Our Experts: How to Practice Mindfulness and Unity, with Contemplative Mentor Kirat Randhawa.

First off, tell us about your typical morning routine.

I usually wake up around 8 am and spend a few moments in bed as I arrive back into a waking state. I drink a large glass of water, pop the kettle on, and freshen up in the bathroom.

I have my morning skincare routine which I do while my tea is making, and then I proceed to make a hot cup of lemon water with apple cider vinegar and cayenne. I simultaneously make a cup of matcha with MCT bulletproof oil and vitamin D/K2 drops.

I then set my space with sage (or incense) to wish a good morning to my altar, my plants, and my home. I spend a few moments journaling and drinking tea, and then turn my phone off airplane mode, and my day with the external world begins.

I leave my formal meditation to late morning/early afternoon (11:00 am-2:00 pm) as that’s when my mind feels most relaxed and alert.

You’re currently studying psychology at Columbia- can you tell us a bit about the personal journey that led you to pursue your training in psychology?

I have always been fascinated with the human psyche – it’s the most complex space of experience, yet holds many similarities across the collective species.

A series of circumstances early on in life led me to experience conflict within my own mind and heart, and from then on, I’ve been determined to explore the nature of the mind and how we can approach our mental and emotional experiences in a way that is both liberating and spacious.

My relationship with my own mind was quite hateful for a long time, and through studying psychology and associated schools of thought, I have begun to learn how to free myself from this habitual way of being.

You’re passionate about integrating eastern wisdom into the traditional psychotherapeutic framework – can you give us an overview as to how these tools are used to improve your clients’ lives?

I think there is tremendous wisdom from both traditions, and from my experience, the strongest medium of healing is the implementation of eastern contemplative traditions with a strong understanding of the western psyche.

Western traditions, often expressed within a clinical context, have a strong understanding of how to work with the modern mind in the West, yet there’s something palpably missing from their approach, and that’s the fundamental notion of transcendence – that the reality which we occupy is a small part of a much larger picture.

Eastern, and indigenous, traditions bring back this sense of expansion by recognizing the interconnectedness of all that we experience. This balance helps clients relate to their minds, their hearts, and their daily lives with a sense of compassion and friendliness supported by the underlying insight that they are not alone in their suffering. Over time, they slowly realize that the daily experience of suffering (stress, discontentment) can actually be diminished altogether.

Congratulations on the launch of your mentorship program! Tell us about the inspiration behind it and what clients can expect.

 Thank you, I’m super excited about the program!

The Heroine’s Dance is an intuitive framework that invites clients to cultivate an internal refuge for inspiration, guidance, and rest as they navigate the transitory experiences of life. It’s partly inspired by The Hero’s Journey, although it’s primarily influenced by my personal experience with psychotherapy, Buddhism, plant medicine, and introspection.

The mentorship container provides a platform for clients to know themselves intimately, and from that place, learn to befriend themselves. Self-awareness and self-compassion are at the heart of this work, and without them, the path of healing remains incomplete.

Other tools that clients can expect to cultivate are mindfulness, wise emotion regulation, and insight, in addition to building the internal conditions for autonomy and integration. We work together to build this internal framework with the intention to provide a meeting place for the intellect and intuition to harmonize.

You live in NYC: what tips do you have for staying calm and connected to oneself in such a hectic city?

 Boundaries!

Personally, I don’t struggle with saying no. After years of experience, starting very early on, I’ve been able to identify what is most important to me and from that place choose how to spend my time accordingly.

I meditate daily, I don’t eat sugar or refined foods, I don’t drink/smoke, and sleep quite well each night. My choice to be discerning with what enters my body, my mind, my home, and my life has set me up quite well for feeling energized, aligned, and grounded in the city.

I also have to mention that due to the nature of my work, I naturally attract people who are on a focused path of healing and have committed to doing inner work, therefore, my daily interactions are usually kind, deep, and quite inspiring. I also have an amazing community here in the city where I feel I can truly rest in their presence, so in that sense, I am very blessed.

As if you’re not busy enough, you also teach meditation. Tell us about the role meditation plays for you and the impact it has had on the way you approach life.

AH! My practice is my home.

Nothing provides me with more connectedness, intimacy, and spaciousness like my practice. It’s where I go to greet myself, forgive myself, tend to my wounds, celebrate my joys, and reconnect to that which is larger than myself.

The most fundamental thing that meditation has allowed me to do is to relieve my mind of the idea that I must be in tension with myself. Through consistent effort, time, and right intention, I have learned to love myself in a way that I have never experienced before, nor witnessed while growing up. The practice has invited me to be on the same team like myself, and from that place, life has become tremendously simpler.

I don’t struggle too much with saying ‘no’ to what feels wrong or what doesn’t feel supportive, and when the natural grief arises with the presence of loss, change, and isolation, my practice is there again to catch me.

When new experiences arise that I’m not familiar with, I often struggle with extending the principles of the practice to the emotions that arise and can lose myself in reactive tendencies, but then I’m again caught by the practice with the insight that in each moment, I can choose again: to be kinder, more skillful, more spacious.

What’s your biggest piece of advice for anyone new to meditation?

We do not meditate to become good meditators. We meditate to become more insightful, compassionate, ethical human beings who aspire to know reality as it really is. And that’s the reality consisting of love, joy, and interconnectedness. Although we often enter the practice with the intention to stabilize the mind, the initial aspiration is to learn how to be in a loving relationship with the unstable mind – with all its emotionality and experience.

Over time, this approach can be extended to all parts of our life, thus inviting us to interact with the world with a more curious and spacious perspective.

It’s not about how long you can stay in a certain posture without moving, or how many breaths you can count per se, but rather how you begin to perceive the truth of this reality and from that place, move in accordance with that truth.

At moxie, we’re passionate about shedding light on the gut-brain connection as gut problems often go hand in hand with mental issues like anxiety and depression. Can you tell us a bit about what you’ve learned in your professional training about the relationship between mental and physical health?

A key area of research that has grown tremendously with the rise of meditation is the awareness of how stress impacts the body.

Stress, rooted in how we’re perceiving the task(s) at hand, has detrimental effects on the body, leading to cardiovascular, respiratory, endocrine, and gastrointestinal issues, among other problems with maintaining homeostasis and well-being.

Researchers have found that our attachment to chronic stress wears down healthy brain structures/networks while growing stress-reactive structures at the same time, resulting in an insidious cycle of stress, reactivity, and stress-related illness. In turn, this shuts off networks that promote positive social engagement and increase networks that promote self-enclosement.

The role of perception is key here – as even perceived stress can affect immune functioning and overall health.

Are there any books or podcasts that you’d recommend to those in our community interested in working on themselves and the journey towards self-actualization?

There were so many!

a. How to Free Your Mind, Thubten Chodron

b. Modern Man in Search of a Soul, Carl Jung

c. How to Change Your Mind, Michael Pollan

d. The Autobiography of a Yogi, Paramahansa Yogananda

e. Transcend: The New Science of Self-Actualization, Scott Barry Kauffman

f. 12 Rules for Life, Jordan Peterson

g. The Goop Podcast

h. Academy of Ideas (podcast)

i. On Being with Krista Tippett (podcast)

j. Ten Percent Happier with Dan Harris (podcast)

Finally, name three things that bring you unadulterated joy in your life!

a. Tea with loved ones .

b. Slow mornings at home.

c. Solo travel.

The above content is provided for informational and educational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional advice or diagnosis and should never be relied upon for specific medical advice. moxie shall not be liable for any claim, loss, or damage arising out of the use of, or reliance upon any content or information in this article.

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