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Compassion: Love For Self, Others, and Making Space for the 4-Train

We don’t need to change. We don’t need to improve anything. We practice deep compassion as we extend this same privilege to other people and things around us and allow them to simply be, especially those things that would easily turn our hearts bitter. 

As we practice yoga and meditation, we cultivate and practice being. We also reduce the suffering known as Dukkah, which would hold us back from experiencing our highest self.

One act of holding space is allowing yourself to be with a person or thing and allow them to be just as they or it is. I’m thinking of a friend who is sick or experiencing something mentally or spiritually challenging. Simply being with that person and holding space for them, without the need to fix or change anything, just being, allows a deep compassion to exist between the two of you.

Another act of holding space is the decisive act of making room in your heart for that which would sooner canker your heart with feelings and make your mind fester with “shoulds” and “what-ifs.” When you hold space for someone or something, you don’t have to fall in love with this person or thing but you are simply offering compassion toward them or it by not becoming sour toward it. And by so doing, you ultimately offer your own heart and mind in the same compassion–the heart that flourishes when it feels abundance and love, not bitterness, and the mind that abounds when it is sheltered from “should” and “what-ifs.”

 Here are an example of holding space:

 

The World: The NYC 4 Train once stopped en route causing me to miss my flight home.

Me: bought a NYC 4 Train T-Shirt–holding space for the 4 Train.

World: Just as it is.

Me: Accepting the world as it is.

 

Holding space is often the first part of forgiveness toward yourself and others.

This week, practice holding space for things that you either don’t understand or which bother you. 

Photo by Alex Adams

Scott Moore is a senior teacher of yoga and mindfulness in the US (New York, Salt Lake City, LA) and abroad and the author of Practical Yoga Nidra: The 10-Step Method to Reduce Stress, Improve Sleep, and Restore Your Spirit. When he’s not teaching or conducting retreats, or traveling to teach, he also writes for Conscious Life News, Elephant Journal, Mantra Magazine, Medium, and his own blog at scottmooreyoga.com. Scott also loves to run, play the saxophone, and travel with his wife and son. Check out his yoga retreats and trainings in places like Tuscany, France, and Hong Kong , his online Yoga Nidra Course and his Yoga Teacher Mentor Program. Scott just moved back to Salt Lake City after living in Southern France with his family.

 




What Are Your Favorite Failures?

Learning to Fail

 

 

I remember being freaked out as a kid to one day open my own business because…. what if I FAILED!

Well, fast forward a few decades and I’ve opened and failed in a couple of businesses. I’ve learned that I don’t need to be afraid of failure. Sure, it’s hard and nobody want’s to fail but I’ve picked myself up from some very hard places and moved on. It’s was because of some of these failures that I’ve learned what I need to do in order to enjoy some great success in other businesses, including making a living doing what I absolutely LOVE which is teaching yoga and meditation. Making a living doing what I love is one big, fat success. 

 

I think about all kinds of things I’ve failed at from relationships to jobs to ideas. Each one has taught me an invaluable lessons.  I’ve since learned not to be afraid of failures. They are powerful lessons that have shaped me into who I am today. 

 

When I was 19 I needed to earn some money for college so I was determined to do whatever it took, no matter how unpleasant the job was. Well, I got a temp job working on a construction site. I was utterly horrible at construction but was too damn proud to quit. Eventually the foreman fired me for my ineptitude. At the time I was incensed but I later realized how much of a favor he did for me. I wasn’t serving ANYONE at that job, least of all myself. He freed me to go and look for my next job, one at which I did so well that in a matter of months, the owner of the small company actually asked me if I wanted to become partners. Failing at the first job enabled me to find my next job.

 

“Congratulations on Failing”

I used to own a few yoga studios. They both failed. One of the highlights of owning these studios was when I was able to proudly host one of my greatest Yoga Nidra teachers, Dr. Richard Miller, for a weekend of workshops. Ironically, despite the great success of the workshops, he was the last big event we hosted before we had to announce that we were closing our doors. Concluding the weekend of workshops was an intimate dinner with a few teachers and Richard Miller. I came a few minutes late because I had to have a meeting with my entire staff letting them know that we were going to be closing our doors. When I told this unfortunate truth to Richard Miller, he leaned in close to me and without hesitation said, “congratulations!” 

 

At the time I was taken aback, but with reflection the lessons I’ve learned from that experience are like gold in my hand. I met my wife at that yoga studio and I often tell her that if I went through all that stress, heartache, and trouble only to have met here then it would have been worthing it. That’s true but the incredible gifts I’ve learned extend beyond just finding the love of my life. Ironically, I’ve learned so much about owning and running a business by all the many ways that my previous business didn’t work.

 

 

Failures are perhaps some of our biggest teachers so maybe we don’t have to be so afraid of them. Maybe we can even have fun with them and dare I say, even be grateful for them. Inevitably, they help us evolve into into our highest being. 

 

Of course, each thing I shoot for I aim to be successful at. The truth is that not everything works out the way I’d planned and of course there’s some incredible learning in that.

 

What are the failures you’re grateful for? 

 

Photo by Alex Adams

Scott Moore is a senior teacher of yoga and mindfulness in the US (New York, Salt Lake City, LA) and abroad and the author of Practical Yoga Nidra: The 10-Step Method to Reduce Stress, Improve Sleep, and Restore Your Spirit. When he’s not teaching or conducting retreats, or traveling to teach, he also writes for Conscious Life News, Elephant Journal, Mantra Magazine, Medium, and his own blog at scottmooreyoga.com. Scott also loves to run, play the saxophone, and travel with his wife and son. Check out his yoga retreats and trainings in places like Tuscany, France, and Hong Kong , his online Yoga Nidra Course and his Yoga Teacher Mentor Program. Scott just moved back to Salt Lake City after living in Southern France with his family.

 




Missing Lisa: A Lesson In Presence

Guilty

I found myself guilty of a serious offense. I didn’t understand the seriousness of this offense until I saw others doing it. There I was. In Paris. In the Louvre, arguably the finest art museum in the entire world. I stepped into the room where the legendary Mona Lisa is enshrined on her own wall, guarded behind bulletproof glass and a guard rail around her. This renaissance rock star even has bouncers. As I entered the room, eager to see perhaps the most famous painting in the world, I found leagues of people crowding all around her craning to get a glimpse of the famous painting. Then I noticed something strange. Nobody was looking at her. Not really.  Everyone was looking at the view finder on their cameras. People would fire off 10 or so photos and then scurry off to some other masterpiece to do likewise. What for? To go home and document the art that they didn’t really look at? The art they didn’t take the time to connect with. The art they never really experienced?

Are you ever guilty of this: you are experiencing something extraordinary and your sense that it will end and the extraordinariness will be over. So what do we do? Like a thief, we try to take it. We want to own it somehow. So we try pull out our camera phone and take a shot and post it on Facebook or whatever. I’m the first to be guilty of this. But have you ever come back home and tried to show some innocent, unsuspecting person your photos? It goes like this: “Here’s the Grand Canyon, only it’s so much bigger than the picture suggests, and oh, you should see it. Here’s the great restaurant we ate at, but oh you should taste the amazing food, this photo doesn’t do it justice.” Just as unsuspecting observer‘s eyes start to glaze over and they start looking at their watch, telling you that they fear that they may have not cleaned the lint screen on the dryer and need to get home immediately, cuz if someone broke in and decided to do a load of laundry, it might catch fire, you decide you’re going to holster the photos because they don’t do the experience justice anyway. Besides, if you spend the entire time behind the lens of your camera to try to take the moment, to own it, you’ll come home and realize that you’re trying to remember something that you never really experienced in the first place. You were never really there. At least not present, anyway.

