Wendi Cohen – Just Be: Being Clear About What You Really Want In Life And Showing Up Accordingly
In what ways are you showing up in your life? Are you taking care of yourself, or find yourself often pleasing others? In what ways are you holding on or are you able to let go and “just be”? How can you learn to stand in your power and be clear on what you really want? Listen as Karen Pulver and Goddesses speak with Wendi Cohen as they learn to tap into doing the transformational work to allow them to “just be” and better deal with who they are and what they are showing up for in their lives.
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Wendi Cohen – Just Be: Being Clear About What You Really Want In Life And Showing Up Accordingly
Thank you so much for joining us. You are in for a treat. We are thrilled to be having our guest, Wendi Cohen. She brings over a decade of experience to the field of meditation, mindfulness and wellness. She has been a dynamic and instrumental force helping people from all over the world as a teacher, integrative lifestyle practitioner. Wendi is highly-regarded for her years at the Chopra Center for Wellbeing, where she managed and facilitated their signature program, Perfect Health, working with Dr. Deepak Chopra and being involved with cutting-edge research in meditation and Ayurveda there. Wendi has been up close and personal with the brightest minds in the wellness industry. What is special about this episode is one of our Featured Goddesses, Michelle, had the privilege of working with Wendi. Michelle, can you join us?
Michelle, thank you so much for coming. We’re interested in knowing about your experience with Wendi. I know that this might be quite vulnerable for you, but thank you for sharing because this will help so many people. When I asked you about Wendi Cohen, what can you tell us?
I love being vulnerable. I don’t see it as a bad thing, first of all, because I think it’s important to share exactly like you said. I could cry right now because Wendi has been an unbelievable force in my life. Every day, I meditate, thanks to Wendi. One of the things that I do because there are a few prompts that she taught me is say what I’m grateful for every single day. I say Wendi, by the way, Karen, I say you too. I’m unbelievably grateful. She’s helped me reshape my thoughts and teach me how to stand in my power and invite ease and grace into my life.
If you were to describe Wendi in a couple of words, how would you describe her?
A calm force, unbelievably knowledgeable in the field of spirituality and more.
I know from talking to you as a friend, that you have made a shift because you came from a very dark and difficult place. You seem so much lighter after working with Wendi. I know when I speak to you, when you’ve had that talk with Wendi, I can definitely see a shift. Can you tell us a bit about that?It's important to just be with our thoughts so we can be more reflective and be accepting of what is in that moment without any resistance. Click To Tweet
She helped me rethink my thoughts, but a lot of that is inviting positivity into my life. She’s taught me a lot about what to bring into my life and what to ask for. I struggled with being specific and then getting what I asked for, but not really what I wanted. She helped me think and talk about my feelings more.
I remember when I came to visit you and we went to LA, we were in the same hotel room. When I woke up, I automatically went to my phone, looked on my email, actually I was watching a Netflix show, I put that on. I thought you were sleeping, but you actually were sitting over on the couch meditating. I was like, “How did you do that?” We were talking about meditation and you said Wendi taught you and you have your own mantra. We had a really good conversation. I do meditate but it’s a little different. I want to ask Wendi about that. Wendi Cohen, can you join us?
It’s good to be here. Thank you so much. Lovely to be with you, Karen and the rest of the goddesses. It’s so good to see you, Michelle. I’ve already actually shed a few tears. Thank you for your sharing.
I know that Michelle has talked so highly about you and how you’ve helped her, and like I said I’ve seen a shift. When Michelle and I were talking about meditation when we were in LA, I told her, “I meditate too. I listen to different apps. I’ve done some different meditations,” but honestly it wasn’t until I had a dream not too long ago that an old friend of ours who had passed away years ago was in my dream. It was the oddest thing because I didn’t speak to him so much when he was around, but he was in my dream. He came up to me and said, “Karen, just be.” I didn’t know what that meant, but when I was talking to Michelle that morning, it clicked. I was like, “That’s what it is. That’s the key I think to meditating, to not think too much.” What are your thoughts on my dream?
I think it’s very interesting. When a lot of people in the spiritual community will say, “Just be,” a lot of people are not clear what that is. We’re human beings that are constantly doing. When I think of just being, especially in terms of meditation, is just being with our thoughts or feelings or creating enough space so that we can be more reflective. We can be accepting of what is in that moment without any resistance. There is something very powerful when we let go of the need to constantly do what shows up. In meditation. You’re simply with your thoughts, you’re with your feelings with whatever’s happening in that moment. The kind of meditation that I teach, we use a mantra and that helps to redirect some of those thoughts. The thoughts are part of the experience, being as accepting what is in that moment.
Wendi, you also taught me that I had thought meditation, you sit on a pillow and you’re like this and that. I was struggling with it. I wanted to you to say, “Do what anybody can.” I actually meditate in bed most of the time. That freed me because I was really struggling.
