The Poison That Makes Us Holy

Happy Monday! I hope your week is starting off marvelously.

Scott Moore Yoga

This morning I dropped Elio off from school and then decided to walk around a bit to record the audio of this post. Ultimately, I decided not to use that recording because there was too much traffic and it was too distracting so I re-recorded this and I think that is better.

Elio is getting used to his new school and is still having a little bit of a problem using the bathroom by himself so some mornings, like this morning, I drop him off at school, go to the gym or do some work at a cafe, then head back to school to encourage him to use the bathroom.

As I was walking around this morning, not far from Elio’s school, there is a beautiful, modern cathedral here in Nice. It’s got a very unique, rounded architecture and it’s gleaming while. This cathedral is dedicated to the Saint of Joan of Arc.

Joan of Arc
Joan of Arc Cathedral

If you don’t remember the story of Joan of Arc, she was a peasant girl in the 1400s who as a teenager received a revelation from God that she was supposed to lead the French army against the English and the Burgundians, a French dynasty who were at the time in league with the English and who today produce lovely wines— but that’s neither here nor there.

So against all rationale, the prince Charles of Valois agreed to allow Joan of Arc to lead the army. She did. They won. She was lauded and revered. Unfortunately, about a year later, she was captured by the English and the Burgundians and was burned at the stake as a heretic. She’s been held as someone very special to the spirit of France and it wasn’t until the 1920s that she was actually canonized and considered a saint and this church is dedicated to her.

I’m so happy that I walked by this church because it relates to the myth I want to tell today:

Today, I want to tell my rendition of the ancient Hindu myth about the Asuras and the Devas.

Long ago, in time out of mind, there were two groups of beings, the Asuras and the Devas. There couldn’t be a different sort of people. The asuras were earthly people, thought mostly of themselves, were a bit selfish. They probably loved Nascar, ate pork rinds, and didn’t recycle. The Devas on the other hand were beings that were very heavenly and always thinking of their inner divine nature. I imagine them dressed in gossamer white clothing, subsisting on tofu and vegetable broth, meditating for several hours a day, and leaving behind a faint smell of patchouli or incense whenever they left a room.

Well, those two kinds of being were about as opposite as you could imagine but they both wanted one thing and that was Soma. Soma was the elixur of eternal life. The Asuras wanted it because it felt so good to be eternal and the Devas wanted it so they could further devote themselves to the Divine. Now, the only way to get Soma was to ask Vishnu and if on the off chance that he granted you to have it, he would allow Lakshmi, the goddess of fortune and gifts to bestow it upon you.

So united in this common desire, the Asuras and the Devas got together and timidly asked Vishnu if they could have some Soma. He agreed but told them what they must do to get it. He was going to lend them his Sesha, Vishnu’s giant snake. They were to wrap this snake around a mountain which was to rest atop the giant tortoise Korma. If you’ve ever done Kormasana in yoga class, this is where that gets its name. Once the snake was wrapped around the mountain and placed on top of the Korma’s shell, they were to pull back and forth and oscillate it enough that they should somehow get the Soma. Grateful, the Asuras and the Devas agreed and began their task.

Joan of Arc Cathedral

The Devas being smarter than the Asuras opted to take the relatively benign tail of the snake, which had but four ends which some Sanskrit scholars say relate to the 4 bases of DNA structure, something that the ancients discovered long before Watson, Crick, both of whom studied the work of their colleague Franklin. The Asuras therefore received the head end of the sesha and were blasted by countless heads of a snake, each one shooting fiery blasts like a dragon.

The Asuras and the Devas began to pull on the sesha with all of their might and in their lust for Soma, they started to pull so hard that the sesha, as strong and divine as a character as he may be, became nonetheless very ill and began to vomit venomous bile which started to cover and poison the entire earth. Seeing the problem, the Asuras and Devas stopped their movement and decided that something must be done before the entire earth is engulfed with this poison.

They weren’t about to go back to Vishnu. He was kind enough to let them have the chance to get Soma in the first place. They didn’t want to return to Vishnu and tell him how in their blind lust for Soma, they made his snake sick and now the entire earth was starting to be covered in poisonous puke. Instead, they importuned Shiva. They asked him if he could help them out.

Mahadev Shiva

Siva surveyed the situation and gathered up all of the bile and drank it, neither swallowing it to digest it nor spitting it back up. Siva held it in his throat and sanctified it, turning his throat blue.

Saved, the Asuras and the Devas continued their task, this time taking great care to have a balance between steadiness and ease. After they developed a good rhythm, eventually the sea began to boil and riches started popping up out of the ocean. Soma was about to come at any minute.

Vishnu decided to give them one last temptation to see if they were worthy of the Soma and he sent a temptations out to see if the Asuras and Devas really had purity in their hearts to receive the Soma. I imagine Vishnu sending onto the beach a bunch of speedo and bikini-clad partiers, barbecues wafting the smell of rib-eye steaks, not to mention volleyball nets, beers, and music. To the Devas he sent over all the unicorn amulets, treasure troves of yoga pants, sensible shoes, and all organic produce that a healthy, spiritual person could ever want.

Well, despite all of their efforts to get to that moment, the Asuras caved and headed to the beach for beers and babes. The Devas stayed and soon Lakshmi gave them each a single drop of Soma which turned them into immortal beings like angels.

I love myths like that because we can interpret them in many ways. They speak to a truth that is large enough mean something different fo whomever hears it, regardless of spiritual orientation, practice, discipline, or period of life.

I love the idea in this myth about the balance of steadiness and ease. In the Yoga Sutras, the book where we get a lot of the philosophy of yoga from, there are really very few instructions for how we are to practice yoga, the physical practice. It does say, however that no matter what, you’ve got to find the balance between steadiness and ease. Whatever your physical, spiritual, and I would even say political practice might be, this story illustrations the value of balance. What’s more is how when you’re trying to improve your situation but approach your improvement with a fundamental lack of balance, how that can make things worse off than they were before.

And when things are bad, and even when they seem like they are going to poison the entire world, like the snake’s venomous puke, that somehow the Divine can help you hold that in such a way as to sanctify it

You’ve probably heard me mention this more times than you can count but it is a truth that has become imperative to my own personal spiritual evolution, and that is Leonard Cohen’s lyric from his song Anthem that says, 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. This says that just like the poison of whatever may befall us, we become sanctified, the light gets in, when we learn to hold our imperfections. That it’s because of these faults, this brokenness, this poison, that we are rendered holy.

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It makes me think of our situation with Elio, learning to use the bathroom by himself at school. How he is struggling being the only kid at school who doesn’t speak French and how he is learning to have more independence and things and how we are the unique family at school because we don’t quite understand exactly how things work yet, at least not like the other French families. But how me going back to school is strengthening him and teaching him and how it gives me an opportunity to build a rapport with the directorice of the school and talk with his teachers regularly. This is building a special relationship between our family and the school.

It also makes me think about Joan of Arc and how she was killed for fundamentally backward, misogynist, and in my mind evil reasons, but how her spirit has endured and how she’s given hope and courage to countless French people and how she was like the original Wonder Woman in some ways and that she’s become a divine symbol which celebrates a woman’s power, intuition, and spirit and which is so strong that it’s still celebrated 600 years later.

I hope you enjoyed the myth. I’d love to hear about what you heard in this myth.

I hope that you can find ways in your life to celebrate balance in all of your practices. I hope that you’ll be able to find the divinity in the challenges that beset you and see how that all of our challenges are making us into the greater angels of our True Nature.

I hope you have a great week. Please stay tuned for some Yoga Nidra offerings I am going to announce coming up.


Whatever You Believe In, Practice It Every Day.

