Recently a student exposed me to a free community event that played into my 3-part meditation series. I felt inspired to attend, interview these altruistic yogis, and educate our San Diego community about this soul-elevating offering. Eugene Kim and Sophia Hopson co-host a monthly public Full Moon Meditation Hike through Lululemon San Diego. We’ve learned the importance of community from physicists, neuroscientists, psychologists, sociologists, anthropologists, spiritual advisors, and teachers. We gather for survival, support, acceptance, validation, and connection. Community reminds us that we’re not alone.
What is Karma Yoga?
The path of selfless service which these two teachers exemplify is Karma Yoga. It is their dharma to serve others without expecting the fruits of their actions. According to the Bhagavad Gita, altruism brings forth spiritual fulfillment.
“Karma Yoga teaches us that we should perform all actions without considering ourselves to be the doers of those actions.” -the Bhagavad Gita
Preparation for a Full Moon Meditation Hike:
You don’t need any prior experience to participate in a full moon meditation hike. However, you should be able to maintain the pace of the group. Hydrate your body in advance and eat 1-3 hours prior to the hike. All ages are welcome.
“When meditation is mastered, the mind is unwavering, like the flame of a lamp in a windless place.” -the Bhagavad Gita
This event was a Full Blue Moon Meditation Hike on Jan. 31st, 2018 in Mission Trails, instead of Cowles mountain, because of the group size. There were a few hundred excited participants! We gathered in the dark surrounding our teachers. Then we flipped on our headlights and followed the parade of footsteps, giggles, and whispers up the steady inclined dirt path to the meditation clearing.
Me: Can you please tell me a little about yourself, and what inspires you?
Eugene: I’m a local fitness community leader who’s trying to bring more positivity and human connection to the world. I’m not a yoga instructor but do practice yoga and meditation regularly. I’m inspired by bringing people together and inspiring them to bring more positive change to the world. Last year I set a bold intention to live in the service of others, and I firmly believe that’s a big reason why I’m here.
Sophia: I have risen in love four times in my life thus far. The first time was when I was a child and I had a direct experience that taught me there is a presence, I call God, that loves like the sun and is the reason I am here. The second, was when my fascination with human beings led me to realize, I love human beings. The third time was with the practice of yoga. The last but certainly never least, my beloved, kind husband.
What inspires me in life is the belief and faith that my soul has a mission to complete here in Earth school. Part of that mission I know is learning to embody love, compassion, patience, tolerance, wisdom, courage and to have true experiences of peace, joy, love, harmony, and freedom. The other part of that mission involves bringing human beings together, to connect, to learn how to be with one another, heart to heart, soul to soul.
The practice of yoga has taught me to live awake, uplifted and inspired. This is a path that is lined with effort, that is deliberate and unrelenting sometimes, but I choose it because it is full-filling, worthy of my time and energy and leads me to noble pursuits.
I believe that teaching is an act of service that embodies Maya Angelou’s quote:
“When you learn, teach. When you get, give.” This is the quintessence of my core beliefs as a yoga teacher.
As a practitioner of yoga first, I am committed to learning in perpetuity. I am certain that the totality of yoga has something to offer anyone who shows up open, willing and ready to fall madly in love with where you are. Strength and Flexibility are not required, just an open mind and an open heart.
Me: Are you an avid hiker? If so, what are your favorite hikes around San Diego?
Eugene: I’m a local trail runner, so I’ve spent some hours in the mountains. I spend a lot of time out in Mission Trails, bumming around the Fortunas. But other local hikes I really enjoy are Iron Mountain, Cowles, and Mount Woodson. For an easier leisure hike, I love going to Torrey Pines, hiking out to Razor Point, and taking the beach trail down and walking back along the water.
Sophia: I am a novice hiker! I would love to be more of a hiker. I admire and am inspired by those that venture off into mother nature, scaling mountains, climbing rocks and camping for days in the wilderness. I grew up on Lake Michigan beaches, Brazil beaches, and Florida beaches. I discovered the mountains, unchartered territory when I moved to San Diego in 2003.
Me: Was this your first full moon meditation hike event? Where can people find information to join you in the future?
Eugene: This is our 6th full moon hike and meditation, and something we are continuing to provide every full moon. The next one isn’t locked in yet, but we post about our events through Lululemon San Diego, and will continue to do so in the future!
