We always need to embody compassion in our lives, whether it’s at work leading people, at home or with our friends. However, we tend to misconstrue what compassion really is: Compassion isn’t just being nice to people, compassion is holding our own space while allowing others to have their reality. It’s an embodiment of an open heart coupled with good boundaries.
As a part of my series about “How To Develop Mindfulness And Serenity During Stressful Or Uncertain Times”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Dr. Kim Peirano.
Dr. Kim Peirano, DACM, LAc is a Doctor of Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine, Licensed Acupuncturist, Meditation Guide, Educator, Author, Speaker and Intuitive Healer in San Rafael, CA and online. Through acupuncture treatments, wellness coaching, guided meditation and intuitive healing, Dr. Kim aims to access the deep inner workings of the mind-body-spirit connection to help her patients unlock the root cause of disharmony, her healing approach is to unblock misalignment in the body-mind-spirit so that her patients can experience a deeper level and layer of their most authentic self — free of pain, stress, tension and full of confidence and vitality. For more information on her practice, offerings and to receive free meditations, healing images and more please visit her at LionsHeartWellness.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?
Ilike to think of what brought me to my current career and life path as having to do a lot with ‘blind guidance.’ I had completed my undergraduate degree in Sculpture and Jewelry Making and realized that it wasn’t a career path for me, I took a job underwriting insurance and felt pretty lost until I discovered yoga. I had become very dedicated to my yoga practice and through the yoga studio I met a Naturopathic Doctor who did a presentation at the studio one day, this talk simply reminded me of what I already knew — everything is connected. I was fascinated and excited, and started looking into alternative healthcare fields and eventually came across Acupuncture, without ever having a treatment I signed up for school, it was something my ‘blind guidance’ pushed me towards and I knew it was a choice in right action (although I didn’t realize this until years later). My own personal journey of self discovery through various meditation and mystery schools has led me on the path of cultivating my own self awareness which I incorporate into my acupuncture practice and with guided meditation and intuitive consulting.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started your career?
One of my favorite ‘turning points’ of my career and life, was a few months into starting my journey at the Foundation for Spiritual Development (a meditation and spiritual growth school here in Marin). I had considered giving up my acupuncture practice for a while and was looking to make a huge career change but kept either being offered jobs that were pulled at the last second or not getting interviews at all. I thought “what the!?! I’m doing everything right but it’s not working!!!” I had a talk with my teacher at that time who really laid out the truth for me: I hadn’t REALLY tried to make my acupuncture practice work and I needed to stop trying to make it be how I thought other people wanted it to be: I had to just do it my own way. While that information was incredibly hard to hear I knew she was right and once I started running my practice as MYSELF and not sort of pretending to be who I thought people wanted to see, everything shifted and my practice started to grow and flourish. It’s because of this huge turning point that I’m where I’m at today, in my personal growth and life and with my practice.
What advice would you give to other leaders about how to create a fantastic work culture?
We always need to embody compassion in our lives, whether it’s at work leading people, at home or with our friends. However, we tend to misconstrue what compassion really is: Compassion isn’t just being nice to people, compassion is holding our own space while allowing others to have their reality. It’s an embodiment of an open heart coupled with good boundaries. It’s where we don’t allow what someone else does to throw us out of our space / our truth, this allows us to continue to be a good leader but also lets those around us feel seen and heard which creates a space for growth and movement forward.
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?
“Reclaim Your Spiritual Power” by Ron Roth, PHd. I was introduced to Ron Roth’s legacy through a spiritual healing retreat called Celebrating Life. I never grew up with any religious or spiritual upbringing so my journey into the spiritual world has been very self-led. Finding this group I was slightly terrified at first, however I knew that there was a lot of truth, love and compassion here, I had never met any typical religious or spiritual organization that exuded those qualities without any conditions or judgements before. Reclaiming Your Spiritual Power was the first of Ron’s books I read and it was a great work on kind of ‘decoding’ some concepts around beliefs, faith and God that I had never heard anyone say like that before. In particular I really resonated with his explanation of ‘sin’ being not some concrete thing written in scripture but rather what it is when we simply ‘miss the mark’ in our life, where we stray off our life path and course and do something out of alignment with our purpose or greatest good. Ron’s other books have also been great teachers for me and contain a lot of wisdom that I integrate into my healing work with others, it’s been a great foundation for really understanding what healing really is.
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?
Being mindful is a state of awareness.
