#Girlcrush alert, tribe. I met Amanda Gilbert recently at The Den (a posh meditation studio in LA I love going to), and it was wellness love at first sight. If you know me, you know I believe meditation is the foundation of any wellness practice, and Amanda embodies that whole ethos in one gorgeous person. In fact, Amanda is joining my upcoming Gorgeous For Good Weekend Wellness Intensive as the resident meditation instructor – If you are interested in learning more about meditation, how to meditate, and the many wonderful physical, mental and emotional health benefits of a meditation practice, I highly encourage you to grab your tickets today and join us June 9-10.
I’ve asked Amanda to join me for a Facebook live this coming Wednesday May 9th, but in the mean time, I did a quick interview with Amanda, because her story is simply amazing and I am so honored to know her.
Sophie Uliano: When did you start meditating, and why?
Amanda Gilbert: Meditation found me at a pretty young age. I was first taught to meditate in a non-traditional high school in West Virginia by Native American Elders and local Appalachians. I remember how much those few moments of following the breath with my eyes closed seemed to change how I felt immediately and that always stayed with me. I went on to study Holistic Health in College and took classes that covered “life centering practices” and mindful nutrition. But it was a period of intense trauma and growth in my early adult-life that brought me to a consistent meditation practice. When I knew I needed healing at time I recalled how much better meditation had made me feel in the past. I then devoted my life to learning all I could about meditation and a daily meditation practice.
SU: What kind of meditation did you begin with?
AG: The very first meditations in high school and college where either breath-focused meditations or guided-visualization practices. Yet my first daily meditation practice was a Mantra Meditation practice taught to me by Deepak Chopra.
SU: How has your meditation journey evolved?
AG: For the first several years of my daily practice I practiced mantra meditation and then found myself sitting with several great mindfulness meditation teachers. When I started to learn about mindfulness meditation and mindfulness-based psychology, I found that my meditation practice not only deepened but it became applicable to all of the very-human moments I would encounter outside of my formal daily meditation practice.
SU: How does someone choose a meditation practice that is right for them?
AG: When I work with people I often go through a soft analysis process of seeing which traditional meditation techniques seem to work for them the best. More generally, I always suggest for people to stay with one technique that seems to work for them and stick with it for a period of time.
SU: Let’s say I’m brand new to meditation – What’s your first piece of advice for me before I get started?
AG: Know that this practice has the capacity to completely change your life. Learn to trust it and keep showing up even when you think you’re not any good at it.
SU: If someone has a monkey mind that will not stop, do you have any tips?
AG: Yes! You can change your relationship with these thoughts! In mindfulness meditation, it’s not about wishing that all of these thoughts weren’t happening. You can learn to turn towards the thoughts and work with them in a more skillful way. For really active monkey mind, I often suggest a simple “mental noting practice” where you label each thought as it arises in your mind. This brings your mindfulness to these thoughts which actually lets them flow through your mind instead of stay and have a thinking party.
SU: If someone suffers from anxiety, panic attacks, and/or depression – what is the best and most effective form of meditation?
AG: Mindfulness meditations for grounding and equanimity. Practice body scans or very basic breath-focused meditations.
SU: I know this is a huge question….but what is your life purpose? And how can people start to discover theirs if they feel lost in the woods?
AG: My life purpose is to share the life-changing effects of meditation with AS MANY people as possible. Meditation has allowed me to learn to follow my heart and get clear on what brings me meaning and fulfillment in my life so I know it can also do that for others. One of the best pieces of advice I have received on life purpose came from one of my meditation teachers who said, “do something that you would pay money to do.” I have found that to be a very good indicator for knowing what you love to do so much you would give money to actually do it!
I am so inspired by, and hugely grateful for, people like Amanda who have guided me on my wellness journey. Her words are such a great reminder that meditation is an evolutionary practice, if for an old-hat meditator like me.
If you’re interested in learning more about meditation, and integrating it into your own wellness practice, I have three tips for you:
- Look for a meditation teacher like Amanda. If you live in a major city, there are often “meditation studios” like The Den in Los Angeles. Shop around until you find a vibe that really works for you. If there are meditation studios in your area, look on YouTube – There are tons of free meditation practices available for you (including some of my own!).
- Download an app – My community loves Insight Timer, and I’m guessing you will too. Apps are such a great way to experience meditation with “training wheels,” so to speak, although even practiced meditators like me and Amanda turn to apps sometimes!
- Experience meditation in person – There’s nothing like practicing meditation with a room full of like-minded wellness warriors! Come to the Gorgeous For Good Weekend Wellness Intensive – We’ll be talking meditation (and yoga), along with a full slate of fascinating wellness topics. If you use the code SPRING4YOU you can get 10% off any ticket price!