For me, I was trying so hard to get into that place. I told Michelle when quarantine first started and there was so much going on, that I actually did take a pillow that Michelle got me a cushion and I tuck it into my daughter’s closet, and I closed the door. I put on earbuds, I listened to Deepak and his calming voice. I got into a zone because I wasn’t trying so hard. I actually felt tingling all over, which I had never experienced. I remember, Michelle, I called you when I said my body had a full-out orgasm, but it wasn’t a real sexual orgasm. It was a body orgasm. I think I allowed myself to just be, which is hard to do, but it’s not hard also. It’s like a push and pull.
That’s the interesting thing is that meditation is actually counterintuitive. We’ve been brought up with the no pain, no gain, try harder, just do it Nike. If you’re willing to sit and be, and tap into whatever stillness and silence you’re able to during that time, there are many benefits to that. Like you said, every cell in your body became alive. We become more connected to our bodies, which is where we have so much wisdom. We become more connected to our intuition, which can be an amazing North Star. Many of us are living in our minds and not accessing the part of us that has many answers already. There’s gains and grace in that just being, and being with whatever is showing up. I know we’ll talk maybe a little bit later about some of the myths of meditation, but one of the things is it’s not the magic that happens when you’re sitting in meditation. It’s really outside when you’re noticing how you’re showing up differently, you’re less reactive, you’re more creative, you’re more reflective, you’re more grounded. We are living in a time where it’s constant fight or flight. To take some time out, to be in practice or with some of the rituals that I often teach, there’s so much benefit to that especially in the world that we’re living in now.
Wendi also taught me that, and this is true, I feel like this outside of meditation helped me connect my mind and my body. I was never able to do it. Wendi, what’s your expression?
The mind can trick us, but the body never lies. Oftentimes, we are so much more connected to what’s happening mentally than really the wisdom of our bodies.
That’s where people can get sick because of stress and all that. I’d like to welcome our Featured Goddesses. We have Lara, Alyssa and Rachel to join us in this discussion.
Girls, thank you for joining us. Lara is going to start. She has a question for you.
Wend, it’s a pleasure to meet you. I’m going to ask you that question that Karen and I were discussing earlier about Deepak and his incredible aura and his larger-than-life Zen feeling that he emits to the world. I’m very curious to know how he goes about dealing with his negative emotions and how he communicates to the people around him when he’s really not feeling so Zen, which I’m sure happens. Would you be able to elaborate on that?Our intuition can be an amazing North Star. Click To Tweet
I had the good fortune to learn from Deepak and then work for him for many years in different capacities. What my takeaway always from that experience is how passionate he is about helping people find better ways to live their lives, if it’s through meditation, through science, through all the things that he has his hands in. Because he is so curious and he is somebody who has the bandwidth to hold many different creative thoughts at one time, he’s very present. I will say that one of the things I love most about working with him that was unexpected for me was the sense of almost like a childlike wonder. He was curious about many things. I think because he was present and available to access whatever was happening in that moment, I didn’t ever have the experience of him being anything but grounded, creative, present. He’s actually really funny. I don’t think many people know his sense of humor. He loves emojis. Oftentimes in our communication, I would get a dancing banana, and I just got what that meant. He has a sense of humor.
One of the things I love about that in this work is transformational work is deep and it could be heavy for some people. There’s a lightness to how Deepak teaches. There’s a lightness in how he approaches. He’s a beautiful family man. He adores his wife, Rita, who’s absolutely lovely. His children and his grandchildren are everything to him. I don’t think a lot of people would expect that because he’s very busy and he is doing many amazing things. I love being able to be connected to somebody that is beyond brilliant and incredible in how his mind works.
It’s amazing to hear how Deepak is able to have that light side to him and allow that playfulness to be part of his serious reflecting side. I can see from following him on Instagram and from following some of his videos and reading his words that it’s a gift to have that type of demeanor. We can all learn from that and use humor and lightness in part of the process of learning. Thank you. That was enlightening.
You’re welcome. In general, when I first came to transformational work for my own personal healing, I thought it needed to be serious. In fact, one of my greatest teachers said, “Wendi, you’re taking all this way too serious.” At first, I wasn’t happy to receive that. I thought, “This is big stuff.” I have learned over the years and in my own personal journey with all of this that when we can have a sense of humor and we can come to something in a lighter way, it makes the work so much more enjoyable. I am not someone that believes that suffering is required when we’re looking at things that are difficult.
Wendi, other than me, of course, your favorite client, I know you work a lot with people going through transitions. Do you want to walk us through what that might look like? Obviously, I have some ideas or firsthand knowledge but I know everybody would love to hear from you.
