Although I had a great job, ideal home, great boyfriend, and was in peak physical shape, nothing would bring me joy. I had no passion for life and the things that used to motivate me and inspire my daily actions felt life less and worthless.
In my depression, I was searching for purpose and meaning in life and could not find it anywhere. One day I did a google search for ‘inner peace’ and found a yoga studio that was offering a 10 week yoga teacher training. Since I had always done yoga and sports, I felt immediately called to go to this, not to become a teacher, but to find inner peace for myself.
As a part of my series about the “5 Things Anyone Can Do To Optimize Their Mental Wellness” I had the pleasure of interviewing Dashama Konah. Dashama is an award winning speaker, author, health and happiness expert who has spoken at the United Nations, Sony Motion Picture Studios, XDubai, Nike Global Leadership summit and was inducted into the Stanford Happiness Hall of Fame. She is a featured speaker of the Flow Summit along with Dalai Lama, Eckhart Tolle, Sadhguru, Dr. Joe Dispenza and others. A media favorite, she has been featured in the Wall Street Journal, ABC, NBC, CBS, Discovery Channel, OWN, QVC and Fox news as well as Cosmo, Vogue and Inc.
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?
Thank you, I’m happy to be here! When I was 18 years old I was hit by a car while riding my bike and the impact caused scoliosis of my spine. At the time, doctors told me there was nothing that I could do and there is no real way to reverse scoliosis. I felt hopeless, but accepted the doctors words. A few years later, at 23 years old I became completely depressed. Although I had a great job, ideal home, great boyfriend, and was in peak physical shape, nothing would bring me joy. I had no passion for life and the things that used to motivate me and inspire my daily actions felt life less and worthless.
In my depression, I was searching for purpose and meaning in life and could not find it anywhere. One day I did a google search for ‘inner peace’ and found a yoga studio that was offering a 10 week yoga teacher training. Since I had always done yoga and sports, I felt immediately called to go to this, not to become a teacher, but to find inner peace for myself. The experience was nothing short of miraculous. Not only did I regain my feeling of passion for life again, but since this experience had impacted and transformed my life in so many miraculous ways, my desire to share this life enhancing practice with the world inspired me to start teaching. Quickly I gained a tremendous amount of support and a large following, as I was one of the first yoga teachers on youtube in 2006 where I started the first yoga challenge, 30 day yoga challenge, back in 2008. My videos went viral and it started me on a 15 year non stop traveling adventure around the world sharing this gift of yoga and meditation that had transformed my life in such a profound way. I have traveled the world for the past 15 years, been blessed to speak at the United Nations for International Day of Happiness, was inducted into the Stanford Happiness Hall of Fame and have worked with Harvard medical doctors to show how these practices can heal your mind, rewire neural synapse, cure depression, anxiety and a number of other mental health issues. Now I’m writing my next book, The Flow State, to share more about the profound wisdom from the masters, to help people understand the importance of living in alignment with the universal laws of life, with a big focus on mental health and wellness. The book will be released on 11/11 after the Flow Summit which is in October.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started your career?
In the field I’m in, I work with many interesting people and have traveled the world for 15 years, so there have been so many interesting stories. One that comes to my mind is how I got invited to be a part of a research project with Warwick Business School along with Harvard research doctor Sat Bir Khalsa. I have always been passionate about mental wellness, since my mother lost her mind when I was 6 years old. So for the past 15 years I’ve been learning and teaching people ancient and modern practices to help them access flow state and other higher states of consciousness through meditation, breath work, kundalini kriyas, mantras, movement practices, dance, shamanism, etc.
I had an especially unique student come live with me for 3 months at my home in Maui in 2017. He had Autism, but it was not evident by looking at him. He was a world famous fitness model and featured on TV with millions of fans online. He came to me to help him heal this and his narcism. It was a very challenging case, but with a combination of kundalini kiryas, mantras, meditations, breath work and shamanic plant medicines, he started to be able to observe his mental dysfunctions and slowly started to heal. After 3 months, he was about 50% healed, and went back home to Europe to finish the process healing himself. After working with him, I got a call from a PhD research doctor from Warwick Business College, one of the top 10 business schools in the world. They asked me if I would co create a research to show how these practices that I teach can help people in the corporate setting access flow states for greater health, wellness and productivity.
