“Focus on living well.” With Tyler Gallagher & Donna Melanson

My fear has never been in dying, but with the thought of, am I living my life well. Am I happy. Am I whole. If today was my last day living, would I be happy in how I spent it. I never want to live my life afraid to try anything, of course, only in […]

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My fear has never been in dying, but with the thought of, am I living my life well. Am I happy. Am I whole. If today was my last day living, would I be happy in how I spent it. I never want to live my life afraid to try anything, of course, only in moral and legal ways. But to truly live fully — seizing the day.

I had the pleasure of interviewing Donna Melanson. 50,000 followers from around the world tune into Donna Melanson’s daily broadcast (periscope.tv/azulyoga) of yoga and meditation, from the beach in South Florida, at sunrise. Her intention is to spread Peace and Love throughout the world starting with ourselves. Donna’s hosts Yoga Teacher Training and Continuing Education. She has taught at Yoga Conferences such as Yoga Journal LIVE and Yoga Expo. She can be found at azulyoga.com

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?

Laughing, It’s quite a long story, infact, I’ve been working on a book for 8 years that I’ll be finishing in 2019. The short story is that I was unhappy. I was doing everything I thought I was suppose to do. Went to college, got married, had children, started several businesses, work, work, work, sacrifice for the greater good of the family. Only to lose it all — the marriage, and ten years later all material possessions ( houses, land etc)

After many tears shed, I realized I had a chance to create the life I truly wanted to live, so that’s what I did.

What does it mean for you to live “on purpose”? Can you explain? How can one achieve that?

I always think of it as my intention in life. I ask myself, What do I want my life to look like? And then that becomes my intention or purpose. From that point every decision that I make I run it past my intention. Will this decision get me closer to the life I want to live or does this take me farther away from it. It helps to keep you focused.

Do you have an example or story in your own life of how your pain helped to guide you to finding your life’s purpose?

After many years of being unhappy, I was losing everything I had sacrificed and worked so hard for. I began to take myself to one hundred acres of land that I still owned in the mountains of North Carolina. Hiking the property, because I suddenly had more free time. It was just me and nature. I felt one with the land. It was on these hikes that I began hearing a chant Yoga, Yoga, Yoga, like in the movie Animal House where they chanted Toga.

I wasn’t sure at the time why I was hearing this in my head. I didn’t know anyone at the time who practiced yoga. But I must of talked about this, between all of my crying, because embarrassingly one of my children’s friends gave me a VHS of a half hour gentle yoga practice, that was held ironically on the beach. I started practicing it when I could and I began to notice that I felt so good after each practice where I intuitively would sit up and meditate after because I just because I didn’t want the good feeling to end.

I didn’t understand it. All I knew was that it worked. So I became a yoga teacher, and I began to study why I it worked and why I was feeling this way. And, because it felt so good, I wanted to share what I knew with the world — and, that’s why we’re here.

The United States is currently rated at #18 in the World Happiness Report. Can you share a few reasons why you think the ranking is so low?

We have so much to be grateful for in the United States, but the culture here is to work very hard so that you can attain the life you want, by filling it with material possessions, while working long hours, or two to three jobs. With no time or energy to enjoy the possessions or the simple beauty of nature. Other cultures may get it a little better. Status is sometimes set by where they went on vacation, and therefore take more time to celebrate life.

How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?

I do a free LIVE broadcast daily, yes daily — seven days a week! With the intention of sending and spreading Peace and Love out into the world.

What are your 6 strategies to help you face your day with exuberance and “Joie De Vivre”? Can you please give a story or example for each?

As I’ve said and most likely will continue to say numerous times in this interview — I go to the beach every morning at sunrise and broadcast LIVE a little Yoga and Meditation, where I hope that people are not only inspired by the magnificent view of the rising sun over the ocean, soothed by the sounds of the waves gently flowing in and out, and by the fact that I’m showing up. Showing up for them and for myself. This morning ritual serves many purposes.