What to Do?

So never take photos, right? Never post anything on Facebook? No, that’s dumb. Maybe try taking a photo and then put your camera away and then really try to experience it. And sometimes maybe try allowing yourself to simply experience it. Maybe sometimes even without the camera. Soak it up and experience it to the fullest. Be 100% there. Let your sense really open up to it. Smell it, breathe it, see it, feel it, taste it (although if you try to taste the Mona Lisa you better be prepared to lose your tongue. Besides, that salty broad is a vintage that is much to refined for my pallet.

What I’m getting at is that yoga helps us to practice this presence so that when we are in an extraordinary experience or even a seemingly mundane experience that with awareness could prove to be incredible, we are totally there, senses alive, ready to experience it. Like hanging with our kids, focusing on a project, experiencing a concert, or looking at the MONA LISA. Sometimes in a yoga class, I see the fidgets, the distant stares, and absent mindedness of someone whose mind is somewhere else. I want to say, come back. We’ve missed you. Be here, now. Be there later.

Sounds like Mr. Miyagi wisdom and probably is. But hey, that snitchy-snatcher can break boards with his forehead so that’s gotta count for something. You can’t do that while thinking about balancing your checkbook.

 

Photo by Alex Adams

Scott Moore is a senior teacher of yoga and mindfulness in the US (New York, Salt Lake City, LA) and abroad and the author of Practical Yoga Nidra: The 10-Step Method to Reduce Stress, Improve Sleep, and Restore Your Spirit. When he’s not teaching or conducting retreats, or traveling to teach, he also writes for Conscious Life News, Elephant Journal, Mantra Magazine, Medium, and his own blog at scottmooreyoga.com. Scott also loves to run, play the saxophone, and travel with his wife and son. Check out his yoga retreats and trainings in places like Tuscany, France, and Hong Kong , his online Yoga Nidra Course and his Yoga Teacher Mentor Program. Scott just moved back to Salt Lake City after living in Southern France with his family.




The Strangest Cocktail

We are still under quarantine and we are all struggling to keep our spirits hight.

This unique time has presented us with some “unusual opportunities,” as my friend Chris S. has said. People are out of work, plans and progress are on hold, and there’s a lot of enduring fear around simply staying safe. Oh, and there’s boredom. It’s like the weirdest cocktail ever. Here’s how the recipe would read: 

The Corona Cocktail

Ingredients:

  • 1 oz fear
  • 2 oz liquid courage
  • 2 oz whole-lotta-love
  • 1 oz “Cancelled Plans” bitters  
  • 1 Tbsp lonely lemon juice
  • 3 oz Boredom Tonic, served flat, of course
  • ½ tsp Isopropyl Alcohol
  • 1 oz aloe vera
  • Pinch of spring blossoms
  • Margarita salt
  • 2 surgical gloves
  • N-95 surgical mask
  • 6 ft. straw
  • Thermometer
  • Square of toilet paper

Instructions:

While wearing the surgical gloves and mask, prepare a margarita glass by first rubbing it with the Isopropyl alcohol. Allow glass to dry completely then wet the rim with some of the aloe vera before dipping the rim of the class in the margarita salt giving the drink its “corona.” Place the liquid ingredients including the rest of the aloe vera (but NOT the Isopropyl alcohol) into a martini shaker and shake vigorously, either by hand or with the help of an EARTHQUAKE (I live in Salt Lake City and we had an earthquake a week into quarantine) , for an indeterminate amount of time until the CDC says it’s ok to stop. Pour into glass. Using the thermometer, ensure that the liquid is below 98.6 degrees before continuing contact with the drink. Practice social distancing from your glass by using a 6-ft straw inserted into a small hole made in the front of your mask. Garnish with the pinch of spring blossoms and serve on a square of toilet paper. 

But rather than digressing into day-drinking, let me offer this… 

 

Generosity is Better than Day-Drinking

I make my living by writing, teaching yoga, hosting in-person and online yoga and meditation trainings and retreats. I feel very fortunate to have made a living doing what I love to do for almost 20 years. Yet, these times have presented me with an “unusual opportunity” to give back and offer more resources for free, by donation, or at a reduced price because we all need these valuable resources that help us practice being our best selves during these uncertain times. That and I think yoga, meditation, and some thought-provoking writing present a helluva better solution to our situation than day-drinking. 

 

That’s why I am offering things like my free Tranquility Tool Kit that includes: 2 downloadable yoga videos, 2 yoga Nidra practices, links to heart-lifting music from myself and friends, as well as some excerpts of my writing to help remind us of our own humanity. I’m also inviting many of my online classes to be by donation so that if you need a yoga class but times are tough financially, you can simply offer good vibes or pay it forward to someone else in some other fashion. 

 

One of my most important missions in life is to offer ways for people to practice being their best selves through yoga and meditation. I am so fortunate to get to make my living doing this, but now I want to give back to YOU who have given me so much through attending classes, downloading my courses online, buying my book, attending my retreats, and simply opening and reading my emails. It means so much, I can’t even tell you. 

 

Here’s the beautiful irony, as much as I try to give back, I am gifted with an increase of generosity comin’ back my way. What an incredible gift! I can’t tell you how immensely grateful I am. It is not only humbling, but reminds me that this bitter cocktail is softening our hearts and helping us to love each other. What humbles me is how despite social distancing, this Coronavirus is helping us to reach out and love each other in creative ways with support, encouragement, creativity, laughs, and resources.

 

May I invite you to find creative ways to be generous to those you can connect with. It offers such a fantastic solution to our challenging circumstances. Please stay healthy and stay sane.

 

I LOVE YOU! I feel your love back to me. Thank you. 

 

“Love you more.”

“No, I love YOU more.”

“No, I love YOU, even more”

“Impossible. Can’t love anyone as much as I love you.”

 

Photo by Alex Adams

Scott Moore is a senior teacher of yoga and mindfulness in the US (New York, Salt Lake City, LA) and abroad and the author of Practical Yoga Nidra: The 10-Step Method to Reduce Stress, Improve Sleep, and Restore Your Spirit. When he’s not teaching or conducting retreats, or traveling to teach, he also writes for Conscious Life News, Elephant Journal, Mantra Magazine, Medium, and his own blog at scottmooreyoga.com. Scott also loves to run, play the saxophone, and travel with his wife and son. Check out his yoga retreats and trainings in places like Tuscany, France, and Hong Kong , his online Yoga Nidra Course and his Yoga Teacher Mentor Program. Scott just moved back to Salt Lake City after living in Southern France with his family.




Your Tranquility Took Kit

Blessings!

