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Ep. 33 - A Gentle & Timely Introduction to Mindfulness - An Interview With Melissa Plosker

by Hearts Rise Up
September 28th 2020
In this interview, Carol learns how, at a low point in her life, Melissa accidentally discovered mindfulness. She describes how, over a decade ago, with a divorce looming and thousands of miles from h... More
whatever. Thank you for tuning your heart's in for another episode of the Hearts Rise up podcast. I'm carol chapman, your host along with my co host and Siri and Concetta antonelli. We share our own personal experiences, tips and strategies along with powerful stories and compelling insights from guest interviews. We're here to inspire and empower your conscious evolution, help you tap into your inner wisdom and rise to your heart centered higher self. Together we can rise to a higher level of consciousness, an elevated state of being and experience more love, joy and freedom. Mhm Yeah, well hello and welcome all of you.

Heart centered listeners. It's so great to be back here for yet another fantastic episode of the Hearts Rise Up podcast Today I have a very special guest on our show Melissa plaster. Let me share a bit about melissa. Over a decade ago with a divorce looming and thousands of miles from home, Melissa attempted to bend herself into a pretzel in her first yoga class, I think I can remember doing the same thing too. She was sore for a week but she was hooked and it was just what she needed to guide her through a difficult time in her life. And that experience launched her into what she would later understand to be mindfulness, helping her to become more aware of her body, her thoughts and emotions. It also ignited a passion to be totally present for others through her entrepreneurial pursuits as a logo website and user experience designer Melissa has built her business and her reputation on bringing simplicity clarity and meaning to each project, all values that emerged from her gentle introduction to mindfulness today she is the co founder of Nobody life with her husband, J.

A. And strives to raise her daughter and live each moment with the same level of awareness. She first started practicing over a decade ago. Melissa, first of all, welcome to the show, Oh thank you so much for having me, I'm delighted to be here. I am so excited to have you here. This is a show where we really like to showcase people who have gone through changes in their life and have transformed things for the better and things that can help shape and help others move forward in their lives as well, things that they can learn from. I would love for you to circle back to a decade ago and just share with us what was life like before mindfulness Sure, well before mindfulness I was overwhelmed, I was going through what would soon be a divorce so it was a separation. I had just started a business that any entrepreneur knows comes with some stress.

It was, it was a very crushing time. I would almost describe it. I was living in boston massachusetts. My family was over 2500 miles away in Arizona and I was regularly attending a gym at that time because that was the way that I was helping myself initially cope with some of the stress I was doing cardio. My friends loved it. I would say that I would go to the gym and watch the food network on the elliptical, so then I could go home and cook after I worked out. But one day I was looking at the class schedule because I was working from home and I thought you know what, maybe a class would be a nice way to meet some people which I wasn't really doing and I saw a yoga class and I immediately had a million reasons to not do it. I was very nervous. I knew nothing of yoga. I didn't know if they were going to make me chance. I wasn't very flexible, I didn't have a fancy matt and and normally that would have been enough for me to decide to try the zumba class instead, but I didn't and that day for that class, I chose to not get in my own way and that's when things started to change for me.

So how did things actually start to change thereafter? I mean, what was it about that that beginning yoga class that triggered you to getting on a path of mindfulness and it would be great to share how things shifted for you over time. Sure. Well, first of all, in that very first class and I remember it and this was over 10, 11 years ago, I remember that class. First of all, I was the only one wearing socks, I just didn't feel comfortable taking my socks off. Um Yes and this is a gym. Mind you this is not a yoga studio, this was a gym in the basement of a building in boston. I lived in in in the back bay area so there wasn't a lot of room. Um so this was in the far back corner of the gym. There were a lot of people though, so I wouldn't take off my socks, it hurt to do everything. And I remember that the instructor had asked us in the beginning to tune into our body, how are we feeling before the class um where were we saw what was going on inside.

This was very interesting to me and of course at that time I remember very vividly feeling nervous, I was self conscious, I was even a little afraid to do my first yoga class after the class she asked the same series of questions and I was surprised to find myself feeling confident I was sore, especially my wrists holy moly. But I was really excited that I just tried something new and I remember thinking wow this class just changed me like in a way I could actually measure. I mean that was profound for me. I took a one hour class and at the end I felt different measurably than I did in the beginning and it wasn't long before I started, you know the practice of checking in just like the teacher encouraged, I'd start to do that outside of class. The practice came home with me at first with a focus on my physical body because that's obviously in yoga. It was, it was for me at first the physical thing I wanted to feel better physically, maybe even look a little better.

