Remind them that this too is only temporary. — It is easy in these uncertain times to feel like this is how it’s going to be forever. Your loved one may have a sense that whatever challenges they are facing will never end. Helping them to pass this time in a healthy way can mean gently reminding them that ‘this too shall pass’ and that you are there for them, however long it takes.
As a part of my series about “How To Develop Mindfulness And Serenity During Stressful Or Uncertain Times”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Rhianna Basore.
Rhianna Basore is a financial empowerment coach who specializes in helping creatives earn their true worth. Whether they’re negotiating contracts, pricing their services, or figuring out how much to reinvest in their businesses, she helps artists, actors, nonprofit organizers, and healers set themselves up for success. Her creative credentials include being an award-winning director, international actor, and professional writer with over twenty years of experience on stage and screen and her creative expertise has been featured in The Wall Street Journal, The L.A. Times, The Chicago Tribune, The Find Your Light podcast and more.
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?
Asa successful creative who has been honored to share my work all over the world, I have often felt more creatively fulfilled than financially. Several years ago, I was performing Off-Broadway, doing what I loved in NYC, and my grandfather passed away. He had been sick, but it still felt sudden. I had another month left in my contract before I could go home for the funereal. One of my friends suggested flying back to California on my Monday day off to be with my family. I loved the idea of seeing them even for an afternoon; but with my Off-Broadway income, I couldn’t afford it. There I was living my dream, enjoying great success in my career, and I felt lonely and disconnected from the people I loved because of money. It was then that I realized that being creative did not have to mean missing out on the things that mattered. There had to be a better way to run my business so that my bank account didn’t suffer because of my creative success. I spent the next few years educating myself on business and money management, building up my financial resources, and now I coach other creatives to do the same.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started your career?
Last year, when my actor-writer friend asked who could direct his latest one-man show, I never imagined it could be me. I hadn’t directed since high school. But as we brainstormed suggestions and dismissed each in turn, the solution was obvious. I could use my professional experience as a performer and storyteller to help him build a character he loved while applying my business know-how to package the show in a way that the audiences would enjoy. We opened to great critical acclaim last summer and spent the next few months touring around the United States. We were honored to headline the Marfa Fringe Festival this year and are scheduled to perform in Iceland this summer. It has been a wild, crazy ride and I love that my business mind and creative skillset helped my friend to shine so brightly.
What advice would you give to other leaders about how to create a fantastic work culture?
It starts with the heart. In yoga, we have a practice called ‘holding space’. The idea is that the teacher, or in this case, leader, secures the emotional boundary around the group so they can feel safe to fully explore their potential without feeling nervous or afraid. I see it as a mental and physical exercise that allows us to infuse a sense of safety into every interaction. I do this with my creatives when I work with them. I let them know through the tone of my voice and the words that I use that anything they want to talk about or discuss is good if it helps them to strengthen their relationship with money. This does not mean I give them a hall pass to beat themselves up or exploit the safe space I have made for them. It does mean that whatever they can throw at me, I can handle it because I have our mutual best interests in mind.
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?
Viktor Frankl’s Man’s Search for Meaning has been my ‘go-to’ reference for hard times for years. I have even been known to send it to friends who might be struggling. It was the first book that demonstrated to me how much of what we experience in our lives is perception. It is easy to default to a victim mentality in times of stress, especially in uncertain times like now. Yet with a practice of mindfulness and intention-filled living, it is possible to survive and even thrive, despite the most challenging circumstances.
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?
The state of being mindful is the result of mindfulness practice. Mindfulness practice is the continued commitment to returning your attention to the present moment, no matter what physical or emotional sensations might arise.
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?
Our thinking brain behaves like a Labrador puppy. It is very active and loves to do a good job for us, even when it doesn’t know-how. Often its efforts are unfocused and chaotic, resulting in less than desirable outcomes. Becoming mindful reduces the destructive impact of our thinking by harnessing that puppy energy with a clear task to focus on. Every time we catch ourselves thinking about anything that isn’t happening ‘now’, we gently return our attention to the present moment. This helps release past regrets or worries about the future that might cloud our thinking. It also alleviates the mental exhaustion of trying to solve all our problems at once. How can you find the best solutions for your team project if you are still thinking about the person who cut you off on the way in? Physically, it allows us to prioritize our energy and keep a reserve for when we really need it. It decreases that feeling of being ‘emotionally full’ which over time can lead to burnout, affecting our physical and mental health. Mindfulness offers tools to release emotional burdens that can build up, which increases your ability to connect with yourself and your loved ones in healthy, positive ways.