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So, you may have heard me tell this story before but several years ago, I was leading myself through a deep Yoga Nidra meditation. My aim for this meditation was to channel the wise person that resides within my own heart to see what kind of message my own inner wise person would give me. I got very relaxed and went deep. Really deep.

30-day Meditation Challenge

I tried to think of the wisest person I knew immediately an image of one of my favorite professors from college jumped into my mind. In this vision, completely of my own imagination, I was sitting in his office and asking him for some guidance. In my mind, I could see the tawny grain of the wood of his desk. I could hear the soft buzz of the fluorescent lights above muted slightly by the plaintive squeak of his office chair as leaned back to think to survey the ceiling. He stroked his beard as he thought about what to say to me. Then, he looked at me slyly with a sideways glance and said something I’ll never forget. He said, “Whatever you believe in, practice it every day,” and then simply nodded.

“Whatever you believe in, practice it every day!” That revelation hit me like a ton of Norton Anthology of Poetry books. It was my own inner-wisdom reminding me of the importance of a daily practice

30-Day Meditation Challenge

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If the wise person inside of you also values a daily practice, if meditation is something you believe in or are at least curious about, and if you want to explore what happens when you make meditation a daily practice, I invite you to register for my 30-Day Meditation challenge. It begins September 1st and runs for 30 days. It’s going to be fun and easy. All you do is meditate for 15 minutes a day, every day for 30 days. You’ll start to notice right away how you become more mindful, more calm, less provoked, and less reactive. Everyone you live with and work with will wonder what has happened to you.

Once you register for the challenge, you’ll start to receive emails that will support you with information, guidance, and encouragement about making meditation a regular practice for the month of September. You can do this challenge wherever you live in the world. You can meditate at any time of day that works best for you, and choose any style of meditation that suits you. I’ll give you several options that you can choose from if you’re newer to meditation

This costs $30 and if you complete all 30 days you can even have the option to receive your tuition back.

Tell your friends that you’ll be doing this to help keep you accountable and even invite them to join you because there’s nothing like mindfulness to bind a friendship together.

This thing starts Sunday, September 1st so sign up now and start your meditation practice now.

If you’re in NYC, I’ll be coming to town the first week of September and offering two amazing workshops. The first will be a Yoga Nidra for Happiness workshop at Pure Yoga West on Wednesday, September 4th from 6:30–9 pm. We will explore through poses, discussion, and Yoga Nidra the happiness that exists always within you despite events and circumstances. I’m really excited to offering a workshop at my old studio and hope you join me if you live in NYC. Also, I’ll be co-hosting a Yoga Nidra and Freeing breathwork workshop with an amazing teacher Tiffany Curren at Nirvana Yoga and Wellness in Wayne, New Jersey the next day on Thursday, September 5th from 6:30–9 pm. I’m really excited to work with Tiffany and this will be an incredible offering. If you live in the area, I’d love to see you at one or both of these events. I’m not sure when I’ll be back to this area.

Thanks for considering all of these offerings. Please forward this email by pressing the share link either below in the email or the Facebook share and like button near the top of the page if you’re listening to this email via my blog.

Hey, thanks again for being you and everything you do

And most of all, thanks for pickin’ up what I’m puttin’ down.


My Heart Was Full

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Yoga Nidra

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Yoga Nidra is better than drugs. If you don’t know, it’s a guided meditation where you lie down and get extremely relaxed, and drift into that in-between state of consciousness to actually become very aware. As you listen to me lead you through the practice, you gain a beautiful and broad perspective about life, problems, and the simple joy of being awake to the beauties of this world. I’ve been studying and practicing Yoga Nidra for over a decade and anymore when I do Yoga Nidra I am led through the very same process of keen awareness as I am facilitating for my students.

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So, one evening when I lived in New York, I had just finished a particularly beautiful and heart opening Yoga Nidra practice. I was teaching at Pure Yoga in Manhattan and as I was walking down Amsterdam Avenue to go and catch the red line back home to Brooklyn. And because of this Yoga Nidra practice that I’d just taught and simultaneously experienced, my entire being felt an absolute surge of well-being and love— I was absolutely brimming with joy. At that moment, it felt as if my eyes suddenly had a super-human focus, like I could see more than 77 blocks down Amsterdam Ave, all the way to the Hudson and that they could see every detail, from the birds landing on the light posts to the dirt in the gutter and all of it felt somehow like an expression of love. I floated down the street with a smile on my face feeling like nothing could ever be so perfect. As I passed people on the street, everyone from the homeless guy to the stressed out business guy, it felt like I could feel into everyone’s heart and could feel everyone’s inherent goodness. Experiences like this are not rare in Yoga Nidra and they are one of the simple reasons that I love this practice so much.

My Heart Was Full


It reminds me of a story that one of my favorite profs in college told me. His name was Leslie Norris and he was an old, wise, and brilliant poet. He knew the Romantic poets so well he could talk about them like they were his neighbors. By the way, if you’re curious what an English major does for a living, this is it. So, in this real-life story, poet William Wordsworth is feeling a lot of pressure from his guardians. His parents have died, as he is emerging into adulthood, he will soon be in charge of taking care of himself and his sister. All he wants to do in life is to write poetry but that doesn’t pay the bills so he’s receiving a lot of pressure to join the clergy instead. Well, one morning he’s walking home in the early twilight through the hills and grasslands near the sea. The landscape is blowing his mind, totally gorgeous, and his senses are completely alive. He’s about ready to burst from joy. And in that moment of intense beauty he gets a revelation from the powers that be that poetry was what he is meant to do in life. He clearly understood that the Universe was telling him loud and clear that poetry was his path. And from that moment forward never looked back. He went on to be, well, William Wordsworth, the Michael Jordan of the Romantic poets. The poem goes like this, it’s from his magnum opus The Prelude.

Leslie Norris

Leslie Norris

Magnificent

William Wordsworth

The morning was, a memorable pomp,

More glorious than I ever had beheld.

The sea was laughing at a distance; all

The solid mountains were as bright as clouds,

Grain-tinctured, drenched in empyrean light;

And in the meadows and the lower grounds

Was all sweetness of a common dawn –

Dews, vapours, and the melody of birds,

And labourers going forth into the fields.

Ah, need I say, dear friend, that to the brim

My heart was full? I made no vows, but vows

Were then made for me: bond unknown to me

Was given, that I should be – else sinning greatly –

A dedicated spirit. On I walked

In blessedness, which even yet remains.



Expert from Prelude by William Wordsworth


All that to say, that on that day after teaching Yoga Nidra, as I was walking down Amsterdam Ave totally brimming with life’s fullness, I had a Wordsworth moment. I felt that this practice of sharing Yoga Nidra with the world is the way in which the Universe has blessed me to feel Universal love and the way in which I get to share it back to the Universe and that it was a responsibility to share it lest I be “sinning greatly.”

Yoga Nidra Training

So I have the privilege, and frankly the responsibility, to share Yoga Nidra. It’s totally my jam and I love it. I’ll be sharing it tonight at a Yoga Nidra class at 21st Yoga and for those who want to really go deep, I’m so thrilled to be spending 20 hours teaching Yoga Nidra in a teacher training/immersion—This. Weekend.

Yoga Nidra Teacher Training

About the training, if you’re a yoga teacher, awesome—Yoga Nidra is an essential tool to add to your teaching tool belt. If you’re just interested in the practice, there’s no better way to understand it than diving deep. If you’re a parent, teacher, or therapist, this could be an essential tool to help you help the people you are privileged to guide and nurture. The last time I did this training someone joined so they could learn to help their therapy clients better deal with stress. Someone else joined because they wanted to lower the teen-suicide rates in their school district. Another person joined because she was a family law attorney and wanted something to help her clients meet the challenge of divorce as mindfully as possible.