I started to notice how I felt before and after I ate and guess what, that led to changes in my diet and at that time I had become separated so I was on my own and I was able to make these little changes that may have been more difficult before that when you're one person, it's it's a it can be a lot easier to cater to exactly what she needed and I had the freedom to do that. I started to notice how I felt physically throughout the day. And then when I was ready, the check in started to go deeper. I noticed that my jaw would be really sore. I was clenching my teeth because I was thinking about what had happened. I was thinking about what my future would look like. I was worried about what people would think, these are all things that we're going through my mind constantly in this time, I noticed my shoulders were sore because I developed a hunch and I think, you know, it was a mirror of my self confidence at that time. I was feeling so down I noticed my muscles would take in the morning because my dreams were so emotional that I found myself completely tense most of the night at first I just thought it was the bed.

Oh, I need a new bed, I need a new pillow. But because of that yoga practice, because of that awareness, I started to realize my goodness, my physical body was processing my emotions and it just didn't even occur to me before that that that even is a thing. I used to think like, oh you get sore because you pull a muscle, you get sore because you're sleeping in a funny way. Never did I really make the connection that wait a minute I'm sore because I'm feeling sad, I'm sore because I am feeling rejected. I'm sore because I'm feeling helpless. And that's when I really became two became to really realize that I was practicing mindfulness and I would dedicate myself at that time because I didn't want to feel bad physically and emotionally because I was still feeling both. So I decided, you know, let's let's try to focus on being present so that I can work through this stuff a little bit better so that I don't look the way that I feel on the inside.

Hmm I mean it sounds like it wasn't it wasn't a radical change, but it was definitely very noticeable that first class for you. And and from that point forward, you know, how long of a process was it for you to really immerse yourself into the practice of mindfulness? Well I think it just happened little by little over time. So I did that yoga class for about nine months before I decided to move closer to my family. And this was a major growth point for me but not in the way you might think in boston. I had a routine, I had a tribe, I had a business even though I was coming back to an incredibly supportive family moving from boston broke me actually yet again from what was comforting what was familiar, what was safe. But that's what I needed. That's what I needed to keep up with this mindfulness practice that I was doing so little by little I you know I scaled down my business so I could do it after hours and on the weekend and I got a position with an agency so I could integrate myself socially.

It's time slowly started to make the tougher moments fewer and further between. So I mean it was it was a good year or more before I started to feel just better. And then you know the distractions. I had a newly redesigned life so it was helpful to have these distractions. It was helpful to be around my family again and then you fast forward fast forward several years and my husband J. A. He talks about it teaching he once received and I am totally paraphrasing that this I'm taking a little bit of creative license but basically you know an emotion or a big event like this is like an ice pop and it's like when I give my daughter who's for a nice pop, she'll walk around with it, she'll eat what she can. But eventually it ends up in a puddle somewhere on the floor of the house. So if you take something like that and you hold it and you sit with it and you acknowledge it, it eventually melts. And then all you're left with is a stick.

Now it can take a long time for that to happen and it's not the same for everybody. So sometimes it doesn't work that way, but for me I kept sitting with this thing, I kept sitting with the emotions I kept in every moment that I could analyzing how it was affecting me physically noticing things and I think eventually, all I was left with is a stick and now even today, even a decade later, this stuff I don't think ever truly goes completely away. But now it's like okay, you know, you see it, you invited in for coffee, you sit with it for a few minutes and then it passes. So it takes a long time. It does and it's really interesting how I have come across people who said they have tried mindfulness and they just couldn't get into it. They just, it didn't click for them. What what is it do you think might have been keeping them from being able to allow themselves to be more mindful or to get into the practice, do you have a sense for that?

