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“Being mindful can help improve your overall well-being.” With Beau Henderson & Edie Summers

Being mindful can help improve your overall well-being. Practicing it can ease your feelings of stress, and make you feel less reactive, more whole, and enjoy your activities more. Mindfulness practice can help you to sleep better, reduce chronic pain and digestive issues, and help you to feel more present and be grateful for all […]

Being mindful can help improve your overall well-being. Practicing it can ease your feelings of stress, and make you feel less reactive, more whole, and enjoy your activities more. Mindfulness practice can help you to sleep better, reduce chronic pain and digestive issues, and help you to feel more present and be grateful for all aspects of life.


As a part of my series about “How To Develop Mindfulness And Serenity During Stressful Or Uncertain Times”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Edie Summers.

Edie Summers is an author, wellness consultant, former executive, and local yoga and fitness instructor. She is the author of the book “The Memory of Health: A Journey to Well-Being.” She helps people build more resilience in mind, body, heart, and soul. You can find her online at PortlandWellnessCoach.com.


Thank you so much for doing this with us! Our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you share with us the backstory about what brought you to your specific career path?

Ideveloped chronic fatigue after a ski accident in my early twenties. For me, one of the main pathways back to well-being was by paying more attention to my body’s signals. The more I paid attention to the signals my body was sending me, and adjusted accordingly, the better I felt. This was an accidental and practical form of mindfulness for me, which I later learned more about in a formal and traditional sense via Buddhism and research. As a result of developing health issues, I started working in the natural foods industry. Later, I became an entrepreneur, author, yoga instructor (I started practicing and got certified in my forties), and then an executive.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started your career?

First, I never planned on being in the wellness industry. I loved to write, I knew that. But, having my ski accident changed everything. That incident changed my trajectory, and I’m so glad it did. I had seen a naturopath in my quest to get my scar tissue down after arthroscopic surgery. It’s a long story, but this visit lead me to explore a local health food store (looking for the supplements he recommended). As a result of his recommendations, my scar tissue went down, and I was able to get most of my range of motion back in my knee. This was a huge deal for me, as I had been a dance major at the time in college. So, I started working in the natural foods industry to learn even more about what had helped me to heal. I immersed myself in learning about natural health. Later, I started working for myself as a wellness consultant. After that, I was contacted online to chat with an emerging startup in Silicon Valley.

I never dreamed I’d become an entrepreneur, let alone work for a startup. It was such an honor and an adventure to live and work in Silicon Valley for health, wellness, and fitness tech startup. I learned so much about innovation and collaboration, and how it takes an enormous team drive and partnership to manifest a big vision.

What advice would you give to other leaders about how to create a fantastic work culture?

Lead by example, empathy, and by creating positive space for ideas, growth, and self-determination.Be a guide, admit mistakes, and harness people’s strengths. Pursue excellence, but allow for ideas and systems to unfold, and be open to change when necessary. Be mindful of what’s working, and how your team or employees are feeling and interacting with the work environment.

I also hope that corporate wellness programs continue to expand, and even evolve to become part of the culture and ecosystem of a company. I envision companies that merge work and wellness principles. Be a leader by demonstrating mindset and well-being practices. Companies and leaders can play a critical role in practicing and implementing holistic practices such as self-care and mindfulness. They can also inspire excellence and innovation — and harness employees’ drive-by demonstrating these traits and values themselves.

Is there a particular book that made a significant impact on you? Can you share a story or explain why it resonated with you so much?

I’ve been an avid reader in my lifetime. When I was seeking answers to my health challenges, I started reading more books on health, wellness, and personal development. One book that really impacted me and expanded my consciousness was “Quantum Healing” by Deepak Chopra.

His book planted a seed in my mind about what was possible. It helped me to begin the journey to becoming aware of the power of consciousness to affect my well-beingIn essence, Deepak says, that “awareness can close or lessen the gap between symptoms and well-being.” I have found this to be true, and a powerful way of living and affecting the state of my body, mind, heart, and soul. It is an on-going practice that one deepens into over time.

Ok, thank you for all that. Now let’s move to the main focus of our interview. From your experience or research, how would you define and describe the state of being mindful?

For me, being mindful is about paying more attention to all that is unfolding in the present moment. In a traditional sense, it’s also about not judging what is unfolding. Instead of judging, practice compassion for yourself and others.

Being mindful can help improve your overall well-being. Practicing it can ease your feelings of stress, and make you feel less reactive, more whole, and enjoy your activities more. Mindfulness practice can help you to sleep better, reduce chronic pain and digestive issues, and help you to feel more present and be grateful for all aspects of life.