Sophia: This was not my first public meditative full moon hike. Eugene Kim and I have been co-leading full moon hikes with meditation at the top of Cowles Mountain since September 2017. We have done a full moon hike + meditation monthly since then. Our next event will be in March (there are no Full Moons in February). To find out more about the upcoming events, please follow Lululemon San Diego as they are the host of our events. We have some exciting opportunities coming up and would love to have you. Also, we are creating a private group to connect all those who attend our events so we can stay connected and inspired. Follow Sophia’s Instagram and you can listen to her Om My Goodness podcast here.
Sophia’s Meditation Intention:
The Full Moon represents a time of culmination. Scientifically, we know that the moon has a tremendous effect on us here on Earth. The gravitational pull of the moon makes the climate on Earth temperate, with predictable seasons, and tolerable temperatures. The moon stabilizes the tilt of Earth’s axis. The lunar cycles power the tides.
We are mostly made of water. If the moon has that strong of an effect on our planet, to think that it does not affect our internal tides (emotions, energy, body) is short-sighted.
During a full moon, it is a great time to cultivate more mindfulness-based practices to help us ground. Grounding is about using your body as a conductor of the Earth’s energy. Allowing you to become present and connected to all that is.
This Full Moon was in the sign Leo. Pay attention to whether you are dwindling/contracting in fear or growing in courage. You can still be aware of fear, and be afraid, but do you harness courage to expand and move towards the greater call? The whispers of your heart.
On Meditation and Mindfulness:
We all have very busy minds. The practice of meditation is first and foremost this: A PRACTICE. It will feel very different than climbing a mountain or running on a trail. We are training our ability to concentrate and be still. This is quite opposite to how we live most of our lives.
I have been attending mindfulness trainings at MOSAIC Yoga with Jim Cahill. I say he is a yogi clothed as a brain researcher. Jim studies the effects of mindfulness and meditation on our well-being. He has as contributed greatly to the body of work that informs our scientific understanding.
Believe it or not but you don’t have to go to the top of the mountain, leave your worldly life to cultivate a practice of meditation.
Practicing meditation with a group is encouraged! The experience is heightened because we are all committed to the practice.
Our Blue Moon Meditation, guided by Sophia.
[Leave space to explore the pause in your mind]
- This meditation tonight will work a little more with the “conceptual mind” and is focused on the power of love to help us wield more courage.
Close your eyes and let yourself acknowledge all the outside distractions.
Begin to turn inwards to that which supports you. Notice your bones, muscles, joints, organs, systems of the body.
And now rest your attention on where you feel your breath in your abdomen. Feel the swell and rise of your belly as you breathe in, feel the falling, contracting, moving back of your abdomen as you breath out.
Ride the inflow of your breath, when you are ready- open mouth exhale (x3)
Now let your breath become the backdrop, keep your attention on the touch of your breath( 1-2 min)
Bring your inner gaze upward and inward, raising your consciousness up and then next time you breathe in imagine that the breath comes in through your crown, descends down to the base of your spine. As you exhale, the breath leaves the base of your spine and begins to travel upwards towards your heart where it begins to blossom your heart open. (5-8 breaths like this)
Now bring to mind someone that you love. This could be a pet, a friend, family member. The first person that comes to mind.
Think of a memory you had with them where you felt deep love for them and allow yourself to experience that loving feeling. As you summon the feeling start to breathe that loving feeling into every corner of your being.
And now, let that person or pet go and see if you can stay with the feeling of love. Keep breathing it in.
Recognizing that love IS you. This is what created us. This is where we come from. This is where we return to. You are love.
When you are ready, feel the earth beneath you, the heavens above. Come back to feeling the breath in your abdomen.
Please place your right hand on your heart, left hand over right, feel your magnificent heart- the one that beats for you every day, may the blessings of this moon continuously guide you to knowing the good, the true and the beautiful within you.
Post-Meditation Thought Provoking Questions:
Self Care – (winter months- even though we don’t feel it here in SD). We are in a season of doing less and being more. It is a great time to really nurture and nourish ourselves.
- What do you love, and how are you manifesting it in the world right now?
- What does your practice of self-care consist of?
Wherever you live in the world, check your local community calendar for upcoming events that interest you. It’s a wonderful way to meet new friends and to explore new interests. If you happen to live in San Diego, I highly recommend Eugene and Sophia’s Lululemon monthly Full Moon Meditation Hikes. Subscribe to this blog, and stay connected to all things related to yoga and travel. Next week I will release the second part of my meditation series, which will focus on how to prepare your body to sit comfortably in Meditation.