I’ve had the amazing fortune to work with people all over the country, at one point, all over the world because we have technology like Zoom. I’ve worked with people with a wide range. My youngest client has been 23 and my oldest client is 78. I’m working with people that have all sorts of different things that they’re wanting to look at in their lives. Yes, a lot of people are in transition. I have helped people that are looking to retire and move into a new phase of their life after owning businesses. I’ve helped people transition from having a very busy life as moms or husbands, and people that no longer have children at home. I’ve worked with people that are changing their relationships, maybe they’re moving into becoming single or they’re working on relationships with family members.
I want to be thoughtful of their privacy in this intimate work, but I would say that the common thread is how I’m always moved by people, and you are one of them, Michelle, that are willing to look at the things that are difficult or the wounds that have maybe prevented them from moving forward in their lives, or looking at how to create a new normal or move into something that’s uncomfortable. It’s always amazing to me to see so much transformation in the work that I do with people because people are wanting change. They want more meaning and more alignment. We put some things into place to support that vision. I’m someone that believes that there should be ease and grace in this process. When we get clear on what we want by knowing who we are, then we can put some things into practice that are doable and are able to bring great change and healing.
That’s certainly what you’ve done for me. Karen knows me well. When I’m about to cry, my nose turns red. Perhaps you can see that because we’ve talked about it. From where I was at the beginning of my separation from a very long marriage to now, I feel that power, I know who I am. One of the ways I got there was with you and my dear friends obviously, who held me when I couldn’t hold myself. You were always willing to meet me where I was. You have this ability to go with it but also bring me back to the lesson and what I can learn. You’re right, it’s been infused with humor for sure. It’s been a beautiful journey.
Thank you. I’m very honored to get to do this work and with people like you, Michelle, that again are vulnerable, I believe like Brene Brown says, “We find power in our vulnerability.” As women, we should be supporting one another in whatever ways we can. I enjoy the partnership of the work. I’m there to hold the space and hold the vision and offer some reflection and accountability, but it’s you and my other clients that are doing the work. It’s quite impressive and very inspirational for me.
Wendi, thank you so much for being here. I’m curious about your journey. What brought you to this place? Where did you start and how did you evolve? Was there a defining moment that turned it for you?
Thank you, Rachel. It’s interesting. A lot of people that are in this kind of work, I don’t think when we’re little we say, “When I grow up, I want to work at the Chopra Center or I want to do these things.” It’s usually something that leads us there. I will be vulnerable now too and share a little bit about what brought me to meditation because it’s important. Although my story might not be like everyone else’s, there will be parts of it that people will recognize hopefully. I went to the Chopra Center in 2005, and I should probably back up with what brought me to the Chopra Center because I didn’t know I was going there for all of this that would come after. I take a deep breath because this is also not easy for me to talk about. In 2003, I was diagnosed with a rare and very serious disease. It’s interesting because I am not somebody at this point that believes that I am my story entirely. To go back and talk about it feels a little uncomfortable in my body.
I was diagnosed with this disease, and I went from being a marathon runner, a martial artist, very busy mom to two young kids. I was even the PTA president, which I would never do ever again. It’s the hardest job ever. I always say to my fellow PTA presidents that we could do anything after you’d done that. I went from that to having a lot of pain in my body, a lot of difficulty with my brain. I was in and out of doctor’s offices. No one could quite figure out what was going on with me, until finally in 2003, I was diagnosed. I was having to navigate a new normal because I was somebody that was always happy, positive, athletic and active. I did not know quite what to do. There was a period of time where I felt that I lost who I was and all of this. There was even a point that I lost the will to accessorize, and you know what that’s like. That’s not good.
Fast forward to 2005, it was the summer of August. Every year, my family would go to the Island of Catalina. It’s a family tradition. This is one of the first years because of COVID we haven’t been able to go. My doctor said, “I’m sorry, Wendi, you can’t go because they don’t have a medical facility there in case something went wrong with you.” Over those several years, I was in and out of hospitals. I was doing treatments. I was not in a good, stable way health-wise. My family went off to Catalina and I was feeling sorry for myself, if you guys ever had those pity parties.
I decided to take myself to Lacosta because I thought, “Let me go away for one day.” It was close to where I live and I was wandering the property feeling sorry for myself. I stumbled into the Chopra Center, which lived on the property at the time. I wandered in and there was a free group meditation going on. This lovely man, his name is David G, was leading the meditation. We connected right away. Every cell in my body knew I was supposed to be there, it felt familiar. I sat down to meditate and thought, “There’s a reason I’m meant to be here.” I struggled during the entire practice because I kept thinking and thought I was doing it wrong. I left there and I had this sense because he said to me, “You should come back and you should get your mantra.” I said, “Okay, great.”The mind can trick us, but the body never lies. Click To Tweet
I went back two weeks later because I’m not at all that patient. I got there as soon as I could and got my mantra. That’s what started me on my path. What I found is from my practice, especially at that time because unfortunately, my health declined even further after that, was that the meditation for me was a way to be with my thoughts, my fears and my feelings that I was not paying attention to. It allowed me to become so much more creative in my life and more reflective. Through a series of events, we don’t need to get into all of them now, but I ended up realizing that I needed to make some big changes. I needed to move from being fear-based and reactive because it’s your health, that’s scary. How can I go about this differently? I made some radical changes after many visits to the Chopra Center and programs. I was able to finally get to a place where I was clear. That guided me towards different medical decisions. I could go on and on, but that’s how I came to meditation. For me, it’s been one of the biggest gifts of my life.
