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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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

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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.

Unique Tunings for Guitars

The Sound of Heaven

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Joni Mitchel.JPG

I play the sax, but the sound of the guitar does something profound to me. Guitars are a heavenly instruments because they rest against the chest, vibrate the heart, and teach us something profound about the resonance within all of us.

Earlier this year I was in a sacred ceremony where I was transported into a vision that will haunt me for the rest of my life. In the vision I was stabbed through the heart and Seneca, my wife, ushered me through the veil of dreams, first with pain and tears of loss, and then with ineffable joy as I reached a world of unspeakable beauty. Welcoming me into this eternal world of white was my 3-year old son Elio, but as an adult, playing me the most holy, beautiful, and intricate refrain on a guitar, his fingers blurring up and down its neck, his face in sacred concentration. The sounds of his guitar filled my heart with an indescribable rapture as tears streamed down my face for hours. I believe I will continue to hear and feel that sound for the rest of my life.

And no, he was not playing Stairway To Heaven.

Heart Strings

Some of the people I love most play guitar. One of them is my friend Megan. She’s happy, generous, and has a boisterous laugh that is positively infectious. Megan invites me and my family to stay with her when we are in Salt Lake City cuz she loves us, has the room, and understands our brand of crazy. She even smiles when Elio and her dog Javier—best friends, our man-pup and her canine-pup— chase each other through the house, barking, screaming, and working themselves into a blissful lather. Megan is the kind of person who knows how you like your coffee and has it waiting for you, hot and steaming on the kitchen counter when you wake up. Recently, when I arrived at Megan’s house to stay a few weeks while we figured out our move to France, she met me with a warm hug and a sincere, “Welcome home.”

The best room in Megan’s house is her living room. Built of warm wood and stone, it’s adorned principally with several hand-crafted guitars hanging on the wall or resting on floor stands, guitars that are meant to me handled and played. A defining moment in Megan’s life was when she was 12 years old and bought her first guitar from Acoustic Music in Salt Lake City. For the next 40 years, playing and collecting guitars would become her passion. At Megan’s house, it’s not uncommon after dinner for the party to move into the living room for an impromptu concert from Megan and anybody else who plays the guitar (which seems to be most of her friends), concerts which often stretch long into the night. And joining in the mix of musicians you might see Elio’s curious toddler fingers plucking a guitar or strumming a ukulele and pitching his little voice to the chorus.

Tuning

If I didn’t know better, I’d say that there are ghosts in Megan’s living room. That’s because a guitar is tuned at a particular frequency so that every time you strike an E string, for example, you get the same sound. And when I play my sax alone in that living room, surrounded by all those guitars, something other-wordly happens: I’ll pull my sax out of my mouth and hear a low hum of the note I just played coming from the guitars. It’s almost like there’s an invisible person in the room playing along. This phenomenon happens because when the strings on those guitars hear something vibrating at the same frequency in which they are tuned, when they hear someone singing their song, they automatically vibrate in tandem. They can’t help but sing along. This phenomenon is called sympathetic vibration.

We are all tuned in such a way that we come alive when we feel or hear or see something that is tuned like we are. We might resonate with a lover, a friend, or an idea. Certainly when Seneca sent me a text saying, “Hey want to go live in France for a while?” it resonated with me perfectly, so I harmonized with that question to the sound of, “Hell yes!” Have you ever been stuck at a crossroads, negotiating the many loud voices about which way to go, and a soft hum of truth vibrates somewhere deep inside of you and lets you know which way is right for you? That’s sympathetic vibration.

Maybe sympathetic vibration is why our family fell in love with Megan. Maybe sympathetic vibration is why after 40+ years it was most natural for Megan to buy not just another guitar from Acoustic Music, but the entire business. And maybe sympathetic vibration is why her store attracts so many big hearts to come inside with their need to play their 3 chords and the truth. Just listen to this left-handed guitar player, a vet who strolled in and sat down to play an original tune about healing from the war of feeling separate from one another. (Check out the video of him playing here), it’s haunting and beautiful.

