The word 'mindfulness' might be a little overused these days—it's been used to encompass a dizzying range of meanings, and seems rather commercialised and diluted. In the 19th century, the word was loosely linked to the Buddhist concept of sati, and you might be surprised to learn that the traditional definition in Buddhist literature varies from what we now take to constitute mindfulness*.
When we heard about mindfulness from Danica during a chance encounter at the float club, something about her made us sit up and take notice. She'd come to get a float package for her sister’s birthday and to “check out the vibes”. We were intrigued by her ultra-calm vibes, and there was a knowledgeable quality about her as she shared about Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR).
One thing led to another, and she now facilitates MBSR courses and meditation classes at our studio, Altered States. A few of our float guides have completed the course and we reckon it's helped us to gain a better grasp of what it means to practice 'mindfulness'.
Danica’s journey with mindfulness started out through research in the field of exercise and sports studies, which later led to her own meditation practice, and a greater interest in counselling psychology, and the neuroscience of mindfulness and yoga.
Today, she is a registered mindfulness teacher, yoga therapeutics specialist and holistic health coach. “I always have difficulty sharing with people about what I do with fewer words,” she admits. Most days, she channels her energy into helping people find mind-body balance; facilitating the 8-week MBSR programme, Mindful Schools curriculum for youth, athlete performance programs, as well as yoga therapy.
Read on as Danica shares a peek into her life and wellness practice.
A book I'd recommend is...
The Body Keeps the Score: Brain, Mind, and Body in the Healing of Trauma, by Bessel van der Kolk
As a person who understands the importance of wellness, Danica keeps up a consistent routine—“I meditate every morning, practice yoga five times a week, and other forms of exercise at least once a week (cycling, trekking/hiking, running, frisbee). Some days when I feel that my body needs rest, I offer the break to myself.”
Some of us might be envious at how she maintains this level of discipline. However, Danica shares that in her line of work, she gives so much that it can be easy to put herself second. “I have to skip meals sometimes, or I only get to eat during non-regular meal times. At the same time, I realised the importance of giving myself me-time to recharge my mind, body and soul more often.”
Noticing that she felt a little out of balance recently, Danica embarked on a solo silent retreat for a full day. This gave her the clarity to realise that she was perhaps taking on too much, and lacked a well-balanced diet.
How does Danica integrate this concept into her floats?
“I usually start off with a mindful shower. Once I step into the pod, I close my eyes to tune into myself. I pay attention to the sensations of my body and notice if there's any tension lingering in the body, then I work with my breath to let them go. If I notice that my mind is racing, I attend to it and then invite my attention back to my breath or body.”
Mindfulness can seem intimidating to some, but Danica shows us that it’s actually the antithesis of effort, and there is beauty in doing nothing.
“Accepting that I don't know everything is my way of welcoming creativity, new ideas and inspiration.”
Danica's most memorable experiences in a flow state—“during my competitive days in sports, and now in my meditation and yoga practice.”