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.
Start each day with five purposeful breaths. — Whether you do them in bed before you get up, in the shower, or as you make your coffee, five full breaths will start your day off in a powerful way. Soften your belly. Inhale for 4 counts. Gently hold your breath for 7 counts. Exhale for 8. Repeat 4 more times.
When I was in NYC grieving my grandfather away from my family, I was challenged to remember the gift it was to be sharing my art Off Broadway. It was an amazing opportunity, but I was sad too. A dear friend suggested meditating, but I told her I get bored sitting for 20 minutes. She taught me to try five breaths every morning and build up from there. It really works — now I meditate twice a day for at least 20 minutes.
Return to ‘what is’. — It’s easy to allow the mind to rush around, thinking about a million things at once. Yet refocusing your mind on the present moment helps you see what really matters. When centered on ‘what is’, the mind acts like a sieve, letting unnecessary details flow through. This leaves behind the pieces that can be used to create a solution. This clarity presents new possibilities without the distraction of extraneous concerns and worries, resulting in better outcomes than anticipated.
I encourage my creatives to do this when they get overwhelmed with decision-making. A creative career requires a lot of balls in the air and it can be hard to know how to prioritize. I ask them to sit quietly and breathe with me. After a few rounds of breath, we pick through what thoughts still feel like the most important and let everything else go. Then we see how the pieces that are left can fit together in a way that feels good and exciting. They often come to a resolution that startles them with how simple and easy it is.
Slow your breath to match your heartbeat — Too often our internal rhythms run at the frenzied pace of a car weaving through freeway traffic. This drives our nervous system into reactive mode, which drains our energy and limits our ability to focus. Matching your breath to the length of your exhale taps the ‘brakes’ on your nervous system, allowing it to idle at the pace of its natural rhythm rather than trying to compete with the hustle and bustle of modern life. This soothes the body and calms the mind, creating a sense of ease and wellbeing that refills our energetic tank. These reserves can be used in a pinch to kickstart a new project or rocket past challenges as they occur in the moment.
I recently started taking swimming lessons after years of hanging out in the shallow part of the pool. Yet before my first lesson, I noticed my heart was racing and my head was spinning. I was so nervous about what might happen that my body went into fear mode. Luckily, I had worked with so many of creatives about overcoming their money fears that I knew exactly what to do. I slowed my breath to match my heartbeat, focusing on the length of my exhale, and slowly, a calm come over me. This gave me the peace of mind to show up for my first swimming lesson and the confidence to enjoy it. Imagine my surprise when I later discovered that I could use the glide of my swimming stroke to match my breath. With body and breath connect to my heartbeat, I am fully connected to the present moment and there is no place more powerful.
Seek out a new experience. — So often we go on ‘automatic’ and mentally check out when faced with repetitive or regular tasks. How often have you arrived home from work and remembered nothing from the drive home? The thinking mind loves to drift when faced with tasks it’s familiar with, which can be frustrating and even dangerous. Stay present by finding a new approach to an old task. Take a new way home. Listen to a new podcast or radio station. Chose the scenic way home so you pay attention to the view. These new sensations focus on thinking and keep your mind present in the moment, no matter how repetitive the task.
I had a client who was taking care of her mother as well as killing it creatively. When her father died, she was glad to step up and take care of her mother in his place. Yet it made her daily tasks twice as hard and infinitely more challenging as she parented her parent and ran her creative business. Over time, she let the business part of her business fall into neglect until her student loans ballooned with missed payments. She asked me to help get her back on track, financially. We tapped into her love of music to create a money song she can sing while she pays her bills. That one small adjustment turned a financial burden into creative play, which keeps her mindful and presents while she is ‘taking care of business’.
Tap into your five senses. — Too often we live in our heads, consumed with our thoughts, and ignoring the world around us. This can lead to feeling like time is going too quickly and our life is passing us by. Harness the power of your five senses to anchor you solidly in the present moment. Stop what you are doing and check-in with what’s around you. What do you hear? Smell? Does the air have a taste to it? What sensations can you feel on your skin? What do you see that you didn’t notice before? By checking in with all five of your senses, you slow your mind down as it notices what’s around you. This brings your internal sense of time into focus and roots you in the present moment.