I invited my colleague Dr Sat Bir Khalsa to join me and we were flown to England to initiate a week long
series of sessions to develop the research concept. Dr Khalsa has over 2 decades of research showing how these practices awaken grew matter, rewiring neural synapse and healing the mind with consistent practice. They have shown with MRI brain scans dramatic improvements in just a few sessions.
This was an interesting story since it really brought all of the 15 years of work I have dedicated my life, together to show how it is now backed by decades of science, medical research and verifiable proof of its efficacy.
Can you share a story with us about the most humorous mistake you made when you were first starting? What lesson or take-away did you learn from that?
Yes, when I first started out in my career, I launched my youtube channel in 2006. I had no idea what I was doing, so often I would post videos of my life and they were not really relevant to the audience. I was very raw back then in my videos, with a poor quality camera, bad lighting and never wearing a bra or makeup. I was just being myself and natural. I posted many videos back then that I later made private, talking about sex or doing bed yoga. Some of my bed yoga videos are very popular and many subscribers on my youtube.com/dashama channel told me they helped them to cure their insomnia for example. One day I posted a video of me doing bed yoga, which was actually very innocent, but I was wearing just a small tube top and shorts, so when I was laying in the bed it looked like I was naked. That video stated to go viral right away and was reaching 5k-10k views per day. I was really a bit shy at the time, so i made that video private after just a few weeks. It was funny because I was sensoring myself so much. Later I stopped caring so much what others thought about me, but back then I was really concerned people who not see me in a professional way. The lesson I took away is to consider fully if a video topic or set up is in alignment with how I wish to be seen and if not, then just don’t even make it to begin with. To publish content then take it down is wasting time and I learned that my audience will love me for whatever I share, as long as the intention is to make their lives better, that is what matters most. 🙂
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. 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?
Yes, when I was first starting out in my career, I attracted a really great client who was also a Rabi and marketing expert. He hired me to teach him and his whole family yoga and meditation for 3 years almost daily classes. Not only did that client allow me to go full time with my career right from the beginning, he also helped me to set up my youtube channel, he encouraged me to create a website, make videos, and taught me how to build an email list, etc. He gave me a lot of confidence and his generous guidance was invaluable. His name is Harlan Kilstein. I will also be grateful for him! The one thing he said was one day you will be in a position to pay it forward and he said I must do that. and I have been. I have had many interns and apprenctices over the years and have been teaching many people the skills he taught me and helping them succeed as well.
What advice would you suggest to your colleagues in your industry to thrive and avoid burnout?
I feel all industries have the same issue, if you work too much and don’t balance it with self care and time to rejuvenate, you will burn out. Luckily I chose a field for my career which is also my dharma. That means it is my purpose of life so it rarely feels like work. That being said, I have had a few experiences of burn out and mostly that was from me trying to take too much on and do it all myself. I am ambitious and always want to save the world, so when I don’t balance it out with rest and rejuvenation, it starts to catch up. I suggest everyone take time every day in the morning and in the eventing to do yoga, meditation, dance, breath, move your body, go into nature, drink plenty of water, and connect with friends. Make a commitment to only work or be on the phone or computer a certain number of hours per day and then power down early if you can to read a book or feed your mind and soul.
What advice would you give to other leaders about how to create a fantastic work culture?
Your work culture is where you work, who you work with and how you do it. My favorite work environment is to work from home or a tropical place like Hawaii or Bali where its warm and you can hear the birds singing. If you don’t have that as an option, then at least offer some perks for your group like meditation and nature breaks, herbal tea and group inspirational gatherings. Do things that fuel your group and the group will perform better and get more done. Stay inspired and that will do wonders for your soul and for productivity. Remember its not all about how much you do, its the quality you do it and the result you get. You can work less and get more accomplished by being laser focused when you are working and when you are not working, be fully present with your time off. Teach your group to be in a unified field and intention all focused on the same mission and get them to feel connected to the greater mission. That helps a lot to stay inspired for the long term and help everyone through the lulls.