Wherever you are in the world, I hope that you and your family are faring well. I hope that you are able to manage the many ramifications of the COVID-19 pandemic, be that health, financial, and isolation. This is the time to use everything that we have in our tool kit to help with troubled times. 

I want to remind us all that we CAN do hard things. YOU can do hard things. 

 

Unique Times Call for Deeper Compassion

It’s truly a unique time to draw inward and cultivate the tranquility that is possible despite events and circumstances. Perhaps, through all of this, we may open up our minds and hearts to see and learn what we may become through this experience, both individually and collectively.

Truly this time is not about success in any traditional sense of the word. We all are affected by this global pandemic and regardless how we are impacted by this pandemic, we must all go inside and learn to find our strength within. We must have compassion for everyone involved in this thing, understanding that we may all have different opinions and experiences regarding this pandemic. No one is above learning valuable lessons from this experience.

Your Tranquility Tool Kit

Photo by David Newkirk

This is the time to dig deep into our tool kit and use everything we’ve got to keep our spirits high. 

I’ve compiled a free tool kit that you can use any time you need to keep your spirits high. It’s a digital download that will give you access to all the things that can help you find your center during these times.

 

Here’s what’s in this tool kit.

 

  • For stress: Yoga Nidra for Stress recording (34 minutes)
  • For sleep: Yoga Nidra for Sleep recording (25 minutes)
  • To help you breathe: Stress Free breathing practices
  • To relax and connect to your body: Gentle Yoga Practice (60 minutes)
  • To move, strengthen, and erase stress from your body: Moderate/Intermediate Yoga Practice (60 minutes)
  • Feel-good music for these times:
    • “Let It Be” by Megan Peters and Scott Moore
    • Link to some incredible musicians’ Facebook and recordings of music
      • Megan Peters
      • John Louviere (find his Cabin Fever Covers on March 22, 2020)
    • Here’s a link to an amazing musician, MNEK, from Britain, who wrote and produced some absolutely STUNNING acapella songs about Coronavirus that are simultaneously hilarious and incredibly soulful. 
    • “Bored”
    • “Quarantine”
    • “Selfisolation”
    • “Stay Your Ass Indoors”
  • Reading pleasure: Selected posts from my blog
    • Walking Into The Fire
    • Seeing the Finger of God: New Directions in Jazz
    • On The Corner of Justice and Compassion
    • Lionel Richie is My Guru
    • Grand Theft Auto: A Study in Mindfulness
      • Part 1 
      • Part 2

 

There is no better time than now to employ all the tools in our tool kit This is the time that we’ve been preparing for. It’s time to dive deep into your tool belt and use everything you’ve got. 

 

Blessings! Stay safe. Stay sane.

 

Photo by Alex Adams

Scott Moore is a senior teacher of yoga and mindfulness in the US (New York, Salt Lake City, LA) and abroad and the author of Practical Yoga Nidra: The 10-Step Method to Reduce Stress, Improve Sleep, and Restore Your Spirit. When he’s not teaching or conducting retreats, or traveling to teach, he also writes for Conscious Life News, Elephant Journal, Mantra Magazine, Medium, and his own blog at scottmooreyoga.com. Scott also loves to run, play the saxophone, and travel with his wife and son. Check out his yoga retreats and trainings in places like Tuscany, France, and Hong Kong , his online Yoga Nidra Course and his Yoga Teacher Mentor Program. Scott just moved back to Salt Lake City after living in Southern France with his family.




Finding Harmony in Chaos

Harmony In Chaos

In these times, it’s easy to feel as if everything is thrown into chaos. The following story is about how sometimes harmony and rhythm can be found in the chaos.

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

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

Holy

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

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

Rebirth

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

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

Read  or listen to the full article

 

Photo by Alex Adams

Scott Moore is a senior teacher of yoga and mindfulness in the US (New York, Salt Lake City, LA) and abroad and the author of Practical Yoga Nidra: The 10-Step Method to Reduce Stress, Improve Sleep, and Restore Your Spirit. When he’s not teaching or conducting retreats, or traveling to teach, he also writes for Conscious Life News, Elephant Journal, Mantra Magazine, Medium, and his own blog at scottmooreyoga.com. Scott also loves to run, play the saxophone, and travel with his wife and son. Check out his yoga retreats and trainings in places like Tuscany, France, and Hong Kong , his online Yoga Nidra Course and his Yoga Teacher Mentor Program. Scott just moved back to Salt Lake City after living in Southern France with his family.




Stepping Into The Fire

The Refiner’s Fire

The refiner’s fire comes in many forms. Sometimes you choose the fire and other times the fire chooses you. The fire could be a yoga class, a journey, a ceremony, an illness, a divorce, a new job, a birth, or a death. I can almost guarantee that over the course of your life, you have seen and will see this refiner’s fire in myriad forms. In part, the purpose of this fire is to make you seriously uncomfortable. Sometimes The Fatemaker makes us walk on hot coals to get us to pay attention.

In yoga philosophy the Sanskrit word tapas means the heat necessary for transformation. Since time out of mind, and through many cultures and spiritual traditions, people have used heat in sacred ceremony as a way of powerfully transforming people’s body, mind, and spirit.

Need for Change

Several years ago, I needed change in my life. I felt stuck with some deeply personal issues. Everything I was doing to help gain clarity in my life seemed fruitless. Then, my friend Wendy who has a deep practice in Native American spirituality, invited me to attend a sweat lodge ceremony she was hosting at her house. She told me that a trusted medicine man she knew would be in town in a week or so and would be officiating the ceremony. I felt that this invitation to do this ceremony was providence, that the Universe was offering me a powerful answer to my life’s circumstances and perhaps I could gain some clarity. I said yes. I decided that what I needed was to walk into the fire. 

A sweat lodge ceremony is sort of like burning down the forest to see through the trees and to illuminate the stars and see the mountains around you so you can forge a path forward. 

The heat of the ceremony is a ritual, a physical action that transforms body, mind, and spirit. Previously, I had attended and even conducted dozens of sweat lodge ceremonies. I almost always conduct a sweat during the yoga retreats that I host a few times a year at my uncle’s cabin in the Uinta Mountains in Utah, so I assumed that I knew more or less what I was about to experience. 

I was wrong. 

The Ceremony of Fire

The day for the ceremony came and we made all the preparations. Once we were situated inside, an officiator began to carry several red-hot stones, one-by-one, from the coals of a fir to carefully arrange them in the shallow pit located in the middle of the lodge. As the mound of hot stones grew, I could feel their heat pressing into my legs resting crossed-legged on the bare earth a mere 18 inches away. 

After the stones were in place, the officiator closed the flap that served as the only door, and the lodge plunged into blackness except for the deep, red glow of the stones. Immediately, the medicine man began to ladle water onto the hot stones making them hiss angrily like threatening rattlesnakes. A wave of searing heat quickly smacked me in the face and I reeled feeling as though all the air inside the lodge had been suddenly sucked out.

I sat among strangers, swallowed by heat and darkness, blinking wildly as I gulped down hot air which began to boil me from the inside. Within only a minute or so, my pores had opened and my entire body shimmered with hot sweat, cascading down my back, dripping into my eyes and off the tip of my nose, hitting the earth with tapping thuds. 

