Julie Sharma: “A movement that would cause the most amount of good to the most amount of people, would be to make mindfulness mainstream”

An Interview With Dr. William Seeds

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If I could start a movement that would have the most amount of good to the most amount of people, it would be to make mindfulness mainstream. By mainstream I mean normal in all aspects of our lives. Seeing mindfulness taught in schools, shown in movies, written in best selling works of fiction, to the point at which we could see someone meditating anywhere and not think: what is that wacko doing? A movement of mindfulness would help to change the world in a way that makes people more connected, aware, and present, which means less lonely, distracted, and stressed and even depressed. A movement of mindfulness would help everyone to live with intention, be more purpose-driven and thus happier.

As a part of my series about “5 Lifestyle Tweaks That Will Dramatically Improve One’s Wellbeing”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Julie Sharma. Julie is the Co-Founder & Chief Evangelist of meditation.live. Julie has more than a decade of experience spearheading accounting and operations teams, helping businesses to thrive efficiently at scale. She now owns a spot as a female founder and entrepreneur in the wellness industry, merging her knowhow in business with her passion for helping people. Julie also doesn’t let a day go by without a good run or yoga practice.

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 story about how you first got involved in fitness and wellness?

I first became involved in the fitness and wellness industry when I became a meditator. It changed my life so dramatically, I knew I needed to dedicate my life’s work in it completely. When I saw the positive changes in myself, I instantly wanted to share this amazing thing with everyone and so I created a wellness company alongside my husband, D Sharma, and our friend Bhartesh Chhibbar.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started your career?

The most interesting thing that happened in my career was when I actually took a step back from it. After coming to a point of burnout, I took a year sabbatical that lead to a complete restructuring of my life. It started with my physical health, implementing yoga and running, and then expanded to meditation and mindfulness practices. Before that I was all about finance, working non-stop, and I never saw the value of taking care of my body in such a dedicated way. Now I make sure that fitness, as well as overall wellness, is a core part of my career by making founding a company 100% focused on it, blocking my work calendar to allow for a daily workout habit, as well as weaving it into my work culture by doing things like organizing private beach yoga sessions with my team.

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?

When I first started my career, I was actually still working on my bachelor’s degree. I did bookkeeping consulting for a few small businesses. Being that I was financially on my own, I worked as much as I could, I even worked while I was in class. I made the mistake of doing this while in a class that required participation. I was deep into a monthly bank reconciliation of a local hair salon studio and I got called on by the professor, who thought I was just taking notes. I hadn’t heard the question he asked or much of what he had said for the last few minutes and so I had to admit that I wasn’t paying attention. From this experience, I learned it’s important to be present, whether its a class or a business meeting.

Can you share with our readers a bit about why you are an authority in the fitness and wellness field? In your opinion, what is your unique contribution to the world of wellness?

My company, meditation.live, has the best doctors, teachers, professors and psychologists in it’s platform. When we consider bringing on a new wellness coach or expert, I personally screen each of them to ensure they meet our very high standards, this process usually takes a few months. When I invite people to use my product, I know they are receiving the best practices in the world.

My unique contribution is a strong belief in accessibility and community, and these 2 concepts are what meditation.live was built upon. We think about wellness as a team effort: if the community is strong, we are strong — mentally and physically. Lots of other programs out there offer meditation and workouts, but we went the extra mile to not only find the best teachers, doctors, psychologists, experts that our community can learn from but to also make it live, interactive, and social.

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?

I am so incredibly thankful to say that my husband, D, has been right by side supporting me my entire career and he never hesitates to help me when I’m facing a challenge. It helps that he himself is an entrepreneur and business leader, so he usually has a good idea of how to fix most business challenges, or at least knows someone who can jump in to help if it’s not something he can do. One way that D helped me to achieve success is that he taught me a key principle: win together. I used to be a much more competitive person, but he has helped me realize there is no need to compete, rather I just need to be my best self. When he helped me shift into this perspective, I really started to see success.

As an expert, this might be obvious to you, but I think it would be instructive to articulate this for the public. Aside from weight loss, what are 3 benefits of daily exercise? Can you explain?

3 benefits that can be gained from daily exercise are focus, increased confidence, and happiness. Daily exercise helps you focus because you are working to achieve an action and you repeat that action. Running for example, as I run I focus on breathing to support my exertion and my ability to focus on tasks that are not exercise related an improved. Increased confidence is a huge benefit from a daily workout habit, and it won’t just be because you’ll look better in the mirror. Every time I pass the 5k mark or make it through a 30-minute yoga practice I feel great just because I finished this task I set out to achieve. Exercising daily is also a great way to feel happy, and not just because we are doing something good for ourselves or the physical outcomes that can be gained, exercise literally makes us happy. This is because our brain recognizes exercise as a stressor and in order to protect us from the negative impact of whatever stress we might be dealing with it releases BDNF (Brain-derived Neurotrophic Factor — which protects and repairs memory neurons) and Endorphins (alleviates discomfort). By just working out we get this positive chemical boost, way before we might see any of the outcomes we are hoping to achieve from working out.

For someone who is looking to add exercise to their daily routine, which 3 exercises would you recommend that are absolutely critical?