I think mindfulness, the word is intimidating. I didn't know what I was practicing when I was practicing mindfulness. I I didn't know until I met J. A. To be honest, all I knew was that I was being aware of myself and what was happening in this moment. I wasn't meditating at this time and I think meditation and mindfulness go hand in hand for a lot of people and they think that they need to be doing this seated meditation and that is part of the definition of mindfulness and that is all very great, powerful stuff. But you don't have to start there. It was, it was really just a matter of, oh wow, I feel icky. I feel like the weight of the world is on my shoulders. I don't like to feel this way and how can I break this apart to make myself feel a little bit better. And and the answer for me was not making myself feel better, but simply doing that, breaking apart of things to acknowledge what it was that was making me feel so bad.

It was the expectations that, you know things life didn't go the way that I thought it was going to go, it was the action of like, oh what am I going to do next? I have to do something, I have to do something. These were actually the things that were making me feel bad because in the moments when I was just sitting with it, not doing anything but just reflecting letting things pass. That was the thing that actually made me feel better, which almost goes against what we're taught in society. You got to pick yourself back up by the bootstraps and I'm not saying that's bad by the way at all. It was just for me, what I needed at that time was to sit and I think a lot of people get overwhelmed with the idea of mindfulness because it's become associated with so many things that aren't the easiest thing to do, but it really starts with just yourself that it doesn't have to be hard. It doesn't even have to be called mindfulness. Just you are, you are here, this is your life, How are you feeling right now?

There you go. That you ate, you ate a donut. How do you feel, how did you feel when you before you ate it? How are you feeling when you're eating it? How did you feel after you ate it? Maybe the donut is a good thing for you. Maybe the donuts not a great thing for you if you're one of those people where it's good for you then like oh my goodness, I'm jealous, but it's just about little things like that. It does, it takes practice and it takes awareness. It takes focused attention and takes catching yourself in the moment and it's like oh where was I? You know, why am I feeling this way? And and it all will point back to something that you're feeling in your body or some sort of emotion that you need to lean into and that's often what the practice of mindfulness can do is to just be present and lean into it. I do wanna towards the end here, just ask what advice you have for others who really want to start a mindfulness practice, you know where they can find some some tips and tricks and whatnot because I'm sure that you have plenty of information on your site, your website and also other things that you have you know offered up or experienced yourself, you know advice for others, but I would love to know, I know that you have this passion for mindfulness now and it's kind of you kind of ignited it and brought it into all aspects of your life, how have you ignited it through your entrepreneurial pursuits and also how has it been helpful in designing user experiences?

Sure, well that's a great question as a designer, there tends to be and I just noticed this in myself, I'm not speaking for all designers, but when I started out there was a lot of ego in it, I would design something, you get some feedback and that can be difficult to deal with and what I did found out through my mindfulness exercises was a you know, this is work that I'm a conduit. I'm a conduit for people's passion for people's ideas. I realized that being present so incredibly present when I'm talking to my clients, when I'm sitting with their work, that things start to flow instead of pushing and wanting to create the design that's going to impress and wanting to, you know, get more business and impress these people I'm talking to by being totally present with them and while I'm doing my work leads me to create the best assets for them, you know, I always, I always, when I sit down to work, I even I'll even say in my head, bring me the bring me the design that will best serve my client here and when I show it to them, it's completely free of expectation.

So whatever they think, if it resonates with them, that's wonderful. We always get there at some point. Sometimes an initial design will will trigger something in them that something they forgot to tell me about or make them realize something that they stand for with their business that wasn't totally clear to them before. So it's almost it's mindfulness, but it's so much more than that because it's it's almost what mindfulness has done for me is allow me to hold space and it's created a space in me so that things can flow out that are more authentic and that are more on point because I give it, I don't push, I don't push it, I still work pretty fast, but it comes naturally, it's not something that I push when I work with clients, Sometimes I have a draft for them in 12 hours, sometimes I have a draft in a week, but it's, it's about the process, right? And and really what you do is you take the time to tune in and really, yes, listen and not only listen to what the client is saying and what the client wants or needs, but also just tune into the the wholeness of the situation so that you can end and connect with, not to put words in your mouth, but a sort of a higher, higher mind or higher presence that leads you in the right direction of what is best for a client and again, not being attached to outcomes or expectations, but allowing it to organically just unfold what you have learned and applied in your life is just naturally flowed into your entrepreneurial pursuits and the work that you do, that's right.

