By Michelle Lloyd
Inspired by her search for peace, wellness, nutrition and balance Mompreneur Margarita (Maggie) Shafiro, 36, of Charlotte, began Wellbeing Consulting in 2011. Maggie has her PhD and teaches meditation and Ayurveda- an approach to living a healthy lifestyle.
Q. How did Wellbeing Consulting begin?
A. It started as a natural progression of my own growth and learning. I have always been interested in bringing more health, peace and balance to my life. I became very interested on how food impacted my body and how it made me feel. I started learning about nutrition and noticing what kind of food made me feel good, light and satisfied and what food tasted good initially but afterwards made me feel heavy, lethargic and negatively impacted my digestion.
Five years ago, I had this sense of emptiness that is still hard for me to describe. Everything was going well in my life (work, relationships), but there was something that I felt was missing. That's when I discovered meditation, which became a practice that is not only beneficial for my health, but also for my heart and my spirit. I pursued learning about nutrition, a natural approach to health and meditation by obtaining certifications in those areas.
Eventually, I came to the point when I felt there was a need for a practice to exist and my passion of wellness was strong enough to start a business.
Q. What do you do?
A. I provide individual and group consultations on meditation and a way to live a more balanced, energetic life (Ayurveda) approach). My goal is to also start working more with organizations to help employees manage stress and provide resources for those that are seeking ways to improve their wellbeing.
Q. How did you learn to balance?
A. There is hardly ever a sense of perfect balance. It is a 'dance' between what we would like to see in our lives and where we are at each moment. Sometimes, we get closer to what our ideal is and at other times we feel further away from it. I learned how to be aware of what my needs and desires were and how close/far I was from my ideal.
Once I recognize where I am on my scale of balance, I have the tools to help me experience a better sense of balance. My awareness has really grown as a result of my meditation practice. It is amazing having the realization of where you are on the scale of balance, and stopping to ask yourself the simple question of "what do I want? Once you make this realization, you can take a step (even if it s a little one) toward your goal.
Q. What is your biggest tip to parents on how to balance?
A. Since I am pretty new to being a parent, I can still learn much from parents that have years of experience. However, here are a few suggestions that have worked for me
1) Prepare in advance and adjust your expectations. Even before I became a parent, I knew that the usual flow of daily life would change in our family once the little one was born. Therefore, I focused on planning as much as I could in advance of him being born. I also talked to my husband about our expectations in regards to providing care to our child.
2) Multi-tasking and being organized became very important once Roman came into my life. For instance, I don't have time to meditate twice a day for 30 minutes like I used to. Instead, I started meditating while I nurse. I also read books during some of the feedings. I think my husband and I learned to be more organized than we have ever been.
3) Choose an activity that makes you feel good versus a task that needs to be done. If the baby is asleep and you have a choice of unloading the dishwasher or doing something relaxing check in with yourself to see if you'd rather spend your time differently.
4) Finally, I adjusted my expectations of what is "perfect" in our household. I think I developed a little more tolerance toward things that may not be 100 percent done. It gives me more room to engage in other areas of life that interest me.
Q. What type of meditation do you practice?
A. I learned meditation from Deepak Chopra's Center for Wellbeing. It is a mantra-based meditation, called Primordial Sound Meditation. It is an ancient technique that has been adapted to modern times by Drs. Chopra and Simon. I encourage my students/clients to explore a variety of different techniques and create their own practice. As long as there is a practice and it is consistent, one should experience the benefits of meditation.
Q. Why is that important to ones wellbeing?
A. There are over 2,000 studies that have been done on meditation. Major universities are exploring the impacts of meditation on our wellbeing. Physiologically, research shows that meditation has been found to be an antidote of fight-flight response, which is activated whenever we are stressed. Specifically, when we meditate, our blood pressure goes down, our breathing becomes deep, our digestion and circulation improve and overall our immune system becomes stronger. Interestingly, a recent < href=http://news.harvard.edu/gazette/story/2011/01/eight-weeks-to-a-better-brain>Harvard study found that only after eight weeks of 30-minute daily meditation, there were changes in areas of the brain associated with memory, stress, sense of self and emotional wellbeing.
Psychologically, studies show relationships between meditation and reduced anxiety, lower levels of depressions and increase in the overall sense of happiness and peacefulness.
Spiritually, we get to connect to our higher Self or have an opportunity to sit down and ask ourselves questions, like "Who am I? What do I want? What's my purpose?" The practice of meditation is one way to reflect on and stay connected to our bigger intentions for life.
Q. What is the most common struggle you see with meditation?
A. The most common struggle is the expectation to have one's mind empty. Many people say that they cannot meditate because they have thoughts and their mind is very busy. However, one can learn how to navigate through thoughts and how to approach them differently as a result of meditation. The key is not to chase or expect anything.
Q. How do they overcome it?
A. I think it is important to have instruction from someone who addresses and teaches you that thoughts are part of meditation practice. In my experience, saying, "Empty your mind. Stop thinking" seems to produce the opposite effect. Also, learning (through practice) about letting go of any expectations during meditation is the key to success.
Q. How do you apply nutrition to your program?
Ayurveda is a holistic system that believes that we are healthy and vibrant when our body, mind and soul are nourished. Ayurveda (from Sanskrit "ayur" life or living and Veda "knowledge of living or the science of longevity) is a natural system of medicine that originated in India and evolved for more than 5,000 years. The prescription provided by these ancient doctors was simple: Make choices that support your individual balance and wellbeing.
As an Ayurveda consultant, I help people determine their individual mind-body constitution. I also share personalized recommendations for correcting any imbalances and tips for creating optimal health. I teach my clients to recognize imbalances before they turn into a full-blown disease.
Q. What are some stress relief tips our readers can try at home?
A. In the morning sit up in your bed, close your eyes and take five to 10 deep breaths. Try to focus on your breath as you inhale and exhale. As your thoughts come, notice them and return to your breath. This morning routine will prepare you for your day. You will be just a little more relaxed when you encounter stressors (anything that interferes with our desires and needs). Repeat the same breathing exercise in the evening. The evening routine will clear out any stressors that impacted you throughout your day.
Establish a regular routine of spending time outside, in nature. You can also take a walk after dinner. Learn to recognize when you are stressed. The more you practice, the more your will be able to recognize it during the stress response. When you are in the middle of a stressful situation, take a deep breath, think/say to yourself, "I am getting pretty stressed" and think of one step you can take to reduce the feeling.
Q. How much do your services cost?
A. One and a half to two hours for the first Ayurveda consultation is $175, a follow-up consultation (if needed) for $150. Typically, people don't need more than two or three consultations. A group meditation course (it consists of four parts taught over three meetings) is $250; an individual meditation course is $350.
You can find more about Wellbeing Consultation or email email@example.com; phone: 704.654.5884.