The power of breathing correctly. All those years of incorrect shallow breathing made me more anxious, stressed, and confused all because I did not know how to correctly do long deep breathing. There was an event at the bank that was so stressful, and since I was pregnant I had to go lay down at the nurse to calm down because I did not know what to do. It would not have happened today knowing what I know now.
Many successful people reinvented themselves in a later period in their life. Jeff Bezos worked in Wall Street before he reinvented himself and started Amazon. Sara Blakely sold office supplies before she started Spanx. Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson was a WWE wrestler before he became a successful actor and filmmaker. Arnold Schwarzenegger went from a bodybuilder, to an actor to a Governor. McDonald’s founder Ray Croc was a milkshake-device salesman before starting the McDonalds franchise in his 50’s.
How does one reinvent themselves? What hurdles have to be overcome to take life in a new direction? How do you overcome those challenges? How do you ignore the naysayers? How do you push through the paralyzing fear?
In this series called “Second Chapters; How I Reinvented Myself In The Second Chapter Of My Life “ we are interviewing successful people who reinvented themselves in a second chapter in life, to share their story and help empower others.
As a part of this interview series, I had the pleasure of interviewing Daniela Mattos.
Daniela is a Kundalini Yoga and Meditation teacher who moved from Brazil to the United States to learn the English language. After a few years, she made the decision to stay and further her education with a bachelor’s degree in Biotechnology, and eventually found herself working on Wall Street for over a decade. After the birth of her second child, Daniela faced her biggest challenge when she became almost paralyzed by her chronic back pain. But through a dream, she found Kundalini Yoga. As she explored the practice, she discovered the cause of her pain and was able to heal by reconnecting her body, mind and soul.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we start, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your childhood backstory?
I was born and raised in Criciuma, a town in the south of Brazil. I always considered myself very lucky and thankful for the fact that my mom was the first to get an advanced degree in our family (she is a dentist). Because of this, she was able to give me a much better future than the one she had. However her marriage with my father did not last, and they separated when I was about two years old. I did not see him again until I was a teenager, and a few years after they separated, she remarried. My stepfather became my father figure, and I love him with all my heart. However, because I felt I was very lucky, I never acknowledged how much I suffered by being abandoned by my biological father, and all the consequences that came with that powerful and yet repressed emotion. This gap in my life was a lesson I would learn much later in life.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
To have patience is not just to wait, to have patience is to know. I thought about giving up many times throughout this second phase of my life, but there is something inside of me that tells me that everything will be just fine in the end.
You have been blessed with much success. In your opinion, what are the top three qualities that you possess that have helped you accomplish so much? If you can, please share a story or example for each.
1. Discipline — From a very early age, I learned that being consistent and persistent were key. I was a competitive swimmer for many years, and that was the main lesson I learned from the sport. I would go to practice everyday no matter what my other friends did because I realized that to achieve my goals, I had to swim constantly. It taught me that I had to show up everyday and do my part if I wanted to beat the clock and see any results. Being disciplined helped me to create a consistent sadhana (daily spiritual practice) that is required if you want to feel more profound effects of a yoga practice.
2. Curious/Eager to Learn — It was no wonder that I studied biotechnology. I have always been curious to know more and felt this thirst for knowledge. As a child I would always wonder how things were made or why they were the way they were. I was aware of this curiosity and when I read the book, Sophie’s World by Jostein Gaarder, I realized that as we grow older most people stop being curious. I kept that in mind to always make sure that would not happen to me. This helped to overcome the first impression I had of Kundalini Yoga. It looked strange at first, but I wanted to learn more about the practice in which I dreamed of, yet knew nothing about.
3. Self-starter — I always had this knowingness inside of me that assured me I could do anything I want, I could learn anything, and that there were no limitations. Of course, there were moments I thought otherwise, but eventually I would get in touch with that feeling once again. Whenever I did not know something, I never gave up or stopped to see if someone could do it for me. Instead I would try it myself and buy books to learn how to do it. This was how I managed to go from Biotechnology to Finance, and then to Kundalini Yoga. By the time I went on my spiritual journey and decided to dedicate my life to yoga, I was once again not afraid to start over — and here I am now.
Let’s now shift to the main part of our discussion about ‘Second Chapters’. Can you tell our readers about your career experience before your Second Chapter?
