Karuna: Hi, I’m Karuna, I’m the founder and executive director of Mind Oasis, and I have Noga with me today. Noga, why don’t you introduce yourself?
Noga: Hi and thanks for having me. My name is Noga. I am a musician primarily, but I’ve also been teaching yoga and meditation and helping a lot of people with their health through health coaching. And I’m just in love with all things yoga and a lot of Eastern traditions. Yoga is not necessarily just the physical practice of it. So lots of different kinds of meditation breathwork. And in the philosophy itself of the various eastern traditions, from Hindu yoga to Tibetan Buddhism and all these different things I’ve been studying over the years.
Karuna: Very cool. So you’re on my podcast and it’s called Meditation Happy Hour, Tea Talk and Truth with Karuna. We will hit all three areas. But before we go any further, I’d love to hear about your day so far. What have you been up to?
Noga: My day so far has been pretty nice. It’s around noon here. So what have I been up to? I get up. Sometimes I write in the morning. So I did some writing. I had my yoga and meditation practice, I had some breakfast. And then I guided one session of meditation for a group of folks that I’m leading. And then I got to work on some music and now I’m talking to you.
Karuna: Very cool. Where in the world are you based?
Noga: Well, where am I based? It’s hard to tell right now.I’ve been in the temple of Zoom’s.
Karuna: So you are omniscient and all knowing and all being. But in the physical realm, where do we find you?
Noga: Well, I’ve been based in New York, in Brooklyn, New York, the past seven years. I’m originally from Israel, but I’ve been in New York the past seven years. Right now, I’m sort of on an artist retreat in Colorado.
Karuna: Very cool, very cool, I’m in the mountains of Colorado, I think we’re only about maybe forty five minutes from one another. It’s very cool. What kind of a musician are you? What’s your jam?
Noga: So I’ve been mostly working as a bass player for various artists. I’ve been going on tour, recording, performing both in New York and all over the U.S. and Europe and playing bass, electric bass. But I also write songs and work on my own music. Yeah, lots of titles. Composer, songwriter, producer.
Karuna: Very cool. And did you grow up in Israel?
Noga: Yes, I did.
Karuna: And how does it feel, the difference between growing up in Israel and then living in the Big Apple and now being in the West Colorado? How has that journey been for you?
Noga: It’s all different planets. Yeah, it’s kind of a different culture. How’s it been? How’s life been?
Karuna: Yeah, how has life been? What has that journey been like for you?
Noga: I can say that Colorado is a big change from New York City, which I’m loving right now, because it’s a really nice. Slowing down the pace of everything and being closer to nature and a lot of things, I was kind of missing when I was living in New York and just being in that concrete jungle all these years. So it’s really nice to be here. And really, the closeness to nature is really, really supportive of my health and well-being. So I’m really grateful for that. But New York was quite a ride in itself, taught me a whole lot. I love New York City. There’s no place like it. You know, it kind of made me the musician that I am. It’s where I have lots and lots of friends and incredible artists and everything. And you could be anything. You could do your thing. You know, there’s just like so much of everything that’s really, truly inspiring place to live in.
Karuna: Yeah. Yeah. It was really interesting to hear the softness of your voice when you started to talk about Colorado on the nurturing nature of nature. We want to hear some one of the reasons that we’re talking today is because you are bringing a series to life on Mind Oasis and right now we have the title as The Breath as a Bridge. I’d love to hear you talk a little bit about your relationship to the breath.
Noga: So the breath is a bridge, I thought about it because I was thinking a lot recently about just the state of everything from. You know, from this pandemic, a virus that is said to attack the lungs and then everyone was in quarantine and then the George Floyd murder happened and with his words of “I can’t breathe.” And then all the fires raging here in Colorado and in California gets the sky really smoky and all of these things together. I’m just thinking like, oh, my God, this basic thing, you know, the breath, we’re maybe not utilizing in its fullest, not utilizing the the potential of our bodies, you know, the level of health that we can have, like a lot of us, is kind of like walking through life, like the little chronic this and a chronic that and not fully bringing ourselves to the full potential of just physical health. And that’s not even going beyond to like our mental abilities and our superpowers and everything. And so the breath is just a way to tap into these endless reservoirs of energy, really building energy and healing. It also kind of connects right now, I’m thinking about that big concept in Buddhism, but in many traditions of appreciating the life that we have and realizing how precious, how precious this lifetime is, whether you believe in reincarnation or not, you know, this specific existence that we have here as humans is very precious and wanting to make the most out of it. And using all these breathwork practices that anyone could do to really benefit all these different aspects of our lives so that we could live a better life so we can serve others.
Karuna: Yeah, yeah. Wonderful. And so you mentioned superPowers. What superpowers do you see that we have as humans that we can tap into?
Noga: Well. Maybe superpowers is even like a misleading thing, because I think so many of the things that we discover through the practice, meditation, breath work, yoga, all these types of energy work and various healing modalities are to kind of reclaim something that we already had or we still have and we just don’t have access to. So it’s kind of a reclaiming. It’s not a superpower, it’s natural powers. It’s like connecting with our intuition, right. Connecting with our heart, with our guts. So many times we have certain instincts or inclinations that we don’t really follow because we’re a little bit out of touch with ourselves or we kind of follow too much logic and not enough heart. And I think these practices for me really are helpful to get back to that sense of you have the answers within you, you have the power within you, whether if it’s for healing or from getting yourself from point A to point B.I find it very helpful.
