“People ask me every day what kind of yoga I teach and I say
it’s the kind of yoga that makes you happy!”
Eoin Finn is an eclectic and creative Blissologist who loves surfing, nature and yoga. As an advocate for social and environmental change Eoin leads the Bliss Army (whose mission is to use the force of love to counter the tendency towards selfishly motivated actions and co-created the Yogathon and Blissfest for Camp Moomba (a Canadian camp for children impacted by HIV-AIDS). He is a published writer and his DVD’s can be found in lululemon Athletica stores around the world. If you think that isn’t already amazing, Eion has also worked extensively with high level athletes and Olympians in North America. It is no wonder why Eoin Finn is one of the most popular yoga instructors in Canada.
What follows is an Interview between Eoin Finn and Ainsley Magno, the founder of Yellow Yogi Victoria. It took place after a series of Workshops presented by Eoin Finn at the Base Lounge in Victoria.
June 4, 2010 @ 12pm
AINSLEY MAGNO: Tell me about one thing you haven’t been asked yet.
EOIN FINN: My major passion is writing. My dream is to lock myself in a cabin for 6 months and write. When I get on an airplane, I think to myself “this plane cannot crash before I write this book!” If I have one gift in life it is to inspire people to open up to this amazing force that makes us all feel connected. I really want to communicate this message to members of the average population, not just those practicing yoga.
AM: What is this ‘amazing force’?
EF: It’s something that opens you up to love. I know love is a broad thing to so many people, for example people love Big Macs. What I mean by love is when you feel it towards something or someone, your needs become less than the other person or whatever the object is. When you open up to the ‘force’ you act as if another person or being — or even the environment is more important than just you being governed by your own selfishness. I think the major fault in our society is valuing success and achieving selfish desires at any cost. I’m not saying don’t do that. Do it with respect to what your impact is. Find the balance.
“Yoga is one big reset button.”
AM: Put aside your ego for something greater.
EF: That’s the classical teaching. The more ego you have the harder it is to be connected to other people. Two schools explore the ego idea – The “Be Present” school and the “Open Your Heart” School. Both schools stress the fact that the more we are in our ego, the less we are present and the less we are following heart wisdom.
I think that total abolishment of the ego is too hard for modern people and it is a bit of a misconception. What I’m saying is you can be motivated by the heart and the ego at the same time. For example if one decides to act in a way that has a less harsh impact on the environment. That’s actually a selfless thing and something that is motivated by a connection to others. We tend to think so much in extremes in our society.
AM: So you’re saying we need to balance between our ego and our connection to people, the world.
EF: These types of deep and meaningful conversations are what we’ve been calling ‘Blissology’ for a long time. No matter what topic we discuss, every single conversation ends in “it’s all about balance”.
“Balancing Love and Selfishness is the ultimate human calling, I think.”
AM: Blissology. Where did this come from?
EF: My hero is Joseph Campbell. Joseph found that if you look at all the religions, the philosophies and the art around the world, there are basically 6 themes that repeat. The theme that I’m talking about is Blissology – love and connection vs. selfish desires.
As religions change, there are so many politics and so many theories that unfold. For example, Buddhism comes up and then the belief in reincarnation. I’m not saying reincarnation exists or doesn’t — that’s beside the point. Whether you get reincarnated or not it’s all about love or selfishness. It’s all that. Its every decision you make. And it can’t just be a cerebral thing — you can’t just think about it. You have to open up to experiencing that mysterious force. I think yoga is a powerful tool for that but so is nature appreciation, gardening, music; a lot of things can open us up and guide us.
Joseph Campbell also says this message has to be put into forms of new mythology in order to be understood. The message needs to be current with society’s mindsets, belief systems and the way they really see the world – it has to be cased in a way that people can digest it.
AM: In other words, it needs to be a relatable message for it to be understood.
EF: When I look at this love and selfishness paradigm, I see it as the face of morality. What does morality look like? If you interfere with the happiness of people too much, then it’s immoral. When you’re working towards social change and you look at people living in the downtown east side of Vancouver, you can be selfish and get on with your own life or you can do something to elevate those people. So many issues all come down to this paradigm: morality, justice, social change, and environmentalism. Balancing Love and Selfishness is the ultimate human calling, I think.
“You know the saying you can lead the horse to water but you can’t make them drink… you don’t have to force the experience. You allow people to have it.”
AM: When is the book launch?
EF: I’m in the process of making the book proposal. So much of my day is caught up with administrating my business, so my big thing is creating the time to make this book proposal.
AM: I look forward to reading it. Sounds like you have a lot on your plate. How do you deal with stress?
EF: I make time to relax. I would be lying if I said that my life was all chai tea drinking, yoga mediation and exciting. I had a lot of stress the other day so I went surfing. I was loving the sound of the rain on the water and after an hour I don’t even remember what I was stressed about.
