My friend Pamela is annoyingly awesome at whatever she does. One minute she decides to get into perfect shape, so she instantly becomes muscle-mania. The next minute, she decides to go back to work, and becomes PRESIDENT of a company. Then, she decides that she wants to become more spiritual and mindful, so she becomes a guru specialist excelling in anything and everything. GAG, right? The thing is, that instead of being disgusted by her talent, energy, intelligence, beauty, and commitment, I am in awe of her. What? Who is she, right? And did I even mention that she has two kids with no help whatsoever, and a husband that also works full time?
Pamela Gold does exist. And my life is better because she is in it. She makes me be a better person, and wants me to make myself a better person. She rubs off on everyone and makes them want to try harder. I feel that not only can I learn from her, but the world can too. And so that is why I want to share info on her new company / platform / idea to enrich other people’s lives by breaking down mindfulness and the search for inner peace.
Luckily (for me), I can call her at a drop of a pin and ask her a favor (she would be my first call if I were ever to go to jail….or my first call if I needed help –that sounds a little bit better). So I interviewed her for wisdom in her search of inner peace, not only wanting to share her knowledge for my readers, but also to enhance and educate my own self. Thank you, Pamela. I love you. And to my readers, please, please take the time to read Pamela’s answers — she is so wise, thoughtful, honest, authentic, and articulate.
You have so much going on. The Beacon, West Village Parents, Gold Evolution, your own journey, motherhood, wife, etc…and somehow you always manage to get EVERYTHING DONE. And with a smile. So, how do you do it? And with a smile?
Ha! Well, I never rest except for when I sleep and when I meditate, so I am always going on high gear. But I really feel that when you love what you are doing and you are clear why you are doing it, it is crazy how much energy you have and how much you can get done. You are just in the flow. The other side of that is there’s a tremendous amount of surrender: the things that don’t go the way I wanted them to or I expected them to, the painful lessons, the imperfections that pop up non-stop — it is a constant practice of surrendering to how things really are, and then being able to see the next best move from there. We all have a lot more energy available to us when we stop fighting reality. Being frustrated, overwhelmed, resentful, anxious — all a waste of A LOT of energy. And, I don’t take it too seriously! I look at everything like play and have as much fun as possible.
You are constantly practicing random acts of kindness. Why do you do it? What comes of it for you? How does it “help”? What does it “do”?
Practicing random acts of kindness feels great. Really great. That alone, if you wanted to stop there, would be reason enough. And the point really, is doing it for no reason. You don’t do it to get the smile, or to feel like you are a good person. You do it just because it feels good and joyful to do in the moment. I do believe that we get what we give in life, and the more we practice generosity and kindness, the more that those blessings will return to us, so I believe in the deeper meaning of those acts truly improving our own lives. And, there is a muscle memory — the more we practice kindness, the more it will be an automatic response to a situation, the easier it gets, and kindness will always shine brightness on a situation. Buddha says, be compassionate whenever possible, and it is always possible. So, practice is helpful!
Can you give me examples of these acts of kindness? In depth.
I am pretty observant of what is going on around me, and living in NYC, a lot is going on around us all the time! I take a lot of pictures of tourists. Like, a lot a lot. I offer directions if I notice someone seems lost and I get stopped often to be asked directions. I pick up people on the street in my car if I know them and they are heading to school, and occasionally even if I don’t know them (but there is a child involved!) if the weather is horrible and they obviously can’t get a cab. I hand out a lot of umbrellas when it is raining and I am almost where I am going or if I am driving and I have an extra in the car (literally, roll up to someone on the sidewalk holding a bag over there head and give them an umbrella). I carry strollers and bags up and down the stairs into the subway. I give money I have in my pocket to someone who needs it, or extra bars I have in my bag… when we still lived in NYC, if we had a lot of leftovers that I knew we would never eat I would take it out and walk around until I found homeless people to give it to. And of course, I smile at everyone and if I have any positive thought I say it out loud to the person, regardless of how random it is. I’ve literally made friends that way.
How have these randoms acts of kindness help your kids own journeys and perspective on humanity? I am saying this, because it has been interesting watching my 4 year old see people smile / cry / react when doing something so simple as taking a picture of them, or offering help….
Our kids notice everything and the behavior that they are around literally wires their brains to be that way too… but it makes them proud to see kindness in action. They see the results and it fills their hearts. We have talked about it often, philosophies like, “if you can ever help someone, you DO IT, regardless of how inconvenient it might be.” But even if we didn’t talk about it, they FEEL it. There is something very deeply beautiful about kindness, and it resonates even before they can talk.
