Our promise: Anyone can do this Anywhere!
Our mission is to show you how to feel better…immediately and for the long haul…to be truly healthy in your Body, as well as your Mind and Spirit…to be your best friend…to have a safety net to catch you and lift you back up when you need it…365 days a year.
Hi, I’m Michele Risa. I’d like you to get to know me. So I’ve imagined us sitting and having coffee together and answered some questions you might have asked. (There’s also a short video at the bottom.)
How did Beyond Body Mind Spirit start?
I started as a yoga teacher, offering classes in spas and fitness centers throughout New York. When I began to include meditation, people looked at me as though I had 3 heads and I was told to stick with yoga. But I knew that the mind needed to be as fit as the body, and meditation was the best path. So I transformed my living room into a studio. Soon a group of students asked questions about the philosophy behind yoga and meditation…and voila, my seminars, programs, and retreats were “born.”
How do you stay fit?
Like most of us, I know I shouldn’t eat lots of ice cream, cookies, and chocolate. But I love all 3. But I never went on any of the “hot new diets.” I just knew I could never stick with them. Instead I realized that I could indulge myself and push the stop button when I went too far. I was then introduced to running by my ex-husband and saw my body change from thin to toned. After a few short races, and enjoying the thrill of getting a medal for being the first over the finish line in my age category, I decided to run the New York City Marathon. I experienced what fit and strong felt like. I never looked back.
Yoga came into my life and introduced me to mindfulness and inner peace. As I’ve traveled this path, I’ve realized how critical it is to be my best friend, to accept and forgive me, to support and nourish me, and to learn how to love me.
That translates into having more fun than ever before! At 62, I break through every aging myth in the book: started roller blading lessons; increased the number of miles I ride my bike by using it as transportation to get to clients and teach classes; and learning new skills from French to fencing to knitting.
Why should I listen to you?
I practice what I preach. I know how frustrating it is to keep trying to improve a part of your life only to fail again and again. I’ve picked myself back up more times than I have hair on my head and I know what weary feels like. And I know the sweet taste of success. I also know how to make the ups and downs part of this “perfect” process, as it teaches me not only acceptance and perseverance but also shows me how my interpretation of what is happening actually determines what happens.
Plus I’ve had some of the best teachers. At New York University, I was introduced to bio-feedback which awakened my passion for understanding the mind. At Columbia, I learned how to help students break through handicaps- both physical and mental. I learned yoga from the Master of Kundalini Yoga, meeting with him in New Mexico each summer and in India where I was among the first women to clean the marble of the Golden Temple in Amritsar. Though he has since passed out of his body, his wisdom and guidance continue to be an inspiration to me every day of my life.
What is your favorite part of your body?
My first response is my heart. It is a place I go to enjoy love, peace, and my spirit. I also know that like many women, I grew up being self conscious and unhappy with my body. I used to refer to my legs as “tree trunks” suggesting they were big and fat. Today, as I see my reflection in mirrors and store windows, I look at my body and slowly scan up to my face for my smile. I now believe that no matter what I “look” like, my smile makes me beautiful.
What is your favorite food?
Though I’ve already confessed to loving cookies, ice cream and chocolate, I only desire them after I’ve eaten something nourishing and satisfying, like a whole grain, vegetables bursting with herbs like garlic, basil, lemon and white wine, and always protein that if left out, leaves me feeling hungry. But, OK you asked for my favorite food? First you have to understand how much I love variety. If you’ve got that, then maybe I won’t sound so crazy when I tell you that my mouth waters when I see a pilaf of different grains, seeds, dried fruits, and nuts. OK, still crazy.
What do you envision for the future?
As I look into my crystal ball (and having just watched the closing ceremonies of the Olympics), I see the next hugely popular “sport” to be Mind Gymnastics (a.k.a. meditation!) In fact, I believe the mind is aptly labeled the “final frontier” more so than the surface of Mars. Here’s why: we all want to be happy and successful but struggle being it, no matter how much power or money we have. We all want to feel loved, but come up empty no matter how many “fans” we have. Why? Because our subconscious determines (more than our conscious) how we interpret information, how we feel, and what decisions we make and actions we take. The good news is that in 2012, we have the research and technology to prove it!
So, if old beliefs and feelings are no longer supporting you, meaning they are not enabling you to create the life you dream of, then you must learn how to clear and heal the subconscious! Folks at Google have been studying meditation and mindfulness since 2007 and report incredible success stories. As the word spreads, more and more of us will seek meditation to finally enjoy the “good life!”
