Ali McGhee is a journalist, creative writer, and academic. Her work has appeared in The Edgar Allan Poe Review, Romantic Circles, Symbiosis: A Journal of Anglo-American Literary...
A lot of popups have, well, popped up in Asheville lately. From popup restaurants to popup shopping, these events, characterized by their uniqueness and ephemerality, are often one-of-a kind memorable moments that leave you feeling lucky to have been in the know.
Now, the Asheville popup is evolving. The latest iteration in Asheville is popup meditation. The first Meditate.io popup event happens this Wednesday, August 3, from 7:30-8:30 am at the Asheville Yoga Teacher Training Center (62 Orange St.). Spots are limited and registration is open now.
"I wanted to try the popup because a lot of spiritual/meditation/contemplative communities are structured such that they're always meeting regularly in the same place," says project creator Vincent Horn. "This model is interesting insofar that it creates community and regularity, but it's not very flexible or mobile, so the question we had is this: What would it be like to get together to practice for a short period of time in different spaces, doing different things? How would that more ephemeral structure change what it's like to practice?"
Meditate.io is a program being rolled out by Vincent and his partner Emily Horn, also known as the Buddhist Geeks. Vincent and Emily, both originally from the region, moved back to Asheville a few years back and brought their vision with them. They are grounded in traditional meditation techniques and Eastern philosophy, but their methodology also pulls from the cutting edge of technology and science. Vincent was named one of Wired UK's "Smart List: 50 People Who Will Change the World." Between the two, they have studied under meditation teachers like Jack Kornfield, Kenneth Folk, Daniel Ingram, Trudy Goodman, and Joseph Goldstein. The Buddhist Geeks: Vincent and Emily Horn.
On the Buddhist Geeks side, they are motivated by a particular set of questions, the foremost being: "How can we serve the convergence of Buddhism with rapidly evolving technology and an increasingly global culture?" They have sought to answer this question in multiple ways, including hosting regular gatherings, creating a global online dojo, and organizing and executing a week-long meditation retreat.
Meditate.io has a slightly different vision. "For several years we've been wanting to do things both inside the Buddhist world and outside of it," says Vincent. "So this project is logistically separate from Buddhist Geeks. Obviously it's created by the same people, but organizationally and logistically it's different. The reason is that we want to do both Buddhist and non-Buddhist things. We're seeing what kinds of things people are interested in who aren't interested in the whole system of Buddhism; who just want to train and calm their minds.
"There's a huge portion of people that are interested in that," continues Vincent. "We're creating a context where they can learn and go deep without feeling like it's supposed to lead toward Buddhism. But it's also cool for people who want to learn that system and are inspired to go deeper with those texts and that lineage."
Yoga teacher and long-time student of Vincent and Emily Lisa Sherman, who is also a facilitator of the Buddhist Geeks dojo and an IRL Facilitator of Meditate.io, notes that Vincent and Emily are powerful teachers because their style "has the advantage of being rooted in authentic meditation traditions, while not being bound by them. Their approach is refreshingly modern and pragmatic -- they are open to using innovative methods as long as they work.
"They are highly approachable teachers," continues Sherman, who recently attended their weeklong retreat. "Their decades of practice experience mean that they can guide others on their paths by providing useful signposts for progress, while steering them around pitfalls. As part of this, they are not afraid to have informed and frank conversations about the mysterious and alluring goal of awakening -- what it is, what it isn't, and how best to go about it."
Whether you've had a meditation practice for years or you've never even tried to meditate before, the sessions will give you new insight and new tools.
"The emphasis is going to be on doing some meditation practice together," says Vincent. "Myself, Emily, and Lisa [Sherman] are kicking this whole thing off. Lisa is a strong meditation practitioner and we've been working with her as a student for a while, but she's a teacher [of yoga and meditation] in her own right. The movement aspect of meditation is touched upon in these sessions through her training and input. It's not just sitting. We want to show people that meditation is something you can do in everything you're doing."
The approach is all-inclusive. "Asheville is changing a lot," notes Vincent. "I grew up just outside of the city in Mars Hill, and coming back I thought, 'Woah, it's changed quite a bit.' But one thing I've noticed even since I was young is that Asheville always had a strong hippie, spiritual scene that was part of the culture. But there are an increasing number of people for whom for that isn't the doorway to exploring their own minds and hearts. I think that for those people this could be a useful alternative way. We have something for people who are perhaps a little allergic to hippie spirituality but still want to learn about their minds and how they work. And our approach also allows people who are more hippie and spiritual to get a bit technical."
You can find out more about the event on the Facebook page, and you can register through Eventbrite. Registration is $15, $10 for students. In the true popup spirit, there are no further Meditate.io events currently scheduled in town, but follow them on Facebook to be in the know about the next one.