So how does it work, how does this relaxing guided meditation have such a powerful effect on people? It’s so powerful because this practice very skillfully leads you experience your True Nature, the part of you that feels wholeness and Universal love. When you are in conversation with the part of you that is fundamentally whole, everything heals.


This weekend is going to be life-changing. I’m not over selling this. There will be a lot of Yoga Nidra practice, chances to practice teaching to each other. You’ll learn how to lead yourself through this practice. You’ll receive a really solid PDF manual with Yoga Nidra scripts that you can start using on day 1 and which will serve as a foundation from which you can learn to personalize and build your own practices. Also, I’m offering this either virtually or in-person if you’re in Salt Lake City. People from all over the world will be joining us. I’ll be recording the entire thing, both audio and video, so if the timing doesn’t work you can always watch it later. This recording will also give you an incredible Yoga Nidra library.


I really hope you can make it this weekend. Regardless, I’d love to offer this Yoga Nidra practice as a chance to experience Yoga Nidra’s power to open your heart, cuz hey all the love songs are right and all you need is love.

So as I’m wrapping this up, I want to let you know that Aug. 29–Sept.1 I’m hosting a Writing + Yoga + Nature Retreat in Harriman State Park with the one and only Nan Seymour. We’ve invited special guest, poet Maya Stein to blow our socks off with her incredible poetry. We are going to explore what happens when we open to deep awareness through Yoga Nidra and then put pen to paper and see what comes out. This is the 4th year we’ve done it and it’s been amazing every year. We have only 1 spot left and we’d love for that spot to be filled by you.

 
30-day meditation challenge

There’s no better way to practice Yoga Nidra or any other form of mindfulness than with my 30-Day Meditation challenge. It’s happening the entire month of September. The challenge is to simply meditate every day for 15 minutes or more using this great app called Insight Timer. All month I’ll be sending you instructions and encouragement. The challenge costs $30 and if you complete the challenge you can choose to either receive a full refund of your tuition or roll that into other cool meditation products that I have.

No matter what you do or don’t do with mindfulness, I just want to say thank you for picking up what I’m puttin’ down. I love doing this and it’s so nice to be on this journey with you.

May the Source be with you.

Namaste.

Please Listen to this heart-centered Yoga Nidra practice


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Kauai Yoga

The Art of Yoga

What is the marriage between inner and outer beauty? What is the Art of Yoga

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Yoga is many things. It’s a science, a philosophy, a mode of spirituality, and a method of therapy to name a few. Sometimes I forget that yoga is also an art. Yoga is an art, beautiful, pure and simple. It’s beautiful to watch and to experience. Yoga, like many other disciplines, explores and celebrates what it means to be human. Through the form of our poses we understand our inner-realm and celebrate being alive. We celebrate being.

Yoga as Art

It’s true that it’s not what’s on the outside that counts; you don’t win when you’ve accomplished a pose. Yet, there is something sublimely beautiful in the simplest form, the humblest yoga posture. When I teach yoga, I am privileged to witness the beauty of all different body types, ages, and walks of life practice being human. I see lines, curves, and angles come alive and flow. I see the magical bleed between effort and ease dancing before me. I see the embodiment of bliss and understanding as well as struggle and frustration. I can feel what’s happening on the inside of my students because it’s manifesting on the outside right before me like a living poem, like sculpture that moves, like a painting that comes alive, or a boisterous Rock Opera turned up to 11. Sure, it’s not about how the pose looks but rather how it feels that is important. Regardless, your inner beauty manifests outwardly. It is still true that the poses are beautiful. We are living art.

And yet this being human, this living art, is like a sand painting that even as we speak is withering to its demise to become part of the elements from whence we came. This notion reminds me that art (human or otherwise) is just as much if not more expressed in its becoming than in its arrival. It shows me that the entire process of our lives is like one long, beautiful play full of tragedies, joys, doldrums, and loves.

Understanding the art of becoming rather than arriving emphasizes presence, the sublime of right now. And perhaps that is the intersection between inner and outer beauty, the place where inner presence and outer form meet. In this sacred marriage, our form helps us to understand that numinous realm within and our presence helps us to live outwardly with heath, clarity, and yes, beauty.

You are an artist whether you think of yourself as an artist or not. An artist, whether dancer, painter, musician, sculptor, or liver of life, must practice presence to honestly and bravely witness this world. The unconscious or the busy mind would pass by such beauty. The artist doesn’t only celebrate sunrises and rainbows. The artist finds beauty also in dark lines and shadow. Landscapes that don’t make sense or that paint a picture that is tragic, disturbing, and poignant, are nonetheless beautifully human. Indeed, that’s why we love tragedies and the dark side because this beautiful tapestry of life isn’t limited by only sunrises and rainbows. With presence, we can truly see the beauty in all things, especially ourselves.

Live and Online Yoga Nidra Training

I invite you to celebrate the full beauty of your life this week through yoga and mindfulness. Celebrate what it means to be human.

You are beautiful.

You are art.



Poem of the One World

This morning

the beautiful white heron

was floating along above the water

and then into the sky of this

the one world

we all belong to

where everything

sooner or later

is a part of everything else


which thought made me feel

for a little while

quite, beautiful, myself.

~Mary Oliver


THREE IN TRANSITION

(FOR WCW)

I wish I understood the beauty

in leaves falling. To whom

are we beautiful

as we go?

I lie in the field

still, absorbing the stars

Guided Meditations for Sleep

and silently throwing off

their presence. Silently

I breathe and die

by turns.

He was ripe

and fell to the ground

from a bough

out where the wind

is free

of the branches

~David Ignatow

Human Doing vs. Human Being

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Your identity is your foundation of existence. Too often we tend to identify with things that don’t support the truth of what we are, our beingness. Too often we get caught up as human doings rather than human beings. Too often we equate our value on what we can do rather than the fact that we simply are. 

Scott Moore Yoga

 

Tantra is a school of eastern thought. One of the many facets to Tantra is its emphasis on non-dualism or all things belonging to a larger whole. When you can expand your Awareness from being either this or that, you tap into what I call your Both And Nature. This Both And Nature speaks to your higher beingness and embraces all the elements of you for optimal expression. 

 

Ironically, the person who doesn’t know their Both And Nature, identifies only as body or with their actions, equates their existence with only what they can do. Ability and doing is by nature volatile and changeable so their sense of identity lacks a real foundation. This lack of existential foundation invariably affects performance because each act becomes a desperate grope for identity when there’s none to be had merely by performing an action. 

 

During my career, I’ve taught yoga and meditation to dozens of world-class athletes and performers. Often when these performers retire, still quite young, they sometimes go into an existential crisis if their entire identity was wrapped up in solely what they could do. Now that they can no longer perform at the level they felt defined them, they have no idea who they are. 

 

By contrast, the person who is identified as a Being rather than a doer knows their Both And Nature and can act invincibly from that place because they realize that they and each of their actions are an expression of their Being, of Source. The person connected to their Being through practices like the Yoga Nidra, graduate from a level of merely doing an action to Being it. 

 

Yoga Nidra is a form of Tantric guided meditation that is both relaxing and very useful to reinforce your sense of your own Being. The aim in Yoga Nidra is to disidentify from anything in the realm of the changeable, like body or thoughts, and learn to identify as Awareness itself. Typically, a Yoga Nidra session will last anywhere from 15–40 minutes where you simply lie down, close your eyes, and listen to a facilitator (or recording) lead you through paying attention to things like your body, your breath, energy, thoughts, etc. This process leads you deeper and deeper both into relaxation as well as into Awareness. 

 

Since it’s also true that while you cannot identify solely as body, your body is an important (though changeable) part of who you are. It also exists as one of the greatest tools you possess to open yourself to the experience of Awareness. As you learn to inhabit your body with deeper Awareness, you tune into your Both And Nature and from that place of embodied Awareness, you can go out and perform at your best. 

