353. Changing the World One Mind at a Time
Having epileptic seizures was not the pathway to popularity in school. But the side-effects of the powerful anti-seizure drugs made AnneMarie feel she had no life at all. She was ready to take a risk–almost any risk–to get her life back.
AnneMarie Rossi founded her company, Be Mindful, in 2011. Her “buy-one/give one” business model provides customized programs to the business world, which in turn support a mindfulness program for non-profits. AnneMarie completed qualified research on the impacts of mindfulness instruction on 4th grade students and runaway homeless youth, and has been approved for programs for first responders. She believes we change the world one mind at a time, that an internal evolution is required for a collective revolution.
How Did You Start Using Your Talents?
“Being diagnosed with epilepsy early in adolescence was one of the pieces that helped define who I have become. I’ve had a seizure disorder for more than 30 years. It took a long time to even be diagnosed, largely because I had what are called ‘absence seizures.’ With absence seizures, it looks like you are awake and just not paying attention, sort of like you’re staring off into space but you are actually unconscious and having a seizure. My family didn’t believe me when I said I was having seizures, until they saw me have a grand mal seizure on an airplane. You can’t deny that when it happens!”
The Most Impactful Turning Point?
“A turning point came when I began to learn biofeedback as a way of managing my seizure disorder. In addition to giving me greater control over my seizures, it is a way of managing the stress, anxiety and depression that comes with having something that significant in early adolescence.” Years later, as she began learning about mindfulness, she was undergoing an intensive treatment called Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT). As she learned the process, it dawned on her, “Wow! This is mindfulness practice! Mindfulness is what I had been doing since I was a little girl, but I had compartmentalized it as a therapeutic intervention for my seizure disorder. I began to recognize that I could use it at any moment of any hour of any day to help regroup. I could use it to have some focused attention and emotional regulation that I had lost. I was regaining my power in the process.”
The Most Powerful Lessons Learned?
“I would say that every human being in the world needs to practice mindfulness, a practice which we know is scientifically validated. You have to be able to understand your own emotions, your own thoughts, how your brain works, how it is navigating you. Without mindfulness, you are like Pinocchio and your amygdala, your primitive brain, is like Geppetto, pulling the strings. With mindfulness, you learn how to disconnect those strings to regain some control over your focused attention and emotional regulation. Understanding self first is the path to discovering your own true happiness.”
Steps to Success from AnneMarie Rossi
1. Learn to be introspective. There’s no other place to start but inside of yourself. You can’t ever find your passion, nor can you ever truly connect to humanity, if you don’t know self.
2. Google “mindfulness classes near me” and find a mindfulness class you can join. Although there are resources online, finding an in-person group is crucial.
3. Recognize that life is not only about happiness. Happiness is great, but it is fleeting, just like pain. To be authentic, you need to be able to feel all of the things that you feel, and learn to be okay with all of that.
Connecting With AnneMarie Rossi
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