It's hard to turn it off to be honest, once you, once you get in a groove and again, this was not something that I set out to do intentionally at any time. This was me coming from a place of extreme hurt, like crushing hurt anybody who's been through anything like that. It is, it is profound and it is something that just felt right to me over time to live this way and I live this way with my daughter too. I have made very you know very different decisions in some areas because I I tune into what's going on inside of me especially the empathy piece and the patient's piece so that I can I can do the best thing for her. I do this in my relationships as well and again this isn't I'm not doing anything fantastical or magical. I'm I'm just I'm just doing what feels right to me and I feel like everybody that I've talked to that has found their way like that it just flows so you have to find the right practice and I say practice with my finger quotations that nobody can see but whatever practice it is that helps you create that space Is the way to do that authentically.

Are there some specific things that you do to create that space for yourself? I think now it's just really become every moment that I that I think of it and it's not every moment but I just put myself square in that moment. One of the things that I tend to do for myself also that I think is a really fun thing for anybody to try. But I view the world around me as having the messages that I need to get in that moment that I'm in and that means if I turn on the T. V. What do I see when I opened my social media feed? I mean how often is it that you'll be talking about something or you'll be thinking about something and you get onto an instagram feed and there's a quote that resonates with the exact thought that you just had. I mean that happens to me pretty often and I feel like those messages are everywhere. It can be in nature to not just are not just social media or television or a book. You pick up, how often do you pick up a book and you read a chapter and you're like what we were just talking about this.

There are no coincidences. Right? Well I'm you know it's it's so much fun. Is the thing. So that's that's what I do to keep myself in the moment because you are you are keeping yourself open in every moment to see what comes up. Even stuff that comes out of my daughter's mouth sometimes. And anybody who has a kid knows that they say things that you're like where the heck did they pick that up? So you never know what's going to come out and come out of their mouth. And that very very often I actually find that that is something that resonates with me on some level. So that's that's the most fun way that I can suggest to anybody who is interested in getting into mindfulness. Who's interested in just becoming more aware in general starting right now in the world around you, What are the things that you're picking up, What's your antenna picking up? You know, maybe at the end of the day I do have a journal that I can't say I do it every night.

Some nights I just crawl myself crawl claw my way into bed. But I will try to remember from the day what stuck with me because if you think about it, your day is long. A lot of stuff goes on, especially with all the things that are, we're bombarded with. What are the few things that really stuck with you that day, then you kind of go into it. Maybe why does that relate to my life in some way? Maybe I remembered a scene from a movie or a scene from a tv show. Why did that stick? It's like you're, you're a lint brush and you just kind of pick up along with the way everything that you know feels right and then you can record it at the end of the day, see what comes up, right and really what you're referring to is it's about opening yourself up to the messages that are out there, just, just like you said, you know, view the world around you, there are messages everywhere, but not every message is going to resonate with you. What are the messages out there that are resonating with you and that are triggering especially positive things within you and and there's a lot to be said for just taking the opportunity to do that and not judging, don't judge what you're seeing.

It just is and yeah and accept it for that. And then whatever does resonate, allow that to come into your, your space or whatever and have a positive effects that it needs to have within you. I was thinking one thing as you were sharing that, have there been challenges or setbacks along the way for you on this mindfulness journey? How have you tackled them to move forward? Well, let's see. I think, you know, my mindfulness journey again is it's kind of an accidental journey. Um I think there are times when I may be tuning into intuition and it may go against for example something that society says we should be or you know it sometimes I'll feel a certain way about something and it doesn't match with with something else that's going on.

