Paul Harrison: “Don’t give up on your passion”

Cultivate the feeling of beauty: If you want to feel beautiful, cultivate the feeling of beauty. It’s funny how we think that beauty comes from products. The feeling of beauty is precisely that: a feeling. It’s an energy in the mind and body. If you want to feel beautiful, meditate and cast your mind back […]

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Cultivate the feeling of beauty: If you want to feel beautiful, cultivate the feeling of beauty. It’s funny how we think that beauty comes from products. The feeling of beauty is precisely that: a feeling. It’s an energy in the mind and body. If you want to feel beautiful, meditate and cast your mind back to when you felt your most beautiful. Now connect with that energy. What does it feel like? Meditate on that feeling. This will naturally cultivate the feeling of beauty.

As a part of our series about “Five Things Anyone Can Do To Have Fabulous Hair”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Paul Harrison. Paul Harrison is a meditation teacher in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada. He created and runs the meditation blog, a source for meditation and mindfulness. Paul’s passion is to help people feel beautiful inside and out through meditation and mindfulness.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we dive in, our readers would love to learn a bit more about you. Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?

I’ve been into meditation ever since I was a teenager. I was training at Oxford to be a professional actor when one of my teachers suggested I use meditation to help with my anxiety. That was how I got started. I didn’t start to teach until much later. Actually, what inspire me to start teaching was a traumatic event in my life. I’d been living in Canada when I broke up with my girlfriend and was essentially made homeless for a short while, thousands of miles away from my family back in England. I suffered extreme stress, and the stress made me physically ill. I was living in personal hell. It took months to recover. When I did, I looked back on the event and realized that it was my mind and my thoughts that had made me become sick, both mentally and physically (I had chronic eczema caused by the stress). I used meditation to cure my problem, and I wanted to help other people avoid the same fate. So, I became passionate about teaching meditation, to help people avoid the stress that had made me ill. Now I dedicate myself to making people feel beautiful inside and out through the power of the mind.

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

The most interesting story in my career has been the gradual increase in my reach. It started with just a few friends asking me for general tips on how to start meditating. Gradually my reach increased. Today I receive emails from readers all over the world who are looking to use meditation to solve their individual problems. The other day I received a message from a guy in New Zealand who wanted to use meditation to cure social anxiety, so I taught him how to do two meditations, Karuna and Metta, which he says are helping him feel much more confident around people. It’s so rewarding to hear those positive stories.

Are you able to identify a “tipping point” in your career when you started to see success? Did you start doing anything different? Are there takeaways or lessons that others can learn from that?

The biggest change for me was deciding that I deserved to make money. For a long time, I had taught people meditation for free because I’m passionate about it and genuinely want to help people to be happy. But it was affecting my own life. Deciding that I deserved to profit from my work turned my passion into a genuine career. It’s important to remember that your skills are valuable, and that you do deserve to make money from them.

In your experience what were the most effective ways for your business to generate leads and sales? Can you share a story or give an example?

My business mostly generates leads and sales from my website, Switching to an inbound marketing strategy, whereby I create amazing content that naturally gains interest, has brought a lot of traffic and sales. I also rely heavily on email marketing campaigns, which I find to be the best strategy for cultivating genuine relationships with my clients and readers. I’m always very “real” in my writing, and I find that by expressing myself openly and honestly, I create deep relationships with my audience, which naturally makes them want to learn more and either take a lesson or purchase my book, Your Best Meditation.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person to whom you are grateful who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?

Honestly, it might sound silly, but the single most helpful person in my career has been my mom. She’s an avid reader and an astute editor. She reads all my marketing, my emails, and my articles, and shares some truly valuable opinions and advice. She even edited a 75,000-word book for me… twice!

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?

I touched on this previously, but the most stupid mistake I made was simply not asking for money. I can’t begin to tell you how much work I did for people for free (both in teaching meditation and in working with clients online). I’ve always been a giver and a healer and my primary motivator is not financial. So, I was happy to work for free. But obviously that’s no way to make a career.

Ultimately, I learned to be as giving to myself as I am to others. It took me a long time to feel okay about charging people. But I learned that I myself deserve to see some sort of reward from my countless hours of work. And to my surprise, I found that many people are genuinely pleased to pay me for helping them. Learning that I deserve success and that other people are actually happy to contribute towards my success… those were two big eye openers.

You have been blessed with great success in a career path that many have attempted, but eventually gave up on. Do you have any words of advice for others who may want to embark on this career path but know that their dreams might be dashed?

Don’t give up on your passion; ever. In my life I’ve had three primary careers: writing, acting, and teaching meditation / running All those careers are incredibly difficult to be successful in. For more than a decade I struggled to survive (I literally averaged less than 10,000 dollars a year for more than a decade). The only reason I continued was because I genuinely believe that if you have a passion, you follow it through. And honestly, it is more rewarding struggling for your passion than having it easy in a career you don’t care about. We spend approximately a third of our lives working. For me, that’s far too much time to dedicate to just making money. I absolutely refuse to spend that much time doing anything I am not deeply passionate about. And that attitude is what has carried me through. If you’re working in a challenging field, you need that passion. Without it you will quit long before you see success. But it takes guts too, to believe in your passion and stick to it.

Ok super. Let’s now shift to the main part of our discussion. Can you please share “Five Things Anyone Can Do To Have Fabulous Hair”. Please share a story or an example, for each.

