“Receive compliments!” With Ming Zhao & Susy Markoe Schieffelin

Receive compliments! When someone gives you a compliment, you might find yourself reflecting or deflecting, this is really common. How many times has someone said to you “you look beautiful” and your response was “no, I am not?” See what it feels like instead to simply say “thank you!” Even if you don’t believe it […]

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Receive compliments! When someone gives you a compliment, you might find yourself reflecting or deflecting, this is really common. How many times has someone said to you “you look beautiful” and your response was “no, I am not?” See what it feels like instead to simply say “thank you!” Even if you don’t believe it yet, practicing receiving compliments will create a shift inside you. If no one is giving you compliments, start complimenting other people. Spread positivity and tell people they are beautiful. Before long, you will find that people are returning that positivity back to you!

At times it feels like wellness or elevating one’s wellbeing, is diametrically opposed to high achievement and high performance in one’s career. The stress, mental energy, long hours, lack of restful sleep and preoccupation that result from a high-achievement life seem to directly inhibit wellness. And yet, in order to sustain the creativity, flexibility, mental acuity and resilience that are necessary for high performance, wellness and wellbeing of the mind, body and soul are also mandatory. So how do we achieve both? This is the question I’m hoping to answer through conversations with high-achieving leaders and influencers who are practicing their own philosophies about how to maintain their wellbeing.

As a part of our series about “Social Media Influencers Share Their Top Self Care, Wellness, and Beauty Tips, I had the pleasure of interviewing Susy Markoe Schieffelin.

Susy Markoe Schieffelin of The Copper Vessel is a Los Angeles-based sound healer, reiki master, yoga and meditation teacher, and life/sobriety coach. She graduated with a degree in East Asian Studies and Religious Studies from the University of Virginia and is certified in Usui/Holy Fire II Reiki Master, Kundalini and Vinyasa Yoga Instructor (RYT 550 / IKYTA), and received training in Transcendental Meditation, Vipassana Meditation, Breathwork, and the Art of Sound Healing. Inspired by her own healing journey, she uses these modalities to help others transform their lives and find healing from within. Susy is vocal about her path to sobriety and her journey with alopecia, she is a speaker and thought leader, encouraging people to build healthy, happy, radiant lives through self-love. Susy leads deeply restorative crystal alchemy sound bath ceremonies, healing rituals, group trainings, international retreats, and workshops. When she is in Los Angeles, Susy shares her offerings at Unplug Meditation, Ceremony Meditation, and Sanctum LA . She also offers a series of virtual sound bath experiences for self-healing on ALO Moves. Follow Susy on Instagram HERE.

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 of how you came upon this career path and to where you are today?

Thank you so much for having me! Sharing openly and vulnerably about the experiences of my own healing journey and the tools and technologies that have helped me along the way is actually how I came upon this career path. I haven’t always been able to share so freely. When I was 8 years old, I was diagnosed with a condition called alopecia areata, which is basically unexplained hair loss. Physically, my immune system was being triggered to attack my hair follicles, which led to bald patches on my scalp. I was incredibly ashamed of this condition and did everything I could to hide it from the world. I thought that something was wrong with me. This secret that I kept fueled a fire of anxiety and negative self-talk. My mind was filled with shame, self-judgment, and fear that the people I loved would reject or abandon me.

Fast forward to my early teens, when I had my first experience with alcohol. Drinking helped me quiet my mind so that I could finally relax and engage with other people without feeling self-conscious. Alcohol quickly became my “solution,” but that solution also came with consequences. Once I began drinking, I had a hard time stopping. I would drink until I was drunk and often blacked out, waking up the next day with little to no memory of what happened the night before. Further, the bottled up emotions and fears that I felt when I was not drinking would often come out in an explosive way once I became drunk. In my early twenties, other drugs came into the picture including prescriptions for Klonopin and Adderall. These prescription drugs ended up amplifying the effects of alcohol to the point where I began passing out and waking up in the emergency room. By age 25, I had become an alcoholic and an addict. I remember thinking to myself, “I need to find a different way, my life isn’t working. I will just take these drugs until I feel calm enough to meditate. I will go take a yoga class when I don’t feel so hungover.”