It’s pretty simple really, but it takes a lot of practice, forgiveness and compassion to cultivate mindfulness daily and consistently. Being mindful means being present, grounded and connected to your higher self or source, and it also means having awareness, not just of others but of yourself. It’s a constant ebb and flow of being in the flow of mindfulness and then falling out of it: then having the commitment to look back on where you fell off, acknowledging what happened, having awareness of why and then surrendering again to coming back to your state of awareness. This is a process that we go through minute by minute, and it takes patience but ultimately self forgiveness and compassion to continue on that path of mindfulness. My current practice involves a daily meditation, then reflections throughout the day and in the evening before bed to intuitively look at where I did well and where I missed the mark and make that recommitment to my higher self, over and over. When I say it like that it doesn’t sound very fun at all! But it’s really just about cultivating that awareness, we are always going to go off course and not be grounded or connected, when we are mindful we are making a commitment to ourselves to acknowledge when, why and where we did that, and then get back to center again.
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?
Becoming more mindful has an array of benefits to every part of our being, it’s the first step in true healing: which means that we aren’t expecting to ‘get better’ or be ‘cured’ of anything but we are learning how to have more peace and acceptance with what is, we stop resisting and start surrendering and this creates peace.
On a very physical and mental level we may notice less anxiety, or improved sleep or even athletic performance: when we are mindful we are more present and we can also course-correct more quickly which makes this an excellent way to become a better athlete. A state of mindfulness pulls us out of beta brainwave patterns — our thinking / stress states and helps us access alpha and theta brainwave states more easily: our relaxing, recharging and healing states. We access these while just chilling at home but also in a flow state like while playing sports or music, and when we access it more often it allows our body more time for healing and regeneration. It’s partly because of these shifts in brainwaves patterns that explains why people with strong meditation and mindfulness practices tend to look younger or like they don’t age. Slowing brain waves like this also helps preserve telomeres in the DNA — these essential parts of DNA are responsible for cellular life and death, they shorten and break down with stress, smoking, poor diet, but they can be preserved with healthy practices like meditation, good food, exercise and any practice that helps us access alpha, theta, delta brainwave states.
Emotionally I believe we tend to experience less suffering as we increase our mindfulness. Pain is an inevitable part of life, be it physical, emotional, mental, spiritual, it’s always going to happen in one way or another. But suffering is optional: suffering is our resistance to pain, it’s when we make pain the enemy and try to ignore or stuff it away, or ‘cure’ it away with drugs or surgeries (not to say these are not necessary). True healing is about accepting pain and turning it into our teacher, which is part of the mindfulness process, and when we do this, we reduce our suffering and that is a really magical and amazing space to be in. Where we can experience pain but still be present for it and not experience suffering.
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.
- Practice Gratitude — Every morning and evening list 3 things you are grateful for — you can write this down or do it as a share with your family. Gratitude helps us turn inwards and focus on the energy of what we want. When we look outward and get triggered by current events we tend to spend a lot of time thinking and worrying about what we don’t want, in turn that energy constricts our space and ability to receive so that we start getting less and less of what we do want. Gratitude on the other hand is an opening energy that is expansive: it helps us receive more of what we do want.
- Find a Grounding and Centering practice that works for you — There are many grounding practices out there, all a bit different, you’ll find one or a few that work for you and some that don’t at all. I implore you to not throw out the idea of grounding or meditation just because one practice wasn’t a match, keep trying until you find one that does. Use a grounding practice daily, and even better throughout the day! Here’s a simple one to try: Close your eyes and take a few deep breaths, feel your body in your chair and your feet on the ground. Visualize the space at the center of the Earth — see it as a glowing crystal (or other color that resonates with you), now envision yourself becoming like a strong oak tree: strong trunk encompassing the core of your body with roots penetrating deep into the glowing crystal space in the center of the Earth. The roots dive deep and encircle that space 3 times.
- Being grounded helps bring us into present time so that we can be here, now. We aren’t very effective with anything if we aren’t grounded and present: so practicing this when you feel affected by life or what’s going on in the world can be helpful to just feel like yourself again.
- To Cultivate Awareness: Act Like a Child! — No, not the temper tantrums… the curiosity! Children walk around the World with wonder and excitement because their brains haven’t memorized their surroundings yet. What if you took a walk around your neighborhood and every time you looked at a flower you pretended like it was the first time you ever saw it: it’s beautiful color, the pattern of petals, the fuzz on the leaves. Bringing ourselves back to our childlike wonder, which we have really lost in the age of technology and go-go-go mentality helps us to center again and also to remember the beauty that is literally everywhere.
- To help detach from the frantic energy of life — tune into the senses: If you’re feeling anxious / stressed in the moment, turn to your senses: notice 5 things you can see, 4 things you can hear, 3 things you can feel, 2 things you can smell and 1 thing you can taste. Repeat as necessary to help bring yourself back into your body. You may also want to notice which sense you have that’s the weakest — likely smell or taste, and you can come back to that sense whenever you’re feeling off. Try watching the news but focusing on the different smells you can notice!
