Taking time each day to sit in silence with yourself is one of the most effective ways we can reconnect with our mind and calm the nervous system. Especially in times filled with so much uncertainty, which creates so much fear. Whether it’s to focus on the awareness of your body and self, to watch and manage your thoughts through single-pointed focus, or to visualize healing and calming energy surrounding us, we have found the number one antidote for all the types of stress being created by COVID19 has been simply right there inside of us.
As a part of my series about “How To Develop Mindfulness And Serenity During Stressful Or Uncertain Times”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Juliana & Mark Spicoluk from Boho Beautiful.
Boho Beautiful is a travel yoga lifestyle brand founded by Juliana & Mark Spicoluk that is creating positive content for your body, mind, and the earth. Their content is centered around Yoga, Travel, Fitness, Vegan Food, Self-Awareness, Conscious Living, and Guided Meditations. Since their launch, they have grown their online presence to over 1.3 million subscribers on Youtube, 250k on Instagram, and have sold tens of thousands of books & programs online. But when asked about their accomplishments they note that the only achievement they keep track of is that they have inspired and been inspired by so many wonderful people from all over our beautiful planet. Juliana is a former rhythmic gymnast turned yoga & pilates instructor and Mark, an ex-music executive turned videographer/yogi.
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?
Both of us (at different times) have suffered from severe sports injuries and Yoga was the door we walked through, which allowed us to not only heal ourselves but reconnect with a deeper truth about our lives, which clearly had been telling us for some time that we needed to find a way to contribute our daily energy to the world more positively than how we were living together in Toronto at the time.
The more we focused on yoga in our own lives, the more benefits we began to feel, so the clear next was to share this with others.
We took our desire and passion and began creating content, simply offering it to the world — with very little expectation except that it would give us an opportunity to gift some benefit to a small handful of people who might stumble across it.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started your career?
Looking back, it has been an unusual and interesting ride, but the two of us think the most memorable and fulfilling experience for us was our Positive Movement Tour. We had been traveling for months throughout South East Asia, and Boho Beautiful was really starting to pick up steam. We realized being so alone in our travels and engaged only in an online presence that we wanted to come back to North America and meet people face to face — to hopefully have a more positive impact. So, we came up with the idea of doing a grassroots charity yoga class tour. It took two months to book and set up ourselves. We came back to Canada, hopped into our converted van with our Rottweiler, and spent four months doing a massive figure eight through Canada and the USA. We ended up doing 43 dates with local organizers and donated every dollar that came in through the “Pay What You Can” model to a different local, independent animal rescue organization in that community. What was really cool about it was that we ended up meeting thousands of people, but better yet, raising awareness about animal rescues and shelters in people’s backyards for all kinds of creatures from dogs, cats and monkeys, to farm animals and marine mammals too. It was a special time in our lives and we will always be grateful that we had such a beautiful opportunity.
What advice would you give to other leaders about how to create a fantastic work culture?
We live by the mantra that Mark’s dad would say to him before every childhood hockey game — “Work Hard, Have Fun”.
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?
“The Alchemist”, by Paulo Coelho had an astounding impact on both of us. We read it together. At the time, we were incredibly uncertain and lacked direction in life. This was right before we began Boho Beautiful. It gave us the strength, trust, and belief that we as individuals when we listen to the voice whispering within, have the power, means, and skills to follow through and become what we are supposed to be. And that even though we may have just been Torontonians living a typical life if you take the risks, your heart guides you towards something you may not expect, but you will receive exactly what you need for the next step in your journey.
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?
We are huge believers and advocates in constantly nurturing the quiet and never-ending practice of deepening our individual self-awareness. We have discovered the great benefit of this through our personal practice of yoga and meditation as it slowly reveals the deep mind and body connection we are all capable of, as well as silencing the monkey mind of chatter that distracts each one of us on a constant basis from connecting in a mindful moment to moment life experience. The difficulty for most people as modern-day humans to grapple with is that mindfulness is a momentary state, and not something that once you achieve stays forever, thus it’s a constant work in progress that needs daily work and reminders to pull yourself back to your present mindful moment. It’s in these moments, where we find our inner power to watch the thoughts and emotions we experience (usually uncontrolled and unchecked) but through the practice of mindfulness, we are able to bring ourselves back to the realization that we are always in control of how we feel and how we choose to act. However, even that mindful state is temporary and that’s the catch with mindfulness, you always have to come back to it.
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?
Mindfulness through self-awareness can bring incredible benefits, both physically and emotionally. Since the body and mind are more deeply connected than most of us realize, once we are able to calm and control the mind, we can effectively strengthen the vitality of our physical body. Stress is a huge aspect of modern-day society and leads to not only physical illness but also mental and emotional instability. So, by finding time in our day to meditate, or simply practice mindfulness through taking moments of silence, deepening self-awareness, or even just breathing slowly and consciously, we can prop up our overall wellbeing — just breaking up stress patterns.