Yoga, meditation, spirituality and alternative healing modalities had always been a part of my life, I even graduated from the University of Virginia with a BA in East Asian Studies and Religious Studies. Something inside me knew that these tools and technologies held the answer to my resounding internal question “what is wrong with me?” However, the drugs and alcohol provided immediate relief to my suffering which stalled me from committing to a practice that would take a bit longer, but ultimately offer the deep healing I actually needed.

I hit rock bottom in August of 2015 after a long day of partying with friends. I was drunk, angry and in so much pain. I decided that I no longer wanted to live. Suicide felt like my only option. Miraculously, I woke up the next morning. I was scared. I didn’t really want to die, I just didn’t know how to live. In a moment of complete desperation, I surrendered and accepted help. I went to a 30-day treatment center in Pennsylvania where I detoxed from drugs and alcohol. During those 30 days, I began a daily gratitude practice. I began practicing yoga and meditation every day. I experienced Reiki healing and music therapy, I connected with the moon, and started learning about crystals. My whole world began to change and my life began to open up. When I moved to California the next summer, I experienced my first sound bath. I felt a sense of calm like I had never felt before. I continued attending sound baths every chance that I got and I was still receiving Reiki healings, meditating daily, and practicing yoga. I no longer felt a sense of craving for drugs or alcohol and, over time, the negative self talk in my head grew quieter. For the first time, I felt truly free.

My life was changing so quickly and everyone around me was asking what I was doing differently, they could see the light had come back into my eyes in a way that they had never seen before. I was inspired to create a new Instagram account and post about my journey, sharing inspirational messages about the things that were helping me change my life and heal. I could see that what I was sharing was truly helping other people, and I felt inspired to share more. Eventually, I bought my first set of crystal bowls, left my corporate job, and founded The Copper Vessel. I held my first public sound bath on the beach in the summer of 2017. Shortly thereafter, I began teaching regular classes at local meditation studios, leading groups at drug and alcohol treatment centers, and working privately with people helping them reconnect with their own inner power, calm, and truth. I continued to post on my Instagram account about my experiences and began to build a community of people connected through a shared interest in positivity and healing.

Today, I am more inspired and dedicated to a life of service than ever. I lead sound baths virtually and in person almost every day, teach Kundalini yoga to people who are on a path of recovery and self-discovery, offer private Reiki healings and group training, travel the world-leading training and retreats, and mentor other teachers and healers who feel called to learn sound healing and/or want to build a business as a spiritual entrepreneur. I have been completely free of drugs and alcohol for almost 4 years and feel a deep sense of self-love, even with a completely bald head! I am so grateful to be able to connect and share healing with people all over the world. I believe that true healing is a journey that begins by looking within and I love sharing the tools and technologies that have helped me heal my deepest wounds and find freedom from suffering. My mission is to help illuminate this path to self-love so that people can heal themselves and remember just how powerful they truly are.

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 very grateful for my teacher, mentor, and dear friend Tommy Rosen. Although Tommy also lives in Los Angeles, I actually met him in India when I took a yoga teacher training with his amazing wife Kia Miller last year. Tommy is an internationally renowned yoga teacher, thought leader, and pioneer in the field of recovery from addiction. He has built an online community of people around the world who are committed to moving beyond addiction and living a life of freedom. I feel that one of the most important elements of a successful recovery is a sense of connection with a community of people who are on a similar path. As Tommy would say, “consciousness is contagious.” Who we spend time with has a great influence on the way we think and how we live our lives. A big part of my inability to let go of using drugs and alcohol was due to the fact that I had created a world for myself that was filled with other people who also drank a lot of alcohol and took drugs. It was the only way of life that we knew. I was afraid of losing my friends and community, so it took me almost losing my life to be able to finally take steps to break free from that consciousness. Tommy has created an inclusive community of people who are interested in recovery, personal discovery, and a life of freedom and well-being. I am very grateful to be a part of that community.

Tommy has also served as a mentor as I have built my own community-based in healing, love consciousness, and self-empowerment. He has guided me through the joys and challenges of serving as a teacher and building a spiritually aligned business. Most recently, I had the privilege of joining Tommy at the International Yoga Festival in Rishikesh, India where I played Crystal Alchemy singing bowls during his yoga classes. It was a dream come true to be able to collaborate with him and serve at that level. Tommy is an authentic, generous, and humble teacher and I am so grateful for his support in helping me get to where I am today.

