“From Jazz Musician to Millionaire Yogi – A Hero’s Journey”
Yogi Journal, December 2023
Former jazz musician Erwin Vann has had an interesting journey so far. Born in Belgium in 1963, he spent most of his professional life based in Brussels. A performing musician and composer turned yoga teacher after a burnout in 2008, he moved to the beautiful nature of Big Sur, California, only a few years ago, when becoming a millionaire thanks to his network marketing business. Today, on his 60th birthday, we are invited to join the celebrations at his mountain yoga and meditation retreat centre, were he lives with his loved ones.
After a refreshing drive along the stunningly beautiful Pacific coast line, we arrive in Big Sur, Jill the photographer and myself, just before noon. “Look for the signs”, he said on the phone. Slowing down, we follow the directions on the note pad. Right turn, follow the road upwards through the woods, a few more turns, and then we finally arrive at the wide open gates of the Harmony Retreat Centre. We park the car, and walk up to the reception area…
The door swings open, and a big smile greets us with open arms. “I saw you coming”, he says looking straight at me with blue piercing eyes. “Anything to drink ? have you eaten ?” I replied we weren’t quite hungry yet, but would love something to drink. “I’ll get you guys some ginger tea, and then we can eat something later on if you’d like”.
We sat on the porch for a while in silence, sipping at our fresh ginger tea. It is so peaceful here, the silence of nature, birds singing, a gentle breeze, sweet sunshine and perfect temperature. “Wonderful, isn’t it ?”, he says, as if reading my thoughts. “Enjoy, there’s no rush…”. He laughs.
“It’s taken me quite some time to understand the importance of taking time”, he starts, “and to connect oneself to what’s going on within. There have been many signs along the way, telling me to slow down, enjoy nature, spend time with friends, family… I heard them, I saw them, but ignored them, thinking I knew better.”
“I used to be so ultra busy, as a musician, flying all over the planet, late nights, non-stop composition deadlines… Craziness. And even later on, as a yoga teacher and co-director of the Sampoorna Yoga Studio in Brussels, and single father of two teenagers, my days were pretty full. I guess it’s all about priorities. It’s ok to be busy. But what do we want to be busy with ? will it advance us towards our goal ? what is that goal ? now that’s a good question to ask yourself. What do I want to do with my life?”
“It’s all a process, it’s all good”. (smiles)
“Finding this major purpose, that goal, has been an important step in the right direction. A turning point. I was very lucky to meet my teacher, Shri Yogi Hari, a great yoga master. He lives with his family in his ashram in Florida. He’s almost 80 now. I still go and visit him regularly, for a few weeks at a time. Absolute Bliss. Still so much to learn… And then there was the Master Key Master Mind Alliance. Eternal gratefulness to Mark J, the Fabulous Davene, Trish and the whole team, for their tremendous work, paving the way to success for so many…”
“Why Big Sur?”, I ask him. “Well, look around you”, he replies smiling. Seeing I wasn’t satisfied, he continues: “Yes, you’re right, there are many beautiful places on this planet. I’ve traveled a lot so I’ve seen many of them. The important thing for me is to be able to be in contact with nature, silence, birds, to be able to breathe freely. The ocean nearby is a true blessing. And I love mountains too. And the woods. Have you seen the view from up here? We have a place in Sardinia too, Italy. Beautiful. Roots you know… Easier to see the family in Europe. Although my daughter is studying right here in California. She’s becoming a neurosurgeon”
“You seem to be doing pretty well. We imagine yogis sitting in their cave, with a loin cloth, meditating. How did you get all this up and running ?”, I ask, taking up my role as the journalist.
“It is important for a yogi, and for anyone else for that matter, to have peace of mind. It is the only way to connect to the world within, were the real wisdom and power lies. In the past, yogis were supported by the community, they didn’t have to worry about food and shelter. I was lucky enough to be introduced to network marketing, and thanks to the Master Key Master Mind Alliance, and Go90Grow, I have been very successful. My teacher Shri Yogi Hari says, it is important to be successful in life, in all areas. But do you want to know something?” I nod yes. “This place was given to me…”. “Wow, really?” I replied in disbelief. “Yes, a grateful student. He also was very successful in business. That’s why I called it Harmony Retreat Centre. Referring to being in harmony with natural laws, you know. There’s no use to resist them.” (laughs loudly)
“Wanna have a look around the grounds?”, he says in an inviting tone. “I’ll show you the main house, the retreat centre where people can stay, my personal meditation cabin in the woods, Anna’s art studio… And then we can have a light lunch. Salad maybe ? We can grab some veggies in the garden on our way back. All organic of course.”
The main house and surrounding buildings are all made of natural materials, wood, cob, straw bales, lime… Simple, beautiful, modern architecture, respectful of the nature around it. The entire centre is completely self-sustainable, equipped with the latest green technology.
“I am happy here. I feel accomplished. I feel strong”, he mentions. He looks strong, walking slowly, calmly, with an erect posture. Peaceful. Since the moment we arrived here, I feel more relaxed myself. “I can do with my time as I like”, he continues. “I love getting up early to meditate, and do some hatha yoga, and then chant and play the harmonium for a few hours. So energising. See, there’s my meditation spot. It’s important to have a space dedicated to your practice”, he advises.
“I understand you record music regularly. Can you explain a bit more about that ? Do you have your own production company ?”, I ask. “Well, as you know, I’m a musician. Always have been. I still play the saxophone, my first instrument. I started when I was 13. I also play the harmonium, the Tibetan singing bowls, gongs, flutes… all kinds of stuff, and I chant too. It has taken me some time, many years actually, to reconvert the music I used to play and compose into something more in harmony with what I’ve been involved in over the last 15 years. So one day, during the Master Key Master Mind Alliance Course, I promised myself to record music for yoga and meditation purposes – to calm and uplift the mind. I started this project in April 2015 and have been recording music every six months. So yes, there’s lots of music out there now, and that’s going pretty well too. Some of it has been used in the movies. I have my own music production company, YouSoundGood®, formerly HornPlayer, since about 20 years now.”
“Shall we eat?” Jill and I were getting hungry indeed. “I hope you’re staying tonight ? we’re having lots of friends over, from all over the globe. All wonderful people. We’ll play music and chant together. You can stay for the entire week if you want. Enjoy the nature. Invite a friend, your partners. It’s my 60th birthday, so let’s celebrate”.