Even before I became a Kundalini Yoga teacher, I had already changed careers once. At first I focused my studies on doing lab research, but by the end of my school years I was bored with that idea. So I switched my career focus to work on the business side of biological sciences, but this still did not make me happy. After that, I made a change to the finance field and worked at Bloomberg LP for over 5 years. I started as an analyst at the customer service desk and soon paved my way to become the youngest business manager, developing fixed income derivatives calculators with a team of financial engineers and programers. It was such an amazing experience where I truly felt that I could learn anything. We were going through a housing bubble crisis because most of the investors put their money in derivatives instruments and they did not fully understand the risks. Yet, I was working for a major fintech company helping to calculate the risks of these assets. I knew they were complex, and I knew I understood them. Once the dust settled, I decided to move to a bank and work on the investment side, using my knowledge to help my clients’ investments. For my last 6 years in finance, I worked as a global sales investment specialist at JPMorgan Private Bank for about 6 years. I covered clients from Mexico and Brazil and had an amazing experience living and breathing the financial markets.
And how did you “reinvent yourself” in your Second Chapter?
It was not something I planned, but rather a ‘perfect storm’ in my life — my 15 month old daughter got sick, I was pregnant with my second, and I realized I could not keep up with what my role required of me to continue delivering my very best performance. Because of this, I decided to take a break. As soon as I made that decision, my back pain (at that point it was on and off for almost 10 years) became chronic and stronger than ever, to the point that it almost paralyzed me. As I went on this unconventional journey to heal myself, I unknowingly started the journey of reinventing myself so I could be there for my family.
Can you tell us about the specific trigger that made you decide that you were going to “take the plunge” and make your huge transition?
Once I realized that the source of my pain was because I was not fully connected as body, mind and soul, I knew that I needed to learn more about Kundalini Yoga. Yet, I still did not think I was going to just give up my Wall Street career for Kundalini Yoga. So, after my Kundalini Yoga teacher training, I decided to return to the financial markets. When I accepted the offer to start working again, my lower back pain came back almost instantaneously. At that very moment I knew I had to refuse the offer and become a Kundalini Yoga teacher full time.
What did you do to discover that you had a new skill set inside of you that you haven’t been maximizing? How did you find that and how did you ultimately overcome the barriers to help manifest those powers?
I always loved to share what I know, and loved to teach others. Although I had opportunities to teach while in finance, it was a very small part of what I did. During my Kundalini Yoga training, I did not think I would actually end up teaching. But as time passed, more people asked me to teach them, and I realized I was very good at it! Becoming a Kundalini Yoga teacher helped me to really express this strength like I never did before.
How are things going with this new initiative? We would love to hear some specific examples or stories.
In the fall of 2019, I had this moment where I realized that my personal journey could become a book even though I wasn’t sure how to structure it. One night, in a blink of an eye I knew exactly how the book should be organized and I felt that this book could bring clarity to other people in search of a better lifestyle. That was how I came to write my book, “Sat Nam — Becoming your Own Guru” in both Portuguese and English.
My book has three parts: The first my own journey, how I used to live my life, how I was never the yoga type of person, my challenges, and then how I found Kundalini Yoga and overcame my chronic pain and eventually found purpose. In the second part, I talk more in depth about Kundalini Yoga, because it is a quite unique style of yoga — not the most popular, but the most effective in my opinion. Third, I share prescriptive practices that have helped me heal. I cover topics like anger, fear, insomnia, anxiety, negativity, the immune system and others. Some of these have links for the reader to go online and find vídeos of me teaching the practices.
I think this book and my YouTube channel have been my main achievement at this point, and I am very happy to have helped thousands of people so far.
Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?
I am grateful to many people. First, even though my father was not present in my life, I’m grateful that he did the best he could have done. I would not be here if it wasn’t for that soul contract with him. What is a soul contract? Before we come to this plane, we make contracts or agreements with other souls who are in fact the closest to us, hoping that they will be able to teach us the biggest lessons of our lives. I learned how to forgive others because of my relationship with my father and I carry this lesson forever because it brought me here.
Next are my mom, dad (step father) and husband because they were always by my side supporting me, even if at first they did not agree with my changes.
Third is my teacher Gurushabd, because during training he was so kind to share all he knew, especially when he said: “When you do not know the answer, just keep up with your Sadhana (spiritual daily practice).” So when I am not sure what to do next, I have that in mind, and I go within. All answers we seek are inside of us, not outside.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started in this new direction?
It was during my first Kundalini Yoga class, when I understood why I was in so much pain. I realized that never before that moment had these three parts of myself — body, mind and soul — been united. The separation of these parts was the root of my pain.
Did you ever struggle with believing in yourself? If so, how did you overcome that limiting belief about yourself? Can you share a story or example?