Karuna: Absolutely, I’m curious about what you’ve studied or who you’ve studied with, like what’s your background?
Noga: So my current degree is in music. But when it comes to what we’re talking about, I’m certified to teach yoga. I have a few different certifications from Integral Yoga Institute and Hatha Yoga and from wake up yoga and yoga. And I studied some anatomy for yoga teachers with Brown. And then I’ve been also a serious student of Tibetan Buddhism and studied at the at Three Jewelz in New York. But they teach courses from Akki, which is Asian classic institutes, though they have about 15 or 18 courses that are really in depth covering the entirety of the of the Buddhist doctrine with all the practices and philosophies and everything that comes with it. And I’ve had lots of different teachers. I’ve sat on many meditation retreats and I’ve been fortunate to meet a lot of really wonderful teachers.
Karuna: The reason I’m smiling is because as I was listening to you, I thought something sounds so familiar and I studied with Hector Law and have gone through HCI one through 15, and now I’m engaging in an intensive four, 16 through 18 so that we can actually offer asai courses on Mind Oasis. So we we share teachers in the Three Jewelz lineage, which of course I bow at the feet of Hector. So thank you so much for bringing up the beautiful organization that he has tenured, intended to be a credible teacher again. Yeah, good. Ok, so if somebody was going to come to your beautiful the Breath as a Bridge workshop or series, what could they expect? What are you guys going to do?
Noga: So I like to get practical because I like these exercises to really, really be useful and for people to really benefit from them. So a lot of it will just be experiential, will be practicing together. So I’ll be sharing various breathing techniques that people could either take and do on their own or just do them weekly with me. We’ll tap into different breath work. Nothing crazy. So we’re not going to do any it’s not like Imhoff style. If anyone’s concerned, it’s very gentle, but it’s also very powerful practices. Together with the breath, we’ll also use some visualization and different concepts of of things that we could do with our mind as we’re breathing, and then I’ll kind of slowly touch on how the breath is affecting all these layers of our existence from our physical health to our mental well-being and our emotional well-being and our energetic well-being and balance of all of these aspects.
Karuna: Noga you strike me as this very thoughtful, well, integrated person, I’m really appreciating how you talk about the Dharma and the practices in a way that is approachable to life, which, of course right now even if you’re living in a bit of a bubble that you aren’t directly affected by covid, which in some ways I could say I am, I live in the mountains. I don’t have children. So my husband and I are able to just go down to the grocery store once in a blue moon, order lots of things online, and so we’re not, like, really in the thick of it. But as I heard you talking about the breath and I was just thinking about how most people are living right now, I would imagine that most of us are living up here. And for those of you who are listening, I have my two hands raised up really close to my sternum. And as we know, our breath can flow throughout our entire body. Right. But particularly all the way down into our pelvic floor. And so I guess my question to you is. Do you feel that for someone who is really in the thick of it, that the practices you’ll be sharing are accessible?
Noga: Yes, definitely. And also I’m not pretending like meditation is the solution for everything. This is not as opposed to getting the extra help you need, it’s not as opposed to taking action in the world and making things happen and creating change. But it sounds kind of cheesy, but I have to say it has to come from the inside out.You just realize that the more aligned you are with yourself, that the more balanced you are, the better you can serve other people. So if you are one of those people out there on the streets or people struggling with health or people, you know, we all have lots of things going on, you know? So it’s definitely for anybody. It’s definitely for anybody. Even the best people can find like five minutes to breathe a day.
Karuna: Well, that’s one of the things we talk a lot. You’re relatively new to Mind Oasis the organization. But one of the things that we really talk a lot about in our organization, but sort of the way that we present the teachings is that most of us aren’t monks. Most of us are out in the world. We have careers, we have responsibilities. We’re still trying to make ends meet in a crazy covid world. If you’re in America, we have the upcoming election, which is feeling a little crazy these days, too. I think the beauty of the breath is that you take it wherever you are, and so it’s completely accessible. And and so your sharing of techniques that we can employ, whether it’s in our cubicle or in our garage or in our car, is a really welcome and necessary tool for the world right now.
Noga: For sure. I think so.
Karuna: I always end my podcast asking my guests the same question. I’d like to hear about your truth, and I leave it vague enough that you can answer in whatever way you like. So Noga. What’s your truth?
Noga: Wow. I can’t say it’s one thing. But definitely truth is something I’ve been trying to connect with more and more because and I’m not talking about ultimate truth, I’m talking about my truth. Right, because that’s what you’re asking and that’s a hard one to answer with words, but I could definitely say that I’m in constant search of it or in constant attempt to stay with it, to have it guide me. So that I feel like if I’m aligned with truth, but I’m acting out of a place of truth. Hopefully that’s a much more beneficial existence.
Karuna: So Noga. Thank you so much for joining me. So you’re coming on to Mind Oasis at Mindoasis.org. You’re going to teach four weeks of the Breath as a Bridge. You’re a highly qualified human because you connect with your breath to bring this to life. And this is going to be gentle breath work. And along the way, folks will learn a lot from you and get to delight in your personality, which is just really sweet and warm. So thank you so much for joining.
Noga: Thanks so much for having me Karuna.
Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of Meditation Happy Hour is the audio record.