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.
Five steps to developing deeper mindfulness in uncertain times:
Meditate: First and foremost. Taking time each day to sit in silence with yourself is one of the most effective ways we can reconnect with our mind and calm the nervous system. Especially in times filled with so much uncertainty, which creates so much fear. Whether it’s to focus on the awareness of your body and self, to watch and manage your thoughts through single-pointed focus, or to visualize healing and calming energy surrounding us, we have found the number one antidote for all the types of stress being created by COVID19 has been simply right there inside of us.
Limit exposure to news and fear triggers: Being isolated or quarantined at home has created a very unique set of circumstances we need to cope with. One coping mechanism that seems to be common is the need to constantly check in on the latest updates and news. Whether we are looking for hope or simply unconsciously compelled to feed our fear, the nonstop avalanche of clickable articles and updates with so much happening in the world can have a dramatic effect on our psyche and emotional state. Therefore, it’s incredibly important to fight the urge to constantly check in on the world’s affairs by realizing that our personal affairs and our state of being at this moment are more important. We personally do our best to fight the urge (which is strangely incredibly powerful) and check in on the state of the world (which is also strangely terrifying most of the time) once in the morning, once in the afternoon, and once in the evening but NEVER too close to the bed.
Exercise & Yoga: People say that exercise and movement are the best way to combat stress and depression, so in times like these it’s even more vital for everyone to find some time in their day to move, breathe, and sweat. For us, we do our best to work out either on our mats or running or skipping every morning, and then come back to our mats at the end of the day whenever we can. This allows a beautiful bookending at the start and end of the day to always make sure we staying connected to ourselves at this time when we need it most.
Nature: With the world seemingly shut down and in an uncertain micro-chaos, finding the time to reconnect with the earth is crucial for mindfulness and stability. We realize that some people are completely unable to leave their homes at this time, but if you cannot actually go into nature itself (be it a park or a forest or a park) then watching nature on TV can at least bring about the visual cues and a connection to Mother Earth for the mind. We do our best with Prince, our dog, to spend at least one to two hours a day breathing fresh air in the forest out here on Vancouver island where we are currently in self-isolation. It’s amazing how a moment to reset can be so valuable.
Breathing: Conscious breathwork is incredibly effective at creating mindfulness and bringing yourself into the present moment. Whether it is simply ten counted slow, deep inhales and exhales at any time throughout the day, during meditation or Yogic breathing exercises, conscious breathing has an incredible impact, letting stress out and bringing in peace and grounding. Recently, we have been practicing the Wim Hoff breathing techniques, not only for the mindfulness benefits but also to help strengthen our immune system and lungs.
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?
Daily communication: Finding time to talk on the phone (rather than just text messages or emails) to remind loved ones we are all in this together is incredibly important. That is not to say we have to speak about the difficulties but simply speak to each other about anything. We all thrive on human contact and whether in person or on the phone, the value of interaction through conversation is critical.
Laughter: Even in hard times, finding ways to laugh together is a wonderful way to bring us back to our natural, balanced human state.
Yoga: Doing online yoga or sharing in a class of any kind is a beautiful way to connect and share the experience of movement and mindfulness together. Even if it’s over FaceTime.
Virtual Dinner: Thankfully, we have the technology to share time and space with each other without being in the same room. A wonderful way to take advantage of this is to schedule a virtual meal with loved ones and share in breaking bread as if you are together in person.
New Projects or Creative Activities: Broadly speaking, some of us have been gifted more time in our current situation and with this time comes a great opportunity to focus on new things. So, whether it’s simply encouraging your loved ones to take advantage of this and pursue a passion project they wouldn’t otherwise have time for, finding something new to embark on together, this is a wonderful way to keep the mind focused on something new, positive and exciting.
What are the best resources you would suggest for someone to learn how to be more mindful and serene in their everyday life?
Guided meditation or yoga classes would be our number one suggestion. Also, books on mindfulness and meditation can be a great way to help in understanding the theory and practice, as well as how to seize and accomplish many of its benefits.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Do you have a story about how that was relevant in your life?
“If a problem is fixable, if a situation is such that you can do something about it, then there is no need to worry.
If it is not fixable, then there is no help in worrying. There is no benefit in worrying whatsoever.”
– Dalai Lama
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. 🙂
A live shared worldwide online yoga and meditation class, where we can — as collective energy — stop everything to raise our vibration and share this with the world during these uncertain times.
What is the best way our readers can follow you online?
Thank you for these fantastic insights. We wish you only continued success in your great work!