  1. Grounds me in the present moment. So I’m not thinking about the past or worried about the future. I’m aware of the sounds around me near and in the distance. But I detach from that awareness as I scan my body. I notice the weight of my body touching the earth, and the natural rhythm of my breath. I know that I am breathing. Today is already a good day
  2. Connects me to the earth, and I begin to feel a connection to all. A knowing that we are all connected and that whatever I do for myself, I do for others as well.
  3. I practice a little yoga and meditation, allowing for a healthier body and a quieter mind. It’s here where we have clarity, insight and understanding.
  4. I share what I’m doing in the hope of inspiring others to do the same.
  5. I connect with people all over the world, and as I look up, the reminder that we’re all equal under this one big beautiful sky. I begin feeling a grateful energy of being alive. I feel lighter, peaceful and happy.
  6. As I finish my practice, no matter what I do for the rest of the day, I have the satisfaction that I did something good for my own body and my own being. I have the satisfaction that I’ve help others in the way that I can. And, this satisfaction stays with me, as I interact with people throughout the day, bringing my best energy with me in a calm peaceful way, which continues to fuel and propel me towards living my best life — Joi De Vivre.

Do you have any favorite books, podcasts, or resources that most inspired you to live with a thirst for life?

I like to read old yoga books. In the end they all teach me the same thing, but I find new ways or angles to look at how to get to that place of peace and happiness within.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote” that relates to having a Joie De Vivre? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.” ― Theodore Roosevelt

My fear has never been in dying, but with the thought of, am I living my life well. Am I happy. Am I whole. If today was my last day living, would I be happy in how I spent it. I never want to live my life afraid to try anything, of course, only in moral and legal ways. But to truly live fully — seizing the day.

Are you working on any exciting new projects now? How do you think that will help people?

I’m getting ready to announce Yoga Teacher Training, and mini retreats for 2019. And, as I said earlier I’m working on a book, that I hope to have finished soon. It’s how I got to this place in my life, and my hope is that it will help people who are not happy or living their best life. Because when I realized how easy it was to live in peace, happiness and joy, and how hard we make it seem, I felt that I needed to share my story.

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? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

A movement of Peace is something that I’ve thought a lot about. Declaring anyone who practiced Peace as a “Peace Ambassador” to the world. Yup that’s it World Peace. I want to make a little joke here, but I’m actually being serious and sincere, as I recognizing that so many people want to make a difference in the world, and they just don’t know how to do it. And, yet we forget that we each have the power to make a difference in the lives of so many people on a daily basis, as we are all influencers in every interaction we have. We can truly uplift the people around us or we can bring them down.

I know you’ve felt before the energy of a person who’s walked into a room that you’re in, and they’re so happy and charming, or high on life that they just lift the whole room up. And, likewise I know you’ve felt the energy of someone in a bad mood. You can feel it in your own body, a tightening, and a desire to run away, and definitely not to interact with that person. They can actually make you angry if you do, and then you in turn without even realizing it, you take on that negative energy, and then often are then rude or cold to the people that you love.

Remember you get to decide who you want to be in this world. Be mindful of your energy as you walk into a room.

Which is why I say practice Peace. Show up every day for a little yoga and meditation, because to be able to share peace and share love and good energy and good vibrations. We ourselves must be at peace. So daily a daily ritual of something that brings you joy, or like me practicing yoga enough to get your body and mind a little calmer so that it’s easier to meditate. This is where peace, happiness and joy can be found. In the quiet of the mind.

So let’s do it! Let’s start a movement. Become a Azul Yoga, Peace Ambassador to the World, practice peace, and help make a difference in this world in whatever way you can, simply by just being the best version of you. And, in so doing, the world and everyone in it will be simply, better. Then imagine that masses of people get involved, and you invite your friends and family to do the same, and then they invite their friends and family, and so on and so on until soon we’re circling the world filled with Peace and Love.

…And, just think, we can say, it all started here.

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