 

Click here to hear a free Yoga Nidra recording and experience for yourself the transformative of your own Both And Nature.


Guided Meditations for Sleep

 

Be The Shit

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“What does the mighty oak care if the warthog scratches its rump against its bark?

“What does the mighty oak care if the warthog scratches its rump against its bark?

Right before I moved from Salt Lake City, I had my last session with a wonderful private client, and friend. She began our session with a comment about how difficult she found it to be around people who are constantly bragging about who they are or what they own. This comment sparked a wonderful discussion and subsequent Yoga Nidra practice dedicated to the differences between a human being and a human doing. We discussed the idea of aiming to be so secure in our being that we didn’t need to try to prove anything to anyone else. We could just be.

I said to her, “When you’re The Shit, you don’t have to go around town bragging about it. You just go be The Shit.”

It reminds me of something I heard poet and writer David Whyte say, “Constantly explaining who you are is a gospel of despair.” Why does it seem that when we are the least secure in who we are, we tend to brag about ourselves the most? Probably because when we equate our value based on what we can do rather than a sure sense of our own beingness, we’re constantly trying to affirm something that really doesn’t exist. By contrast, we as human beings are valuable simply because we exist. We don’t need to prove anything because we simply are. If we're identified as something as fragile as our action or a title, then we're constantly fearing not being that thing anymore, we fear annihilation.

It’s also true that when we can be secure in our own being, other people don’t ruffle our feathers. The best antidote in response to the braggart is to be so solid in our own beingness that another person could say or do whatever they wish and it wouldn’t bend us one way or the other. Like the fantastic German quote, “What does the mighty oak care if the warthog scratches its rump against its bark?”

This is what we are doing in our yoga and meditation practices: we are affirming our beingness, and steeling ourselves against anything that could arise in our lives by simply learning to pay attention, to have Awareness. Here’s the kicker: our beingness is somehow wrapped around our ability to pay attention to the world, to listen and be. Not to do. The doing comes as the response to the being. The ancient teaching says that consciousness precedes form.

That day, my client and I had a great session. I led her through a personalized Yoga Nidra practice that helped her to feel solid in her own being to go out and be the mighty oak so that others could say or do whatever and she didn’t have to worry about it one way or the other. I recorded the practice and left it with her so she could continue to practice this concept.

After the session, as I was rushing out to go home and pack for France, I was half-way out the door, when I heard her shout after me, “Hey Scott!” I turned back to see her with a wide smile on her face. “Be The Shit,” she said as wise parting advice.

So, may I also extend this invitation to you: Be The Shit.

Can We All Just Calm Down?? Cannabis for Anxiety

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I’m passionate about helping people learn to manage stress and anxiety. There are several ways to help with anxiety including Yoga Nidra and other forms of guided meditation, yoga, and getting out into nature.

One Natural way of helping alleviate anxiety is by the use of cannabis, including CBD oil.

I think we can all just chill out about the use of cannabis. It’s common knowledge that the health benefits are wide and plentiful. I know so many people who use it responsibly and who receive immense health benefits from it.

One of the best uses for cannabis is stress reduction. I think cannabis is such a better alternative than what big phat pharma offers.

Have you ever tried CBD oil? Here’s an article that I think is very worthy of review.


Photo by  Michael Fischer  from  Pexels

Photo by Michael Fischer from Pexels

Emotions are part of human life and throughout the course of our lives, we will go through the entire spectrum of feelings. There are some emotions that are directly related to events such as post-traumatic stress disorder and others that seem to pop up from nowhere. Anger and stress are two of the most powerful feelings that we can experience and if one is present, the other will be too.

Stress and anger are often accompanied by underlying anxiety and this is what makes it difficult to find an appropriate treatment. When these three emotions are all present in someone’s life, things can get out of control rather quickly and your quality of life is in jeopardy, especially if you don’t seek treatment. It is easy to overlook the fact that your anger could be a side effect of anxiety, especially if you haven’t been eating or sleeping properly and you may find that even the smallest of issues will suddenly seem like the end of the world is nigh.

Stress shouldn’t be taken lightly as, in severe cases, it can kill you. It causes hypertension, affects your nervous system, and can lead to depression. Furthermore, as there is still a stigma attached to those who seek medical treatment for seemingly minor emotional issues, many people choose to ignore the symptoms of stress and anger and hope that they will go away on their own.


The Effect of Pharmaceuticals on Mental Health Issues

Instant calm with this free Beach Paradise Guided Meditation

Guided meditations for stress

When we feel like we are under a high level of stress or anxiety, there will likely come a point where a friend or colleague will point us in the direction of a physician to help us address our issues. It could be caused by a social anxiety disorder, increased stress levels through work, Post-traumatic stress (PTSD), or even because of chronic pain. And one of the most commonly prescribed treatments for anxiety is a benzodiazepine like Xanax. These pills will treat your symptoms almost immediately, but they are accompanied by a long list of harmful side effects—especially when used for long periods of time. Benzodiazepines are highly addictive and they can cause the following symptoms:

  • Nausea

  • Depression

  • Dry Mouth

  • Incontinence

  • Headaches

  • Shaking

  • Paranoia

  • Loss of appetite

  • Acne

How CBD Works for Anger and Stress

Photo by  Nathan Cowley  from  Pexels

Photo by Nathan Cowley from Pexels

The past couple of years have seen the rise of alternative medicines such as CBD products like hemp seed oil, cannabis oil, and medical cannabis becoming increasingly popular. Medical marijuana and hemp oil (and all their derivatives) have been proven for use as an efficient and effective natural treatment for disorders like anxiety, depression, and stress and it is currently a hot topic in the medical industry. This has led to more studies being performed on cannabinoids and its potential therapeutic uses, as well as much more research scheduled to take place in 2019. While CBD oil is relatively new to the medical market, it has been used in ancient traditions for thousands of years to cure illness and provide relief from emotional issues like anger, stress, and anxiety.


Here are some of the ways that CBD is thought to alleviate the symptoms of anger and stress:

  • CBD is thought to cause pleasure hormones in the body to be released. These particular hormones are incredibly powerful, as they are responsible for inducing feelings of calm, reducing stress, and eliminating underlying anxiety.

  • Research has shown us that CBD positively affects the basolateral amygdala receptors that we naturally have in our bodies in order to process most of our sensory information.

  • The hippocampus is the part of our brain that is basically an emotional control center. CBD interacts with receptors in the hippocampus to stimulate positive emotions and the necessary chemicals to provide us with therapeutic comfort.

  • A daily dose of CBD oil has been found to reduce cognitive impairment.

  • CBD has powerful anti-inflammatory properties that help eliminate the effects that stress can have on our heart and arteries.


Another major factor to take into account, when looking at CBD as a viable treatment for emotional disorders, is the effect that CBD has on Serotonin levels in the brain. Science and anecdotal evidence have both demonstrated the positive effect that CBD has on the mood-enhancing chemicals in our brain. It triggers the release of these necessary chemicals and works to ensure that they are balanced in an entirely natural way. As an added bonus, it is not accompanied by any nasty side effects.

Photo by  Andre Furtado  from  Pexels

Photo by Andre Furtado from Pexels

CBD Is not Addictive

CBD oil is a cumulative substance, meaning that it builds up in our body and works away behind the scenes. This is why it should be taken as a routine supplement each day, instead of when you are right in the clutches of a panic attack. Good quality CBD oil is extracted and processed in a way that allows it to override the psychoactive effects of THC (another important compound in the cannabis plant—the one that gets you high) this means that you won’t be walking around like a zombie and CBD oil is perfectly safe to take at work and it won’t impair your ability to drive or be productive. One of the primary risks of treating anxiety with traditional pharmaceuticals is an addiction and this, in turn, contributes to even more stress! CBD is completely non-addictive and you can take as much or as little as you like, without experiencing withdrawal symptoms.