The medicine man began to play a drum in a fast staccato. As if on cue, my core temperature rose and my heart began pounding in my ears, almost matching his drum. Leonard sang in loud and feral syllables, a language I did not understand, one of pure spirit. 

After many minutes, he stopped singing and drumming and began imploring the Great Spirit, Father Sun, Mother Earth, the souls of the living and the dead, inviting the spirits of the elements, the stars, and our ancestors to join us in this ceremony of darkness and fire. Once the medicine man had finished his long prayers, he asked each person in the circle to pray aloud in turn. One by one, timid voices began offering their desires, hopes, and sufferings to the darkness and to the patient ears of the red-hot stones. The medicine man said that all forms of prayer are accepted in this church of mud and stones. As each person prayed, the temperature rose steadily and I felt as though time itself was melting, each minute stretching into oppressively long hours. The unbearable heat moved my heart from open to merely patient to annoyed and then to straight-up angry. I felt as though each person took lifetimes to say what was in their heart, while all I could think was, “Hurry up and pray, dammit!”

New Limits

Then, after nearly four hours of wrestling with this physical and spiritual heat, I had reached my limit. I was starting to drift into unconsciousness, causing waves of panic to rise within me. Thoughts of, “Oh well, I did my best” soon eroded to, “F–this, I am leaving!” and I sprang to flee for my life. I crawled in a haze, desperate to get out the door. I was drunk with a lust to breathe fresh air, to lay my bare skin on the cool grass, to get out of that heat. I reached the door, popped open the flap, and as my body was about half way out, Leonard placed his big, calloused hand on my back in a supportive gesture and in my weakened state, the simple weight of his hand caused my arms to buckle and I collapsed onto my belly, face-down in the mud. I was half in and half out of the lodge. Panting. Head spinning. It was now dark outside though I could not guess at the hour. I gulped in the cool, night air. 

“Brother,” Leonard said as he began to bless me…  and for several minutes I lay face-down in the mud as Leonard spoke to the spirits in and around me. He blessed me with strengths and wisdom. He blessed me with a special gift to see into the future and into the past. He blessed me with the ability to see into different realms, the cosmic and the earthly, the masculine and feminine, to stand at the crossroads and translate to as well as direct others. He blessed me to heal my heart. He blessed my relationships, each a sacred ceremony in and of themselves. He blessed me to listen. He blessed me to speak. 

After 10 or 15 minutes of prayers, I began to feel renewed in body and spirit. A surge of courage washed over me. My strength returned. I pushed back up to hands and knees and felt surprised as I felt myself crawling back inside the lodge. Despite it all, I was crawling back into the heat. 

Finding Courage

As I took my seat again in the circle, the officiators shut the door, closing off the cool, night air but not before bringing in an enormous, beautiful bowl of cold, fresh raspberries. Now something you ought to know about me is that up to this point in my life, I wasn’t all that partial raspberries. Tart pebbles in my mouth. But that night, after all that I had been through, I was sharp, alert, elated, and this experience had blessed me with an unparalleled presence. Despite the fact that I didn’t care for raspberries, I’m here to tell you that when that bowl was passed to me, I took three cold, fresh raspberries and placed them into my tongue, and at that moment I saw the face of god! Never has anything tasted so beautiful, so sweet, so refreshing.

Fire Brings Clarity

I went on to finish the ceremony and after another 90 minutes, I left that sweat lodge feeling reborn. After, as my body lay steaming on the grass, looking up into the night sky, I was given the most beautiful clarity, clarity that has shaped who I am today.

Sometimes you choose the fire. Sometimes the fire chooses you. Either way, you will experience the heat of refinement throughout your life and as you do, it will clarify the path that you need to take.

 

Barn’s burnt down.

Now I can see the moon

Mizuta Masahide

 

Read the full story

Photo by Alex Adams

Scott Moore is a senior teacher of yoga and mindfulness in the US (New York, Salt Lake City, LA) and abroad and the author of Practical Yoga Nidra: The 10-Step Method to Reduce Stress, Improve Sleep, and Restore Your Spirit. When he’s not teaching or conducting retreats, or traveling to teach, he also writes for Conscious Life News, Elephant Journal, Mantra Magazine, Medium, and his own blog at scottmooreyoga.com. Scott also loves to run, play the saxophone, and travel with his wife and son. Check out his yoga retreats and trainings in places like Tuscany, France, and Hong Kong , his online Yoga Nidra Course and his Yoga Teacher Mentor Program. Scott just moved back to Salt Lake City after living in Southern France with his family.




There Will Be an Answer, Let It Be

Crazy Times: We Got This

Crazy times, my friend. Crazy times. None of us have any immediate answers to this global health crisis. It’s real and serious. Still, I know that we have the power to beat this on every level. We really do. We are resourceful, creative, and resilient beings. The crisis has ratcheted up our response level to the utmost and this means stepping up to be smart, precautionary, AND compassionate.

Fight The Fear

While the world’s best and brightest are working hard on figuring out how to fight the actual virus, I believe we all have a different and equally important job: to fight the fear of this virus with a weapon-grade love that has the power to annihilate selfishness, worry, and scarcity. Let’s pull together in these difficult times and fight fear with an increase of love and compassion for each other. By being smart AND compassionate, this thing will level off, and in the end our collective heart will be stronger because of it.

From My Window to Yours

I wanted to share something really special with you…

I heard a story about many Italians who are isolated in their homes because of the pandemic and as a way of connecting to those around them, they are opening their windows and literally singing to each other.

During my meditation practice a few nights ago, the words to “Let It Be” drifted into my mind. After my meditation, I texted my friend, Meg, singer/songwriter extraordinaire and owner of Acoustic Music in Salt Lake City, and asked her if she wouldn’t mind recording it for me to share with you. She was already tucked into bed with the pups and ready to call it a night but when she got my text she became so excited by the idea that she got up, cracked a beer, and recorded it on her phone. One take. I took the track and layered some sweet clarinet behind her sultry voice.

So, from my window to yours, here’s a little music to bring us together in times of trouble. You gotta hear this!

Namaste. Let It Be!

 

Photo by Alex Adams

Scott Moore is a senior teacher of yoga and mindfulness in the US (New York, Salt Lake City, LA) and abroad and the author of Practical Yoga Nidra: The 10-Step Method to Reduce Stress, Improve Sleep, and Restore Your Spirit. When he’s not teaching or conducting retreats, or traveling to teach, he also writes for Conscious Life News, Elephant Journal, Mantra Magazine, Medium, and his own blog at scottmooreyoga.com. Scott also loves to run, play the saxophone, and travel with his wife and son. Check out his yoga retreats and trainings in places like Tuscany, France, and Hong Kong , his online Yoga Nidra Course and his Yoga Teacher Mentor Program. Scott currently lives in Southern France with his wife and son. 

 




Change Rooms In Your Mind for a Day

Photo by Seneca Moore

 

Change Rooms in Your Mind for a Day

—Hafiz

I climb out of the car after 6 hours of freeway driving, fun holiday-weekend traveling and an amazing change of scenery, and jump into a different landscape, a dark, cool, spring evening.  Summed up:  short sleeves, short shorts, short run. The fragrant spring blossoms! I climb the hill to 13th and run by past East High with The Chili Peppers and Higher Ground rocking loudly in my ears; Adele, past the fire station; Marven’s Garden’s Is She Comin’ My Way, a band that has been very influential to me, as round the corner and back to my house; a little GnR as I climb my steps. Home. Maybe some Life cereal, write this bit, and then some sleep and things will feel different. They already do.

