Last updated May 3, 2021
What does it mean to have present awareness? To lead a more intentional life? We spoke to Molly Black, a Mindfulness Coach trained in Mindful Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) on developing a relationship with present awareness and building resiliency.
Vacayou: Okay, let’s start with meditation vs. mindfulness. We hear these terms a lot, and sometimes interchangeably, it seems. What are the key differences?
Molly: Mindfulness is the practice of tuning into the present moment – meditation is one of the modalities you can use, but there are many, from breathwork and yoga to sound healing and Reiki.
Meditation is the formal practice of anchoring yourself to the present; something called the “informal” practice is “being mindful” in your everyday life. The beauty of mindfulness is that you can always start again, it’s a journey that’s not linear, we’re always learning!
What was your journey in coming to meditation and mindfulness?
I took a Positive Psychology class in high school and started practicing yoga and meditation around the same time. I was instantly hooked! Throughout my life, I experienced trauma that turned into anxiety and depression.
I loved learning how to bring more joy into my life and process emotions in a healthy way through movement and finding grounding. I continued to practice mindfulness throughout my life and decided to get certified to teach Yoga, Meditation and learned MBSR.
How do you recommend those new to meditation start?
I typically start my beginning clients off with a body scan meditation. It’s an excellent way for people to start practicing tuning into the present moment is to focus on their physical body and their breath because it’s something tactile that they can anchor to.
From there, I teach the three anchors, which are physical body, breath, and sound. My clients learn how to guide themselves back to the present moment when they feel overwhelmed or are experiencing anxiety.
What is a Mindfulness Coach?
I work with people to help them build their resilience and cultivate a healthy relationship with present awareness. It’s one piece of mental health; many people, including myself, have a support system that includes therapy, medication, friends, family, etc.
Mindfulness is a piece of the puzzle to living a joyful, resilient life. I guide my clients through various techniques they can use as a part of their whole support system, from meditation, yoga, mindfulness techniques, breathwork, and Reiki.
Any surprises you commonly hear from clients?
I tend to hear clients say that they are “bad at meditating.” Meeting yourself where you are is vital, which is challenging, especially in American culture where we can tend to be competitive and desire to be the best.
I encourage them to try different techniques that resonate with them and allow themselves to be a beginner. Mindfulness is a journey, we’re always learning and growing. If you give yourself permission to be, just as you are, that’s enough.
You are trained in Mindful Based Stress Reduction (MBSR)—can you explain what this is?
MBSR is a program that you can go through formally, which Jon Kabat-Zinn created. I use the techniques from my MBSR training to lead students through their Mindfulness journey.
MBSR starts with teaching students a Body Scan and even teaches yoga; it’s a more science-based approach that works with some of my clients, especially my corporate workshops, but for my 1:1 clients, they typically respond to a mix of techniques.
Can it be fun? Or is it all serious business?
It can absolutely be fun! Integrating a new routine into your life and make it sustainable can seem daunting. I’m a big believer in creating a routine that fits your lifestyle and for it to be enjoyable.
However, the more you commit to your formal practice, the easier it is to integrate mindfulness into your everyday life for your informal practice.
If you could travel anywhere for meditation—a course, retreat, or just space to practice—where would you go?
I have a retreat coming up in August! I’m excited because the timing couldn’t be more perfect—it’s a week-long retreat at Cara Creek Eco Lodge in the Serra da Estrela mountains of Central Portugal.
It’s a retreat center immersed in nature that’s perfect for disconnecting to reconnect to the self. Each day I will teach new Mindfulness techniques, breathwork, meditation, and yoga. I’m really looking forward to spending time in nature, nourishing myself, and unplugging.
Last question! Fun or quirky fact we should know about you?
I became obsessed with watching this pottery show and am convinced it’s the hobby for my soul. I love working with my hands and creating—my intention is to create more spaces for play in my everyday life rather than it being a reward. I’m starting classes next month and couldn’t be more thrilled!
Are you interested in learning more? Wellness With Molly can help guide you on your journey inward through curated one-on-one sessions and workshops to deepen your connection to yourself.