Final Thoughts

While CBD oil is an incredibly powerful natural substance, not all oils are created equal. Before making a purchase, always check that the oil you are looking at is full spectrum and extracted in a chemical-free process. One of the biggest appeals of using CBD oil is the fact that it is completely non-toxic, so making sure that it is as pure as possible is going to be the key to success. It is also not a quick fix and should ideally be taken as part of a balanced diet and combined with exercise, which is also another incredibly effective way of eliminating stress from our lives. Finally, know that it is completely safe to experiment with dosage. What works for one person, might not be effective for another. Therefore, always start by taking a lower dose and increase it until you notice a positive change with regards to your anger and stress.

This article by Madeleine Taylor is originally published at SundayScaries.


Spring Cleaning with Yoga

We are well into spring and for many of us it’s time for some deep cleansing. In Ayurveda, you must first cleanse before you can add strength and power. Here’s a few yoga poses that will help you do just that by heating the system, twisting the torso, and inverting the body. These poses are great to help cleanse the system by moving lymph fluid. They also help with spinal decompression and organ cleansing.


Before cleansing, it’s necessary to add Tapas to the system. Tapas is both a word meaning  tasty Spanish dishes served on little plates as well as a Sanskrit word described in the Yoga Sutras as the heat necessary for transformation. Getting the body to heat up with poses that warm up the body (without overly challenging it) is very useful before cleansing the body. These poses include standing poses like Warrior I, II, and III, Side Angle Pose, and Chatarunga. Once the body heats up, it’s ready for cleansing.

Twists: Cleansing Poses

Photo by Dan Morris

Photo by Dan Morris

Twists are the best poses for cleansing. One of the reasons we want things twisting is to circulate our lymph. Sort of like nymphs, the spritely libido-rich fairies so abundant in enchanted forests, this kind of  "ymph" are like the body’s fairies that flutter around the forest of your body's fluids systems and with their rich source of white blood cells, put magical spells on bacteria and other disease-causing microorganisms, spells that send these unwanted guests into your eliminatory systems. The problem with the lymph system is that unlike our circulatory system, lymph depends on movements. Therefore, poses like twists help to get your lymph moving to do their work. Some yoga postures that help with this are seated and standing twists like Ardhamatsyandrasana and Twisting Crescent Lunge Pose. is one of  the best ways of keeping the lymph moving and thus keeping you healthy.

Twists are really excellent for the overall health of your back. They keep the body healthy by rotating the vertebral bodies of your spine and building strength and flexibility in the deep and superficial spinal and abdominal muscles. Twists maintain elasticity in the disks between the vertebrae as well as the ligaments of the back. Twists alternately compress and stretch the hemispheres of the chest, stimulating respiratory function. They also give a healthy massage to other vital organs, like the stomach, liver, intestines, and kidneys. Plus, twisting can help restore symmetry between the shoulders and pelvis which can be the problem of some kinds of back pain.  

Your nervous system literally revolves around your spinal cord so doing twisting poses helps wring out the nervous system. Your nervous system is one of the interesting junctures of mind and body. Twists and other tension-relieving poses do wonders to help relieve emotional tension that gets trapped in the body in the form of tight muscles.




Inversions


Handstand

Inversions are poses that turn you upside-down. Common inversions are Headstand, Handstand, and Legs-Up-The-Wall Pose. Just like twists, inversions are great to help you cleanse your system. Our digestive system sometimes get compacted and turning things upside-down helps to get things moving again. Inversions are also excellent for decompressing your spine, strengthening your arms and shoulders, and strengthening both the deep and superficial core muscles.

Getting upside-down is perhaps the best way of moving lymph through the bod and cleaning house. Inversions also build muscles in the neck and shoulders. They tone vital organs and stimulate glands. Like twists, inversions build strength and flexibility in the superficial and deep muscles and connective tissue along the spine and rib cage, most notably in the diaphragm and abdominal muscles. With all this muscular toning along our spine and ribs, our posture shapes up. When done properly, inversions can lengthen our spine. Inversions also help out your digestion, respiration, and circulation systems. Last, inversions can maybe help you look at this sludge in the air in a different way, when you see it from upside-down.

Consider some gently-heating poses, twists, and inversions as you’re mindfully planning how to spring clean your body, mind, and spirit.


Guided Meditations for Sleep





Yoga Nidra

Online Yoga Nidra Teacher Training

Become a qualified Yoga Nidra teacher

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

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

Yoga Nidra vs Other Meditation

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

Yoga Nidra is Identifying as Awareness

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

Yoga Nidra

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

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

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


Enjoy this Yoga Nidra recording!


Guided Meditations for Sleep

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.

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.






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

Part 2: Chubby Hula Dancer Rides Again!

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

GTA

(Grand Theft Auto)

GTA.JPG

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

Nina 1 inch.jpg

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

chubby hula dancer.jpg

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

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

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

Boston Bracelet.jpg

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

 

sourcing your heart's gift

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

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

February 12- March 25 2018

Please share this with your friends! Thank you!

 

Join me for the retreat of a lifetime!

May 26-June2 2018

Ode to Solstice

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Photo by Alex Adams

Photo by Alex Adams

As we stand on the edge of darkness and look over to the immense gulf below, as we look up toward the elevated mountains, what confirms the majesty of this moment in our hearts is not merely its beauty but more specifically our own vulnerability. As we see our own insignificance against the backdrop of such immensity, we are humbled and awestruck.

So in this vulnerability, we stand on the edge and cling to each other in that fierce heat and embrace of profound love. We hold tight, not knowing any other way, like two moths beating their wings furiously at the screen door, looking for the light and warmth beyond the threshold. This is our hope and our faith.

The snow, and ice, and the deep abyss of dark may come, and bring it on because, HERE WE ARE, standing on this edge of darkness, willing to take anything that this enormous, loving universe can throw at us. And by God, we will stand here all day and all night, this furiously long night, with death below us and heaven above us, and we will be here when the morning light creeps over that horizon, still clutching each other tightly.

We will be here on this edge. We will be here with this one heart, not just beating but pounding. We will be here, still bleeding from this long night. And we will be here, weeping with joy at the divine privilege of standing on the edge of heaven and hell and earth combined, in the majesty of these mountains, in the wonder of this wind, at the hope of heaven for we have tasted heaven in this fierce embrace.

Happy Solstice, everyone. 

A Mindful Writing Practice to Source Your Magic

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I write. And I love it when I'm writing and something magical happens, like words that I didn't know could even come out of me start popping out onto the page. But writing takes practice. And what if you could also practice accessing the magic within you. 

Writing Practice

I love this story. It's about just that. 

Once, Laurence Olivier, the master of masters, perhaps one if not THE best play-actors of our time, had just delivered his finishing lines of Shakespeare's Hamlet. The entire theatre was cupped in a quiet, magical revery, a rare experience that only happens when witnessing a spell-binding performance. Then after several long seconds of pure reverie, the audience exploded in exuberant applause.

Instead of graciously accepting such resounding adoration for his magical performance, Olivier stormed off stage, marched straight to his dressing room, and slammed the door in a huff.

Perplexed, the stage manager eventually gathered his courage and knocked timidly on Olivier's door.

"Mr. Olivier, what's the matter? You were absolutely brilliant!" the manager said. To which Laurence Olivier roared, "I know, and I have absolutely no idea how I did it!"
 