 

When shit goes down, and you don’t know where to go and what to do with whatever is troubling you, try simply changing your environment for a little while. This is what came to me on my run. One of my dear teachers, Jaisri, would tell me to just go walk outside, to connect with nature which is regulated by the principle of harmony. I guess that’s what Wallace Stevens meant when he said, “Sometimes the truth depends upon a walk around the lake.”

I guess that’s what I’m thinking about: Truth. Or at least truth as translated into what I believe at that moment. Because I think, and I’m sure you’d maybe agree with me here, that sometimes what we believe is true and what is True with a capitol T isn’t always the same thing. That’s because beliefs are constantly changing. For example, I used to believe that if I ate watermelon seeds, I’d grow a watermelon in my belly. Sure, I was 4 years old but that belief changed. I don’t worry about watermelon belly anymore but I still worry. Some things that I believe are true are True and others aren’t. The important thing, I think, is to understand there is a difference.

Yoga philosophy teaches us that our beliefs are a part of us but are changeable and therefore not the best representation of our True Self. Beliefs are just beliefs. Once we place our awareness above our perceived beliefs, and this includes worries, then we raise our consciousness to see something broader. We then escape the trap of thinking that things have to be all black and white, this way or that, right or wrong. We can see past our own rigid ideology (a schema of beliefs) and in so doing invite others to do the same. I believe this rise above ideology, to a paradoxical place where both sets of beliefs can be right, or to a place that is ultimately more important if either is right, is what harmony really means.

 

As I write, at this very moment, I’m looking next to me at the Zen painting hanging on my wall that I bought when I lived in Asia, where a monk with his giant calligraphy brush painted the symbol for harmony. I think I really understand this painting for the first time. 

To raise our consciousness like this, to exit our old beliefs, the engines that make us worry, means we need to take a vacation from our own mind, from the way we’ve been previously thinking. Not that we have to change very radically. Just see a different something different. Like Hafiz says, we’ve gotta change rooms in our minds for a day. When you don’t know where to go, change your environment. Go on a walk. Get into nature. Jump into a yoga class and get out of those worry landscapes, those fear landscapes, and connect, even in a small way, with that part of you that is Harmony, that is the rue part of yourself.

One of my dear family members, a German scholar, loves to quote a Prussian general speaking to another general as he looks over a devastated battle field, “the situation is hopeless but not serious.” Thanks, Alan.

 

Photo by Alex Adams

Scott Moore is a senior teacher of yoga and mindfulness in the US (New York, Salt Lake City, LA) and abroad and the author of Practical Yoga Nidra: The 10-Step Method to Reduce Stress, Improve Sleep, and Restore Your Spirit. When he’s not teaching or conducting retreats, or traveling to teach, he also writes for Conscious Life News, Elephant Journal, Mantra Magazine, Medium, and his own blog at scottmooreyoga.com. Scott also loves to run, play the saxophone, and travel with his wife and son. Check out his yoga retreats and trainings in places like Tuscany, France, and Hong Kong , his online Yoga Nidra Course and his Yoga Teacher Mentor Program. Scott currently lives in Southern France with his wife and son. 




The Yoga Nidra: The Meditation Practice of Sleep

Photo by David Newkirk

The Yoga of Sleep

I absolutely love Yoga Nidra! Yoga Nidra is the transformation so-called “yoga of sleep,” a very approachable yet effective way of experiencing the Oneness of your being through the process of a relaxing journey through deepening layers of Awareness. Yoga Nidra acts kind of like a guided meditation, where practitioners lie down, close their eyes and listen to a facilitator (teacher) lead to experience themselves as Awareness itself. The fact that Yoga Nidra is so easy to practice and often leaves practitioners feeling rested, illuminated, and calm, makes this a popular, simple, and effective way of exploring one’s higher Self. Yoga Nidra is like napping your way to enlightenment!

Yoga Nidra: Shaping Lives

I’ve been practicing Yoga Nidra since 2005 and have been teaching it since 2008. Yoga Nidra has taught me more about myself and the Universe than perhaps any other practice. It has also personally facilitated some of the most illuminating, spiritual, healing, experiences of my life and has truly shaped me into who I am today. 

I have also seen Yoga Nidra transform the lives of countless students, facilitating everything from spiritual growth such as connecting with their Eternal being to tapping in to a wise inner teacher to hear vital personal direction. Students love telling me about how Yoga Nidra has helped them with practical issues like getting better sleep, managing stress, and lowering blood pressure, to name only a few.

I truly believe that Yoga Nidra can change the world by helping people to be the very best and illuminated versions of themselves. Sharing Yoga Nidra is one of my primary missions in life and I’m thrilled to be spreading the news of this transformational practice around the world.

Seeing Past the Illusions

Yoga Nidra is but one practice that leads people to experience their highest Selves and to come to the ultimate state of Oneness with all things. The explicit purpose for Yoga Nidra is to layer your attention through the illusions of the ego (the mayakoshas) in order to dis-identify as the ego and instead identify as Awareness itself. These layers of illusion are:

  • Anamaya kosha, or animal layer
  • Pranamaya kosha or energy layer
  • Manomaya kosha or emotions/thoughts layer
  • Vijnanamaya kosha or dreaming, unconscious, beliefs, and symbols layer
  • Anandamaya kosha or bliss layer

Yoga Nidra helps a person to recognize these parts of themselves to explore the part of themselves that can simply witness these parts. Soon a person appreciates these changeable parts of their being as the primary way to illuminate that which is unchanging, their True Nature, that of Awareness itself. Doing so heals what I feel is the fundamental human problem which is feeling separate from Source.

I believe that wellness is the byproduct of Awareness and as such, the Awareness a practitioner may experience through Yoga Nidra can catalyze myriad other kinds of transformations in many practical and useful ways such as help with stress, grief, setting goals, starting your day, getting great sleep, achieving a state of relaxed alertness, and even creating abundance in your life. These are just a few of the many topics you’ll find in my Yoga Nidra recordings

 

Photo by Alex Adams

Scott Moore is a senior teacher of yoga and mindfulness in the US (New York, Salt Lake City, LA) and abroad and the author of Practical Yoga Nidra: The 10-Step Method to Reduce Stress, Improve Sleep, and Restore Your Spirit. When he’s not teaching or conducting retreats, or traveling to teach, he also writes for Conscious Life News, Elephant Journal, Mantra Magazine, Medium, and his own blog at scottmooreyoga.com. Scott also loves to run, play the saxophone, and travel with his wife and son. Check out his yoga retreats and trainings in places like Tuscany, France, and Hong Kong , his online Yoga Nidra Course and his Yoga Teacher Mentor Program. Scott currently lives in Southern France with his wife and son. 

