…the first thing to do in being mindful is to limit social media and or news. One thing I implemented in my life, a long time ago was turning off notification on my phone. I do not get social media or email notifications popping up on my phone. I also limit myself to watching the local news in the evening. This gives me up to date information of what is happening and does not overwhelm/load me with information that could cause anxiety or uncertainty.
As a part of my series about “How To Develop Mindfulness And Serenity During Stressful Or Uncertain Times”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Charity Collier the founder of Meditating Together LLC.
Charity holds a Bachelor’s degree in Exercise Physiology, a certification in Substance Abuse Counseling, and a Master’s degree of Arts in Mindfulness Studies. Charity combines the threefold education by bringing a mind, body, and spirit connection with teaching meditation and mindfulness to the everyday person who wants better emotional well-being.
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?
During my early 30’s I was working in the corporate world as an administrative assistant for a variety of different companies. Over the course of ten years in the business world, I had an internal whisper that I was not satisfied in this line of work. I read a wide assortment of self-help books to help figure out the answer. During this period of time, I discovered running as an exercise and stress reliever. Over the course of time while running, I received a call to become an addiction counselor. I followed this calling, whisper, or idea and enrolled in a certificate program to become an addiction counselor. Coincidentally to my studying, I was learning to heal my own suffering.
Over some time I stopped running and missed the meditative results I received from it. I began doing sitting meditation to help heal my own suffering. The meditation developed into learning more about mindfulness. Mindfulness is not just about meditation but is only the practice of learning mindfulness.
My practice of mindfulness and meditation began to evolve, and so did I. There was a lift of my depression and low self worth. The internal fears of society pressure began to not be important. I began to like who I was, have self compassion, and be my best self. As I moved in my career as an addiction counselor I realized mindfulness and meditation would be a vital tool to teach people with addiction for sustained sobriety. I found the Mindfulness Studies Master’s program at Lesley Universityand was so excited to learn that I could get a masters in something that had been my passion and helped me. I felt the program could help me teach others. I graduated in May 2017. I am one of the first 10 people in the United States to have the degree.
My main focus of studying was to utilize mindfulness in addiction treatment. However, over the years I have noticed the need for meditation and mindfulness for people dealing with depression and anxiety. I decided to bring my services to all walks of life. Today I work with anyone who wants to heal from suffering, be it an addiction, depression, anxiety or anything else.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started your career?
I am not sure this is interesting but it is rewarding. I was teaching mindfulness and meditation to inmates in prison. After a few weeks an inmate said to me. “I have been listening and trying to do what you have been teaching us. I hated my cellmate because every night he snores like a chainsaw. I realized that I did not hate him but hated the snoring. I also have been doing the meditation in bed like you have been teaching and I am sleeping better.”
What advice would you give to other leaders about how to create a fantastic work culture?
Being a “mindful leader” is the most important aspect I see for a leader. Being a mindful leading requires a leader to be authentic, self-aware and practice what they preach. I would not ask anyone to do anything I would not do myself. I also am self-aware enough to know that I don’t know it all and want to hear from others their experience and knowledge.
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?
There is not one particular book that made a significant impact on me. Gaberiel Bernstein’s books have made a big impact on my life. Each one of her books have helped me step in more and more my authentic self. I will say Gaberiel Bernstein’s book Universe Has Your Back has helped me the most to surrender to the pushing of how I want things to be, and allow things to be how the Universe has planned for me.
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?
The state of being mindful is to become aware of your authentic self. Understanding and being confident in your own beliefs even if they are different from your family and society norms. To explain a bit deeper, each one of us is born with a soul, I believe we are all in agreement with this. Our soul is our authentic self. However as we grow, we absorb external thoughts, beliefs from family, friends, and society. This is no one’s fault, it is the human path. However if a person loses their authentic self by the absorption that is often where depression, anxiety and addiction can come into play. To become mindful one needs to recognize that things do not feel right. As I mentioned sharing about myself, I had a whisper of knowing the job I was doing was not right for me. Everyone has a whisper in them, if a person gets quiet they can hear the whisper. The whisper is their authentic self wanting to be heard. Sadly many people distract themselves to no hear the whisper out of fear. Getting quiet, such as in meditation allows for a person to listen to the whisper and step into the whisper. I stepped into my whisper and here I am today doing what I love. It was not what family, friends or society told me to do, but I am authentic to my soul’s purpose for being here on earth. There is great comfort in that. On a daily basis being mindful means making sure a person continues to be their authentic self. Family, friends, society, fears and emotions will come along to take you away from your authentic self for their own purpose. However being mindful means remembering to have your authentic self as your anchor.
