Walking into Lisa Batson Goldberg’s office, it’s hard not to smile. Her open, cheery space has books stacked neatly, like pancakes in a food blog. The couches conform to your body and let you sink, like the furniture equivalent of a deep breath. Ivy trickles down the side of a window, grazing the floor with verdant leaves.
There is art, there is organic tea, and there is Lisa.
A former actress turned holistic nutritionist; Lisa is on a mission to make mindfulness accessible. Staying clear from the granola stereotypes, Lisa has a brand that extends from leading corporate mindfulness programs to designing hot pink Zafu meditation cushions.
She was fervently writing her first nonfiction book as we arrived for the interview. We got a sneak peek of what those pages might read with our inspiring conversation.
Tell us about your idea of accessible mindfulness.
I don’t help clients because I am an expert at what I do. I am someone who has the capacity to offer my experiences and insights in a way that I think is accessible. For example, people are talking about mental health, but not in a context that applies to everybody. Yet, every single person suffers from stress, anxiety and depression, either every day, once in a blue moon or somewhere in between. We have to admit that mental health applies to us all. Then we can actually start to make headway.
How did you go from actress in England to holistic nutritionist?
I was really ill when I started my studies in holistic nutrition. I think it was my beacon of hope. I was plagued with anxiety and many professionals treated me like a crazy person. Crazy people don’t exist! We’re all just people who are trying our best to live in this really hard life sometimes. Holistic nutrition helped me to realize that I wasn’t completely out of control of my mind and body. Without a physically balanced body, it’s hard to have mental health.
And vice versa…
Actively connecting with our thoughts and trying to understand them can give us the awareness to see things differently. A big part of that is slowing down and connecting to the body.
We can’t be happy and fulfilled if we are rushing through life all the time. All of this is so intertwined.
In your opinion, how can we begin the process of being more mindful?
Creating daily practices. I struggle with it too! The cool thing about mindfulness is that it doesn’t have to just be sitting and meditating. You can go for a slow walk and try to focus on your breath. Focusing on your breath can make any act mindful. It can be at any time that you want. It can be eating one meal a day without being on your phone or talking to anybody. Taking a breath. Taking a bite. Actively being in the moment of the meal. All of these things are things anybody can do.
Mindfulness is meditation in life.
We like to think that we don’t have time but we have choices. We choose what we prioritize. Intentions allow us to redirect energy in a positive direction, which over time creates a shift for us in our lives.
Even though you might not be able to think about mindfulness while you’re in the middle of your day, over time, it begins to subtly permeate everything that you do.
Do you find there are common misconceptions when it comes to meditation?
Meditation isn’t about clearing the mind. It’s about accepting your thoughts without judgment. If you have toxic thoughts that are bombarding you, see those thoughts! We start to see that it’s a choice to indulge in that and attach to it. We can also choose to let it go. This is a big key as to how mindfulness can help to support our mental health naturally. It’s not about bliss. Life is life! Slow down enough to actually see what’s there.
If you can find time to slow down while writing book/leading retreats/seeing clients, then anyone can!
I feel like I haven’t scratched the surface. Sure, I meditate daily, but that doesn’t mean that my practice is any more grounded than someone who started last week. If I’m lucky, in this lifetime, I will come to a place where I feel a profound sense of peace. That’s okay, because it’s a work in progress. As is any life.
When the interview ended, Lisa threw her arms out and exclaimed: “I’m a hugger!” We could have guessed that. Her life seems like one giant hug to the universe.
Learn more about what Lisa is up to at www.lisabatsongoldberg.com.
From the tuja archives, this interview was originally published in the summer of 2014.