Thank you for sharing that. I know that personally too that I had to make some major shifts after my diagnosis with cancer and realizing that a lot of these things can affect you physically. Sometimes even figuring out a way to surround yourself with more positive people and push, not cut out people but put them in the back row of your orchestra. That’s how I always see it, in front row, your backrow in the lobby and the street.
There’s something to that. When we start to honor ourselves differently and knowing what is good for us and what isn’t, it’s okay to make some changes. I upset a lot of people with a lot of the changes that I made because I realized that I was very prone to receiving that negativity or the doubt. I wanted everyone to be rooting for me. I didn’t want anyone to be questioning these choices that I was making because I was starting to understand that those were intuitive choices. Those were the best choices for me. Karen, I understand that you do have the people on your front row. This is probably your front row and what a beautiful front row it is. It’s okay because again everyone is on their journey. For me, because my health was fragile, it became a priority for me and I was unapologetic about it for the first time ever in my life. I’m sure many of you are people pleasers. I’m a recovering perfectionist. I wanted everything to be perfect and everyone to be happy. It doesn’t always work like that and it’s okay.
It’s amazing to hear how you were able to use your practice as a way to heal you spiritually and certainly physically, and it’s been great to hear about that. We alluded to earlier these myths of meditation, what it is and what it’s not. For those of our readers who don’t have a regular meditation practice, I’m wondering if you can dispel some of those common myths. It sounds already from this episode that you can do it anywhere, in bed or on a great comfy pillow, and that there’s no wrong way to do it. Anything else you can talk about in terms of this?
This is such a good and important question because especially now that more and more people are learning about meditation, that the stigma that it’s woo-woo or that it’s something that is religious in any way or something that a lot of people don’t understand. It’s good to right up front say, “This is what it is and this is what it isn’t.” For me, it was this idea that you can’t do it wrong. The only thing that I would say you would do wrong is by not doing it. You’re going to have thoughts in a practice. We have 60,000 to 80,000 thoughts per day. Think about that. We can’t expect that when we sit down to meditate with all those thoughts. We want those thoughts because those thoughts mean we’re alive. No thoughts, flatline, not good. That was the first thing. You’re going to have thoughts when you meditate and it’s okay.
The other thing is that people think, “If I meditate, I’ll be enlightened.” You’re already enlightened. We use the practice of meditation to remind ourselves again who we are and the essence of who we are. That’s another one. Comfort is important. When I first learned to meditate, I would never have been comfortable sitting in a Lotus position with my hands and move dreads and my spine up right. At the time, I was having difficulty walking. For me, sitting upright with a cozy pillow behind me in bed was the perfect way. Getting rid of all the things that become obstacles for meditation practices is not necessary. The meditation, it’s not when you’re sitting in the practice where the magic happens. It’s outside. If people realize that, “I’m not going to levitate. I’m not going to find all the answers that I’m looking for in the 20 or 30 minutes that I’m sitting in the morning,” then you’re going to probably be disappointed. It’s like, “How am I showing up in my life? How do I feel physically? How do I feel emotionally?” That’s where you find the benefit for it.
Can you meditate in motion? For me, I find taking a very long walk by myself, sometimes with music, sometimes not here in Chicago on the lakefront. I find that’s the time that I’m able to tap into some deep thinking.
What’s interesting about your comments about that is whenever we’re in a reflective place where we’re with ourselves, and for you, it’s walking on the lakefront, I totally get that. When I was a runner, I didn’t equate it to being a moving meditation but that’s where I worked out all sorts of stuff. I don’t think that we have to put this idea that it only looks a certain way. Anytime you get some benefit being with yourself, your thoughts, your feelings, whatever is happening and you stop from the thinking and the doing, then it’s wonderful. I know that someone is going to mention something about dance meditation. Movement is an absolute form of meditative mindful practice.
Everything that you’re saying about being present with your thoughts, I think that’s one of my strengths in life. I’m incredibly present, which makes me a horrible texter and a horrible emailer. If I’m your emergency contact, I’m probably not the best person. For three years, I’ve been studying spirituality. I studied the Gita for a year. I am in this place and everything that you’re saying resonates. I struggle with any sitting meditation. It’s funny, I did do Deepak Chopra’s. My sister had me do it where you get a group of people together and you listen to him every morning and then you write down, and you have different exercises. I did it then. When that ended, I have stopped this quiet practice but I dance all the time and I listen to music. I listen to music before I call a friend. I feel that in that space, I’m dancing anywhere in my house at any moment. Does that count? Do I get credit for that?