It can also be about finding more joy or enjoyment in the present moment, by paying deep attention to what is unfolding in front of you. Mindfulness can make life feel more rich and full, and to me, it is a form of gratitude. Be more like a kid: they are naturally mindful, and relish details and experiences. They are very deep in the present moment. We can remember this stance — this way of being — for ourselves, even as we become adults too.

In grad school, I stumbled across research that describes mindfulness — in its original form — to mean a lucid state of being. I love this, as I have been fascinated by self-actualization since high school, when I heard about Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. This concept struck a deep chord with me — being self-actualized and realizing my potential — and I feel mindfulness can make self-actualization possible. We can also harness the tool of mindfulness to weather difficult times, and learn how to slow down and be more present for both ourselves and for one another.

I have found mindfulness to be a very practical and also incredibly powerful tool to calm down, be more present, and to be more accepting and non-judgmental of whatever is unfolding in my life and the world around me at the moment. It helps me to accept my life, myself, and others more, and to notice all the incredible good that is in this world.

This might be intuitive to you, but it will be instructive to spell this out. Can you share with our readers a few of the physical, mental, and emotional benefits of becoming mindful?

Cultivating more mindfulness greatly impacts your health and well-being.

  • Mindfulness can be used as a wellness tool…

Our body has feedback loops of energy, and different systems in our body are talking to one another, and to us, all the time. Slow down and listen to what your body is saying to you. It is infinitely wise. This is the main tool I use to stay or get back to well-being and homeostasis, even in the midst of difficult times. Listen to your body.

Mindfulness can reduce your stress levels and lower your blood pressure. Mindfulness can make you more resilient, meaning you can handle stress better. It can help your body to calm down and relax. It can help your nervous system stay calmer, so you may be able to sleep better at night. We all need this right now: deeper and better sleep.

  • Mindfulness can be used as a mental tool…

Mindfulness can reduce stress, so you feel less reactive overall, emotionally. When your body is calm, your mind often feels more serene too. You can make better decisions, and feel more at peace, and not resist stressful events as much. Mindfulness can help you clear your mind, and focus on what’s in front of you. It can also help you to retain memory. Focus on thoughts that give you peace of mind. Mindfulness and focusing on positive thoughts can increase neural plasticity: our capacity to be resilient. We can learn to be resilient on all levels and planes of being.

  • Mindfulness can be used as a spiritual tool…

Mindfulness can help you become more joyful. Joy is healing. When we are joyful, our stress levels go down. Our bodies’ relax. We step into flow and harness the magic of the moments as they unfold. Tapping into joy can help us to heal, grow, change, and thrive. Remember to seek joy, play, and laughter to make your life the fullest it can be.

Ok. Here is the main question of our discussion. The past 5 years have been filled with upheaval and political uncertainty. Many people have become anxious from the dramatic jolts of the news cycle. The fears related to the coronavirus pandemic have only heightened a sense of uncertainty, anxiety, fear, and loneliness. From your experience or research what are five steps that each of us can take to develop mindfulness and serenity during such uncertain times? Can you please share a story or example for each.