- Ask for help, find a class, a healer, a teacher: We have resources available everywhere, if an in person class or session isn’t an option, try online, there are also tons of free resources. You’re not alone, but it’s important to find a community that wants to focus on presence rather than reaction. Check out some online meditations! If you’ve hated meditation before remember that there are actually thousands of types of meditations, if one didn’t work for you — try a different type! I have an acupressure meditation that’s designed to help you integrate into the body and feel more calm:
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?
- Help yourself first: The best thing we can ever do to help others is to always help ourselves first. To help someone who is anxious or stressed, we have to be grounded and present. It’s not so much about ‘what’ we can do for them, as it is about ‘how’ we can BE for them. So remember to take steps and time for yourself so that you can be fully present for someone else. When someone is grieving and having a difficult time, what they often need is just to be seen and heard, not necessarily advice: so tune down the need to interject and ‘fix’ and just be there — fully.
- Share but don’t push: Perhaps this starts with simply asking if someone even wants your help, sometimes people don’t and that’s ok. If they do want help, share something that worked for you — without judgement and pushing. This is where embodying compassion comes into play — we have to be ok with where someone else is at — even when we don’t think it’s good for them. They will get to where they need to go, even if it’s not what we want for them. Letting go in this way allows them to feel the freedom they need to make a correct decision for them in that time and also feel supported by you.
- Tune into your own grounding and centering before helping others: In line with what I mentioned above, you have to be grounded, centered and present before you can really help anyone. So take a few moments to get there before you interject or return a call, it can truly make a huge difference.
- Allow them to have their feelings: Same goes for yourself — it’s ok to have feelings! We may feel anxious, sad, angry, hurt, scared, the list goes on. But what’s most important is to HAVE your feelings. Telling someone ‘don’t cry it will be ok’ sounds like a good idea, but what it’s really doing is asking the other to deny their reality to make you more comfortable. This is an uncomfortable time! And it is totally ok to have negative feelings. The best way to move through negative feelings, isn’t to make them go away — but to actually turn into them and experience them fully. So next time your partner is upset and crying, try to be grounded, present and just let them cry, it’s amazing the difference it makes to be allowed to have and own your truth and feelings by another.
- Help them take a break: We all need a break sometime, and while many of us are on self-isolation mandates — tuning in to the internet and TV is an easy place to go, but it usually isn’t helpful in mitigating anxiety. Sometimes we have to turn it off and take a break. If you’re allowed to see friends and family organize a walk, hike, art and crafts day, if you’re on self- quarantine then have a zoom call, start a book club, share recipes and art projects with a goal to turn off the electronics for a few hours. Sometimes people just need a reminder to put the phone down.
What are the best resources you would suggest for someone to learn how to be more mindful and serene in their everyday life?
Reading is often a simple way to learn more about mindfulness — but we also need to practice. So instead of reading and reading and listening and watching I would invite people to find a practice that resonates with them or interests them and then try to stick to it for a month without adding anything new. We tend to try to just pile on education without practice — and mindfulness is a practice, not an education. So learn a new technique and implement it daily — be aware how there are good days and bad days with it and move through those periods. When the technique feels natural to you — now add something new.
In that regard, I don’t have any ‘best resources’ because they will be so different and individual, but I would invite readers to maybe take some tips from this article and start there, or perhaps if they have heard of a teacher that resonated with them to read one of their books or watch their meditation, then start implementing that as a practice, not just a one off experiment.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Do you have a story about how that was relevant in your life?
“Life is a series of natural and spontaneous changes. Don’t resist them — that only creates sorrow. Let reality be reality. Let things flow naturally forward in whatever way they like.: — Lao Tzu
This quote really sums up, what I think, is a path to great joy and fulfillment — it’s all about surrender and allowing reality to be and not resisting it. It’s something even the most enlightened teachers can still struggle with in one area of life or another, and I know I struggle with daily. But the more I accept and surrender, the more peace and strength I feel and the more I am able to help myself and others more forward in life. Just allowing, and starting that practice of allowing is a huge step in our evolution.
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 would invite people to turn towards radical honesty with compassion. Many people think being radically honest means that you get to be a jerk because ‘it’s true’ and that’s not what I’m referring to. Radical honesty starts with yourself — where we start truly calling ourselves on our BS and start taking steps to bring ourselves into alignment with our truth instead of the lies we tell ourselves. A good way to start this process is to set a timer and contemplate the lies you’ve told yourself for 5 minutes a day — you will be shocked and surprised. When we start with this radical self reflection we become more humble, honest and compassionate towards others. Because when I can reflect on myself why another person bothers me, I can start to make that shift on my own without needing anything from them. It’s when we do this that the whole World starts to shift — but it starts by changing yourself, and a big step to take is to start owning up to the lies we tell ourselves.
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Thank you for these fantastic insights. We wish you only continued success in your great work!