It is 4am. I am waking up on the ashram with Sanskrit still running through my head for the written exam on ancient texts, philosophy, and anatomy I’ll be taking in 2 hours.  I’ll pass if I also successfully guide 20 people through an hour yoga class and 20-minute mindfulness meditation. My teacher is the kind of man (guru) you don’t want to disappoint. I am channeling my inner Uma Thurman about to kick some yoga ass!

I am reminded of the feeling from years prior, waking up to cram the last bit of knowledge I thought I needed to pass my Certified Sommelier exam, and every other wine test for that matter I’ve taken over the years. For those of you who haven’t sat for an exam through the Master Court of Sommeliers, it is a combination of theory, blind tasting and live service examination with a considerable amount of intimidation factor.  It’s just grapes, nonetheless.

I am at the ashram on the Big Island of Hawaii; I have left my fancy wine career to pursue a greater calling to share Yoga and Mindfulness Mediation full time and I am literally laughing at myself at 4:30am that I have chosen the ‘pressure’ route again. Turns out fundamentally people may not change, BUT this time I am starting to recognize that all this mindfulness practice DOES strip away the judgment of my choices and brings me into the present.  Turns out that when we are present, there cannot exist anything but JOY and contentment (insert cheesy, albeit true, quote about the present being a ‘gift’).

Fast forward one year and I am in Bordeaux France in August, meditating at 6am before a vineyard tour on a bike.  Apparently, only crazy yogis wake up to do this, so I’m alone. I’m gazing across the vineyard at an orange glowing sunrise which fully brings me right back to the ashram in Hawaii and it hits me (when I was being all present and stuff) that my senses brought me to this memory of a place. I tune into my sense of smell; it’s dewy in the morning and the smell of fresh leaves remind me of palms. I feel the slightly cool breeze on my skin, but feel warm as if right back to the tropical mornings on the ashram.

Meditation Mudra w_ sky.jpg

It’s a Holy Shit kind of moment and I realize - my WHY for wine is the same as my WHY for my mindful meditation practice.   I can show people how to discover the power and pleasure the senses bring when we slow down to become present. 

AND better yet, we can do this together, around a table, having fun, expanding, connecting and strengthening our presence muscle.  Who knows, maybe we can even transform into better listeners, partners, and people beyond the table?!  Is it possible that a glass of wine and a bite of food can be the vehicle for such enlightenment?

In that moment, The Mindful Vine was born.

Marisa Hallsted