  1. Notice your breath. It can ground you, and help you to feel less anxious. Just taking a few, slow, deep breaths can signal to your body to slow down. You may feel more calm and serene as well. Use meditation to be more mindful. I often prefer active meditation, like yoga, or walking, or by doing something creative, that creates a meditative state. You could also try mindfulness meditation as an easy tool to feel calmer and less anxious. Allow yourself to be still, even just for a few moments. Find and notice your breath. Just follow your breath. If you feel your mind or attention wander, gently bring it back to your breath. Notice your belly rising and falling. I use mindfulness meditation for so many purposes. If I’m feeling fearful, anxious, or stressed, I try to breathe slower and deeper, starting from my belly. My breath helps me so much to ground and to be more present. Always return to your breath. It’s your connection to life, to presence, and to your awareness and consciousness. It’s a fantastic bridge to practice mindfulness, and it helps you feel more alive too. Start slowly, even with a just few minutes. Go from there. It gets easier over time. It’s such a natural and easy practice, and it’s accessible to everyone.
  2. Slow down, be still, and take it one moment at a time. This is a very Zen approach for me. It’s about finding clarity and slowness in a moment. Often, if I feel fear creeping in, I try to just take it one moment at a time. Just breathe…then breathe into the next moment. Take one step, and then take another when you can, if you can. At any point in time, you can use awareness and mindfulness to listen to your body, mind, heart, and soul to slow down, tune in, and recalibrate your emotional and physical landscapes. We have the capacity to be whole under any circumstances. We are incredibly and beautifully resilient as a species.
  3. Learn and draw strength from others. I have struggled with loneliness, due to health challenges, living alone, etc. In fact, many of us who have faced — or are facing chronic health challenges — have been isolated at home for a long time already. We already know how it feels to be at home for extended periods of time, as it relates to health issues. We can learn and draw strength from others who have faced illness, trauma, loneliness, and difficult times (which is most of us, at this point). I have found a few things that really help me: I try to find and keep a routine (yoga, eating well, trying to stay positive), and I try not to judge how I feel at any moment, or what I’m able to do — or not do — any day. Keeping a routine gives me comfort and reduces my anxiety. I practice yoga as a way to breathe and stretch, and to process emotions. I take walks outside when I can to get sun, fresh air, and to feel the healing effects of nature. I also watch movies and documentaries as a way to destress, and I find they naturally help me to be more mindful. I go deep into, and engage, with the storylines. Any Zen or creative engagement, such as art, dance, or music, can also help you to be more present, create a sense of mindfulness, and may reduce stress and anxiety.
  4. I have learned that adversity can make us more resilient. Know that your heart and soul and body will adjust, adapt to, and grow from challenging times. You already have this capacity inside of you. Also, give yourself a break. If you are having a hard day, take it easy. Take it one mindful moment at a time. Do what you can. If you can’t do or face anything today, practice self-compassion. Mindfulness means being present with what is: don’t judge how you feel. Be kind to yourself on difficult days. Try to accept “what is.” This practice is a big part of the mindfulness tradition. When it’s really challenging, in the words of Chris McGurrin, “for the time being, try to just breathe and commit to just be.”
  5. Get perspective and see the big picture. Know you belong. This has given me great comfort, to know that I am connected to all living beings. In my bouts of facing loneliness, I have learned that I have the capacity to live in a lucid state of being, whenever I make the conscious choice to engage. I can allow this awareness, mindfulness, and energyto flow effortlessly both in my body and in the universe all at once. No matter what’s unfolding in my life in the present moment, this is my eternal peace: to do my best to know and feel a sense of connection to all living things and to the universe itself. We intimately and deeply belong to the earth, to the heavens, and to one another.We are resilient as a species because we are so social and deeply interconnected. This is how we have survived. This can be our collective peace: our deep connections to one another. There are so many good things happening in the world too. There is less overall violence, for instance, even though it may not seem like it, by how often it’s reported. Often, when I notice fear has taken root, I try to remind myself to find a bigger perspective. I am not always perfect at this, and sometimes it takes me a while to remember find it, but this is why we need one another: to help each other keep perspective. My mom is a great light in my life, and helps me to find and keep perspective. Keep seeking connection and seeking perspective. Find peace by seeing the bigger picture.

From your experience or research what are five steps that each of us can take to effectively offer support to those around us who are feeling anxious? Can you explain?

  1. Listen to one another. Be there for one another. These are difficult times. We can help one another be more resilient, especially in times of stress. Community builds resiliency. It’s one of the best ways to do so. Let’s use this tool, now more than ever. I see people stepping up and helping one another in countlessly compassionate ways. We are lessening each other’s suffering. Listen without the intention to respond. Just hold space. Be a source of love, presence, and safe connection for someone. Creating a positive attachment like this — being a safe, positive person — is a powerful way to reduce anxiety for other people.
  2. Empathize with one anotherAt this point, most of us have been through trauma. Try to see someone else’s point-of-view. Hold them in positive regard. Find a way to relate. I am realizing more and more how different we all are. But, we can find common ground through empathy and perspective.
  3. Notice and celebrate wins and strengths in one anotherWith all of us being so different, let’s focus on our strengths in one another, and find our common ground. Clearly, some common ground is safety, health, and well-being. Plus, we can use positive regard to lift one another up. This can ease anxiety: knowing you are seen in a positive light. People’s differences should be celebrated and approached with curiosity.Let’s learn from one another.Be grateful for who people are, as they are, and the gifts they bring into the world. Gratitude can reduce anxiety. Be grateful for your own gifts that you bring into this world as well.
  4. Reflect love (and try not to judge, just like in the practice of mindfulness). I have a really great story about Marianne Williamson. I went to a book signing of hers in my twenties. When it was my turn, I told her how amazing I thought she was. She looked at me, and without hesitation, said “You’re amazing too.” Her words really struck a chord with me. Years later, I tagged her on Facebook, and told her my experience with her in one of her threads. I wasn’t expecting a reply, but she replied again, and reiterated the same sentiment. She reflected love back to me. Just as Marianne demonstrated, we can all be a reflection of love for one another.
  5. Play, laugh, and be mindfulPlay and laughter are so healing. Laughter releases stress. It’s incredibly healing and powerful. Even in times of great stress and anxiety, remember to laugh and have fun.Remember that mindfulness is connected to memory. Be mindful as you travel throughout your life, even with our new normal. You can create a beautiful life simply by showing up for it, for yourself, and for your loved ones along the way. We can create beautiful memories, even in the face of difficult times.