If you’re tuned in a similar way, I invite you to go to Acoustic Music and sing your song. While you’re there, check out the wall o’ ukuleles and the homage to Joni Mitchell in the room with all the fancy guitars. Or just drop by to feel Megan’s generosity and to be surrounded by all those stunning guitars, those ghosts hanging on the walls.

Learning to Hear

Whether it’s guitars or something else, whatever rings true to you, learn to recognize those vibrations, know that sound.

I believe that yoga and meditation is about listening to how we are tuned. They are mechanisms that help us reduce the excess noise inherent in a busy life. As we listen, we start to vibrate in tandem with our deepest nature, and our most divine qualities will likely sing to the tone of patience, compassion, and love, because that’s how we are all tuned. Yoga and meditation are simply listening stations where we can hear the spirit our True Nature ring.

It is my personal practice to hear those things that resonate deep within me and to bravely organize my life to sing along.

One thing that vibrates like a ghost note inside of me is the inclination that someday I’ll buy Elio a guitar from Acoustic Music, that as he grows he’ll learn to play that guitar like a god, and that someday his music will guide me like a stairway to heaven.





Finally, A Yoga Nidra Training Online!

Below, I’m offering two different online Yoga Nidra offerings:

  • 20-hr. Online Yoga Nidra Teacher Training

  • Online Yoga Nidra Course called Sourcing Your True Power.


20-hr. Online Yoga Nidra Teacher Training

This essential training is designed for those who wish experience the unparalleled magnificence of their True Self through Yoga Nidra, to deepen their knowledge of the practice Yoga Nidra by learning its philosophy, and learn to teach it in a way that is powerful and authentic.

This training is a fascinating journey into Self that also gives you the tools to help others also discover themSelves. This is an engaging, fun, and in-depth look at all things Yoga Nidra.

I’ve received some great feedback lately about the fact that this training is not only such high quality, but that is also affordable, accessible, and can be done on your own timeline. I believe the world needs more Yoga Nidra. I believe you’re the one to offer it, in your voice, with authenticity and authority!

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

This could be the most important work you do in a great long time. And you can do the course at whatever timeline works for you!

My teaching style uses tools like knowledge of the koshas, a skillful counterpoint of opposites, and evoking deep relaxation to illuminate one’s True Self. This knowledge and experience will help you live your life more fully, with greater compassion, and with deep purpose.

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

Some of the topics we will cover

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

  • Myths and Chants

  • Yoga Nidra for Healing/Trauma/Stress

  • Yoga Nidra for Performance

  • The Power of Visualizations

  • Subtle Body Study and Practice

  • Chakras

  • Koshas

  • Pranayama

  • Incorporating Yoga Nidra into Asana Classes and Restore Yoga

  • Mindfulness

  • Effective Teaching Methods

  • Role as Teacher

  • Self Practice

  • Group Teaching

  • One-on-one Teaching

Upon completion of this immersion you’ll receive:

Online Yoga Nidra Teacher Training
  • A deeper understanding of Self through Yoga Nidra

  • A course full of profound relaxation

  • A full audio/video recording of the training to accomplish whenever you wish

  • Several Yoga Nidra scripts to use

  • Yoga Immersion PDF workbook

  • A certificate of completion (upon completion)

  • Yoga Alliance Continuing Education Credit (if needed) You’ll get 20 non-contact hours.

This training is the recording of a live immersion I taught. You’ll receive the audio and video recordings as well as a very helpful 23-page PDF manual that includes Yoga Nidra word scripts, hyperlinks to other resources, chants, etc.

During your self-learning process, I’m honored to answer any questions you might have and can even arrange a personal consultation regarding your teaching or about how to make Yoga Nidra a viable part of your Yoga Community.

Thank you for your interest in this training. I loved putting it together and I hope you love it as much as I do.