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?

Shortly after I began teaching yoga, I was hired to come to the opening party of a spa in Malibu. When I arrived, ready to teach a mini yoga class, I was instead told to get on a floating platform in the middle of a swimming pool and just do yoga poses while the people at the party mingled around me and watched. This was not what I had expected at all, but I didn’t know what else to do, so I got on the float and began practicing. A few minutes later, two ducks landed in the pool and started swimming around me and then began mating. Everyone turned to look and laugh, all the while I was on the floating platform in a downward dog position. I was humiliated. It was not what I thought I had signed up for, but I didn’t have the courage to speak up and was scared to lose the opportunity to work. I also couldn’t have my phone in the pool, so I didn’t know what time it was. When I finally got off the float to leave, I realized that I was going to be late to my next event, which was a weekly sound bath with students that were counting on me to show up. I was totally flustered and ended up getting a speeding ticket on my way to class. I learned a lot from this experience! First of all, to always be clear about what I am being hired for and, if possible to get the details of the job in writing up front. Second, if something doesn’t feel right, to have the courage to say no, even if it means turning down work. Third, to be sure to have a way to keep track of time when working and if I am running late, to communicate rather than to rush. I’ve learned that you have to be clear on your values and make choices that help you stay centered and focused on your purpose.

As an influencer, you have been blessed with great success in a career path that many have attempted, but eventually gave up on. In fact perhaps most people who tried to follow a career path like yours did not succeed. 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?

Success doesn’t happen overnight! Building a community begins with relationships and relationships are based in trust. It can take time to create trust and the best way to do that online is through consistency, authenticity, and vulnerability. People want to connect with the real you. They will be inspired by your authentic and vulnerable truth. That being said, it is also important to always share with a clear purpose, rather than posting just to post. Whenever I am going to post or share about a brand, I ask myself if it aligns with my overall vision and if it is going to be inspirational or educational. If not, it’s just content. There is so much content being put out there today and it can be overwhelming. If you share authentically with a clear intention to connect, people will feel that and respond. You will build trust and your community will grow. My ultimate goal is always to serve and inspire my community on social media.

Can you share with our readers some of your strategies you’ve used to build an engaged, loyal, and large online community?

My number one strategy is to create connections. I engage with my followers by replying to messages and comments, asking for their feedback and suggestions, and posting about the common threads that connect us all. Consistency is also really important. I post inspirational messages and quotes on my static feed a couple of times per week, and post about my daily activities and events on my stories every day. People know that they can come to my page for a smile and an uplifting message. I always begin my talking posts in pretty much the same way, “Hi guys! I hope that you are having the best day!” and I end them by sending everyone “so much love.” Posting like this happened totally organically, but now people reach out all the time and say that they look forward to my greetings and come watch my story when they need to feel uplifted.

Ok thank you for all that. Now let’s shift to the main focus of our interview. In my work, I focus on how one can thrive and care for oneself in three areas: body, mind, and heart.

You are a busy person with a demanding schedule, can you share with our readers a few self care routines, practices or treatments that help your body thrive? (Kindly share a story or an example for each.)

For me, a healthy body begins with laying a solid foundation for health as soon as I wake up. I also look at food as medicine and find ways to move energy through my body every day. I begin each morning with a cold shower. Taking a cold shower improves circulation and immunity, and creates a sense of mental stamina. If I can make it through a cold shower, I feel like I can make it through anything! Sometimes my shower is just a quick in and out, and sometimes I stay in the cold water for a couple of minutes, but I always make sure to give myself a blast of cold water first thing every morning. After that, I drink a wellness shot for immunity and gut health. Here is the recipe: Juice of 1 whole lemon, 1/2 cup water, 2 Tbsp apple cider vinegar, 2 tsp turmeric juice, a sprinkle of black pepper. Drinking this in the morning helps stimulate your metabolism and reduces cravings for sugar and junk food throughout the day.

I also take a short walk outside and do a gentle yoga practice every morning after my wellness shot and before I do anything else. Starting my day with walking and yoga gets my energy moving and helps my body thrive.