I worked with a creative who wanted to bring her business online but was concerned that not performing live would alter the effect of her work. We isolated the sensations she experiences from each of her five senses while performing live. We found that she loves the smell of the stage lights, which lets her know it’s time to shine. I suggested she purchase a special lamp to keep in the creative workspace that she turns on before performing at home. This triggers her performer’s mentality even without an audience. Her audience can still feel the power of her presence on the recording though because she tapped into the energy of her five senses.
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?
- Listen to their fears. — As humans, we rush to comfort each other to make it ‘better’. But the feeling that someone is experiencing is real to them. Trying to reason with them and show them how their feelings are no big deal could make them resentful. Instead, take the opportunity to check in with your breath while you listen. Notice any sensation to fix or ‘solve’ or offer solutions. Release them with an exhale. This way you can stay present with your loved one and support them when they need you.
- Focus their fears down to one thing. — The mind can get stuck in thoughts that are like well-worn grooves. They are hard to get out of! To help your loved one get out of their groove, ask them what they think they might really be concerned about. What is the one thing they are most concerned about? Let them talk through their fears until they get to the one thought that is hijacking their thinking. This helps them to focus their thinking down to what is really worrying them. This awareness is the first step to begin to release those fears.
- Mirror the language they are using by saying the exact same words. — It can be hard for your loved one to find the exact words to describe their fears and anxieties. Once they do, resist the urge to summarize or substitute other words for the ones they choose. Words can mean different things to different people. We may feel that we are helping by giving them more words to describe their experience, but they may feel revised or rewritten by your suggestions. This can increase feelings of disconnection and loneliness. Repeating the exact words your loved one uses lets them know that you are listening and understand. They will feel connected to you, which often helps alleviate some of their concerns.
- Suggest a physical activity you can both do together. — Sometimes feeling uneasy is just an indication that there’s too much energy in the body. Your loved one may register this extra energy as a problem and call that problem Anxiety. Offer to go on a walk with them or take a yoga class online. It’s a great way to spend time together while helping them deal with this extra energy in a healthy way.
- Remind them that this too is only temporary. — It is easy in these uncertain times to feel like this is how it’s going to be forever. Your loved one may have a sense that whatever challenges they are facing will never end. Helping them to pass this time in a healthy way can mean gently reminding them that ‘this too shall pass’ and that you are there for them, however long it takes.
What are the best resources you would suggest for someone to learn how to be more mindful and serene in their everyday life?
I love the mediation challenges that Deepak Chopra and Oprah put out several times a year. They organize a 21-day Meditation event around a theme, like mindfulness or wellness. You can sign up on their website to receive a daily email with links to that day’s materials. Usually, it’s a 20 minute meditation with a short lesson and a few questions to journal about afterwards. It’s a great free resource and I get so excited every time they announce their next theme.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Do you have a story about how that was relevant in your life?
Attributed to Heraclitus, “Change is the only constant in life” is the biggest Life Lesson I can think of.
While studying in Canada, I ran out of money to pay tuition with no hope of securing a student loan as an international student. I worked every day to try and make the money I needed but it wasn’t enough. I told my best friend that I wished I could freeze time and stay in Canada forever. She lovingly reminded me that was impossible and that the only constant is change. My head wanted to argue with her but in my heart, I knew she was right. When I got back to the States, I had such a fire in my belly to rebuild the financial foundation of my life quickly, to spin my personal pain into opportunity. I made myself debt free within three years and built a financial cushion for myself that could sustain the ebbs and flows of creative business. This success inspired me to share my insights with other creatives, so I launched my financial empowerment coaching business last year. I believe the world needs more happy and financially healthy creatives and it’s my personal mission to help them do it. When I think back to the discouraged version of me that came back from Canada with nothing, I see that time heals all wounds and often rebuilds them into something even better!
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. 🙂
I would love for more people to start their ‘heart’ businesses, the ones they have been dreaming of but aren’t sure how to make money doing it. There are many kinds of businesses and many kinds of business models. Sometimes it takes time and training to learn how to make yours work. That doesn’t mean it isn’t a good idea! There have never been more opportunities to make money as a creative. It’s just a matter of time and dedication making it happen. I am committed to supporting creatives by giving them the tools, tips, and tricks to fund the life of their dreams.
What is the best way our readers can follow you online?
I would love to connect through my website www.selftrustfund.com. They can sign up for my newsletter or follow me @selftrustfund on Facebook and Instagram and @fundself on Twitter.
Thank you for these fantastic insights. We wish you only continued success in your great work!