If you’re someone who is looking to add exercise to your daily routine, these are the three to start with: walking, stretching, and core-strengthening movements. Walking might seem so basic but it has a few great things about it: it can be done just about anywhere, no equipment is needed, and you can do it outside and enjoy being with nature and friends/family (workout buddies are the best!). Walking is also simple enough to help you overcome what is actually difficult about starting the daily routine, which is building the habit. When you have the habit down and you’re ready for more, you can move onto the more challenging aspects of working out, should you want to. Stretching is so important because it warms up our muscles, preparing them for the exertion they are about to put them through. Stretching also helps improve posture, increase flexibility, and also serves as a great post-workout cool down to bring your body and mind back to a calm state. Core-strengthening movements are a must and are not difficult to add to your day. Something as simple as planking for a minute can have a great impact on your core.

In my experience, many people begin an exercise regimen but stop because they get too sore afterwards. What ideas would you recommend to someone who plays sports or does heavy exercise to shorten the recovery time, and to prevent short term or long term injury?

Soreness and injuries can happen and can definitely be a deterrent to working out daily. The best way to prevent this from happening is to listen to your body. You may think by lifting that extra few pounds or climbing a few more flight of stairs is going to help you achieve your fitness goals but it is more likely going to cause injury, meaning you’ll need to take a break from working out while you heal. When your legs are feeling wobbly, stop or slow down. Our bodies send us signals for a reason, listen to them. You may just need a quick break and you can get back to it when your body is ready. If you’re not sure that you are getting the right signals or want to increase your ability to recognize them, practice a body scan. I do this about every five minutes while I running starting with my end, moving to my shoulders, down my back, all the way to my feet. I am almost always tensed in my neck and shoulders so this body scan helps me to realize that and I can then release the tension.

There are so many different diets today. Can you share what kind of diet you follow? Which diet do you recommend to most of your clients?

I follow a mindful eating diet and recommend this to everyone. I see mindful eating in two ways: being mindful about what you eat and being mindful while you eat. Being mindful about what you eat gives you the opportunity to consider what you should and want to eat as well as the impact of what your eating (environmentally, socially, spiritually even if that is important to you). For example, if you have dietary issues or allergies, you have to be mindful of what you eat so you avoid what harm could happen to your body. Being mindful while eating has great benefits. Instantly you will enjoy your food more because you’ll be more aware of its tastes and textures. Mindful eating also helps to prevent mindless eating, like when that bag of chips is nearby and suddenly the bag is empty and you really weren’t even hungry, to begin with. Those few hundred calories could have been avoided by being mindful of how of what you were eating rather than what you’re watching on TV, the work project you’re trying to get done, or even the game you are playing on your phone. The best way to achieve mindful eating is to eat at a dining table and put your phone aside.

Is there a particular book that made a significant impact on you? Can you share a story?

Blitzscaling by Chris Yeh and Reid Hoffman had a profound impact on me. This book completely changed the way I thought about what was important while building a company. I listened to Blitzscaling on audible every day during my morning run in the first few months of my company, meditation.live. The insights shared in Blitzscaling are paramount for any new founder/entrepreneur as it clearly outlines how scale can be achieved with brilliant examples. It’s also written is a very engaging and understandable way, so I didn’t want to stop listening! This helped me get my runs a little longer, which was a great side-benefit.

You are a person of enormous 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. 🙂

If I could start a movement that would have the most amount of good to the most amount of people, it would be to make mindfulness mainstream. By mainstream I mean normal in all aspects of our lives. Seeing mindfulness taught in schools, shown in movies, written in best selling works of fiction, to the point at which we could see someone meditating anywhere and not think: what is that wacko doing? A movement of mindfulness would help to change the world in a way that makes people more connected, aware, and present, which means less lonely, distracted, and stressed and even depressed. A movement of mindfulness would help everyone to live with intention, be more purpose-driven and thus happier.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Do you have a story about how that was relevant in your life?

My favorite life lesson quote is “Be the change you want to see in the world,” which some attribute to Gandhi, others say its a simplification of a longer statement meaning the same. Regardless of where it came from, it’s my favorite quote because it is the recipe to make everything better. In fact, when I first came across this quote, I was so inspired by it that I actually had it tattooed on my shoulder. There was no turning back, I was committed in ink to being the change. If you want to see the world as a better place, be that which you believe is better. Personally, I used to struggle with depression and I saw the world as a dark depressing place. Thankfully through meditation, I was able to work on why I was depressed and suddenly my whole outlook changed and the world around me brightened. If you want to see fewer children dying of starvation, go volunteer in a soup kitchen and you will see kids eating. If you want to see more happiness, smile and you’ll see people smiling back at you more and more.

We are very blessed that some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this if we tag them 🙂

If I could choose anyone to have a private breakfast or lunch with, it would definitely be Michelle Obama. I get goosebumps just saying her name! She is a beacon of light and hope to so many women out there.

What is the best way our readers can follow you on social media?

IG: @mr.mrs.mindfulpreneur

LinkedIn: linkedin.com/in/sharmajulie

Thank you for these fantastic insights. We wish you only continued success in your great work!

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