Our monthly home office wellness series turns within, featuring best practices meditation from two of our very own…
Unlike the hosts of our previous FP How We sessions, you are both full-time FP employees. Can you talk a little bit about how your paths brought you here?
J: I was always into the mysterious… ancient secrets in yoga, chanting, numbers, letters, astrology, etc. My love for design was once separate but, as I dove deeper into my spirituality, I realized everything is connected. The good and the bad. How we do one thing is how we do everything, weaving it all into a work of art… we are all creative beings.
K: I’ve always been interested in and curious about the non-physical world, ever since I was a little girl. As I grew into my teens I was always attracted to the mystical, delving into astrology, tarot, always yearning to know more about the deep mysteries. It wasn’t until I was out of college, and working full time at Free People, that I started falling in love with yoga. At first, it was just a couple days a week in a local gym, but the instructor was fantastic and took me deep inside myself, especially during Savasana. After I had my daughters I became much more committed to yoga and joined a local studio. One day I dropped into an Ashtanga class and fell deeply in love. As I progressed through the years with Ashtanga, I realized I was getting so much out of the sitting pranayama (breath work) and stillness at the end of the sequence. It seemed I had to push my body to all its edges and limits to achieve this bliss of spacious awareness, I felt light streaming through my body — I felt better than I had ever felt in my life. A few years later, I moved away from my Ashtanga teacher and had a hard time keeping my practice going. I also began suffering from some pretty serious illnesses and had knew I had to limit my energy output so I could help my body heal itself. I started doing guided meditations to help ease my stress and anxiety and realized I could access this spacious awareness state through my consciousness. I knew I needed to dive deeper into meditation and signed up for a teacher training program.
Was wellness always a part of who you are? Tell us about that journey.
J: As a kid I endlessly played in nature. I knew there was a life-changing wisdom there. The trees alone are full of metaphors on how to exist, deeply rooted in the ground while stretching up into the heavens. As I got older and more conditioned to social norms, I struggled. Stress began to break down my body and I started to develop health issues. On a crusade to heal naturally I realized it wasn’t about the food itself. It was about my emotions, self-esteem and connection to my true self. You can eat all the super foods in the world but, if you are full of guilt and shame, who cares what size you are or who likes you. Until you see that your value is an accessory to something greater. In this knowing I have been able to liberate myself from many issues and am truly enjoying life. Spiritual or not, to me these are the basics of life.
K: Absolutely. When I was younger it manifested mostly in preferring a healthy diet & regular exercise. I loved to go to aerobics classes with my mom in high school, hiking the national parks with my family, and was even the captain of the cross country team in high school. In college, I craved good vegetables, when the cafeteria was filled with junk food. It wasn’t until my late 20’s when I realized that importance of mental & spiritual heath as a significant component to overall wellness for me. I realized that ALL the choices I was making, not just my food & exercise, were contributing to living a fulfilling life. I realized I needed to look deeper into my stress, anxiety, and emotions as well as develop a deeper connection to the Mystical world that I’d been curious about since childhood. As I’ve had some illnesses over the past few years, I’ve also realized how lacking our medical system is right now in terms of preventative or vitality enhancing focuses, so have turned to so many other healing modalities to help my body be well again including Herbalists, Ayurveda, Energy Medicine, Acupuncture, Diet/Food as Medicine, Self-Love, Breath-work, Mantra, Yoga and Meditation.
And how did you two find each other?
J: I’ve been at Free People for 9 years. Kristal not only interviewed me, but hired and trained me! We have been working together ever since. We always compared notes on our latest obsessions — in the beginning it was yoga to nutrition, then deeper esoteric studies as we progressed. It’s been a Joy to grow alongside each other and inspire as we go along… blessed be!
K: Yes, so much JOY! We have said so many times how grateful we are that we were brought together to support each other on this journey. I totally think it was fate. We were meant to work together on many levels in this life.
What does meditation mean to each of you? What does your personal meditation look like?
J: Meditation, to me, is a practice of knowing yourself. No wonder it is so hard in the beginning, all your demons rush forward to be released the moment you sit down. Personally I was overwhelmed by this. I explored many different styles of meditating, loving something from each. I now have custom built a practice for me, something I recommend to everyone. This includes a prayer, mudras and breathing always. Other times I may add dance, chanting or yantras. I strongly feel as we grow what we need reveals itself… so cool!
K: Meditation is essential to me. It helps me stay connected and in-tune with my higher self, my true self. It helps me stay present and available for the people in my life. It also inspires ideas, helps me process my day, and release anything I no longer need to hold onto. It helps me ‘see’ where I am stuck, where I am clinging, and where I need to let go. I usually wake up around 5am, have a cup of tea and head out to my little yoga/meditation/sacred space. I typically read some inspiring pages or verses of poetry while I finish my tea, I then meditate until about 6am, when during the school year it’s time to wake up my girls. I typically just follow my personal silent meditation, and when I’m feeling I’d like a guided practice, I choose something from the myriad of options on the Insight Timer App. I’ve also began incorporating a few mudracs that I learned from Jess that shift my energy quickly. I also do occasional longer sits on the weekends, as well as go to group meditations, womens circles or retreats when I can. I also like to get into a meditative state during physical activities, like hiking, walking, yoga, and dancing. Like Jess said, there are so many ways to get there!
I bet most of us do not know about mudras – can you give a quick explanation of what these are?
J: Mudras are essentially hand yoga. Each finger is linked to an energetic meridian in your body (what they use in acupuncture) as well as a neurological pathway in your brain. You can literally change your state in 3 mins. As I mentioned above, when I began to meditate I found it overwhelming unless I had just performed yoga. Why? Because I had so much energy that needed to move. Learning mudras allowed me to clear and channel this energy with intention and purpose.
Favorite crystal (no pun intended, K):
J: Its hard to have a fav. I’d say selenite is my go-to. I’d love one of every color.
K: I always go to quartz because it’s an amplifier and clears, helps me to move energies quickly. I love so many, though.
Morning or night?
J: I practice every morning, but I’m a nighttime person. I get super psychic at night.
K: Morning for me. I feel sparkly in the morning. I love sunrise. I am so sleepy at night.
#1 inner beauty go-to:
J: Mudra & Adi Shakti Mantra.
K: Heart openers using meditation, yoga, mudra, movement. I think nothing creates beauty more than an open heart and a peaceful presence.
Biggest hope/dream for women everywhere:
J: To Self Realize and know their own power. To embrace each other rather than compete/compare.
K: Totally Agree. Also owning their cycle, realize the sacredness of their moon time. We are the instruments of creation.
What does free mean to you?
J: Boundless Self Expression.
K: Liberation From Conditioning.