I don’t know. The meditation police would need to weigh in there. If you are connecting to yourself in your own unique way, I would check that as yes. What I would say though, I would encourage you to look at maybe sitting in the discomfort of the silence also that maybe there’s something there for you. There’s no right or wrong. I do believe that when we get still enough and silent enough, we move past the mind, the intellect and the ego into a space where we can connect to ourselves even deeper. Perhaps you’re able to achieve that through your form of your dance and your practices. Who am I to say whether or not that’s right or not? If you’re feeling connected to you, good for you. There’s too much spiritual elitism out there at times that I don’t buy into. That’s counterproductive. We want people to be able to find the space for themselves to connect. If we put parameters or we judge it or have expectations, that doesn’t help in any way. I would challenge you to see what it would be like because I’d be curious for you, but if that seems to be helping you, awesome.
I was also going to add when I take a shower, I feel like my spirit guides are in the shower with me and come to me because that is where I talk about creative juice. I’m still moving a little bit but I’ll sit on the bench, have a steam shower and I absorb the heat. I do feel like that’s when I fly.
Water resets energy too. Anytime we’re in the water, it’s going to reset your energy. It would make sense that you might experience that in the shower.
That’s probably why I like swimming so much. I didn’t know that. I love to go swimming.
Anytime there’s a lot of energy or you’re feeling like you need to move some energy, the best way to do it, it’s such an easy thing to do, is get into water. Some people will take a bath. Some people will shower. Some people will get in the pool or the ocean, it is also incredible. That’s super helpful.Suffering is not required when we are looking at things that are difficult. Click To Tweet
I always say I do my best thinking in the shower. I want it to get back to your work at the Chopra Center and talk about the seven spiritual laws for success. Can you talk about that a little bit how we incorporate them into our lives? Do you think about them as a whole or spend a day on each one? How does that work?
I love the seven spiritual laws. They have always been part of my daily practice since I started meditating. This is Deepak’s book that is one of his best and it’s based on profound principles that are quite easy to incorporate daily. There is a law for each day. Saturday is the Law of Dharma. Dharma is a Sanskrit word for purpose. What I do is I have my meditation practice and then I bring in the law of the day. I think about how I’m going to apply it for that day. Saturday being in the Law of Dharma, I’m thinking, “How can I share my unique gifts with the goddesses? How can I share that with my family later on? How can I stay connected to who I am?”
What I do, and this is what I think would be wonderful for anyone reading, is to take the law of that day, and then you see how you can apply it. There are seven laws. The ones that have been the most impactful for me are the Law of Intention and Desire, which is on Thursday. For me, I got clear on what my intentions are on a daily basis but particularly on Thursdays. I think about, “What is it that I want? How can I put energy or attention there?” This is followed by Friday, which has been probably the most challenging law for me personally. It is the Law of Detachment.
You still hold the things you want to happen but you don’t have that grit, that rigid hold on it. Detachment frees up all sorts of things. I’m an empty nester and when both my kids were no longer at home, although I am very fortunate that I have a career I love and I’m in a loving relationship, it was a big adjustment and that letting go was hard for me. That in place helps me every Friday to let go of even the week or to let go of thoughts or to see how I cannot be attached to anything and to embrace uncertainty. Those two laws are great. I can share more about them. The book is very easy. The chapters are short and then at the end of each section are three ways to apply the law. I like it at the end of my practice in the mornings because I want to stay connected to them. I do believe that they ultimately remind you of what you want and how to bring them into your life.
That was one of our sessions. There were many, we talked about the seven laws.
They are very powerful and I like them because you don’t have to work so hard at them. Once you get connected to them, you have them in your awareness to check-in and go, “Maybe I’m holding on too tight here and I need to let go a little bit or maybe I’m not expressing my unique gifts the way I need to on Saturdays.” I love them and I typically incorporate them into client work because I personally have benefited so much from them.
I’m an empty nester too. Deepak followed up his book with The Seven Spiritual Laws for Parents: Guiding Your Children to Success and Fulfillment. Some of these were so great that even for those of us who have read his book about the laws for success, these are great like telling your kids, “Everything is possible. If you want to get something, give something. Go with the flow.” These are things that we like to think we’ve been telling our kids all along.
I created a curriculum for a mindful parenting course and I taught young moms. I had a couple of dads, mostly moms. We incorporated the seven spiritual laws into part of family practice because if you can imagine learning these things early on in your life, it becomes ingrained and becomes embodied, and then you don’t have to work so hard at it as we get older.
