The fact that we got to interview one of our biggest yoga inspirations, best selling author of "The Art of Attention" Elena Brower
If you didn't know Elena creates the most gorgeously moving magic on the mediation element to the Flow State Album. Her poetic words have the power to pause time and sear through the white noise of racing thoughts until you land back home, back at the doorstep of you.
Elena has been a personal hero of mine.
Her brilliance mind has come through the trenches of addition and in her beautiful rawness she's touched and helped so many.
To me that is yoga.
Dive into the magic below where she shares how the collab with Above & Beyond came to be and how we can all come back to our own flow state.
Isn’t it funny when a stranger has had such a transformative effect on your life and they don’t even know. Elena your words have nurtured me through my own seasons of addiction. Could you talk to us a little bit about how you came to find Yoga and Meditation?
Honoured to hear that. Yoga found me through my boyfriend's mom when i was just finishing college, and I was smitten with the practice from the start. With regards to meditation, it took me much more time to truly settle into myself long enough to develop a practice.
Your delivery is from deep within and incredibly powerful. When writing your meditations where do you draw inspiration?
I draw inspiration from all of my friends, teachers, mentors and innermost guidance. I also read a lot and thrive on learning all the time.
How did you come to collaborate with Above & Beyond?
We found ourselves working together on the playa at Burning Man in 2014, when the Robot Heart community asked me to work with Tony and Paavo on one sunset yoga practice. We found ourselves synching up seamlessly, effortlessly, between what I was offering with my words and silences, and what they were playing. That Yoga Set went on to garner more than 2m listens on Soundcloud, and we knew we were onto something of value.
Has music always played a role in your practice? How important do you think it is?
I love their music, but by some strange circumstance, I hadn't heard of them prior to working with them during that sunset. But as soon as Paavo began playing that set, I was in love with their work. I went on to discover their multitude of offerings - both in electronic dance as well as their Anjunadeep artists - and became hopelessly hooked on all of it.
Given your own journey and the association of hedonism and trance do you feel Above & Beyond’s evolved experimentation into yoga is important? Why do you feel like the crowds are resonating?
In my understanding, Above & Beyond's evolution represents what my friends and I call "good listening." They've got their attention on what's needed right now - more space for reflection, more calm pauses, more kindness, and more attention to the health of our individual and collective nervous systems. This work brings an awareness of the need for our healing on the whole.
When performing with Flow State Live – especially to the scale of the crowds you draw! - how do you create a sense of intimacy? Does it feel different?
Teaching feels the same for me whether I have 40 or 4000 people; i'm there to provide a space, a clear vessel in which the practitioners can bathe and feel safe to discover both breathing and body, again and again.
If Yoga means to unite, then your work has been integral to nourishing this. How do you feel the meditation scene has blossomed since you began publicly in ‘99?
Meditation has become more mainstream as we've developed more need for healing time in our lives. We are bombarded by inputs, and meditation helps us clear our heads and bodies from all the extra static to keep ourselves in creative states, both professionally and personally.
Most of us are stressed out man! Our over-reliance on technology has meant we struggle to escape from feelings of comparison, competition and FOMO and yet technology has made meditation more accessible – what are your thoughts on technology?
Technology gives us connectivity, creativity and in many ways, clarity about what's needed - but we need boundaries. I have a strict tech timeframe each day, which helps a lot: 2x or 3x max on social media, for 10 mins maximum, and 2 hours on email maximum, and I don't have a TV. I have a few things I'll watch on Netflix, but that's maybe 2 hours weekly.
With those parameters in place, I have enough time to be present for my kid, run several businesses, write books and be productive without giving all of my energy away to the black hole of media.
Your book “The Art of Attention” was a true healer for me, what do you feel we should be paying more attention to?
Our breathing is truly the finest medicine. When we breathe evenly, inhaling and exhaling the same length, we are speaking directly to our nervous system to rest, digest, and relax. We all desperately need more of that.
So it was probably the most badass thing we’ve ever done, creating the Flow State eco friendly Yoga mat with you guys, what inspired the art work?
The creative forces for Above & Beyond took all of our notes and Paavo's sense of the project, and created the stunning circles... the perfect way to illustrate the breath, the space it takes, the time we spend listening...
It’s easy to lose yourself in Flow State, just as you can get lost in a yoga flow. Where you fully able to lose yourself in the creation of your words for the album? Did you have an idea on the message you wanted to communicate?
Paavo and I had several chats about the need for more downtime and more connection after a spate of suicides in our community, so we were both keenly aware of the messages we hoped to communicate. The written piece had to reflect a state of listening so we could choose to evolve and refine our minds. It had to bring us closer to ourselves, and also closer to each other. After contemplating these broad strokes for weeks, the words emerged quickly on a transatlantic flight, refined over the subsequent week or two. It felt like it was writing itself.
In your magical words Elena, How do you come back to that place within you, that place of peace?
As it says in the spoken word, I literally need to take one deep breath. I fill my belly, which creates more space in my body for new thoughts-- thoughts that will heal and soften the destructive, doubtful default setting that has a tendency to creep into my mind.
That breath also returns me to the present moment; most of our drama internally is when we're stuck in the past or the future. That one breath brings us all back to what's happening right now. What can be done this moment to help / heal / move forward? That's the question I'm reminded to ask when I remember to breathe.
And where do you find that place of peace outside yourself?
My family, my friends, my practice, and my sleep (I take sleep seriously).
What does being in Flow State mean to you?
When we're able to listen and attend well to what's present, we are in Flow State.