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Ideas in the Wild: How Patti Montella Learned to Harness the Power of Her Breath

After the death of a beloved friend and the unraveling of her marriage, Patti Montella found herself seeking the universal truths of life. When Patti met renowned spiritual leader Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, her life was transformed through the power of breathwork, ancient wisdom, and meditation. She left her corporate career and dedicated her life […]

After the death of a beloved friend and the unraveling of her marriage, Patti Montella found herself seeking the universal truths of life. When Patti met renowned spiritual leader Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, her life was transformed through the power of breathwork, ancient wisdom, and meditation. She left her corporate career and dedicated her life to sharing what she’d learned in new and impactful ways so that others could be uplifted in the way she had been.

Patti knows that our nature is peace, happiness, friendliness, and service to others. Yet all around her, she sees hatred, anxiety, depression, anger, violence, shame, and other negative emotions, all of which are not our nature. Since learning how to manage her mind and emotions through the breath, Patti has discovered how to be unshakeable no matter what is going on in her life. She believes that everyone deserves the same opportunity she’s had, which is why she wrote Becoming Unshakeable: Wisdom Learned on the Journey to Inner Freedom.

In this interview, I sat down with Patti to find out the tipping point when she decided to write a book, as well as her favorite lesson from the book and how she applies it to her life.

What happened that made you decide to write the book? What was the exact moment when you realized these ideas needed to get out there?

My guru, Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, suggested I write a book years ago, and to be honest, I procrastinated for a long time, finding less exhaustive ways to write about the benefits of the Sudarshan Kriya (SKY) breathing technique and the wisdom gained on the spiritual path, along with traveling the world and teaching. After I returned from a seven-month trip abroad last year, I took some time to meditate, rest, and reflect on how I wanted to begin my third chapter in life.

When I started out 25 years ago as a spiritual teacher, I never could have imagined the extraordinarily high levels of anxiety, depression and loneliness in our country today. Every time I read yet another statistic on the rising number of teenage and veteran suicides I feel a sharp pinch of responsibility to do something more to make the voice of non-violence heard loud and clear above the noise of violence. Watching the news in disbelief over the rising level of domestic terrorism and the pain and suffering felt in so many countries around the world, I knew it was time to stop, write, and get my message out there as fast as possible.

Nature seemed to agree. While teaching a silent meditation retreat, I tripped and broke my toe so badly that I ended up getting surgery. Unable to travel for months while recovering was a blessing in disguise, as I finally had the time to finish writing my book. Writing a book is a great platform to share the wisdom I’ve gained and leave the planet better than I found it.

What’s your favorite actionable idea in the book?

Within the breath is the secret of life. Breath is the link between our body, spirit and mind. Our breath is linked to our emotions and for every emotion, there is a particular rhythm in the breath. If we understand the rhythm of our breath, we can have a say over our mind, win over negative emotions such as fear, anxiety, greed, or jealousy, and smile more from our heart.

This is my favorite lesson and the first one I learned on this spiritual path. The benefits are cumulative (physically, mentally and emotionally) and I apply it every single day.

Through skillful use of the breath, our thoughts and emotions settle down, allowing our mind to come into the present moment with greater focus while also paving the way for our intuition to become sharper. As a result, our perception expands, we’re able to take better decisions, we communicate more effectively, and our relationships improve.

What’s a story of how you’ve applied this lesson in your own life? What has this lesson done for you?

Starting a business while publishing a book, traveling and teaching, and helping to care for my elderly parents at a time of great transition in their lives has been an extraordinary juggling act. Decisions are flying at me from every direction all day, every day without much time to think. I just have to act. Yet it’s all working out — I haven’t lost my temper, everyone on the various teams I’m leading is getting along, and the work is both dynamic and creative (and on time).

Most people don’t sleep well during times like these, but I am sleeping well every night and wake up feeling fresh and creative, ready to embrace yet another 14-hour, nonstop day.

I’ve had intense times in my life before, when information, change, and demands flew at me at a constant rate from all corners, but nothing quite this intense and for this long. Yet, I still take time twice a day for the breathing and meditation techniques I speak about in the book.

Those breathing and meditation techniques are the key reason that in spite of all I’m juggling right now, I continue to enjoy a clear and focused mind, everything it getting done, and not only am I smiling, I have enough capacity to be able to uplift others as well.

For more advice on finding transformation along the spiritual path, check out Becoming Unshakeable: Wisdom Learned on the Journey to Inner Freedom on Amazon.

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