It does seem like we’re now starting to try to incorporate mindfulness into parts of our curriculum for kids. It’s a mindful classroom movement and with other things. It’s finally starting to work its way down.
I have to ask about Tuesday’s Law of Karma. Does it go in that order, Sunday, Monday, Tuesday for each one? To tell our readers, Sundays would be Law of Pure Potentiality. Monday, the Law of Giving, Tuesday, the Law of Karma or Cause and Effect. Wednesday, the Law of Least Effort. Thursday, the Law of Intention and Desire. Friday, the Law of Detachment and Saturday, the Law of Dharma or Purpose in Life. Tuesday’s Law of Karma I struggle with, because I feel like there’s so much going on in the world, and all this negativity. I know we didn’t discuss this before, but karma is a hard one.
There are a lot of ideas around the word karma. We’ve all heard the expression, “Karma’s a bitch or what goes around, comes around.” I think of karma differently than that. The translation of karma is action. I think about, “What are the choices that I’m making, especially on Tuesdays, that I am aware of? What are the consequences of the choice that I’m making? Is this going to bring myself and others happiness or is this not going to do it?” Taking responsibility that I get to choose, the choices are mine. I look at it that way differently. Also, part of that law that day is about acceptance, accepting that what is. If you think of karma a little bit differently, maybe you might shift in how you’re feeling that.
More of a silver lining for something of why something has happened.
I wanted to add that my husband always says that he’s filling his karma jar whenever he does something. Karma is always a positive thing in our house. We’re doing good things to help fill that karma up.
I love the karma jar. By the way, I have a gratitude jar that Michelle gave me. I got some money in there too.Always go back to gratitude as that has a way to shift things. Click To Tweet
I’m going to start by saying, in relation to what you’re saying about karma, one of my favorite quotes is “Choice, not chance, determines one’s destiny.” That is hand-in-hand with what you’re saying in that you have to see that karma isn’t this magical thing that’s necessarily going to come into your life, that your choices can lead you in that direction, which is very inspiring. I love the karma jar idea. I was going to ask you your opinion on all the apps that are floating around. What are your thoughts about people being introduced to meditating with Calm and Headspace? How do you feel about those?
I’ll be honest. I recommend them to people that are wanting some access to a practice. I don’t personally use them. I also think that any way that we can introduce it to a younger person that’s more tech-savvy and wants that or somebody who is looking for a little bit more guidance, it’s great. I don’t have any prejudice against it. I teach a different method and that’s okay. The more people have tools available to them and if it is in an app, I tend to prefer Insight Timer. That’s an app. It’s a place where you have a variety of teachers. You have people that are available to guide you through. You can curate your experience. It also is a little bit of a cheerleader for you. It has the capability to let you know how many consecutive days you’ve been meditating. At times, you can know who you’re meditating with, the number of people over the world, if you’re into that. Insight Timer has done very well. If I was to recommend or suggest an app, that would be the one that I would lean towards.
I remember looking at that one and it seems to be a little more personalized. It seems like your approach would be the ideal way to go because it seems more of a coaching experience and getting the feedback from someone like you would be ideal. I remember that it’s more of an interactive app as a starting point. That’s interesting. Does your center have an app?
No, but the Chopra Center does. They came out with an app and I’m not too knowledgeable about it because it’s not something that I personally use but I would think that anything that the Chopra Center’s doing would be of great value with all the resources available. There are many good resources out there. Even on YouTube, you could find some great guided meditations. I am in favor of as much exposure as possible so that more people can experience it.
We had a guest on the show, Tiffany Seybert, here in Chicago that did Kundalini breathwork with people in corrosive work environments especially police officers. I feel like that is a great first step, at least for people to learn how to breathe and how important it is to activate the brain into a calm state. Along the lines of what Lara asked, how can we develop these programs? What do you think we can do as a society for our mental health programs?
More and more people are looking at ways to help people manage with the increase of mental illness and addiction and all that. We are now faced with COVID and such a different way of living and so much more fear present for many people. I wish I had a great answer to this question. What I always teach is it starts at home. If you can start in your own families and you’re on communities, and see what you can do there because oftentimes there’s something about that. I know for me, my kids were exposed to meditation. Do they do it every day? No, but they know that they have something that they can do, and they’ve talked to their friends about it. I would take a more grassroots approach because there are many more brilliant people in the world that would figure out how to create these programs. I know that it starts with us and it starts at home. That’s a very viable place to start.
To give us an example, we did talk about some of the things that you do. You told me about simple breath, body scan, soul questions. You did talk about law of the day. Could you pick one of those? What is your intuition? Tell us about this group of goddesses that maybe we could try as a little sampling.
We can take a moment to connect to gratitude, and then I could introduce some intentions for you that is an example of how a two-minute practice could connect you in a deeper way without having to do too much work. If that sounds okay, then I guide you in that.
