Amanda, I wanted to interview you because you have been a powerful teacher in my life’s journey. You kindly taught me the art of meditation, setting me up with a daily mindfulness practice. The way you live your own life with such grace, ease and flow is very admirable and inspiring, so I want to share with readers of My Balance & Wellness, a little more about you.
So, tell us a little about yourself (here you can mention Daily Practice Daily Health):
First and foremost, I am a practitioner at heart. I have been regularly meditating since 2009, and have chosen the path of science and integrative medicine as my profession (or vehicle) in which to share the life-changing healing benefits of a daily meditation practice. Currently, I work with a research team at UCSF that conducts clinical research on mindfulness and meditation. Additionally, I also just started a meditation instruction practice called Daily Practice Daily Health.
Do you remember your first spiritual moment?
Yes- the moment I woke up to who I am and who we are as humans---One.
In reflection, I also see I have always been a sensitive or seemingly spiritually aware human. I remember as a child feeling completely connected to nature in a very deep and meaningful way, and being very obsessed with and aware of energy.
When and why did you start a daily mindfulness practice?
I started a daily meditation practice in 2009 after going through a extremely challenging time in my life. I had learned mindfulness and meditation techniques beginning as early as high school and studied holistic health in college. Yet the daily practice started after learning meditation at a personal and spiritual growth retreat with Deepak Chopra and my first meditation teacher Davidji. From there my life’s work both personally and professionally organically became about being in total optimal health and training in meditation and mindfulness techniques in order to support others in realizing their own health and healing.
How has it changed your mind, body and life since?
When I started to meditate I really began to heal- like really heal. I could feel myself healing on a very deep internal, mental, emotional and physical level. Meditating daily has utterly and completely changed how I process information and the world around me. I relate to life through a place of peace and my own centered “home” energy, which has been cultivated through a daily practice.
After dedicating yourself to the practice for years now, are there days when you find it challenging?
Challenging moments are our greatest teachers. When I am feeling resistant to meditating then I know there is imbalance occurring, so I take a look at the resistance, and ask, “What is this really?” Usually it is a negative belief pattern surfacing or plain old self-sabotage. When we refrain from or avoid what nourishes and heals us the most we know that this is where the “work” is. We can also eliminate many challenges to having a practice by making it a part of our morning waking experience and routine.
How does mindfulness influence your food choices?
When we are mindful we are connected to ourselves, therefore we are also aware of what makes us feel good and what doesn’t. This directly relates to our food choices. We are better able to discern our feelings, emotions, unconscious conditioning, and habits around food and our eating behaviors. With this awareness we can make new choices.
What is your favorite daily self-care ritual (besides meditation)?
Choosing to be in joy and radical happiness every morning. Committing to joy in the morning changes our life experience and relationship to our daily stressors. We become more resilient.
When you meditate daily, do you get to a point where you say, “Ah, I’ve got this!” or is it a practice that constantly grows and evolves?
In meditation we definitely get to a point where it becomes effortless to slip into the “gap” or the space between thoughts. This is when we know we are really meditating. While growing this “mindfulness muscle” happens over time, you can experience a plethora of benefits the very first time you meditate with the right instruction and guidance.
What is one key meditation tip you can share with our health savvy friends out there?
Posture. When just beginning to meditate, sitting with a dignified posture (straight spine, head slightly back, and square hips) helps set the intention to really be in a meditation practice. We essentially are sending the signal to our brains that we are serious, present, and committed to the next 15-30 minutes of practice.
What do you find is the biggest benefit to embracing a meditation practice?
Finding your center so you can grow and expand into who you are really meant to be in the world AND the ability to choose how we react to challenges and stress.
What is the biggest misconception about meditating?
That you are not suppose to have thoughts while you meditate. This is completely inaccurate. You will of course have thoughts as you meditate (we are humans with a mind). The practice arises in letting those thoughts pass through and not becoming attached to our thoughts. So we attempt and practice the art of refraining from starting a conversation in our minds while we are meditating and consistently returning to our object of focus (the breathe, a mantra or open awareness).
So how do we get started?
Show up. Show up for you, show up for your current or new practice, your health, your well-being, and your own self-healing. By showing up for yourself you are then able to truly and more authentically show up for others and the whole world.
If you are beginning and new to daily practice start with a 12-minute timed meditation practice (email me for guidance and beginning techniques: firstname.lastname@example.org) and then build your practice slowly over 1-2 weeks to 30 minutes a day. The research shows, it takes between 20-30 minutes to physiologically and psychologically settle enough in our bodies and minds to experience the full benefits of a meditation practice. I am also here to help those who have an established meditation practice deepen it, or sift through any challenges that may be coming up. My deep hearts desire is to support as many of us as possible to meditate and discover how this ancient and simple tool can profoundly change our lives.