 




Teaching Yoga Nidra: The Yoga of Sleep

I just spent the weekend hosting an incredible live Yoga Nidra Training, training other people not only what Yoga Nidra is about and what this incredible practice is pointing to, but also how to skillfully teach it to others. I’m always so pumped when I get done teaching trainings! Even though I’m supposed to be the one who is teaching the subject, in the process of preparing and teaching, I learn so much about it! Have you had that experience, where you’ve tried to teach or write about something but in so doing, you find yourself learning so much in the process? Crazy, right?

Photo by David Newkirk

In my training program I try to emphasize what the main principles are around Yoga Nidra and how it’s different that other types of mindfulness practices such as that Yoga Nidra:

  • Is a guided meditation or practice

  • Is the meditation that invites you to explore all the layers of your ego so that you may leverage them to illuminate the infinite part of you, the part that is Source itself.

  • Helps you to become identified as unchanging Awareness itself through changing elements of the ego (Koshas)

  • Allows you to simply welcome, recognize, and witness whatever arises rather than trying to control or find focus your mind to focus only on certain things.

  • Leverages relaxation as the secret weapon to enter the liminal Nidra state, the daydream state between waking and dreaming consciousness thus blurring the conscious mind’s iron grip on “reality” and showing yourself that you’re much, much more expansive than anything that could be expressed by a binary system, that your True Nature is a Both And experience.

  • Helps you to see your life and problems with astounding clarity to eliminate self-limiting beliefs, heal body/mind/sprit, and open up to your true essence with is love.

Just to name a few …

My hope is to try to teach my students what Yoga Nidra is pointing to so that they can understand for themselves how to guide people using the power of their own authentic voice to meet the needs of their own clients and students, not to mention leading themselves through the transformational practice. Once you know the what and why of the practice you don’t need a rote, dogmatic approach to do what you were naturally born to do which is to help yourself and others awaken to their True Essence.

That said, it’s nice to have some guidelines, some maps, along the way until you can create your own voice. In my training I have several scripts that come along with the training manual and in the spirit of sharing the love, I would like to offer one of my favorites scripts to you for free. It is a script that uses Yoga Nidra to anchor a person’s Awareness in their body by exploring the Anamaya kosha, the body layer of the ego. This script acts like a body scan in many ways and is very practical to help yourself or students enter an extremely relaxed state, to facilitate healing to the body by bringing deep Awareness to it, and to anchor their attention on the thing that is almost always present in our attention field, our body. It promotes calm and deep relaxation while also opening a person’s Awareness.

Feel free to use this however you’d like, however I would appreciate if you reference me.

If you would like to pre-purchase my volume of 20 Yoga Nidra scripts, ranging on practices that help you or your students achieve greater compassion, rest, goal setting, managing stress, grief, or a suite of other subjects, click the button below. Many of them are the scripts for my recently released Essential Yoga Nidra by Scott Moore Volume 1, over seven hours of Yoga Nidra recordings for every-day life.

Scott Moore Yoga (Photo by Alex Adams)

 

Scott Moore is a senior teacher of yoga and mindfulness in the US (New York, Salt Lake City, LA) and abroad and the author of Practical Yoga Nidra: The 10-Step Method to Reduce Stress, Improve Sleep, and Restore Your Spirit. When he’s not teaching or conducting retreats, or traveling to teach, he also writes for Conscious Life News, Elephant Journal, Mantra Magazine, Medium, and his own blog at scottmooreyoga.com. Scott also loves to run, play the saxophone, and travel with his wife and son. Check out his yoga retreats and trainings in places like Tuscany, France, and Hong Kong , his online Yoga Nidra Course and his Yoga Teacher Mentor Program. Scott currently lives in Southern France with his wife and son.

 




The Crossroads

The crossroads is a magical place. It’s the place where the ethereal, spiritual, and philosophical meets the physical, real, and practical. Where these two roads intersect is the holy ground of transformation, it’s the place where we have to drop our one-track thinking and see the many roads. Practicing yoga means to be at the crossroads.

 

One legend of the Crossroads involves the King of the Blues, Robert Johnson. It is said that one night, deep in the South, the Delta, Robert Johnson left home and as the clock struck midnight, he found himself standing at the intersection between here and there, now and then, this way and that way. There he found the Devil who showed him what was possible with a guitar and told him he would never amount to anything unless he sold his soul in exchange for learning how to play the guitar like nobody’s business. Robert Johnson weighed his options and cashed in his soul (or maybe found it) by making the deal with the devil. He threw his guitar over his shoulder and walked down the road to there, possibility, and everything, giving up on the roads from there, safe comfortable, and the predictable. As he strutted down the road he said to the Devil, “I am the blues.”

These crossroads don’t only involve the devil and the blues. Crossroads exist all over the place, wherever the other world meets this one, wherever the spirit world meets the physical one. Places like churches, temples, and holy sites. Your yoga mat is a crossroads. It’s like a tabernacle, what ancient people used as a traveling temple. Your yoga mat is the traveling temple where spirit and body meet to show you what’s possible inside of you. And yes, I’ve meet the devil there before. I’ve seen him in sitting on my tight hip in kapatasana, pigeon pose; on my steel hamstrings in hanumanasana, the splits pose; and I’ve seen him doing a victory dance on my quivering raised leg in that damned standing splits pose. I’ve come face to face with my physical limitations, yes, but also with my own neurosis, my deepest fears, self-limiting thoughts, and deep, deep wells of grief. I’ve seen that everything is linked to everything else. I’ve meet the divine on my mat as well.  I see regular joy in handstands, pleasure and peace in savasana, fun in transitions, and possibilities in postures. I get regular hits of insight, of purpose, and a deep sense of belonging. Most importantly, at the crossroads of where physical meets spiritual, I get regular glimpses of the real who and what I am.

Robert Johnson sold his soul, meaning he gave up the simple, naïve way of seeing the world for a richer, more comprehensive and real view of the world. And for us to experience the larger view of ourselves we have to give up something. I believe instead of selling our soul, we sell the armor that protects us from experiencing only the good, the simple, and the happy. I believe that sometimes we must walk down the roads of grief, struggle, and pain to see how immensely beautiful life is.  It’s the larger view. It’s the view of heaven and it will cost you your life. At least, the way you’ve been living it before now. And you can never go back. But in the end after seeing what’s possible, would you want to?

This week, try celebrating the crossroads and explore that place where heaven meets earth.

 

Photo by Alex Adams

Scott Moore is a senior teacher of yoga and mindfulness in the US (New York, Salt Lake City, LA) and abroad and the author of Practical Yoga Nidra: The 10-Step Method to Reduce Stress, Improve Sleep, and Restore Your Spirit. When he’s not teaching or conducting retreats, or traveling to teach, he also writes for Conscious Life News, Elephant Journal, Mantra Magazine, Medium, and his own blog at scottmooreyoga.com. Scott also loves to run, play the saxophone, and travel with his wife and son. Check out his yoga retreats and trainings in places like Tuscany, France, and Hong Kong , his online Yoga Nidra Course and his Yoga Teacher Mentor Program. Scott currently lives in Southern France with his wife and son.




Lessons In Fear

The following is an excerpt from by blog that I thought would be great to reproduce here.