1: Meditation: It’s funny that so many people believe that beauty comes from a bottle. The truth is, the best way to have beautiful hair is by reducing stress, and perhaps the number one way to achieve that it by meditating. Research shows that meditation reduces the effects of the stress hormone cortisol to naturally restore beautiful hair.

One of my students had suffered from hair loss due to acute stress. The hair loss effected her self esteem, which only made things worse. For both her hair and, more importantly, her mental health, we needed to overcome her stress. I taught her some easy meditation techniques, including Anapanasati (mindfulness of breath) and Nadi Shodhana (Alternate Nostril Breathing). Gradually her stress reduced, and after a few months her hair started growing back.

2: Mindfulness: It’s generally agreed that eating a healthy diet and practicing good basic wellness and hygiene are important for our hair. However, what most people don’t realize is that these good habits begin in the mind. That’s why many people continue to eat unhealthy diets even though they understand the consequences.

One of my students wanted to lose weight but said he that he couldn’t stop eating junk food even though he didn’t want to. I taught him some easy mindfulness exercises, particularly focusing on mindful eating. This made him more conscious of his actions (including his diet), which gave him control to eat healthier and form healthier habits. He lost weight, and because of his improved diet he looked much better, in both his skin and hair.

3: Practice self-love (focusing on the body)

The best way to have a beautiful body is to appreciate your body. When you appreciate your body, you will be more motivated to make healthy lifestyle choices and to take care of your body and hair. I once taught a student of mine to do Loving-Kindness Meditation by focusing on sending love to her own body. She meditated on the miracle of her body and gained far more appreciation of it. This newfound appreciation motivated her to change her lifestyle, to quit smoking, and to live healthily, which benefited her entire body, including her hair.

4: Ayurveda: Ayurveda is the oldest health system in the world, and research conducted over the past few years has highlighted numerous benefits. Ayurveda states that the quality of our hair is largely determined by the food we eat. According to Ayurveda, it is vital Pitta and Kapha to have good hair. We can achieve this by eating a balanced diet with plenty of fruits and veg, as well as herbs and spices. When I personally started doing both Ayurveda and yoga, my hair started to develop a beautiful shine (my skin also cleared-up).

5: Yoga: Practicingyogacan have a significant impact on hair. By increasing blood flow to the scalp, and reducing stress and anxiety, yoga helps hair to grow and to stay strong. When I started doing yoga ten years ago, I quickly noticed an improvement in the appearance of my hair. It felt less dry and gained a wonderful shine. The best asanas for the hair are ones with the head down (because they stimulate blood flow to the scalp). These include Downward Dog, Shoulder Stand, and Headstand.

Can you share 3 ideas that anyone can use “to feel beautiful”? (Please share a story or example for each.)

1: Cultivate the feeling of beauty: If you want to feel beautiful, cultivate the feeling of beauty. It’s funny how we think that beauty comes from products. The feeling of beauty is precisely that: a feeling. It’s an energy in the mind and body. If you want to feel beautiful, meditate and cast your mind back to when you felt your most beautiful. Now connect with that energy. What does it feel like? Meditate on that feeling. This will naturally cultivate the feeling of beauty.

2: Compliment yourself: It’s funny how quickly some people are to compliment others while refusing to say (or think) anything nice about themselves. Monitor your self-talk. When I went through my extreme stress reaction, I noticed my self-talk was very harmful (at times even suicidal), and of course this made me feel anything but beautiful. I started using CBT (Cognitive Behavioral Therapy) to change my negative talk. This put me in a far better mood and made me feel much better about myself, inside and out.

3: Practice positive body language

When I was an on-stage actor touring the UK, I noticed something peculiar. When I was playing a weak character, I would actually feel weak in myself. When I was playing a strong character, I would feel strong. Of course, this was the case while acting. But it continued after the show.

What I learned was that I was unconsciously using my characters’ body language after the show, and that body language was affecting my mind.

Amy Cuddy [American social psychologist,] once gave a TED X presentation about the effects of body language on emotion in which she stated that the way we hold the body has a direct effect on our emotions. From my experience as an actor, I can say she was definitely right.

From my acting, I learned to use positive body language always. I now stand tall with my shoulders back, hold my chin up, nod, and smile. And it always makes me feel beautiful inside.

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. 🙂

Loving Kindness. I deeply believe in living a life of love and compassion towards all. Whenever I meet someone new, I treat them like a best friend. It’s such an easy thing to do. We just have to feel compassion and love for one another. That one simple change would make the world a much kinder, gentler place.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

“Correct your mind and the rest of your life will fall into place”. This Lao Tzu quote echoes my deepest belief. The mind creates all things. With a mind full of peace, love, and compassion, we can live amazing lives.

Ever since my extreme-stress reaction, I’ve lived under the guidance of this quote. I tend to my mind like a garden, planting the fertile soil of compassion, and removing the weeds of ignorance.

And it is one hundred percent true. If your mind is correct, everything else will follow.

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 with whom you’d like to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this. 🙂

Milla Jovovich please! She’s just so beautiful and I love her energy. I promise if she goes out with me, I will give her a free meditation lesson 🙂

How can our readers follow you online?

Via my website

Thank you so much for this. This was very inspirational, and we wish you only continued success!

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