Register by clicking the button below

I offer a money-back guarantee. If this isn’t what you hoped it would be, I’ll return your money without questions.

Once you register and purchase this course, you’ll receive the link to download the information. You will need to be able to access Dropbox.

What is Yoga Nidra?

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

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

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

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

Personally, I discovered Yoga Nidra in 2004 and have had the privilege of learning this important practice from some of the worlds leading Yoga Nidra experts. I’ve spent the last 10 years mastering the art of teaching of Yoga Nidra and I’ve been privileged to work with literally 20s of thousands of students worldwide through live classes, recordings, workshops, webinars, lectures, and online courses.

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



Online Yoga Nidra Course: Sourcing Your True Power

Online Yoga Nidra Training

This course is designed for anyone interested in deepening their knowledge of Yoga Nidra. It’s perfect for students and teachers alike and is a marvelous personal journey into the depths of your True Self.

What the hell is Yoga Ninja? Well, it's Yoga Nidra and it's the best yoga you'll ever try. Seriously!

I've been practicing and teaching Yoga Nidra for the past decade and I built an Yoga Nidra Training online course called Sourcing Your True Power and I believe it will change your life. The idea is that when you tap into your True Self, your Source, everything else in your life is derivative to that therefore everything in your life will become supercharged.

If you've never done it, Yoga Nidra feels like a guided meditation. It's very relaxing and it will teach you more about yourself than any other practice I can think of. To me, it feels like the fast track to eliminating stress while also experiencing spiritual awakening. 

Yoga means to yoke all the different parts of yourself in order to experience a oneness with all beings. This might sound lofty but I'd argue that we've all experienced this already but we've just called it something different.

Nidra refers to a state of mind, like a daydream where you're in that liminal place between dreaming and waking consciousness. We access this experience of Oneness by getting very relaxed and paying attention. 

In this online Yoga Nidra course, you get a complete digital library with dozens of hours of audio recordings of Yoga Nidra practices, gentle yoga videos, articles, interviews, poetry, chants, discussions, and more--all focused on taking you through this soul journey of Yoga Nidra.

The Yoga Nidra Training Online Basic Information:

  • Certificate of completion

  • 6 content-rich learning modules to do on YOUR timetable

  • Dozens of hours of audio recording, discussions, chants, lectures, videos, podcasts, etc.

  • All the recordings are yours to keep, repeat as often as you like for continued growth

  • Connect to other students via social media groups

  • Go at your own pace, at a time that works for YOU

  • Money back guarantee

“I had started experiencing anxiety for the first time in my life four months ago, and it was intense to say the least. I stumbled into Scott’s Yoga Nidra course and immediately I felt nurtured. The kind of nurturing a disoriented anxious person craves. I am so happy I signed up for this course, I cannot tell you how significantly my life has changed from this newfound practice. I felt change even after the first time I gave this new practice a go, I felt inspired and supported. Since, I have used this meditation anytime I start to fall into a funk because it reminds me that I am strong and capable. This practice has also helped me slow down and feel grounded in the everyday bustle that once felt impossible to face. I trust myself more than ever. I am addicted! ”

— K. S.

One result of practicing Yoga Nidra is that it can help you understand what YOUR gifts are in this world and how to share them. Yoga Nidra is experiencing the TRUEST form of YOURSELF. Most poignantly, Yoga Nidra is about connecting to Source and therefore your ultimate power.

Some of the most profound experiences I've had have been the direct result of Yoga Nidra. I've learned more about myself, Yoga, and the beautifully complex Universe we all live in through Yoga Nidra, more than any other practice. I've spent almost a decade not only learning about this practice but mastering the art of teaching it. I've discovered several things along the way and I have created this course to offer some of the same insight to you as you make your own way through your journey of Self-discovery.