Ok thank you for all that. Now let’s move to the main focus of our interview. Mental health is often looked at in binary terms; those who are healthy and those who have mental illness. The truth, however, is that mental wellness is a huge spectrum. Even those who are “mentally healthy” can still improve their mental wellness. From your experience or research, what are five steps that each of us can take to improve or optimize our mental wellness. Can you please share a story or example for each.
Yes that is true. Harvard Medical research has shown that over 80–90% of people have what is considered a mental disorder. This spectrum ranges from mild OCD or anxiety to full on schizophrenia or manic disorders for example. The research that has been done at Harvard has proven that just 5–20 minutes of meditation, mantras, kundalini kriyas, breathwork etc has the power to completely transform your brain, rewire neural networks, connect the neural synapse and heal many disorders such as anxiety, insomnia, depression etc. The more you practice these things, the better it gets. You can eventually heal your entire mind and that is the road to enlightenment since the mind plays such a large role in your life experience.
5 Steps people can take to improve or optimize mental wellness
- Start with a daily conscious breathing practice. Breath deeply and focus completely on your breath for at least 3–5 minutes each day. This will help you to clear stress, focus on the present moment and let go of what you can’t control. The more you do this it will help to reprogram your conditioned response to stress and you will find yourself more calm and centered throughout the day.
- Start each day with gratitude practice. Write down everything you feel grateful when you wake up and meditate upon the feelings of gratitude throughout the day. This can open your heart, release stress and help you to realize there is nothing to worry about. Life is better than your mind may make it seem.
- Forgive people who have hurt you and move on. Most of the mental illness people experience comes from focusing on pain or trauma from the past. When you replay these tapes in your mind, you essentially relive it over and over and this leads to more pain and stress. As you let go of those stories, forgive the past and let go, you allow yourself to be content, grateful and alive fully in this present moment.
- Exercise every day for at least 15–30 minutes. This movement not only is good for your physical health, but also for your mental wellness. Exercise strengthens your heart, releases stress, and helps to clear your mind. It also elevates your happiness hormones such as serotonin and dopamine.
- Drink plenty of water and get enough sleep. Most of the time when people feel cranky or irritable they either didn’t get enough sleep or drink enough water. These are essential elements to wellness. Your mind starts playing tricks on you when you are dehydrated and feeling things are worst than they are. When you drink alkaline water, at least a gallon per day, your cells will feel more alive and your mind will feel fresh. When you are dehydrated or sleep deprived you may notice mental wellness declining.
Much of my expertise focuses on helping people to plan for after retirement. Retirement is a dramatic ‘life course transition’ that can impact one’s health. In addition to the ideas you mentioned earlier, are there things that one should do to optimize mental wellness after retirement?
Yes after people retire many times they feel they don’t know what to do with their time. This can lead to being too much in their head and start to worry about life or the past or future. The best thing for retired people to do is find hobbies that they love to do and that make them feel good. Go dancing, do yoga, meditate, travel, create something, start a garden. Whatever it is, make sure it makes your feel great when you do it and you will feel fulfilled and happy.
How about teens and pre teens. Are there any specific new ideas you would suggest for teens and pre teens to optimize their mental wellness?
Yes teens and pre teens are the most at risk right now since they are growing up with smart phones and social media. The important thing is not to look at the lives of others you see online and compare your life to theirs. Most of what you see online is not real. They must remember that everyone has struggles, everyone has challenges, and even if they don’t see that side of people online, they can be sure that they have this. this can bring a sense of belonging and reduce the feelings that their life needs to be different than it is. Most mental illness in young people comes from this feeling that they are not good enough so they try to do things that may help like drinking, doing drugs, addiction to social media, eating disorders, or anything else that can arise from the feelings they get. Instead of doing those things, it can be better to focus that energy on something healthy like doing sports, be on a team or find something you enjoy doing. Connect with other healthy young people and have fun. Realize that part of the process of growing up is to learn that you are perfect just as you are and accept yourself fully. I really suggest young people get into yoga and meditation early. It can save them years of therapy later on. 🙂
Is there a particular book that made a significant impact on you? Can you share a story?
