, contract mula bandha (the muscular floor of the pelvis) and visualize your breath moving back up, past your heart, and out the top of your head. This process will start your personal energy to flow through your chakras and illuminate Anahata, your heart chakra. Both on the inhale and the exhale, visualize your breath passing by your heart and picture your heart swelling and becoming more sensitive, able to give and receive feelings and love with each pass of the breath.

After a minute or so, begin to pay keen attention to your partner’s breath. Maintain eye contact. After several breath cycles, reach your heart energy outward toward the heart energy of your partner by visualizing a column of light or color connecting your two hearts. Picture this column strengthening and increasing intensity with each breath (again, this will really turn on the heart). Try to feel into the heart of your partner until you feel as if your hearts are one heart, breathing and beating together. Don’t be surprised if while you do this a range of emotions emerges, anything from laughter and silliness to caring and compassion and perhaps deep desire and passion. When the timer has rung, kiss your partner and bow to each other with “Namaste,” meaning I honor the divine light which we both share.

Tip: During the Heart Meditation, keep the tip of your tongue touching the roof of your mouth with your jaw soft. It sounds weird but this technique is one of the secret tantric techniques of yoga to establish a profound energy flow all the way through your energy channels, first for yourself then to connect deeper to the shared energy of you and your partner. Also, to maintain this heart-connection during love making or while making out, keeping your steady ujjayi breath moving, visualize directing vital energy into your pelvis and heart. Then touch the tip of your tongue to your partners and feel the shared energy moving through you. This process creates the oneness of truly blissful, transformational love making.

 

Step 6: The I Love You Bath

http://www.eligiblemagazine.com/2016/04/24/taking-sacred-couples-bath-can-improve-appreciation-relationship/

http://www.eligiblemagazine.com/2016/04/24/taking-sacred-couples-bath-can-improve-appreciation-relationship/

After the Heart Meditation, remove your towels if you’re wearing them and slip into the filled bathtub. This will allow the excess oil from your Abhyanga massage to dissipate and warm you up again if you got cold during The Heart Meditation.

While you’re soaking, grab your envelopes with your little papers of I Love Yous. Take turns reading all the things that you love about your partner. Read them out loud to your partner so you’re telling them what you love about them. Soak for as long as you like. Avoid using soap to wash away the oil. Instead, use a washcloth to wipe away excess oil. The point of Abhyanga is to absorb as much oil as much as possible through your skin. Much of the oil will dissipate into the bath and will eventually wash down the drain. After the bath, pat yourself dry using a towel you don’t mind getting oily and trying to keep a thin layer of oil on you.

 

Step 7: Finish

Finally, hop into bed for a cozy, romantic remainder of your evening.

Do you have any good ideas for a yoga Valentine's Day? Write them in the comment section below. 

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