It’s such a treat. We’re so excited.
Wherever you are, make an adjustment so that you can be comfortable. When you are comfortable, then I’d love for you to gently close your eyes. Start to connect to your breath. Noticing every inhale and every exhale, and when the mind wanders away because I’m sure it already has, bring your attention back to following your breath. What I want you to do is connect to your heart space. I want you to invite in something that you feel very grateful for. What are the blessings in your life in this moment that you feel gratitude towards?
Start to notice how the body feels by inviting this in. I’d like to introduce some intentions. As I say them, you’ll repeat them silently. These intentions are for in an enlightened mind, body and heart. Setting the intention for a joyful and energetic body. Setting the intention for a loving and compassionate heart, and the intention of a reflective, alert and creative mind. The intention of a lightness of being. You can notice what’s coming up in the form of thoughts or sensations or feelings in your body, the sense of kindness and curiosity. Take another nice deep breath in through your nose, and then exhale out through your mouth. When it feels comfortable, let your eyes back open. Thank you.
Would anyone like to share?
I have this intense feeling that I have glasses on my face, and I’ve had this feeling periodically like when I get in a relaxed state. I had this vision that it’s my lens to the world, and that I need to open up my lens and open up my eyes. It is such a strong physical sensation that I have glasses on that I almost want to touch my face. I don’t wear glasses unless I need reading glasses. Do you have any thoughts or insights about that yourself?
I would trust that. Whatever showing up figuratively or literally that you’d be guided by that. There is something when we connect to gratitude that we see the world a little bit differently. That’s why people ask, “With so much going on in the world, is there something that you could offer to people?” I say, “Go back to gratitude because it shifts things for us every single time.” Perhaps maybe you’re seeing the world with a new lens because you’ve connected to something that you feel grateful for. I wouldn’t be surprised by that.Self-care is non-negotiable. Click To Tweet
This makes my heart feels so full to think about gratitude and to go through that and to feel so strong. It’s a lovely pause and reminder of what I’ve got and who I am.
For me, I felt weights maybe because I’ve been lifting weights. You know when you do the exercise where you put the weights on your shoulders and you squat? Throughout that, I felt like the weights were sitting there, but I need to let them fall. That’s what I realized, I can lift it but I have to let it go.
Maybe and also, oftentimes, we feel like we carry the weight of the world on our shoulders here. If that’s something that maybe you’re feeling in your life to gently let that go a little bit.
Anyone else have any other questions or comments?
I want to say that I felt a tremendous amount of emotion because I had started to practice some meditation prior to the whole world going mad in March before the whole pandemic. You would think at the time when everything started and my family was all of a sudden back at home, I would still take that time to meditate and continue that practice. I was journaling and trying to find that time for myself, and I have put it on hold. I had that feeling of this moment is so important as a reminder of how much calm it was bringing to my life and peace. I’m grateful for being here to kick start me back into that mode. Especially in this time of anxiety and having to balance that on a daily basis when my kids are coming down with colds, and I’m having the distance between two of my kids being away at university, and having had them in the house with me for so long. This is a reminder that I’m going back to the meditation. Thank you. That was beautiful.
Self-care is non-negotiable. We have to be looking after ourselves. I know that we’ve had such interruptions to the patterns in the way we normally live, but that’s even more the reason to be looking after ourselves. Meditation or mindful practices or doing some of things that feel nurturing and grounding for us are important.
Wendi, if our readers would like to get ahold of you, how can they reach you?
I have always been very private in my work, so I don’t have a website. It’s under construction. I have a lot of resistance to that. I don’t know, it’s probably part of my work. I can be reached via email. I’m happy for you to share my email and also I’m on LinkedIn.
Can you share your email with us?
Thank you so much for joining us on Grateful Goddesses and helping us to feel grounded, to just be and to feel in our bodies. Michelle, thank you for connecting us all to Wendi and her amazing skills and her authenticity.
Thank you. It’s a pleasure to be with you all and be well.
Welcome to Favorite Things portion of the show. It’s our adult show and tell. We’re going to start with Michelle.
I didn’t know we were doing Favorite Things but I’m in my office. I looked beside me and something that I have up to see every day. Wendi, you’ll recognize it. It’s a card from Wendi that I got and it spoke to me. This is what it says, “There came a time when the risk to remain tight in the bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom. Never doubt that you have the strength and courage to grow into who you are.” I lived a long time in fear and I don’t anymore and I am blossoming. I feel like you completely captured my feelings and my experience. It is definitely one of my favorite things.
That’s a beautiful testimonial to Wendi and her help for you. Thank you for sharing that.