In 2009, I attend and co-hosted a yoga retreat in the tropical wonderland of Costa Rica. One of the greatest appeals about the retreat was the fact that we got to live right in the thick of the rainforest. The prospect of living so proximal to nature was certainly alluring; however, I must admit that something I didn’t think through completely was the fact  that moving into the  rain forest meant becoming roommates with those already living there, i.e., alien insects, poisonous frogs and deadly scorpions, leopards, jaguars, pumas, and really, really, really big spiders.

One night, I was turning down the covers (you see where this is going), preparing to hop into bed, when I encountered a rainforest roommate who also happened to be the biggest damn spider in the history of the world. He was big and brown and hairy and by the look of him could easily do push-ups with a Volkswagen on his back.

Crouched on the floor, conspicuously poised right next to the bedpost, the spider made it quite obvious to me that his plan was to wait quietly next to my bed, unnoticed, until I went to sleep, and then stealthily crawl up the bedpost, latch onto my jugular vein, and suck me dry, like the unrequited, wanton yearnings of a pallid male model in the tweener saga “Twilight.”
At first I just stood there, stunned (this is their first attack tactic, you know; they stun you with their mere presence so that you are too afraid to run away, and then they come over and eat you whole.) I knew that I couldn’t kill it; I get the guilts when I kill a mosquito, let alone something big enough to have its own Facebook page. Besides, I think you need a permit to kill an animal that big.

I grabbed a glass jar and went back into the other room, where I crouched and looked at the spider. He was looking back at me.

He didn’t move.

I didn’t move.

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

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

I grabbed a stack of poems I planned to share at the retreat and slid the paper underneath the jar, a new floor for the spider. Now with the spider between jar and paper, I felt confident to lift him up and take him next door to our friend Molly, who was fascinated with all the flora and fauna of the rain forest. I knew she’d love this.

After we all ooed and ahhhed, and had a good communal freakout, we decided to set our captive free. We walked down the path so that the 8-legged monster would be dissuaded to simply crawl back to my room and continue on with his plan to kill me. We lifted the jar off the spider and quickly backed away.

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

So we did the only logical thing: we photographed the beast so we could show our friends the next day just how monstrous this spider was. We planned on posting it on social media and wondered if we could link to the spiders page.

It wasn’t until I looked at the photos the next day that I realized just how perfect the scene was. This spider was stretched, all eight hairy legs of him, upon the poem called the “Guest House” by Rumi (translated by Coleman Barks). In this poem, the 13th century Persian Sufi mystic asserts that life is a guest house and that we must entertain everything that comes to our door. The poem goes something like this: “This being human is a guest house. Every morning a new arrival. A joy a depression, a meanness, a 900 lb spider who wants to kill you. . .” My translation might be different than Coleman Barks’s.

Rumi says that we are to entertain everything that comes our way because, who knows, the event that happens to show up on our doorstep, though uninvited, may be the very thing we need, or the very thing to prepare us for something else that comes next; it may teach us something important and valuable.

For me, yoga is such wonderful training to keep me aware and open enough to see these visitors as lessons and teachers, as well as handle them with some poise and grace when they come knockin’.

What I learned from my unexpected visitor:

You have to take whatever comes, good or bad. We cannot always control what comes our way, but we can control how we react to it In itself, the difficult act of just staying open to what shows up changes us, heals us, transforms us
Some things happen for a reason. Other things just happen. Often what scares us most isn’t malicious but just another part of the world following its own script.

Oh, and make sure that when sleeping in the rainforest you check around your bed before you hop in

The Guesthouse

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

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

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

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

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

Photo by Alex Adams

Scott Moore is a senior teacher of yoga and mindfulness in the US (New York, Salt Lake City, LA) and abroad and the author of Practical Yoga Nidra: The 10-Step Method to Reduce Stress, Improve Sleep, and Restore Your Spirit. When he’s not teaching or conducting retreats, or traveling to teach, he also writes for Conscious Life News, Elephant Journal, Mantra Magazine, Medium, and his own blog at scottmooreyoga.com. Scott also loves to run, play the saxophone, and travel with his wife and son. Check out his yoga retreats and trainings in places like Tuscany, France, and Hong Kong , his online Yoga Nidra Course and his Yoga Teacher Mentor Program. Scott currently lives in Southern France with his wife and son.




How to Change the World with Meditation

A Gift for Earth

Today on our walk home from the playground, I told my toddler that we are going to celebrate New Years in a few days. He me asked what New Years is and I told him that it’s kinda like the earth celebrating her birthday. “Papa,” he asked, “how does the earth eat cake and what does she want for her birthday?” I told him that the earth doesn’t mind if we eat cake on her behalf and that what she wants for her birthday is for us all to be more mindful. The earth wants us to meditate.

 

But let’s get real for a second—can meditation really make a difference in the world?

 

The Science of Meditation

I know that those of us who are rationalists or scientifically-minded might be thinking that navel gazing is not going to solve the world’s problems. So I’d like to share a little bit of what the science says about how meditation can make a real difference in the world. It’s important to remember that first and foremost, science and meditation have the same purpose: both are simply methods of inquiry. Neither is designed to “prove” anything but rather to practice observing. Both practices point us toward our ground of Being, that of Awareness itself. But Awareness can change the world and many scientists have shown how.

 

In one such carefully controlled scientific experiment in Washington D.C., a group of meditators were shown to reverse the violent crime trend in the area by 23%. They wanted to show how easy it is to reduce crime and social stress by using meditation. The regular trend toward violent crime resumed after their meditation. These scientists weren’t alone. About 40 earlier studies already showed how meditation could create more coherence in society. Their aim in doing this D.C. study was to show key government officials and lawmakers the power that meditation can have to change the world. 

(Scientific Research on Maharishi’s Transcendental Meditation and TM-Sidhi Program vol 6 – 489; published by Maharishi European Research University and Maharishi International University.)

 

As scientists have continued to study this phenomenon of affecting the outside world through meditation, they have learned that the benefits come more from the quality of meditation rather than the quantity of meditators or time meditating. More focused meditation = better results.

As Above, So Below

So how does that work? How can one, seemingly autonomous thing possibly affect another? Ancient wisdom may give us a clue. Perhaps you’ve heard the ancient Hermetic phrase, “As above, so below.” This same ancient wisdom is also contained in the Gayatri Mantra, a mantra contained within the ancient Vedic the Rig Veda, dating back to about 5 thousand years ago. The Gayatri Mantra states quite succinctly that everything comes from Source and we if truly understood this we would see that we are no different than the thing we seek. We are all a part of everything else and that one part of the world and Universe effects another. 

In science, this principle is known as quantum entanglement. Dr. Nicolas Gisin of the University of Geneva conducted an experiment where they split a photon in two (a photon is an elementary particle which makes up the electromagnetic field atoms) and sent the now two different photons to different labs which were 14 miles apart. When they manipulated one photon in one lab, the other photon 14 miles away acted precisely in the same way as its twin, showing that it was still energetically linked even though it was in a different location.

 

And as a human twin, someone who was once one egg and split into two, I personally can tell you many fascinating stories that all could be chalked up to “quantum entanglement.” 