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?
The benefits of being physically, mentally and emotionally is life changing. Physically when a person becomes mindful they begin to recognize the physical signs often before they mentally do. Example for me, recently my significant other did something that was emotionally triggering for me. I noticed I had a nervous stomach. I then lashed out verbally. This is when mentally I was mindful and checked in with myself. Why I was feeling anxious and emotional. I went into my head and thought about what was happening. I realized the anxiety and emotional lash out was due to a past trigger. I was then able to bring this to my significant other in a “I am doing and feeling this way because your behavior is triggering a past trauma.” Being mindful I was able to deliver this to my significant other in a non-confrontational manner and recognize my emotions are the past and not a problem of the present.
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. In today’s uncertainty, the first thing to do in being mindful is to limit social media and or news. One thing I implemented in my life, a long time ago was turning off notification on my phone. I do not get social media or email notifications popping up on my phone. I also limit myself to watching the local news in the evening. This gives me up to date information of what is happening and does not overwhelm/load me with information that could cause anxiety or uncertainty.
2. Connect with positive friends. We all know who the negative Nancy’s friends are as well as who our Positive Pete’s are. When you are dealing with uncertainty, anxiety, fear, and loneliness connect with your Positive Pete’s. Facetime, video chat, whatever it is that when you are done you feel good and in a good mindset. I remember in 2018 I had been living in a new city in a new state. I was feeling lonely and a friend of mine back home suggested we each get some wine and facetime. After an hour of chatting and talking about topics that inspired us both I felt happier and fulfilled.
3. Get quiet. I believe this is difficult for many people. Mindfulness starts with a meditation practice. One needs to get quiet to hear and listen to the whispers of their intuition to then become mindful. My meditation practice started when I was running. To this day I hear my internal voice the loudest when I am out for a walk. Getting quiet can be a meditation practice, a walk or sitting quietly. Whatever is comfortable for you to hear your whisper/internal voice.
4. Develop self compassion. Compassion for others often comes so much easier than for others. A large part of mindfulness is developing a Metta meditation practice. Metta is the
practice of loving kindness. In the metta practice you give compassion for others. However the biggest part I believe is giving yourself self compassion. My practice of loving-kindness has helped me not be so hard on myself. Loving-kindness practice has helped me realize I am a human being doing the best I can with the coping mechanisms I have at this time.
5. Do one thing a day that lifts you up. Exercise is a big part of my mental health. I make sure I exercise at least 30 minutes a day. Finding something that helps you will allow you to be there for others.
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. Hold Space — Oftentimes a person only needs space to talk things out. They don’t need a solution or to hear others thoughts. Holding space is the place where one listens and gives space to a person to be wherever they are, emotionally.
2. Have compassion — Compassion for another person can allow for the person to feel understood and safe in their vulnerability.
3. Check in. It takes no time to send a text message reminding a loved one you are thinking of them. Send a message of love, saying hi and you are there. The person may not return it but they know you are there when they need you.
4. Send humor. A friend of mine and I find funny meme’s on social media that we send each other. It brings each other laughter in these uncertain times. Often the best way to support someone is through a good laugh.
5. Remind others that we are all in this together and everything will work out when one has faith.
What are the best resources you would suggest for someone to learn how to be more mindful and serene in their everyday life?
I recommend a person find resources that resonate with them. I am not one to use a meditation app but if you are someone who uses apps for structure then find a meditation app that works well for you. I have a wonderful community of mindfulness peers that offer free mindfulness information. I can be found on Instagram at Meditating Together, as well as offering a 4 week living mindfully course at The Mindful Soul Center. My peers are at The Mindful Junkie and Alma Y Espiritu both on Instagram.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Do you have a story about how that was relevant in your life?
My favorite “life lesson quote” is “everything is working out for me.” This quote has helped me during times of uncertainty. There have been times when I was not sure if I would be able to pay my next month’s rent or be able to buy groceries. I would have faith that everything was working out for me. Things always did work out for me.
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. 🙂
I have never thought about starting a movement. My movement would be living mindfully. Teaching people to become aware of themselves and live mindfully. This means being more self aware, slowing down and being present in their lives, getting people off their phones so much! My 4 week course, Mindful Living is the start of that.
What is the best way our readers can follow you online?
Readers can find me on instagram at @meditatingtogether, my website meditatingtogether.com, and my youtube channel Meditating Together.