What book are you currently reading?
I’m reading “Bill Moyers Journal.” It includes conversations Bill Moyers had on PBS since 2007 and coincided with momentous events: the final years of the Bush White House, the turbulent 2008 election campaign that culminated in the election of America’s first African American president and the first 15 months of the Obama administration (including fierce debates over health care, financial reform, etc.), and the worst global economic meltdown since the Great Depression.
More than ever before, I see how these events impact my life and so can no longer dismiss them as just “politics.” The book is filled with those who foresaw much of what the country is experiencing today. For example, Simon Johnson and James K. Galbraith told Bill that “in the aftershocks of the financial earthquake those responsible for it would continue to prosper, resisting new regulations and picking profit from the ruins of the lives they had helped shatter.”
These stories and conflicts do not die. As I read each “conversation,” I struggle with understanding how these events which I believe are so unjust can continue to happen. And I struggle with what part I can play to make a meaningful difference.
Where do you volunteer?
I conduct classes over the telephone with home-bound seniors from two senior centers in New York- Stanley Isaacs and Dorot. As I hear them say “I feel great,” smiling through their huffing and buffing, I can’t help but smile.
I also help Gilda’s Club, founded by Gilda Radner to support adults and children with cancer and caretakers of people with cancer. Their programs are wonderfully healing and the environment uplifting, having kept Gilda’s magical sense of humor.
Living literally in the middle of one of the world’s busiest, craziest cities, Central Park has become my oasis. I am a member of the PAWS Committee which works with the Central Park Conservancy to keep its 843 acres a place where 1,000s of dogs (including mine, Shanti) can run free from 9 PM to 9 AM, stay healthy and socialize while sharing the space with 35 million humans who come yearly to run, bike, skate, row-boat, fish, picnic and play baseball, basketball and tennis. It’s a place I go to escape the concrete and enjoy flowers, huge trees, lakes, water falls, blue-jays, cardinals, owls, and eagles (the species list is very long) while marvel at the miracle of mother nature in every season.
If you don’t have your own oasis, find one. Your life will immediately get easier and happier.
Our mission is to have millions of people “enjoy healthy.”
Be one in a million!
If you’re still here, I’m impressed. Here’s even more about me (the official bio).
Michele Risa, M.A. is President of the Manhattan Holistic Chamber of Commerce. Her mission is to enhance the visibility and viability of holistic businesses through a unique 3-prong approach: heal personally, grow professionally and build community. Through community practices, she plans to offer the American public easy access to a holistic lifestyle which ensures lasting health and prosperity.
Since 1989, Michele has been dedicated to the advancement of holistic programs enabling people – from the inside out – to manifest their authentic life. She has customized results-producing programs for corporations, most recently the New York Stock Exchange, addressing critical obstacles that affect productivity and improving its most valuable asset- the well-being of its employees.
As America’s Mindfulness Expert, she has been a long-time advocate of meditation- the key to peak performance and leadership- and now joined by CEOs, sports teams and entertainers. She is passionate about disease prevention, relationship building, spreading the truth about the glory of aging, and advancing thought leaders to promote world peace.
She’s a certified Kundalini Yoga teacher by Kundalini Research Institute and certified in Therapeutic and Hatha Yoga by Satsang Yoga Center. She holds a BA and MA from New York University and Columbia University. Additional certifications include: Breathwalk, Conflict Resolution, Divorce Mediation, and Yoga for Children. She has completed numerous 10 Day Silent Meditation courses in Vipassana and over 16 years of White Tantric Yoga, as taught by the internationally recognized Master of Kundalini Yoga, Yogi Bhajan.
Clients include: corporations (New York Stock Exchange, Viacom, Forbes), hospitals (Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, North General Hospital, Bronx-Lebanon Hospital), and universities (University of Pennsylvania Cancer Center, University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey). Though most clients are located within the five boroughs of New York City, she has conducted seminars as far West as California and as far East as Russia.
She has been a TV producer of her own yoga show since 1998, a frequent radio guest, and a published co-author of the book, “Conscious Entrepreneurs: A Radical New Approach to Purpose, Passion and Profits,” Winner of the National “Best Books” Awards.
Michele is a philanthropist, supports organizations providing a hand up like Oxfam, Central Park Conservancy, volunteers at Senior Centers like Dorot, where she teaches at University Without Walls, and is an ambassador for the American Heart Association.