You are on your own journey of inner peace and happiness. What has helped you get there? What has the process been like for you?
Pain is the touchstone of all growth. I guess I have been lucky to experience pain and learn from it — as opposed to hiding from it, building defense mechanisms, cutting myself off from life and love. There were a few major points in my life, crises you could say, that demanded me to work really hard to figure out how to get through it without breaking. Sometimes people don’t have a major crisis, but there is a subtle sense that something isn’t right, not fulfilled, and that can be all it takes to wake up and say, I am going to figure this out. But for me, there were deeply painful times that made me work at it. And I was lucky to have wonderful teachers — both in person and via books — to help me connect the dots and fill in the blanks. Deep questioning about the meaning of life and how to live my best life started when I was young, and there were periods when life was going “ok” where it was on the back burner… but when the going got tough, I would question what I thought that I knew and keep going deeper. It has been a life long process, but so beautiful and empowering to be figuring out the things that I just KNOW are true. Experiencing for myself what I read about for so many years but never really understood… now to understand it is just beyond words — so beautiful, liberating and powerful.
For us that are beginners in our spiritual journey to inner peace, can you advise on what are helpful resources? Books? Videos? Quotes? Instagram accounts?
Regardless of where you are on your journey, there are *limitless* fabulous books and teachers that can support you. Brene Brown is a social worker who has done amazing work on shame and vulnerability (check out her TED Talk if you haven’t) and she can be a great resource in the beginning. There are deeper teachers like Michael Singer and Eckert Tolle that may or may not resonate with you. If they don’t yet it is FINE! Whatever resonates is exactly what you are supposed to be reading — just be mindful of what you are feeding with what you are consuming. Choose to feed you mind, body and spirit “healthy fare” — eat real, healthy food, get good sleep, read books and watch shows that are inspiring, not inflaming, surround yourself with people who lift you up versus bringing you down. Meeting with a life coach can be a great step, if they are insightful and realized themselves, and if they help to inspire you.
I would say, regardless of how much of a beginner you may be, that focusing on cultivating Gratitude and Compassion, Courage, and Curiosity in your life is the way to go. These attributes are aspects of staying open hearted. Keeping our hearts open keeps the flow of energy going and let’s us feel happy and fulfilled, even when things (seemingly) don’t go our way.
If we only had 20 minutes each day to improve ourselves (for our mind not our body), what would you suggest doing?
OK 20 minutes, here goes:
– Writing in a Gratitude journal every morning and night is a great way to get your Gratitude muscle memory working. There is an app called Bliss that is worth installing on your phone. In general, just making it a practice to call out what you are grateful for, asking your kids what they are most grateful for, really practicing gratitude whenever you can, will help you get better at it. When we lose our S-IT, it is because we lost touch with gratitude. We don’t lose our SH*T if we are feeling grateful. This can be 1 minute a day.
– We already talked about practicing random acts of kindness to flex our compassion muscles. I probably spend 2 minutes a day on average doing that.
– Courage, Surrender and Faith all go hand in hand. Courage doesn’t mean the absence of fear, it means moving ahead in spite of it. Take a deep breath, thank your fear for showing up and letting it know that you’ve got this. Go for it. This takes literally a second if you remember to do it. Let’s say 2 minutes a day until you get good at it!
I explain this to my kids in a “middle path” way — we talk about listening to their inner siren, so if they get a “bad feeling” from someone, we always listen to that. If their inner siren is telling them not to get into a car or not to trust someone (where the consequence could be legit danger), we listen to that. On the other side, all of the magic happens outside of our comfort zone, right? So I explain to them that when they feel that inner siren of discomfort, that is time to play close attention to what is going on. Could there be legit potential danger in situation, or is the discomfort coming from fear or failure or fear of getting our pride wacked? When my son didn’t want to go to Tae Kwon Do the other day, we went deep to help him overcome the fear and talked about figuring out what that feeling in our stomach was trying to tell us, and how to tell if it was a legit danger or if we were just at the edge of our comfort zone and needed to go for it to grow.
– Working on Surrender and Faith can be trying out a “g-d box” — putting anything that you are worried about but cannot do anything about in the box and letting it go, finding faith that it is going to work out however it works out. It can also be embracing the concept of Radical Acceptance (Tara Brach – awesome book!) — whatever is *actually* going on NEEDS to be accepted (which is the surrender) with our whole soul if we want to change it. Accepting the reality of a situation doesn’t mean that you approve of it, acceptance is realize what really is, so you can then work with it to make positive change. You can’t fight it and expect to change it. Anything you fight you actually make stronger, believe it or not. Having a “g-d box” (or whatever you’d want to call it) helps you let go of trying to control things that are out of your control. Once you get the box and initially write down everything you can think of and stick it in there (hint: remember you can’t change ANYONE but yourself, so a lot of loved ones names should go in the box!), it is a very quick practice — literally on the fly I would say to myself as I started to get frustrated, “OOHHHH I can put that in my faith box!” and Boom I’d feel released from fighting it. So let’s say 1 minute a day.