Yes when I was 12 years old my aunt that I was living with at the time gave me the best book. It was called, How to Be Life Women of Influence. That book changed my life. It featured 20 of the greatest women of the 20th century and with each one they gave a word that described a quality. For example for Mother Theresa was Compassion and Amelia Earhart was courage etc. This book really shaped me and inspired me that I too could one day become great and offered a guidance system to consider these qualities as the road map to greatness during a time when I didn’t have any positive role models to look up to.
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’m currently writing a book titled The Flow State. It is truly the deeper secrets behind ‘The Secret.’ This book features 22 Universal laws and wisdom from renowned masters (such as Eckhart Tolle, Dr Joe Dispenza, Sadhguru, Dalai Lama, etc) about the importance of aligning with the universal laws in order to create a life of happiness, health and fulfillment. One of the universal laws is Divine Oneness, another is Unconditional Love, another is Grace, and another is Gratitude etc. Each of these are so essential for humanity to understand, align with and choose to embody.
The FLOW (Flow Love Oneness Worldwide) movement is what I see can change the world. Currently the planet and humanity is out of flow. Our planet is suffering from the way we have treated her. The global lock down has given us all a chance to look at how we live life and to realize it’s time for some major changes. The solution for the worlds problems is to spread FLOW. I had previously felt that the Oneness Movement was the solution to the world’s ills, but now I feel the other 2 laws, love and flow, are essential aspects to create a better world for us all. I have a vision, since we are launching The Flow State book on 11/11, which is a few weeks after we are releasing the Flow Summit with Hay House in October. I feel the summit and book can spark a movement, as we restore FLOW to the world, we will see humanity uniting, which will allow us to accomplish the great tasks necessary to heal the world, restore the global economy to a better place then before, and elevate the consciousness of all beings eventually so we can have peace on earth.
Whether it is called The FLOW Movement or Oneness Movement, one thing is clear : it can and will change and transform the world in a very positive way for us all to unite with flow, love and oneness. That is my vision. I feel on the deepest level, this is what we all want, but some people might feel this is too much of a utopian vision. I prefer to consider it supreme optimism. We can truly all work together as a TEAM, Together Everyone Achieves More. With enough people on board and supporting this vision, we can and will change the world. It has been said that it only takes 144,000 fully awakened beings to create a tipping point for all 7.8 billion people to awaken. We are making that happen now. So the masses are waking up and seeking resources how to navigate the awakening. They need guidance and support. That is what the FLOW movement offers.
The future vision is that there will be a whole new genre of films called FLOW Films, and we are already partnered with VR and AI technology brands to bring flow state to the general public with apps, brain wave entrainment, healing frequency music, movement practices like yoga, dance, tantra, breathwork, healing arts and so much more. This is just the beginning and we are open to inviting leaders to join the movement to contribute in any way they can. We are also leading a big event on facebook on 8/8 called Lion’s Gate FLOW Master Mind: Flow Love Oneness Worldwide which will include masters, celebrities and experts in flow all sharing their wisdom and gifts and will include a global OM and meditation for our network of 20 million fans across the facebook pages: @Unify, @ConsciousCollective and @CureJoyIncas well as my page @dashama and @jillianmichaels as well as others who will be there. This is the start of something truly remarkable and it will change the world. Join us! 🙂
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Do you have a story about how that was relevant in your life?
I love the quote, “You are what you repeatedly do. Excellence then, is not an act, but a habit.” ~ Aristotle
This quote has shaped how I try to live my life and when I am faced with tough times, I go back to this as a guidance system for how I wish to show up in the world. I am not perfect, but with this, I know that what happens in life is shaping me and making me stronger.
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Thank you for these fantastic insights. We wish you only continued success in your great work!