Can you share with us two routines that you use to help your mind or heart to thrive? (Kindly share a story or example for each.)

Gratitude and meditation! These practices are an essential part of my daily routine. As a part of my morning yoga practice, I always spend time in meditation. I usually commit to doing a specific meditation practice for 40, 90, or 120 days. These are the time periods needed to break a habit, create a new habit, and make that habit a part of you. My current meditation practice is a chanting meditation — I chant the Gayatri Mantra 108 times every morning. The Gayatri Mantra is an ancient yoga mantra that is essentially a chant for gratitude and enlightenment.

For me, gratitude is an essential practice. Before I go to sleep each night I make a gratitude list. I write down at least 5 things that I am grateful for that day and send it to a friend. Expressing gratitude has helped to heal and open my heart. A gratitude practice is something that I highly recommend for everyone.

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

  1. Practice affirmations for self-love. This is a big one for me, since I struggled a lot with the idea of feeling beautiful without hair. Looking at myself in the mirror and saying “you are beautiful, I love you” has helped me a lot.
  2. Dress the way you want to feel! Clothing is like an energy costume. Different colors will have different effects on your mood. If you dress sloppy, chances are you will feel sloppy. If you wear clothing that looks beautiful, you are more likely to feel beautiful! When I was struggling, I felt dark and wanted to protect my energy and go unnoticed. I often dressed in all black. It made me feel safe. As I began to heal and feel lighter and more open, I became drawn to lighter colors. Now I almost always wear all white! White expands your aura and raises your consciousness. It makes me feel beautiful and open! Try playing with different colors and see how they make you feel. Wear what makes you feel beautiful!
  3. Receive compliments! When someone gives you a compliment, you might find yourself reflecting or deflecting, this is really common. How many times has someone said to you “you look beautiful” and your response was “no, I am not?” See what it feels like instead to simply say “thank you!” Even if you don’t believe it yet, practicing receiving compliments will create a shift inside you. If no one is giving you compliments, start complimenting other people. Spread positivity and tell people they are beautiful. Before long, you will find that people are returning that positivity back to you!

Is there a particular resource, a practitioner, expert, book, or podcast that made a significant impact on you and helped you to thrive? Can you share a story about that with us?

Marianne Williamson’s work has made a significant impact on my life. She writes about A Course in Miracles, which is essentially a course about shifting into love consciousness. Her book The Law of Divine Compensation is all about the energy of money. Reading this book helped me to feel comfortable charging for my work and build a successful business.

Do you have a story about the strangest, most bizarre or funniest wellness treatment that you’ve ever experienced?

I recently went to a spa in Palm Desert with my boyfriend where their signature treatment is a mud bath. For some reason, I imagined this treatment would be a nice bathtub filled with clay and essential oil infused water. It was, however, quite literally a bath in mud. It was a concrete hole in the ground filled with pungent smelling peat moss and mud. The smell was very intense and not dissimilar to manure. The hot mud was so thick you literally had to squish yourself into it. It was not the romantic experience I had imagined!!

As an influencer, 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.

I would love to inspire people to have a daily sound healing practice. Sound healing combines yoga, meditation, and energy healing in a way that is accessible to everyone. Sound is pure creative potential, and working with healing frequencies helps you slow down, feel positive, and reconnect with your true self. Sound baths are a way to connect with yourself, and also to come together and connect with a community. If we could all slow down, incorporate positive energy and healing frequencies into our daily lives, and connect to each other from a place of truth, our world would be a much happier, healthier, and more peaceful place.

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. 🙂

I would love to have breakfast with Gabby Bernstein! I look up to her so much as a sober woman, kundalini yoga teacher, spiritual thought leader, mother, and authentic human being. I relate to her journey as a young woman working in PR and living a fast paced, drug and alcohol fueled life in New York City. That was my journey too. I am so grateful that we both awakened to a more peaceful and fulfilling way of living. I love the way that Gabby is spreading light in our world by making spiritual practices accessible and approachable to the mainstream. I would be over the moon to have the opportunity to take her out for breakfast!

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

You can find me on Instagram as @thecoppervessel. Follow me and send me a DM — I would love to connect!

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

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