And I think those times are always challenging Because then they lead me to question are my feelings authentic, are they? You know, are they real even? And mm hmm I don't know. Every time I seem to have a feeling like that I go back to looking to the world around me for the validation and it comes eventually. So I think I think there's always a you know, two steps forward. One step back in personal growth because if it was just a straight trajectory then I don't know how much fun would that be if you just got to to go for it and you got what you needed and you were all done. So I do feel like, you know, as you go along your challenge to make sure that you're in it, if it was easy all the time then there wouldn't be, everybody would do it and it wouldn't be as valuable I think as it is and sometimes it's best to run with your intuition even in the face of you know what others are saying or thinking, maybe they're not thinking the same thing, but you know the fact that you are tuned into your own awareness, your own feelings, your own body, your own mind even, you know beyond all that means you are really in touch with the, the inner aspects of yourself and what is important to you and our intuition, it really doesn't lie, particularly if we feel it for instance in our heart, if it's something that is coming from the heart or even the gut oftentimes it just doesn't lie and there is so much that is going on the world that it's so easy to succumb to the pressure of what others are thinking or feeling because I don't think they even know what they're thinking and feeling because they're they're being led or being influenced or there unless they have a practice of some sort that they can really help guide their life, such as mindfulness.

Being aware. It's it's it's it's going to be tougher for them to really tune in to themselves. What advice do you have for people? Well, okay, so here here's a piece of advice. I don't like to give advice, but I'm going to give advice that yoga teacher that ran that class that I went to a decade ago in my darkest time to date. She didn't, she just showed up, she showed up and she ran this class that was so open and so authentic and it resonated with me. I went up to her after nine months or so of taking the class and I said I'm moving away um she and by the way we had, she hardly knew who I was. I didn't talk to anybody in that class, I intentionally initially wanted to meet people. But that's not that's not why I was there. So she knew me Hello here and there and I went up to her and I said I just want you to know that this is what's been going on with me the last nine months and coming to your class three times a week has completely given me basically a new life because it's true and she had no idea.

So if you're doing something that you're passionate about and that feels true to you and you're doing it out there, you don't know how many people's lives are changing. So I know we've been talking about mindfulness to this interview, but I think it's really important to say this because my whole introduction to mindfulness was based on something that somebody said that got me thinking about my own awareness. So I think it's really important to say. And especially after talking about how you can doubt your intuition sometimes to be out there to be authentic and I mean be out there in a way that's comfortable. I don't mean everyone should scream their message from the rooftops because I'm not sure that that's actually true. But I mean I mean do what feels right because you may change people's lives even if it's a post on social media again, I say that I get on and sometimes I'll see the quote I was just thinking about if that person didn't put it on there, I mean I wouldn't have seen it.

So so being confident in who you are and knowing that there are people out there that feel the way you do and there are communities out there. That's the advice that I would give. I think that's wonderful advice because really what it does is it allows each of us to evaluate and take in for ourselves and actually at the same time just show up right? Just show up and b r yeah just be our authentic self and do it and I love it the way you said it do it in a way that is comfortable because that's where it comes more authentically and naturally and those who resonate with it will will gravitate towards you and and who knows what it will ignite or inspire in them. That's right. I have just a few other questions. Although I recently had your husband jay on the show and I had just a wonderful conversation and he shared a bit about your your business that you all have co founded together nobody life.

But I would love for you to share what excites you about it now and what you hope to accomplish in the future. Sure. So we created, we call it a community because that's what we want it to be. Uh and it's called Nobody life. And the whole idea behind it is that we have two sides and this again, this is arctic we have in somebody's side and we have a nobody's side and neither side is bad. Both help us get through the day. But we've noticed that in our own lives it's easy for the sides to get out of balance. So when we're presented with a situation good or bad are somebody's side tends to step into quote unquote, manage it. You know, we plan we act, we expect and this resonates with me because of the divorce I went through, I was acting purely out of my quote unquote somebody's side because I was so consumed with expectations and labels and desires. Whereas the nobody's side is more about intuition, empathy, the simplicity patients. So are nobody's side has these incredible resources that can help us stay centered calm and President.

But the key is practicing these tools so that it shows up when you need it most. So nobody life is really about finding a balance or a partnership between our two sides. And I think this, you know, I like I said, this resonates with me on many levels being a mom, you get into this going through a divorce even in happy times, you get a new job. We can become overcome with this somebody's side that can sometimes put us in stressful situations, we say something we regret. We get anxious about planning for something in the future. We think about people that have let us down because we have expectations. So the nobody's side is a very freeing side in my opinion. And I think that's really what got me through the divorce with the mindfulness piece of that because that's a huge part of nobody without the mindfulness piece, it's harder to get in touch with intuition, empathy, all of these things.

