On Yoga

YOGA The Secret Life by Francesco Mastalia, Cloth Hardcover, 224 Pages, Published by powerHouse Books, Worldwide release October 2017.

YOGA The Secret of Life is a photo-documentary about the spiritual and physical journey of yoga. Through photographs and text this fine art book explores the personal experiences of 108 of today’s leading practitioners and how this ancient practice has transformed their mind, body, and spirit.

The photographs for the project are taken on glass plates using the wet collodion process, a photographic technique dating back to the 1850’s. With the use of a large format wooden camera and antique brass lens, glass plates are hand-coated to produce one-of-a-kind ‘ambrotype’ images. The collodion process transports us to another place and time. When the light-sensitive chemicals absorb the sun’s ultraviolet rays, we enter a mysterious world where art and alchemy embrace. The photographs take on another dimension with the words that accompany them. The text provides an intimate and enlightening account of each yogi’s personal journey.

Elena Brower from YOGA The Secret Life by Francesco Mastalia.

Beyond the physical postures, YOGA The Secret of Life delves deep into the purpose of our existence and how to live a happy and fulfilled life. It explores understanding who we truly are, why we are here, and what our ultimate purpose is on this planet. Included are world-renowned yogis Radhanath Swami, Sharon Gannon, Davide Life, Gurmukh Kaur Khasla, Sri Dharma Mittra, Yogi Amrit Desai, Yogiraj Alan Finger, Shiva Rea, Rod Stryker, Seane Corn, Rodney Yee, Colleen Saidman Yee, Dana Flynn, Elena Brower, Krishna Das, Jai Uttal and more.

About

Italian-born Hudson Valley New York-based Francesco Mastalia is a documentary photographer and author that has traveled the world photographing tribal, religious, spiritual, and indigenous people. His first book Dreads, published by Workman Artisan is a photo documentary on the history of dreadlocks, which includes an introduction by Pulitzer Prize-winning author Alice Walker. His recent book Organic: Farmers & Chefs of the Hudson Valley published by powerHouse Books is a photo-documentary of the Hudson Valley’s organic sustainable food movement. The portraits of the farmers and chefs therein were also photographed using the wet plate collodion photographic process resulting in a beautifully evocative narrative with a nostalgic feel.

Arise Festival

ARISE Musical Festival 5th Year Celebration August 4th-6th, 2017.  A musically diverse, festival-wonderland experience. Featuring 8 stages of live music, yoga, workshops, provocative documentary films and panel discussions, art installations, live painters and art gallery, performance artists, theme camps, a Wisdom Village and a Solution’s Village -showcasing ecological and social justice solutions with practical on-site demonstrations designed to make our world a better place, and more on 100+ beautiful mountain valley acres. Located at Sunrise Ranch -a 350-acre organic farm and retreat center located in a stunning Colorado mountain valley just west of the town of Loveland, this breathtaking Rocky Mountain oasis is the perfect container for participants to entertain and be entertained, explore their creative potential, connect with nature, stretch out, dive in, and dance. #arisethisaugust

About

The consummate summer camping festival for conscientious music fans -ARISE is renowned for bold and progressive “global cooling” initiatives, such as a long-held commitment to planting one tree with every ticket sold, staging a pre-festival permaculture training, local sourcing, an organic farmer’s market in the campground, and a leave-no-trace ethos. More than a music festival, it’s a movement. See here for lineup & tickets.

Note: The Artful Blog’s alma mater Naropa University has aligned with ARISE and is offering a discount on festival tickets to the Naropa community -current students & alumni.

The Journey

We have not even to risk the adventure alone
for the heroes of all time have gone before us.
The labyrinth is thoroughly known …
we have only to follow the thread of the hero path.
And where we had thought to find an abomination
we shall find a God.

And where we had thought to slay another
we shall slay ourselves.
Where we had thought to travel outwards
we shall come to the center of our own existence.
And where we had thought to be alone
we shall be with all the world.

~Joseph Campbell

On Mantra

Mantra and its practice are part of ancient Vedic tradition first developed by wise spiritualists who connected the sounds of the natural world around them to a greater universal energy. They saw sound and its vibrational quality as the audible manifestation of the energy to which we are all connected. They recognized that no matter who or where in the world a person is, if one sit’s quietly long enough, one can hear those connective sounds, and not only that, but can achieve peace through the concentrated practice of listening and repeating them. The sages began to mimic such sound patterns that they heard as a form of meditation, achieving a greater sense of clarity, awareness, and transcendent peace. This same concept, thousands of years later, can be appropriated to bring us closer to our highest self and to achieving what we most desire.

Traditional Mantra Meditation uses existing Sanskrit hymns and chants that have been shared and practiced apart of Vedic tradition. These mantras are typically vocations towards certain deities for blessings specific to them. The sounds of these prayers said in repetition are meant to induce a deeper meditative state, such as when a lullaby soothes a child to sleep. The linguistic nature of traditional mantra and the quality of their sounds works to quiet mental chatter and fosters a peaceful environment for the body and mind to exist. Examples of traditional mantras are: Om (ohm): The simplest to repeat, yet a powerful acknowledgement of connection between all beings. Lokah samastah sukhino bhavantu (lo-kah sah-mah-stah sue-kee-no bah-vain-to): Asking for peace and contentment for all living things. Om namah shivaya (Ohm nah-mah she-vah-yah): An acknowledgement of the power, beauty, and unique perfection of another being.

Personal or Unique Mantra is another way of approaching the practice and benefiting from it. Just as is true of thoughts, there are no right or wrong mantras. Rather, your mantra is based on personal experience, and holds power as an individual and unique expression of what you most desire. Whether it be aimed at manifesting security, deep connection, pervasive self-confidence, or release from suffering, the only requirement of mantra is that it is authentic.

Spend a half hour with your journal, preferably in the morning when your mind is fresh, free-writing about what it is you desire at this moment in time. Without over-analyzation or personal judgement, let it flow freely. Writing it down will help you to gain clarity on what is most pertinent for you in the current moment. Decide which idea, goal, concept, emotion, etc., it is you want to focus on first. Once you have a sense of it in your mind, turn it into a declarative statement. Imagine you already have what you are looking to attract as part of your reality.

The Personal Mantra is an individualized expression. A concentrated effort to help you achieve stillness, and peace and ultimately aids in creating your optimal reality. Whatever that is for you at this moment, is right. As a side note, you can have multiple mantras at the ready, however when meditating with the mantra, it is important to repeat only one at a time in order to focus your energy towards one thing instead of smaller efforts towards multiple goals.

Mantra Recipe

  • 1/2 hour spent alone journaling about what you seek to attain
  • Refinement of what speaks to you as the most pertinent to focus on
  • Written declarative statement
  • 10 minutes daily quiet time sitting or walking slowly to repeat your mantra
  • Try incorporating mantra into your meditation practice and pay attention to what arises