Benefits of this Yoga Nidra Course 

This practice is about connecting you to your Source. When you have such a connection, you can do anything. Through practicing Yoga Nidra with this course, you will:

  • Recognize and SOURCE YOUR POWER to accomplish anything

  • Recognize and eliminate self-limiting beliefs

  • Experience profound relaxation

  • Reduce anxiety

  • Heal from physical, emotional, or mental trauma

  • Grow spiritually as you understand yourself and your place in the Universe

  • Understand your innate gifts for this world and how to share them with the world

  • Connect with and become conscious of your deep inner-wisdom

  • Become mentally sharper and more focused

  • Become more tolerant and compassionate for those around you

  • Become more tolerated by those around you!

  • Become a better family member, better at your job, and better community member

  • and much more . . .

“Listening to Scott’s voice in the Yoga Nidra course is like laying on the beach and hearing the waves ebb and flow. In the buzz of today’s busy life, Yoga Nidra is like an island of calm. I feel so relaxed and centered afterwards. Of course, my rational mind also wants everything explained, and Scott does that too. He truly has a way with words that makes each concept clear and understandable. . . Scott’s Yoga Nidra course is a good way to de-stress and get energized for what lies ahead. I highly recommend it.”

— L.W.F.

Modules:

  1. Beginnings

  2. Understanding Self and the Problems with Identification

  3. Moving Past the Rational Mind: Don't Think Everything You Believe

  4. Duality vs. Non-Duality: Ganesh Is My Homeboy

  5. Limiters

  6. "That's All Good But . . . " How to Apply Yoga Nidra to Your Daily Life

Here's how this course works:

When the course begins, you'll receive a password that gives you access to the 6 learning modules. Then, on your timetable, you may read, listen to, download, and watch this incredible, life-changing content. This is your rich library of source material to help you along your journey of Self-discovery.

At the heart of each module is a unique Yoga Nidra practice (20-30 minutes), specific to the topic and designed to help you evolve through a sequential learning about yourself.  You can either stream the recording from your computer or smartphone or download it to listen to later and create an audio library. If you're not very tech savvy, don't worry. Included is a simple tutorial about how to download the materials and play it on your computer, smartphone, tablet, etc. through programs like iTunes and Dropbox.

Each module will also have a discussion about its topic. You can listen to and/or read the discussion. If the discussion and Yoga Nidra practice weren't enough, each module is also packed with supportive content, including yoga videos,  stories, myths, chants, breathing exercises, links, podcasts, videos, and several other additional resources.

One of the greatest benefits of this course is that there is no time limit to complete the modules!

You can always go back, skip around, stay on the same module for a while, it's up to you. All the materials are yours to keep. Each modules are designed to lead you deeper and deeper into the knowledge and practice of yourself through Yoga Nidra, however, you don't have to follow them sequentially. We'll be moving together as a group but you can take all the time you need or come back and review the material you really love.

Again, at the end of the course you'll have a rich library of materials that you'll want to reference for years to come.

What if I'm terrible at yoga?

No worries! Yoga Nidra can be done by ANYBODY. Plus, the movement style of yoga (asana) that we do before the guided Yoga Nidra will be gentle enough to accommodate for all kinds of ability levels, strengths, limitations, etc. Also, you can always skip the movement portion of the module. That's the benefit of this kind of learning environment! Literally anybody can do this! All you have to do is lie down, close your eyes, and relax. I'll lead you through the entire practice.

What if I get so relaxed, I fall asleep?

If you fall asleep, MISSION ACCOMPLISHED! Seriously, the part of you that is listening to Yoga Nidra is deeper than your conscious mind so the practice still works, even if you're asleep. It's nice to try to stay awake so that you can remember what we did but if you don't it still works! Plus, you have the recordings archived so you can re-listen to them whenever you want.


Price

I'm offering this course for only

$129

I'm so confident you'll love this that I offer a 100%, no-questions, money-back guarantee. 

 

Thank you! and Namaste.

Scott


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:

Online Yoga Nidra Teacher Training

Be a qualified Yoga Nidra Teacher

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