We're trying to bring those tools to more people so that instead of responding out of judgment or out of expectations were responding out of empathy and intuition and things that just tend to be much gentler. Are there things that people can do that would help them create that balance definitely. Yes, definitely. And that's what we're trying to shape. We are trying to take some of the things that have helped us in our lives with our experiences and we're we're we're trying to bring that into the community and we're still in our in in the early stages of this. So mindfulness and awareness and everything we've talked about in this interview, that to me is the single best place to start, because the first step is acknowledging how you're responding to things, recognizing why you're feeling a certain way and that that's really the first step to then being able to say, okay in this situation, I'm going to practice doing it a little differently.

So that next time it's automatic and that's the hope over time is that you know, you need both sides, we need to be balanced. You can still be, you know, an attorney, you can still be an Academy Award winner. Yet when it comes to certain situations, your it's the way you respond and really the biggest picture is that it makes you feel better. You know, you have less regrets, You have more confidence at least this is these are the things that it's done for us. That's terrific for you to describe it that way. And I was on your website recently, nobody life and saw that you had some graphics on there that really helped to depict some of the characteristics or the qualities of the somebody and the qualities and characteristics and things of the nobody which I think would be helpful for people to to see interpret information. Plus you know you have some words on there as well. They sure do. Yeah. So I know that we can certainly point people to your website which is nobody life dot com.

How else can people find out more about you? Sure. Well instagram we love instagram, we love a lot of different outlets but instagram is where jay and I we you'll get to know us you know and where we tend to be as quirky as we are mindful. So we do it. It's just a fun place to get to know who we are and we love getting to know everybody else too. And that's a really great platform for that. We also have a facebook group which we would love people to be a part of where we're gonna start posting these tips. We've done a challenge already there but but basically any way that the facebook instagram reach out to us and we would just love to get to know people and and share. Wonderful and we'll be sure to include all of those contact details for instagram and facebook And of course your website are in our show notes and and I know that you also have a free offer on your site which is a mindfulness quick start guide to tell us just a little bit about that.

Yeah, it's just a two page thing and it's little things that you can do in your, in your day right now to help you get ideas on where to find those moments to be mindful. So you don't even have to do the things that are on the sheet, but it's like, oh well, washing dishes, okay. I can also do that folding laundry. So it's just to get you thinking in that lane and we thought it would be just a good start. It's not intimidating. There's nothing heavy about it. That's how weak. That's how we roll. Well, awesome. And we'll be sure to include a link to that because I think it's nobody life dot com slash mindfulness. Hyphen quick start, correct. You could just yeah, you can go to the homepage though. I think it's in two different places. Yeah, Yeah. Okay. And you'll find it there. Okay. Yeah, that sounds great. And I have just one final question, a question that I've been asking a lot of our guests on the show lately. I think just with all the things that are going on in the world, if you had a genie in the bottle and one wish, what would that be if I had one wish it would be that everybody who is feeling hopeless, that is feeling lost.

That is feeling sad. Feel hope, feel that burst of adrenaline. That any moment could be the moment where that last chunk of that popsicle that we were talking about, falls off any moment could be your moment where you feel lighter. That would be my wish for anybody in that position. Feeling that way right now. Oh, I love that, that is beautiful. And I just want to thank you for being on the show today. This has been just a great conversation melissa and I wish you and J. A all the best as you grow. The nobody life community, thank you so much. It has been just a pleasure. We love you. We love talking with you carol. Thank you. Well there you have it. Everyone. Be sure to listen in and check in our show notes to find more about melissa. We are so delighted to have you with us today and we hope that you have a beautiful heart filled day take care of. We hope today's show helped to bring a bit more joy and happiness into your heart.

We hope it inspired you to unleash your inner power and rise up to your best and loving heart centered, highest self. We'd be grateful if you'd leave us a review on itunes. Those reviews are important to spreading this valuable message. We'd love for you to subscribe to our podcast and share the show with others, visit hearts rise up dot com for heart centered courses, guided meditations and are popular notes from your higher self until next time. Keep rising up and may all that you love thrive

Ep. 33 - A Gentle & Timely Introduction to Mindfulness - An Interview With Melissa Plosker
Ep. 33 - A Gentle & Timely Introduction to Mindfulness - An Interview With Melissa Plosker
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