What are the best resources you would suggest for someone to learn how to be more mindful and serene in their everyday life?

Check out Pema Chodron’s book, “Taking the Leap.” She talks about leaning into discomfort. It’s a beautiful, brilliant, comforting book.

I also love Michael A. Singer’s book, “The Untethered Soul.” He talks about removing the thorn that’s causing you to suffer, along with countless other profoundly rich ideas and wisdom.

Of course, anything by Eckhart Tolleto me is a startling reminder to be present, and oftentimes, more mindful. He talks about having a “… felt sense of being.” This concept has helped me to embody more of what it means to feel alive and present, and be mindful of moment-to-moment deep consciousness.

I recommend learning about Buddhism in general. Studying Buddhism taught me how to release suffering by not resisting it. When I really got this concept, my mind eased. It’s worth understanding. Mindfulness is also an integral part of Buddhism, and there is such wisdom that comes from studying its tenets.

Jewel and Deepak Chopra have a documentary coming out called “The Mindfulness Movement.” They explore how mindfulness can create a “healthier, happier world.” I know mindfulness helped Jewel face some tough times. In her words: “Mindfulness is learning to become a whole human.” In the words of Deepak Chopra: “A critical mass of people who are living in awareness will automatically create a better world.” Journalist Dan Harris is featured in it too.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Do you have a story about how that was relevant in your life?

I’m a huge fan of quotes. I’ve loved so many over the years. While I have several favorite life lesson quotes (like the incredible poem “Desiderata” by Max Ehrmann), I have a really great story about Oriah Mountain Dreamer’s poem called “The Invitation.”

I saw her poem online in my mid-twenties, right around the time I was working on my first major piece of writing: a screenplay. I was so moved by her poem, telling me to be brave, and authentic, and to stay true to my heart’s desires, that I wrote to her. I asked her if I could include her poem in my screenplay.

Not too soon afterwards, I had a phone message that was from her. I forget the exact message she left, but she was so warm, and also gave me permission to quote her in my work.

I was so moved, not only by her poem and message, but by the fact that she had gone out of her way to make her answer so personal. I was blown away by her personalized response.

Making things personal and focused: I feel this has so much to do with what mindfulness can be on a practical level, and in an interpersonal capacity. We can be there for ourselves and one another. We have been circling back to this even more so as of late: being there for one another and uniting as a species. It’s already in our nature.

You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

We need to find a way to value ourselves, one another, and the planet more. I do feel current circumstances with Covid-19 have shed a light on where we could improve certain areas, like food deserts (lack of access to healthy food within a certain distance), access to health care, health infrastructure, and disaster preparedness, for instance.

We could learn to be more inclusive and mindful of each other’s needs and strengths too. I feel we are recognizing in a real way how interconnected we all really are. We rise and fall together. Let’s focus on how we can rise together. We are one organism. I feel we have experienced this since the Covid-19 challenge. The health and safety of all come first. Let’s focus on our collective health and well-being.

We have experienced a global health crisis. We are literally in the same boat, facing the same common threat to our health and well-being. This is our opportunity to embody the fact that we are all the same on the most fundamental level. Public health is our common denominator. We found it. Let’s take care of our common denominator to create the change we need to transform into a just, holistic, unified world.

My hope is to encourage people to treat themselves and one another — and this planet well — and to truly show up for ourselves and one another in this life. Treat yourself well — especially in difficult times — and treat each other well, as well as this amazing planet that is our living and breathing home.

Treating yourself well also makes you more resilient to stress. Self-care gives you a buffer against day-to-day and unforeseen stress, and room to breathe and process events.

In the same breath, being mindful of each moment can be a great way to endure difficult times, as well as savor greater experiences and create lasting, lifetime memories.

What is the best way our readers can follow you online?

You can find me on my Facebook personal or author page, as Edie Summers.

Thank you for these fantastic insights. We wish you only continued success in your great work!

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