– Cultivating Curiosity means NEVER thinking that you know everything. Stay open and curious. Practice assessing the situation (or person!) without judging. As information comes in, assessing means really looking at as much detail as you can, not putting your head in the sand, while staying open to always new information coming in, too. Judging means that we assign closed minded “Good/Bad” labels and I promise, this never helps be our best. In fact, that closed mindedness cuts us off from Compassion, which actually hurts our own energy just as much as it affects the other person. So as a practice, catch yourself when you label something (or someone) as good or bad, right or wrong, and see how you can shift away from that judgment to a more curious, “hm, this seems X, I wonder what I don’t know about this situation.” (It sounds silly but repeating that is practicing your curiosity muscle memory!). Again, quick practice, but this pops up a lot especially when your brain has so many years practice wanting to judge the F- out of every situation and person. Let’s say 4 minutes a day for now.
Great, we have 10 minutes a day left!!
While working on staying openhearted as you go about your day, I cannot begin to stress the importance of a daily meditation practice. Meditation is the practice that starts to create inner space so we can move around moment to moment without feeling trapped. Meditation is a practice that actually expands our perspective on our day to day life, so when things don’t go the way that we expected or wanted, we can practice accepting it and seeing how best to respond as opposed to fighting it. Hands down, meditation is what changed my life. You knew me three years ago, before I started meditating, I know you can attest to how much I’ve grown! So please, pretty please, give meditation a chance. When I first tried it, I was CONVINCED that it wasn’t for me, that I couldn’t do it, that it just was for *other people*. It was torture and it felt like I was failing miserably when I tried.
Here’s the deal. There is no such thing as a “bad” or “failed” meditation. It is a practice like everything else. You can pick any analogy, but let’s say learning to play piano. When you first decide you are going to learn to play piano, assuming you have zero experience with it, you probably will do best to have a teacher of some sort, either in person or some sort of online program. And in the beginning, it will look nothing like what you think playing the piano looks like. Everyone will have different experiences depending on how naturally talented you are, but even if you have zero natural talent, if you stick with it, you will eventually learn to play the piano. It will probably take while of steady practice before you see much improvement or even start to enjoy it, but eventually you will start to see some real strides in your playing and your enjoyment of the practice. It may be years before you are good enough to join an ensemble, but if you just keep with it, you will keep getting better. And like everything else, improvement isn’t a linear process. As you start to get better, you will push farther and have practices that seem like train wrecks. That doesn’t mean you aren’t getting better, it means that you actually ARE.
Commit 10 minutes a day to a meditation practice. There are so many resources available, from apps like Calm and Headspace to YouTube guided meditations — it doesn’t matter where you start, just as long as you start and you don’t stop. Remember that you are training your attention, not your thoughts. Thoughts never stop coming, truly. They quiet and chill out for sure, but they don’t stop. You just get infinitely better at knowing which ones to pay attention to and which ones to ignore. It is life changing.
Limitless power to achieve your dreams is waiting for you, if only you knew how to tap into it. How do you know how to tap into it? How do you “tap?” And how do you find out?
At the root of it all, it is about figuring out who we really are. Not the labels we give ourselves, certainly not how other people see us — who we really are is nothing that we can actually perceive about ourselves. When we start to know who we really are there is a strength and clarity that cannot be compared to anything external. We become literally superhuman. We no longer are at the mercy of what other people think of us, nor at the mercy of our “achievements” going the way that we hoped… we know who we are and there is zero question of our being “enough”. We also realize that the only thing that we have to fear is fear itself, so courage becomes ingrained to the deepest part of our being. We are this infinite source of light and love and creativity and inspiration, and when we connect with it, we truly can achieve anything that we desire.
Meditate as often and as deeply as you can, and you will start to experience this power. When you aren’t meditating, keep stripping away the levels of who you think you are to get deeper and deeper to who you REALLY are — who is it that is thinking this? who is it that is feeling this? How do I know that this is true? Who would I be without these thoughts? Don’t stop going deeper and at some point you will realize that the answer doesn’t come from your brain, and trying to understand it with your brain gets you stuck. You feel it in your heart. And it is infinite love.