An Interview With Meris: A Yoga & Meditation Expert!
Hey green beauty and wellness devotees! Today on the blog founder of Echo, Jami, interviews yoga and meditation expert Meris Gebhardt, founder of Opulent Mindfulness.
Meris draws on a wealth of wise teachings from nearly 20 years of yoga, meditation and integration of ayurvedic principles + essential oils. Starting with power vinyasa, Meris found home in this high intensity, ultra focused athletic style of yoga. This level of intensity met her where she was emotionally and physically, requiring this deep connection to bring inner peace and calm. Today Meris enjoys holding space for her students and clients to meet themselves "where they are" to begin healing and growth - moving from surviving to thriving. Shining brightly in mind and spirit is what drives Meris everyday.
You recently moved to New York from Portland? Why did you decide to move?
I decided to move for 3 reasons. I knew if I was going to pursue my work in meditation the following conditions would need to be met: cut my living expense in half; go where the meditation market is more mature and surround myself with countless learning and studying opportunities.
What are some of your favorite things about New York or things to do in New York?
I LOVE going the Central Park to immerse in nature. Everyday I have a "that's why I moved to NYC!" moment. Whether it's meeting someone in my field, being asked to guide a special pilot meditation on Top of the Rock or engaging with a friend about the incredible mission-driven work they're doing....everyday is a new exploration in one of the worlds' most dynamic cities.
I remember taking your yoga classes at Yoga Pearl and then you opened your own yoga studio. Tell us a little about your background?
I was thrust onto the yoga scene by a great friend and colleague some 18 years ago while living in Boston. I attended a hot and sweaty power vinyasa class and I was SOLD! It was physically intense, emotionally satisfying and "met me" where I was. A practice this physically demanding demands that we get out of our heads and into our bodies....the worldly vehicle for spiritual transformation.
What type of meditation do you practice?
I practice and teach a rare form of meditation drawing on teachings that uniquely speak to my truth, combining: yoga, vedic, ayurvedic, Vedantic, MBSR and countless hours on the therapist's couch. I grew up Catholic, so sitting in quiet reflection and prayer is a natural practice for me. This is not to say that it's always easy.
What does your meditation practice look like?
I practice daily. I start by swinging my legs to the edge of the bed BEFORE putting my feet on the ground, BEFORE checking my phone, etc. Sitting if only for a few minutes ensures that I "own" the day, my mood and attitude. I also practice when I'm guiding, as what I speak is purely channeling. But we must not forget the moving forms of meditation and mindfulness: walking, yoga, cycling, hiking, dancing, cooking, in conversation deeply listening. These are all forms of meditation in that we are present, not worried about past or future and are in "the zone" without worry, fear or seeking any external form of satisfaction and contentment. This is optimal connection and engagement.
What do you recommend for someone who has never meditated?
I recommend it to any and all humans beings. This is a staple in our existence as a way to turn inward, connect and ensure we are moving in the right direction, with purpose, intent and love. In this state, we tune into the inner voice of wisdom that always guides us toward our true nature.
Do Oregonians or New Yorkers need more meditation?
Ha! Great question. Well, you live in Oregon, I live in New York City. Of course, I'd say both. I think in general, New Yorkers have been far more receptive to this form of mind healing and performance. But Oregon suits a culture of nature and practice. Sooooo, in a word, if you have a pulse, you need it! And I think, as a collective New Yorkers have an on average higher pulse rate than anywhere else in the world.
What is your beauty and wellness tip?
Sleep, meditate, eat bright and vibrant food, and get a facial! Stress gets stored in our cells and we need to set it free. Dancing, moving, meditating, flushing our system of toxins on an ongoing basis is the secret of wellness. And how better to show off your inner radiance than through radiant and glowing skin!
What are your favorite products or services at ECHO?
I love everything at ECHO! From the moment I walk in the door, I'm greeted with open arms and radiant, loving smiles. Every product on the shelf is thoughtfully sourced and a personal relationship has been forged with all the creators and manufacturers. This expertise immediately puts me at ease and trusting my esthetician. Custom facials and massage are my personal faves! And every treatment is delivered with confidence and personal touch.
You created a meditation just for ECHO? Tell us about it?
I did create a special meditation for ECHO. I wanted to create something that combines what you do with this special heart-centered month of February. It's a heart-opening and radiance cultivating practice to help listeners to feel amazing in one's own skin and to lead with a warm and loving heart.
How can we listen to your meditations?
Tell us about your diet? When I was at your house I only saw fruits and vegetables? How do you do it?
You're so observant! Yes, I believe in eating vibrant foods that transmute into vitality in my mind and body. There are 4 principles to my eating habits. I. Eat as much food with the following properties as possible: color, water, fiber. II. I prepare all of my meals at home. III. Limit the following: alcohol, sugar, meat and caffeine intake. IV. Focus on eating mostly whole, natural and unprocessed/packaged food. Oh and do a full day fast every once in awhile. Eating NOTHING for an entire waking day but warm water with lemon and honey.
You are in great shape. What do you do for exercise?
I do lots of things but the secret is to do what you love, what inspires you and do something every day! Even when you don't feel like it, when you're sick and down. Movement is sweet medicine.
Huge thanks to Meris for sharing her knowledge and tips on living a mindful and healthy lifestyle!