Have you ever read a poem, seen a performance, heard someone speak, or witnessed or something, where you sensed that the performer was tapped into pure magic, something enormous, much larger than just the every-day conversation? 

I'm confident that YOU have had an experience where you sourced that kind of magic within yourself to do say, or create something extraordinary.

Sometimes, experiencing that kind of magic is purely accidental. But what if you could practice sourcing that magical part of you so that you could somehow turn it on at will.

The Writing Practice

Well, my good friend, and writing facilitator, Nan Seymour and I have developed a beautiful method of accessing that magic within you through mindfulness and writing. It's called Dream and Write and it's brilliant.


Dream and Write is born from two practices: Yoga Nidra, a relaxing Awareness practice that feels like guided meditation, and River Writing, a writing practice of inviting words to flow, unobstructed from a river of inner-narrative. Paired together, this practice creates a unique mindfulness writing experience that taps profound Awareness for clarity and flow of writing. 

Nan and I have hosted several Dream and Write workshops and retreats. However, THIS Saturday, December 2, Nan and I will be hosting our first ever virtual Dream and Write workshop. This will be live but online and hosted in the comfort of your own home via the internet. This relaxing and heart-opening workshop will help you source the magic inside of you. 

Once you register, you'll receive a link to join us online at a virtual meeting platform called Zoom. 

Anders Carlson-Wee

Anders Carlson-Wee

As a writer, I've experienced first-hand the miracles of Dream and Write. Through this practice, I've witnessed incredible memories, stories, and beauty in the form of words spill across the page. I've had delightful ideas appear through this process. Those words were  already in there, I simply needed the process of Dream and Write to get them out, to  help organize them, and to cut them down to find their raw expression. 

There are several advantages to having this event be live but online. First, you can do it in the comfort of your own home on your computer, laptop, or smart device. Also, Nan and I can co-teach despite the fact that I will be in New York City she will be in Salt Lake City. And last but not least, we will get the pleasure of having the incredible poet Anders Carlson-Wee joining us live to share his astounding and beautiful poetry with us as prompts to inspire our own writing. (Read his poem Birdcalls)

This will be a unique and special event. We are limiting the size of this event to only 20 participants, for intimacy and efficacy. Please register today before the spots are gone; they've already started to go. This event will sell out and s.

Hey, you have gifts and the world needs your gifts. Practice sourcing the magic within you. 
 

Details

When: Saturday, December 2nd, 2017 from 12-3 pm ET, 11 am-2 pm CT, 10 am-1 pm MT, 9am-12pm PT. (There will be bio breaks.)

Where: Your house, via the internet

Price: $57.  20 spots

Thanks.

I hope you'll join us.

 

Join me for the yoga retreat of a lifetime. One week along the Amalfi Coast doing fantastic yoga and meditation, breathtaking ocean excursions, and eating authentic Italian food. Space is limited. 

May 26-June 2 2018

The World Needs YOU to Teach Yoga

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Yoga Teachers Workshop

Can you remember a yoga class that really changed you?


This email is for my everybody, but especially my yoga teaching friends or those who might be interested in teaching Yoga.

Have you had a yoga class that for some reason really moved you? What was it about that class that made such a difference? What did that teacher do that moved you so much?

If you're a teacher, do you realize that YOU have the power to powerfully touch people's lives like no one else can? It's true. Your unique, gifts, interests and talents make you uniquely qualified to touch people in a way that only you can. 

Ever wonder why your yoga classes aren't thriving, or you're feeling a little burned out with teaching, or questioning whether or not you even want to teach anymore? Do you wish you were making more money teaching yoga so you could quit your day job and only teach yoga?

One reason your teaching and opportunities aren't thriving could be because you're not tapped into and teaching from your own authenticity.

When you're teaching what you love, what interests you, and what you're not only passionate about but what you know a helluva lot about, teaching is not only effortless, it is abundant. 

If you read my 2nd to last blog post, I spelled out the formula for success as given me by my favorite business prof in college, which I live by, and truly believe. He said:

Interest breeds excellence. Excellence breeds opportunities.

When you are teaching what interests you, what you're passionate about, your excellence, your natural talent for teaching, rises to the surface. Opportunities arise as you attract the people who are pickin' up what you're puttin' down. 

Don't worry about the rest of the people who aren't interested in your offering. Other teachers with other gifts will teach them.  

If you're interested in optimizing your teaching and learning how to grow your opportunities to teach yoga, and get paid what you're worth, I'd like to invite you to attend my live and online Yoga Teachers Workshop this Saturday, November 11th at 2 pm ET, 1 pm CT, 12 pm MT, 11 am PT.

It's virtual so you can do it from your own home. Besides learning key principles about teaching and the biz of yoga, you will meet with teachers from all over the country for discussion and networking.

Also, if you can't make the time, I'm recording the audio/video so you can still register and watch it later. 

In this workshop, I want to share with you some of the invaluable things I've learned over 17 years of teaching yoga, not only about leveraging your gifts for extraordinary teaching, but also about some of the industry secrets to make a living which I've learned over in the past 17 years.

There's a good chance you can write this off on your taxes, plus it counts as hours for continuing education for Yoga Alliance.

This could be the most valuable workshop you will ever attend for you yoga teaching and your career.

Plus, I'll give you your money back if you don't think it was worth your time.

Join me!
 

Check out what one of my Mentor Students said about my yoga teachers coaching:

“I have followed Scott’s career for years. He is someone who walks his talk and shows his deep knowledge for all things yoga in every class or conversation. He is extremely grounded and dedicated to this work. As a mentor, Scott was literally “an all things” coach to me. He helped me overcome mindset of owning this soul calling of teaching and supported me in times of doubt. He helped me discover my strengths as a teacher, ways to make this into a thriving business and conceptualize an idea into a breathing business. From technical help on my website to marketing and deepening the mechanics of teaching, he helped me with all of it. He is extremely professional with a very personal approach. He truly cares about his clients and the integrity of this work. I am so grateful for this program to work one on one with such a well-rounded leader in the yoga space. ” J.J.

Details

How much: $45

When: Saturday, November 11th 2-4 pm ET, 1-3 pm CT, 12-2 pm MT, 11 am to 1 pm PT

Where: Your house, via our virtual learning space. You'll need a laptop, computer, iPad, or smart device with an internet connection. 

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.

Nothing But My Underwear

In September of 2011,

I participated in Salt Lake City’s first ever Undie Run. The concept is simple: run with thousands of other people . . . in nothing but your underwear.
 
Why? Some people tried to make the Undie Run, this display of flagrant deviance, of wanton exhibitionism, demonstrate some deeper meaning. They tried to assign it as a protest by uncapping Sharpies and scrawling half-hearted grievances on their nearly-naked bodies. But it was clear by the gayety and silliness of everyone involved that this was really about simply letting your hair down in a city known for its tight-laced morals and demur etiquette.
 
I had agreed to meet a friend of mine at the starting line of the Undie Run, at a place called The Gallivan Center. The Gallivan Center is a large public space, in downtown Salt Lake City, perfect for concerts, festivals, and as fate would have it, thousands of people dressed in nothing but their bras ‘n panties or tighty whities ready to run to the State Capitol and back.
 
I’m not normally prone to public nakedness but thought the Undie Run might put me a little out of my comfort zone and be a lot of fun. I know that getting out of my comfort zone is often the key ingredient to personal growth. Little did I know, however, just how much out of my comfort zone this would put me and how much personal growth I’d experience.
 
I drove to the Gallivan Center and parked in the parking garage. Nervous, I got out of my truck, and with a brave and bold resolve, stripped down to nothing but my favorite pair of unds, running shoes, and just to play it safe, my hands-free device—you know, in case I got an important call while on my run.
 