It’s about balance as well. There’s stress, but then there is joy and awe and wonder. I really feel like I have a lot of that. I love looking at things the way any kid does. Give a kid a bug and he’ll be entertained for two hours. I feel like I’ve never really lost that.
When I have stress on one side of the equation and awe and wonder on the other, I don’t ever feel like I have to get rid of stress. I just kind of be and I focus on something that gives me joy, awe and wonder. I don’t even try and diminish stress; I just give myself the time to be in a place where I can experience small miracles. Stress is the fire and joy, awe and wonder are the water that puts it out. I’m not running around trying to frantically put out the fire.
“Give a kid a bug and he’ll be entertained for two hours.
I feel like I’ve never really lost that.”
AM: Managing stress is also about allowing yourself to experience it. “That which you resist persists”.
EF: It’s not forcing it. It’s life. It is the stresses in life that provides the great changes. Stress just means that something’s growing through some kind of conflict, emerging. So you don’t have to fight it, just be alive. It will be just as hard being alive 1000 years from now as it was 1000 years ago. What we stress over might be different.
Obviously I have to bring it back to yoga too. Yoga is one big reset button. Your mind is actually not just between your ears, it’s not just from the neck up. It’s your whole body and when you can actually allow your body to feel better then your mind will follow. I’m constantly amazed that after 10 min of yoga stress is just gone and I’m back in touch with what life is really about. Yoga has a million great tips for modern medicine and that’s one of them.
AM: Yoga for ‘fill in the blank here’ is the new thing. How is your practice and instruction evolving?
EF: People ask me every day what kind of yoga I teach and I say, “it’s the kind of yoga that makes you happy!” My approach to physical alignment is pretty unique and one of the things I try and do is invent new ways of describing how to share a feeling of a pose. I share a feeling from a personal experience because I want my students to have a similar experience in a pose when they practice. Our language and techniques are also different because I blend it with the concept of Blissology. So for years I don’t think I’ve created a style of yoga, I’ve created a very user-friendly methodology for learning important yoga principles. However I don’t know if I’d call it a style because I allow the practice to go wherever it goes.
“I think the major fault in our society is valuing success… I’m not saying don’t do that. Do it with respect to what your impact is.”
AM: What is the ‘Positive Force System’?
EF: It’s a 3 day workshop. We’ve got one coming up in Vancouver. I offer them every 3-4 months. We provide different approaches to yoga. There is a flow style class and a Deep Knowledge workshop (which is now called the Positive Force System). The ‘deep knowledge’ refers to the gift of detailed work or foundation of the practice and not so much of the flow experience.
Another approach is Blissology and philosophy. This refers to having meaningful conversations like at the beginning of this interview.
There is a big trend in the style of yoga instruction. Many instructors like to mix in a lot of pop-culture and self-help tips
AM: What do you mean by pop-culture self-help tips?
EF: It’s like leaving someone in downward dog for a long time or putting them through a series of hard poses and then saying, “you have to flow over the wave you’re feeling. Try and stay relaxed. Follow what I’m saying and you will be stress free in all the other aspects of your life when you find yourself in challenging situations.”
If I were to get that message across to someone I would say, “this is really difficult but it’s the really difficult things that help us. So check out how you’re feeling and stay relaxed.” And I would leave it and let people experience that for a long time.
Some instructors give out so much self help that they don’t allow students to really process things on their own. I like to simply embody the lessons I am trying to teach without hard-selling anyone on pop-philosophy.
I really want people to feel sensations from a first person perspective when they’re experiencing yoga because it is so much more empowering for them. The big lessons we mentioned before: opening up the heart, being present and creating a relaxed and steady pose all require experiencial awareness.
You know the saying you can lead the horse to water but you can’t make them drink… you don’t have to force the experience. You allow people to have it.
“…every single conversation ends in “it’s all about balance.”
AM: So what’s next for you?
EF: If I had to use a broad brushstroke, I’m trying to make my vision real in people’s minds. We’re really trying to unite people (whether they practice yoga or not) to work for positive change in their body and in their community.
Next I want people to feel the ocean is sacred. I’m working on sharing my lifestyle and value system. When I sit by the ocean I feel the interconnectedness of water at my feet; I feel the current coming from Japan. I just want people to experience at least 1/100th of what I feel when I stand next to ocean . If we want to make changes in the world and the way we treat the environment it can’t just be a cerebral thing, we have to be connected to it and I want to build that connection here in Ucluelet.
AM: Thanks so much. You are truly a creative inspiration. See you at the 8th Annual Camp Moomba Yogathon in Vancouver on July 24th!
For more information about Eoin Finn and to find out where he’s teaching next, visit his website here: www.blissology.com