Yes, and I believe everyone does. I keep up with my daily Kundalini Yoga practice, always, no matter what. Practicing daily will clean your subconscious mind, which in return will help you to see more clearly and build the life you desire. Our reality is shaped by our beliefs. Unfortunately, our beliefs are mainly shaped by others, especially our parents.
For me, when I decided to start a new career and build a name for myself all over again, I was fearful that it was too late, but I did not let the fear hold me down. When the book idea came to me, I realized that I was going to be able to do that once again in a different manner. We humans tend to think linearly, however, the Universe is multidimensionally. We can think as much as we want but the Universe can work in ways we never thought of.
In my own work I usually encourage my clients to ask for support before they embark on something new. How did you create your support system before you moved to your new chapter?
I am learning how to trust the Universe. It may not work as we desire the entire time, but the Universe is there to support all of us. We just need to connect to it and listen.
Starting a new chapter usually means getting out of your comfort zone, how did you do that? Can you share a story or example of that?
A lot of Kundalini Yoga practice and rewiring of my mind. But as I said, I am a self-starter so I had that in my favor. With consistent practice, everyone can achieve getting out of their comfort zone. We sometimes say that we meditate so much in order to be comfortable in an uncomfortable situation.
Fantastic. Here is the main question of our interview. What are your “5 things I wish someone told me before I started my journey” and why? Please share a story or example for each.
- The power of breathing correctly. All those years of incorrect shallow breathing made me more anxious, stressed, and confused all because I did not know how to correctly do long deep breathing. There was an event at the bank that was so stressful, and since I was pregnant I had to go lay down at the nurse to calm down because I did not know what to do. It would not have happened today knowing what I know now.
- You don’t need to be zen to meditate. Many years before my journey started, I read about meditation but I never tried because I thought it was not for a typical New Yorker with a type A personality. I was completely wrong. Everyone can meditate, you just need to find the right type of meditation. For me it was Kundalini Yoga, and I knew that from day one in my first Kundalini Yoga class in Golden Bridge Yoga studio in NYC in 2016.
- There are many types of meditation and yoga. Before this journey I thought that all meditations and all yogas were all the same. It was very impactful in my journey to discover that meditation and yoga are like sports or food, and there are multiple styles/types of meditation and yoga. When I started to learn about mindfulness, metta, and yoga nidra I realized although I liked these practices, I still had to find the practice that it was going to be the ‘one’. By then I knew that such practice existed. I just needed to be patient.
- We are way more than just our physical bodies. Since I grew up in a traditional western medicine oriented family, studied biotechnology, and considered myself very logical, I never paid attention to how the mind and emotions are energies that could affect the body. I also compartmentalized spirituality and never thought of how that void could eventually impact my physical body. When I started to unload all my past emotions and traumas, I started to literally feel my muscles relaxing.
- All answers we seek are inside. Perhaps I had heard this before starting my journey in 2016, but I never truly understood what it meant until practicing Kundalini Yoga. The statement never made sense to me. However, through the practice of Kundalini Yoga, you experience your inner light and inner wisdom which is directly connected to the cosmos. When you access that light, during a meditation for example, it just clicks that if you have that Universal Light within you then yes, you have all the answers.
You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be?
Start your Sadhana (daily spiritual practice). I always tell people to focus on creating their daily Sadhana, starting with 3–5 minutes a day and slowly increasing. Not only would they experience many benefits from this habit, but they would contribute immensely to the expansion of the collective mind. We tend to think as if we are all separate individuals, but we are not. We are connected together and the more people start paying attention and addressing their emotions, traumas, feelings, and connecting to their soul, the entire planet would benefit and evolve.
We are very blessed that some very prominent names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this if we tag them. 🙂
Dr Bruce Lipton, PhD. He is a cell biologist who was an atheist and turned into a very spiritual person. In the beginning of my journey, I was going through so much pain. After reading the book from Dr. John Sarno, MD, where he said that lower back pain was caused by emotions like anger and resentment, I felt lost. I felt like all I had learned in school and throughout my life was not making any sense at the moment. When I read Dr. Lipton’s book “The Biology of Belief” I understood that there is a gap between modern science, mind, and spirituality that we are just starting to fill in. I believe that with time science and spirituality will merge together. I already see this merge in Kundalini Yoga, because in yoga, there is no separation between body, mind and soul.
How can our readers further follow your work online?
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/danielamattos_yoga/ and https://www.instagram.com/danielamattos_satnam/
Thank you so much for sharing these important insights. We wish you continued success and good health!