Feeling very exposed, nervous, and alone, I walked by myself through the parking structure toward the entrance point of the Undie Run. Once at the Galiivan Center, I’d luckily be met by the thousands of other people also in their underwear and I’d feel a little less conspicuous.
 
But to my horror, there was a police officer blocking the gate between the parking garage and the Gallivan Center who instructed me that I couldn’t enter the event from this gate and would have to walk two and a half city blocks, long blocks mind you, around the Gallivan Center to enter the event at a different gate. I saw no reason for this detour but when pressed and the cop didn’t budge nor so much as even grace me with an explanation.
 
So out into the crowded city streets I went. Alone and wearing only my underwear (and hands-free device).
 
I knew I would soon enough join several others in a similar state of undress, but for now it was just me.
 
Longest.
Walk.
Of my life.

Fortunately, after only a few steps down that lonely sidewalk, I remembered one of my deepest values. No, not the value of modesty, but a value I believe to be much more important which is:

It doesn’t matter what your wearing, what you look like, or what your circumstances as long as you OWN IT.
 
So, own it I did.
 
With no other choice, I strutted down Salt Lake City’s prim and proper streets with my head held high, looking people in the face and saying hello like it was any other day. I fucking owned those streets in my Calvin Kleins and hands-free device!
 
After several long minutes of walking solo, I eventually met the thousands of other Undie Runners and felt relieved not to be so singularly exposed.
 
Isn’t it funny how what seems so scandalous, like walking down the streets alone in your underwear, changes to something completely ordinary when you’re surrounded by the social proof of thousands of other people doing likewise?
 

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Notice the hands-free device. Very hot!

Notice the hands-free device. Very hot!

 
Nothing but my underwear
 
In Nothing but my underwear
 
In Nothing But My Underwear

The lesson I learned by walking alone down the street in my underwear was this: There will be moments in your life when you will be all alone, subject to scrutiny, doubt, ridicule, and judgement, when you’re completely exposed, vulnerable, and with nowhere to hide. And at times like these, you have to simply “own it,” hold your head up high, and keep walking.
 
So, whether you’re embarking upon an unknown chapter of your life, or busting out a yoga pose that seems to defy you, or strutting down the street in your underwear, hold your head up high, do your best and keep going. Whatever you’ve got, wherever you’re at, just own it.
 
Most of the time you won’t be met with throngs of people who are in a similar situation or even understand your situation. That doesn’t matter.  Simply keep your head high and your feet beneath you, grounded in a sure knowing of Self.
 
And in such moments, if you don’t have pockets, consider a hands-free device.
 
Namaste


Join me for an unforgettable yoga retreat along Italy's Amalfi Coast. May 26-June 2 2018


The Gayatri Mantra: A Love Supreme

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The Gayatri Mantra

Oṃ bhūr bhuvaḥ svaḥ

tát savitúr váreṇ(i)yaṃ

bhárgo devásya dhīmahi

dhíyo yó naḥ pracodáyāt

Watch a short video about understanding the Gayatri Mantra by looking at John Coltrane’s masterpiece, ALove Supreme.

Translation:

Everything on the Earth and in the sky and in between is arising from one effulgent source. If my thoughts, words, and deeds reflected a complete understanding of this, I would be the peace I am seeking in this moment.


The Gayatri Mantra: A Love Supreme

I've been working on understanding the The Gayatri Mantra for several years. It's one of the oldest mantras in existence, more than 12 thousand years old, and comes from the Rigveda, an ancient Sanskrit text containing hymns and mantras that are mythological and poetic accounts of the origin of the world.

I struggle to understand it because it suggests that when I’m feeling freaked out by something, I already have peace or am the peace that I feel I lack. Likewise, this mantra suggests that somehow through one Source, we are everything else. And to any mind that is caught up in limited a conception of Self, this is hard to understand at best and ridiculous at worst.

Join me for an unforgettable yoga retreat along the Amalfi Coast Italy May 26-June 2 2018

One experience I had that helped me to understand this mantra a little better happened several years ago while I was on an early-morning run in Hawaii. Because my body was used to a different time zone, I was up and running early while most of everybody else was sleeping. On that beautiful morning, I ran along a paved trail that contours the ocean and stretched for miles.


All the elements were harmonized to make a perfect storm of physical, mental, and spiritual bliss. My mind was clear, the weather, temperature, altitude and humidity were all perfect. As I ran, my mind opened up to incredible clarity. In this clarity, I began processing some of the jazz improve theory that my sax teacher had been teaching me, specifically regarding works by John Coltrane. My feet tapped along the trail and my lungs bellowed the humid ocean-air while my mind thought about scales, intervals, harmonics, chords, and all of the underlying structure of jazz.

My sax teacher tells me that if I want to find those notes coming out of my horn, I have to not only feel them in my soul, but I also gotta know what is possible to feel and that takes a little head work. With all this mental clarity some fairly complex music theory simply started to make sense to me. Deeper musical ideas began to percolate to my mental surface causing new lights to go on. I was figuring it out and it was happening without any teacher or even the reference of my sax or even music paper.

I was amazed to realize that somehow, a lot of this understanding was already in there. Astounded by these musical revelations, an immense thought dawned upon me: even if it’s waaaay down there, there is a John Coltrane in me somewhere.

The perfect run with all the harmony of elements connected me in some way to Source which led me somehow to understand Coltrane a little better. If I truly understood the connection of all things, if I were truly tapped into Source like the Gayatri Mantra suggests, I’d be able to access that same power, soul, and knowledge that John Coltrane did. Me! John Coltrane! Ultimately, I'd see that I'm no different than John Coltrane.

Coltrane was connected to Source. He demonstrates this plainly in his most spiritual work, some say the most spiritual of all of jazz, his album called A Love Supreme. In it he makes circles both in the arc of the sound in music as well as in its form; this chord and this phrase makes a logical, mathematical, and aurally pleasing transition to the next, and the next until the formula causes it to arrive back to where it started.

Just as you might hear Brahman priests chanting the Gayatri Mantra from the Rigveda, in this recording you hear these priests of jazz chant, “A Love Supreme” repeatedly in the background evoking Source.

In certain disciplines initiates get a new name. In yoga your name might become Yogananda, or Ram Das. Jazz is no different. It might be Trane or Bird or Fathead. I believe that another name for God, like God's own moniker, could be, A Love Supreme. I think God uses it as a social handle, or something.

In part, Coltrane’s message was that everything is inscribed within A Love Supreme. A Love Supreme is The Effulgent Source mentioned in the Gayatri Mantra and to fully comprehend this Source means to understand everything, including peace, including jazz, including yourself. This is enlightenment and whether your path there incorporated practicing either poses or jazz theory or anything else, you still end up at the same place.

Alice Coltrane, J.C.’s wife at the time, said that one day Trane locked himself in the attic and didn’t come down for three days. He spent the entire time meditating (understand that Coltrane meditated with his horn in his mouth) and when he came down, I imagine that it was like Moses coming down from the mountain after talking to God, he looked at his wife and said, “I’ve got it!” A few days later he was in the studio with a few hand-picked musicians to record A Love Supreme, which quickly became one of the greatest pieces of music ever conceived.

We are still chanting the Gayatri Mantra 12 thousand years later. I hope people are chanting A Love Supreme, or at lease spinning the record, 12 thousand years from now.

Understanding, even theoretically, that knowing Source means to know everything, doesn’t discount the hours, weeks, years, and lifetimes of work and practice necessary to get there, but still the idea is provocative that our work isn’t to build or gain anything new, rather to dismantle that which prevents us from seeing what’s already there.

What we practice in yoga is paying attention and we use breath, poses, and mediation to open our eyes and to take off the bandages to reveal what’s underneath.

