If you’ve ever wondered if maybe your outward health and inward health are influenced by each other, you’re not alone – that’s exactly what Ana Martins discovered.
She was struggling with depression, anxiety, and obesity when she began her holistic journey to wellbeing and realized that her problems with her weight were directly related to her internal issues.
This catapulted her career of helping others through mindfulness and meditation so they could ground themselves in the same way she did.
You can learn more about Ana and her work here:
Tell me about your professional background.
I have a Master degree in Psychology and have always been interested in human behaviour, mental and emotional health.
But, when I finished my degree (11 years ago), I decided not to pursue a career as a therapist because something about it didn’t resonate with me, and at the time I wasn’t completely sure what it was.
I ended up working in human resources and recruitment for a long time, until I went on my own self-discovery and self-healing journey.
After my own transformation, I rediscovered my love for psychology and realised that it made much more sense to me when looked at from a holistic perspective.
And so, I decided to learn more about the techniques that helped me heal, such as meditation and mindfulness and combine them with what I had learned from my degree. So I became a certified meditation and mindfulness teacher, and a holistic life coach as well.
What made you want to get into this field?
What made me go into this field was my own experience of healing with the help of these techniques.
At a point in my life I was really struggling with depression, anxiety and obesity. It wasn’t until I started resorting to holistic therapies that I realised how my weight problems were intrinsically connected to my emotional health and finally started the healing process.
I didn’t necessarily need a background in psychology to do what I do now, but the fact that I already had it, combined with my own experience of healing, made it all come together.
What has been your favorite aspect of this work?
My favourite aspect of this work is the incredible people I get to coach and being able to witness to their growth.
Yes, they come to me because they are facing struggles, but they are all incredible people with an amazing amount of resilience. And it is so rewarding to guide them into their own self-discovery path and watch them finally embrace their true self.
Can you explain what meditation and mindfulness are and what a typical session is like from start to finish?
Meditation is a form of mental exercise, with the goal of focusing the mind on something long enough to quiet all the chatter, stopping the aimless stream of thoughts and gaining inner peace.
There are many types of meditation and different things one can focus on during meditation, such as a visualisation, the breath, scanning the body, mantras, etc..
Meditation provides a sense of relief because it stills the mind, and it gives us a sense of detachment from our thoughts. This is particularly important for people who struggle with overthinking, causing them anxiety and even stress.
Mindfulness is a state that can be achieved through meditation, but also through other practices outside of meditation. The goal is to be completely aware and grounded in the present moment, where the past can no longer affect us and the future can no longer preoccupy us.
A typical meditation session with me will last for about one hour, which includes guided meditation and coaching. Previous to the session I will have a call with the client to assess their needs and what experience they have with meditation.
Depending on what the client tells me, the content of the session will vary, but I will prepare a meditation script completely tailored to the client’s needs and then guide them through it. The coaching part depends also on the client’s needs, but the goal is to explain different concepts and help the client establish a regular meditation practice, as well as a mindfulness mindset, that will help them deal with the struggles they are facing in their life.
What sort of health challenges can meditation and mindfulness be effective for and why?
Meditation and mindfulness are mainly used for stress reduction, anxiety relief, improvement of mental, emotional and physical health and just wellbeing in general.
The truth is that meditation and mindfulness can help with countless situations and conditions. The main reason why it works is because most mental and emotional issues are due to an over identification with thoughts, where people are constantly reliving traumatic events from the past or fear going through them again in the future.
Our bodies don’t know the difference between an event that is happening in the present and one that is being re-lived through thoughts only, and will react in the same way to both situations. So, a lot of people keep re-traumatising themselves and perpetuating their own suffering through thoughts alone, not realising that it is their own mind that is blocking them from healing.
Both meditation and mindfulness help with bringing the person into the present moment, and interrupt the stream of thoughts long enough for the body to start healing.
At the same time, with continuous practice, the person begins to detach from those thoughts and ceases to identify with everything in their mind, giving them an opportunity to break negative patterns and create new thought processes that are more positive in nature.
Is there a technique or modality in your practice that you have found to be the most beneficial to the people you work with?
I always use mindfulness as a base, and all my meditations start by bringing focus to the breath and the body. But I find it very useful to mix different types of meditation depending on what the person needs the most at that moment.
Also, each person resonates more with certain techniques than others, so I encourage them to start with the ones that offer least resistance.
For example, for some people it’s really hard to focus on visualisation, so I don’t force them. But with time, if they agree, I will begin to introduce smaller visualisations until it becomes easier.
Also, what works one day might not work the next day depending on what the person is going through, so I encourage my clients to be flexible and try different techniques to see what works best for them.
The point of meditation is to achieve a sense of calm and well-being, but more often than not is also to go on a path of self-discovery, so trying different things really help.
What are meditation and mindfulness like from the patient’s point of view?
From the client’s point of view, meditation and mindfulness practices are a time to unwind and really focus on themselves and their needs. It is a time for self-care, self-love, and most importantly, self-acceptance.
Mindfulness and a true meditative state cannot be achieved by force or trying too hard, it is a state of allowing and accepting. So whatever comes up through these practices, it is important to accept it.
So from the point of view of the client, it’s a moment of relief, of peace and calm, where they can finally just be their true selves without any judgement.
What would you say to someone skeptical about meditation and mindfulness and their effectiveness? How do you approach that?
I would simply advise them to try it if they feel like it. It won’t hurt, and at the very least it will be a relaxing time.
There are many studies and evidence of how effective meditation can be, so if someone is showing too much resistance to it, there is no point in trying to convince them.
I believe people will only look for healing when they are ready to heal. And I also know the power of belief, so if someone is resistant to it or very skeptical, meditation probably won’t work for them because they will simply not be open enough to let it be effective.
Besides meditation and mindfulness do you have any universal health and well-being tips that you’d like to share?
Number 1 – Be present.
Number 2 – Spend time with yourself (be okay with spending time alone).
“Be present” because of what I explained before. When you are grounded in the present moment, you have more chances of being at peace.
And “spend time with yourself” because it is important to get to know ourselves in order to love and accept ourselves.
Someone who doesn’t know themselves cannot love themselves, and someone who doesn’t love themselves will more likely seek validation and happiness in the outside world, and they will be forever seeking.
Happiness is an inside job and validation from other people will never fulfil them long-term, and the ego (the false sense of self) will be constantly craving for more in an endless pursuit.
If there was one piece of advice you could give to someone who is struggling, what would it be?
First I would let them know that it is okay to feel whatever they are feeling, and that their emotions are valid.
Second, I would advise them to get grounded. Grounding means to get out of your mind and into your body. So, anything that brings attention to the senses and what your body is experiencing in the present moment will help.
Then, I would invite them to look for the lesson.
Very often we believe things are happening TO us, but in reality, things are happening FOR us. Every challenge, every struggle or situation that we perceive as “negative” is teaching us something about ourselves and is an opportunity to grow and evolve.
So, I hold space for them, allow them to feel their own feelings, and then advise them to take a deep breath, get grounded, still the mind, and then ask themselves: “What is this teaching me? Why is this happening FOR me?”
What resources would you recommend?
I would for sure recommend “The power of NOW” and “A New Earth” by Eckhart Tolle.
Sometimes our own thoughts can bog us down, and since everything in our bodies is connected, this can become a domino effect and cause more issues, both internally and externally.
This is what Ana helps people work through. She helps others use the power that is already within themselves so they can relax and open their mind to heal naturally.
Learn more about Ana and her work here:
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