This is my new Gua Sha. It’s a Rose quartz heart-shaped stone and it’s used to firm up skin. It feels beautiful and I’m using it on my face on a daily basis. I keep it in the fridge. When it’s cold, it feels amazing and it’s a massage feeling on the face. It also has meaning, which I didn’t realize when I looked it up. The Rose quartz stone in Chinese ancient medicine represents love, self-reflection and acceptance. It has a spiritual meaning to it as well as being very therapeutic for the skin. My daughter ordered it for me and introduced it to me. For me, that’s special because she’s an adult now and she’s sharing her tips with me on life and things that make her happy.
What does Gua Sha mean?
I don’t know. Maybe Wendi knows that. Do you know what it means?
I don’t know what it means but I know that any self-care that involves touching the skin is super nourishing. Gua Sha is more of a technique than what it is. I’m not 100% sure though.
Along those lines, I brought along a favorite thing. It’s Elizabeth Arden Eight Hour Cream. This cream is so old. The reason why I love it is because my grandmother who passed away when I was eighteen, she smelled so good and her skin was soft. She would put it on morning and night. I came across it. It was one of those coincidences when I was on Amazon or maybe it was Instagram. It popped up. It was a reminder of her and what she used to use. I couldn’t believe it was still in production and I ordered it. It does have a very distinct smell. I can’t describe that but it’s her, and I love to use it. It’s for burns and for soft skin. That’s one of my favorite things, which I guess is a self-care. It has spiritual meaning to me as well. Maybe she was sending me a message that day, I don’t know. I do believe in that too though.
I saw on the news that we are all walking around with dirty masks. Nobody knows how much bacteria lives on these during the day. The whole idea of it grossed me out. I went out and bought a whole lot of new masks and these are from Athleta and I bought a five-pack of them. They’re super soft and had this nice soft cotton on the inside. It’s not abrasive on your face. Now my new plan is to go through 2 or 3 a day before they can get gross sitting in your purse with one million other things or in your car in the center console area. I’ll keep buying more so that I can keep washing them frequently and keeping my skin as bacteria-free as we can.
They must take away from the acne because I have the maskne going on.
You were talking about that that we’re certainly feeling too old to be getting acne on our faces but Mask Me seems to be sweeping the world. Athleta masks, five in a pack. They’re $30 and so far, they’re soft.
I’m super into Rose Gold. I would call this self-care and it’s not a vibrator. It looks like one but it’s not. It’s this torch flame. It’s great, you can turn it upside down. It’s great for lighting candles. I smudged my house. I use this to burn the sage and you can use it for whatever else you want to set on fire.
Originally, I was going to go with the object behind me, which is this beautiful deity that I was gifted from some guests. What I’m going to share is one of my favorite things is connecting to women and to having conversations that are meaningful, and create dialogue that get us thinking or shifting. This is one of my favorite things to do. It’s to be with women that are thoughtful, caring, curious, kind and heart-centered. That’s what my favorite thing would be.
Thank you for sharing that. It’s our hope that this show will create awareness and inspiration to people to get inside and to be still, and to take on whatever it is, even to challenge themselves like you expressed, Rachel, earlier about trying out new things and exploring. Especially during these times to definitely go within and see how you could help the community outwards as well. Thank you so much, Wendi, for joining us.
- Wendi Cohen
- Chopra Center for Wellbeing
- The Seven Spiritual Laws for Parents: Guiding Your Children to Success and Fulfillment
- Insight Timer
- Tiffany Seybert – past episode
- Elizabeth Arden Eight Hour Cream
- Mask Me
- Rose Gold
- LinkedIn – Wendi Cohen
About Wendi Cohen
Wendi Cohen brings over a decade of experience to the field of meditation, mindfulness, and wellness. She has been a dynamic and instrumental force helping people from all over the world as a teacher and integrative lifestyle practitioner. Wendi is highly regarded for her years at the Chopra Center for Wellbeing, where she managed and facilitated their signature program, Perfect Health. Working with Dr. Deepak Chopra and being involved with cutting edge research in meditation and Ayurveda there, Wendi has been up close and personal with the brightest minds in the wellness industry.
What makes her special in this field is that she found meditation and mindfulness on her own path to healing after being diagnosed with a rare and chronic illness in 2003. Her insatiable curiosity and ability to think outside of the box led her to exploring integrative approaches. It was at this time she had profound shifts in her health and in the process fell in love with meditation. As a result of her journey, Wendi has a deep capacity to understand the many challenges people face when looking at healing and transformation. Her passion for meditation, transformational work with clients, and event management has led her to a rewarding and meaningful career in the wellness industry.
Wendi facilitates women’s groups, The Wish experience, and her joy of teaching is contagious. Her latest project is co-producing the podcast, Impact the World with Lee Harris, and this Fall she will begin writing her book. Being of service is when Wendi is the happiest, whether it is teaching, mentoring, being philanthropic, and especially as a mom. She is forever chasing sunsets in Laguna Beach, her happy place, with her husband.
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