Another reference to understanding this universal Source comes from the story about the day Zen came to be. It is said that long ago an assembly gathered to hear the Buddha’s Dharma talk. Instead of a discourse, The Buddha simply held up a flower saying nothing. He stayed like that for a long time much to the confusion of most everyone.

Only the sage Mahakashyapa understood, and noted it with a wry smile. With his flower, the Buddha was saying that which could not be spoken by words. He was showing the assembly that Being or Reality had no boundaries and was found in everything, including a flower, and to even try to define Being or Reality by words would create a boundary for something that had none. Anything defined would have been a contradiction yet at the same time he was revealing that which was everywhere, if your understanding would allow you to see.

“If my thoughts words and deeds reflected a complete understanding of this unity,” . . . I would realize that I’m no different than this flower, or my sax, my music, or you, and I would understand that peace is already within me. And yet to understand this, like myriad myths throughout history also suggest, it might take me traveling the entire world to realize that what I was searching for was at home all along, locked within the vault of my heart.

I invite you to practice understanding the Gayatri Mantra better and practice unraveling anything within yourself that would prevent the world from seeing your own manifestation of the Effulgent Source, your True Nature, your Love Supreme.

And since it is said that Visvamitra was the one who gave us the Gayatri Mantra, we’ll work on exploring Reality through Visvamitrasana. Speaking of “getting Real,” once I start working on my inflexible hamstrings, something necessary for that pose, things get real, really fast.

Might I suggest listening to A Love Supreme this week.

 

Dancing with Maya

Virtual Yoga Nidra

Humankind has evolved looking at itself and wondering, "who am I?" What does it mean to Be?

We explore every avenue to help answer and express this question of being, including art, science, politics, religion, etc. Surely something can help me solve this mystery, right?

Consider: what you are is more of an idea than a thing. Stay with me . . .

If you were to look out your window and see a mountain, it looks pretty solid and real, right? But try to define it. Find the place where the mountain definitively starts and stops. Try to find how the matter of the mountain is different than the matter of the valley. Isn’t it all just dirt, rocks, weeds, trees, and rivers?  Go on a hike and find a pinecone. Is that part of the mountain? If yes, then if you were to take it home with you back into the valley, would it still be the mountain? What about the rains that fall on the mountain? Moments before the rain fell, it was cloud. But from afar the rain looks like part of the mountain. My point is that there's nothing that could be definitively and categorically called "mountain." Mountain is more of an idea.  

And so are you. We all are. That's because anything we tend to identify as "us" is in constant flux. Just like the pinecone that is part of the mountain one moment and decorating our mantle at home the next, these volatile elements can't identify us and can’t answer the question “who am I?”

We tend to identify ourselves with things that feel relatively concrete like our bodies, our thoughts, our beliefs, etc. But these things, just like the rain or pinecone, are invariably changeable. In yoga, these false identifiers are called Maya or illusions because while they hint at defining us, truly they can't point to the real us, our Being. 

Speaking to the ever-changing illusion of our bodies, there's a really cool Radiolab podcast that explore carbon dating in the cells in our bodies. On the show, experts say that the oldest cells in us are about 23 years old. Since our cells are constantly dying and new ones are being born, we are in a process of constant metamorphosis. Essentially if you're 23 years or older, every cell in your body has been born after you were born. You are literally not the same person you were when you were born. What a trip! Take your fingernails. They feel like us, right? But as soon as we cut them, suddenly they aren’t part of us anymore?
So how can we possibly "be" something that is one moment and isn't the next?

A better question is what is that thing that is "us" which never changes? Is there anything?

Yes, there is. I’ve experienced it and so have you. There are several ways to experience this part of us that never changes but I’ve experienced it most often and profoundly by practicing Yoga Nidra, this relaxing, medative practice of self-inquiry that I’m so passionate about and can’t stop talking about. Yoga Nidra has completely blown my mind because of how it as enabled me to experience my True Self. And the best way to describe this True Self is Awareness.

Yep, I'm Awareness. And so are you. That might seem pretty abstract, but when you boil it all down, the one thing that doesn’t change is your Awareness. When I experience myself as Awareness, and I proffer that we all have at some time or other, it feels like the most natural thing in the Universe. I feel as if I’m bigger and smaller than my body. I can see my thoughts and emotions as an interesting part of me but not anything that can define me. As Awareness, I feel both large and small. I feel limitless and compact at the same time. I feel like I can do anything.

As I experience myself as Awareness regularly through practicing Yoga Nidra, I gain a perspective of my life that ordinary living can't give me. As Awareness, there's nothing I can't do, nothing I need, and no such thing as time. It's an experience of happiness beyond bliss. 

This shit is real! And all I have to do is lie down, close my eyes, and listen to the teacher guide me into Awareness. Really, it’s just about learning to pay keen attention, though a teacher is nice.

It’s not hard. The channel that propels me into this Awareness comes through that liminal state of mind between waking and dreaming consciousness, similar to a daydream. That state is called the Nidra state. In fact, even if I fall asleep, the Awareness part of me is still paying attention. I might therefore wake up from a 30-minute Yoga Nidra-induced nap feeling lucid and relaxed. I  may not even remember the session.

After practicing Yoga Nidra and experiencing myself as Awareness, I go back into my world, full of its illusions, and see clearly how everything but this Awareness is simply part of the illusion. With this immense perspective, my problems make sense, I’m not freaked out by stress, I feel closer to my family, and I feel an enormous sense of purpose in the world and energy to go out and share my gifts. And when problems come around, I’m grounded knowing what I truly am is Awareness and that anything I’m experiencing in this moment is just another opportunity to practice Awareness. I then have the wherewithal to then respond to the situation rather than react.

So, there’s the True Self which is Awareness, and there’s Maya, the illusion. And here’s the interesting thing about the relationship between Maya and Awareness, Maya isn’t something to transcend on our way to the True Self, this happiness beyond bliss. Maya is a vital tool which is inextricably married to experiencing myself as Awareness. I am Awareness manifesting itself by way of body, emotions, breath, sensation, beliefs, etc. Without these changeable parts of me, without the Maya, I would never come to know myself as Awareness. Thus the marriage between Being and Illusion.

If you’d like to hear me recount an ancient myth that illustrates this marriage between the illusion of form and the Beingness which underlies all things, please click the button.

Then, please read this marvelous poem written by Meister Eckhart (translated by Daniel Ladinski) in the 1200s. It sounds like it could have been written by Shakti from the myth.

Consider joining me for my Virtual Yoga Nidra series starting THIS Sunday, October 8th, 2017. 12 pm Eastern. For six weeks, and in the comfort of your own home, we will be exploring this theme The Magic of Maya: Working Through Illusion. Each session will have a brief discussion, a gentle asana and breathing practice, followed by me leading your through a 30-minute Yoga Nidra practice so you too can feel yourself as Awareness, experience yourself as larger than body, emotions, and thoughts. Experience a happiness beyond bliss. Allow your entire Universe to be opened up. It will be relaxing and profound.

Join me as we explore the Magic of Maya and how to use the illusions of what you might think of as you to uncover your True Self.

 

When I Was the Forest

When I was the stream, when I was the
forest, when I was still the field,
when I was every hoof, foot,
fin and wing, when I
was the sky
itself,

no one ever asked me did I have a purpose, no one ever
wondered was there anything I might need,
for there was nothing
I could not
love.

It was when I left all we once were that
the agony began, the fear and questions came,
and I wept, I wept. And tears
I had never known
before.

So I returned to the river, I returned to
the mountains. I asked for their hand in marriage again,
I begged—I begged to wed every object
and creature,

and when they accepted,
God was ever present in my arms.
And He did not say,
“Where have you
been?”

For then I knew my soul—every soul—
has always held
Him.
— –Meister Eckhart (1260 – 1328)