 

In more ways than we might think, we are all like twins, like these photons, separate beings originating from the same egg, the same source. We all have the power to affect everything else that was also originated by that Source. Science is catching up with ancient wisdom that teaches us that changing the outer world depends on how we hold our inner world. Truly we must become the very thing we wish to see change in the world. Perhaps one of the modern world’s greatest authorities on changing the world, Mahatma Gandhi, said:

 

“We but mirror the world. All the tendencies present in the outer world are to be found in the world of our body. If we could change ourselves, the tendencies in the world would also change. As a man changes his own nature, so does the attitude of the world change towards him. This is the divine mystery supreme. A wonderful thing it is and the source of our happiness. We need not wait to see what others do.”

Respond vs. React

But what if our inner world isn’t leading us toward a better self or a better world? If history teaches us anything, it’s that it repeats itself. Many of the negative things that happen in the world are the product of individuals and nations continually reacting mindlessly to global events with fear, anger, and selfishness. While these are all natural, human qualities, we do have the power to wield other natural but more-elevated qualities like compassion in order to respond to these same events. 

 

To respond mindfully means to act from a grounded place of observation, often with compassion, and without reactive judgement about it. This does not mean being passive; quite the opposite. And at crucial times when it is our responsibility to respond powerfully to important world events— like climate change, dramatic political polarization, hegemony, and massive unequal distribution of wealth— we may do so from a place of grounded compassion and not from a reactive place of anger or fear, in order to break the cycle of negative reactiveness.

 

The first order of operations for any individual to respond positively to world events, is to first practice personal responsiveness by simply learning to draw inward and mediate. Before they can positively affect the world outside, they must do so inside. “As above, so below.” One individual can change the world and meditation can help break the vicious cycle of repeating negative events and can change the world. 

 

This New Year, let’s give the earth a marvelous birthday gift. Let’s change the world for the better by changing ourselves for the better through meditation. Start meditating today and practice responding to personal and global events from a place of grounded and compassionate responsiveness. Together we can change the world for the better! 

 

I truly believe in meditation and I consider it one of my most important missions in life to invite you to be your best self through the power of meditation. So, to make meditating fun and accessible I’m offering a 31-Day Meditation Challenge during the month of January. The challenge is to simply meditate at any time that works for you during the day, for 15 minutes a day, every day for 31 days. Many people have taken this challenge and have extended it to 60 days and even 6 months. 

 

For the novice meditator, I’ll give you plenty of guides and even guided meditations you can follow all month through emails and a support page on my website full of articles, recordings, and helpful links. For the experienced meditator, just do what you normally do but by joining our group you’ll be part of a cyber sangha. Either way, I’ll be giving you regular support and encouragement throughout the month. We will even have the chance to meditate together with some live, online meditation sessions. 

 

The challenge costs $31 and as an incentive to finish it, for everyone who succeeds, you will have the option to get 100% of your tuition refunded to you. Dead serious. Many people have even recruited their family and friends to enroll to create their own meditation tribe for added support and accountability. 

 

Join me!

 

Photo by Alex Adams

Scott Moore is a senior teacher of yoga and mindfulness in the US (New York, Salt Lake City, LA) and abroad and the author of Practical Yoga Nidra: The 10-Step Method to Reduce Stress, Improve Sleep, and Restore Your Spirit. When he’s not teaching or conducting retreats, or traveling to teach, he also writes for Conscious Life News, Elephant Journal, Mantra Magazine, Medium, and his own blog at scottmooreyoga.com. Scott also loves to run, play the saxophone, and travel with his wife and son. Check out his yoga retreats and trainings in places like Tuscany, France, and Hong Kong , his online Yoga Nidra Course and his Yoga Teacher Mentor Program. Scott currently lives in Southern France with his wife and son. 




A Winter of Listening

A Time to Come Inside

 

So close to the Winter Solstice, the day that the sun stands still on the horizon, where the days are the shortest and the nights are the longest, it only makes sense to consider going inside. This means spending more time indoors but also spending more time in our own minds through practices like meditation.

 

What does it look like to close your eyes, to go inside your head and to go inside your heart and really take a look at what’s inside there? I’m talking a deep knowing of your own soul, away from the chatter of our every-day business, the news, and the buzz of the holidays. The process is as easy as closing the door, turning off your phone, sitting on the floor and closing your eyes.

 

Yet, Sometimes we’re afraid to go inside and turn off the chatter because we’re afraid of what it might look like in there. We’re so accustomed to the noise that we don’t know who we’d be if we turned it all off. And indeed we have to prepare ourselves to take that big look inside and confront whatever might come to the surface, sometimes a well-spring of grief or loneliness or hurt. Sometimes we find a world of doubt, worry, ennui, or maybe the worst of them all, “The Shoulds,” that damning list of expectations about our life which is not fulfilled nor is it on track to be.

 

With a little practice and maybe a smidge of direction, what’s possible is to apprentice oneself to the true and deep knowing of Self. What’s possible is the ability to see yourself for who you are, a radiant, conscious, sentient being with beautiful complexities that might include sadness or loneliness or worry but seeing that who you are is fundamentally whole. I may have worry, but who I am is larger than worry. So, it’s the ability to hold and even love the complexity of our own being, to somehow embrace and love what feels like the damaged parts of ourselves, knowing we’re deeper than that.

 

A Meditation for Winter

 

Here’s my invitation to make yours a winter of listening: today, right after you read this, maybe, or sometime today, go into a different room or turn off the computer and sit. Close your eyes and do what I call the “There Is” practice. This is where you simply point to all the things you are aware of or become aware of with the phrase, “there is” in a way that puts you as the observer rather than the subject. If you were to hear my thoughts do this practice it would sound like this: “There are closed eyes. There is semi-comfortable sitting position. There is worry about responsibilities later today. There is a cat licking my toe. There is a feeling of sadness. There is business in my head. There is peacefulness creeping around the corner.” Notice there are no personal pronouns: I, me, my. This enables us to observe the world as it is on its terms rather than from the egocentric realm of “me.” Or, if you want to go deep, it helps me see that who I am is all of these things. Set a time and do this meditation for 5 minutes or for however long you’d like to meditate. When your mind wanders, don’t have an opinion about that. Simply notice that it has wandered with, “There is wandering mind,” and come back to the “There Is” Practice.

Doing this and other mindfulness practice regularly will help to train you to be less reactive and more responsive to anything that arises for you in your life. It seems that the holidays are particularly charged with things to react to. Instead, as we learn to simply witness something for what it is—a thought, emotion, event, etc.—we can learn to respond to it rather than react. 

 

May you have a peaceful and mindful holiday season!

 

Scott Moore Yoga (Photo by Alex Adams)

Scott Moore is a senior teacher of yoga and mindfulness in the US (New York, Salt Lake City, LA) and abroad and the author of Practical Yoga Nidra: The 10-Step Method to Reduce Stress, Improve Sleep, and Restore Your Spirit. When he’s not teaching or conducting retreats, or traveling to teach, he also writes for Conscious Life News, Elephant Journal, Mantra Magazine, Medium, and his own blog at scottmooreyoga.com. Scott also loves to run, play the saxophone, and travel with his wife and son. Check out his yoga retreats and trainings in places like Tuscany, France, and Hong Kong , his online Yoga Nidra Course and his Yoga Teacher Mentor Program. Scott currently lives in Southern France with his wife and son.