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Karuna: [00:00:05] Hi, I’m Karuna, I’m the founder and executive director of Mind Oasis, and this is Meditation. Happy Hour: Tea, Talk, and Truth with Kaleigh! Take it away!

Kaleigh: [00:00:19] Hi. So we thought it would be super fun to interview our founder and executive director, Karuna to learn a little bit more about her history… What brought her to meditation? How she came up with the idea about Mind Oasis and to share that with everyone who maybe sees Karuna interviewing people every week and doesn’t know who she is? So, Karuna, let’s just start with a basic question about how you came to meditation in the first place.

Karuna: [00:00:51] Thank you so much, Kaleigh. It’s really funny to be, the shoe to be on the other foot, right? So I don’t know. It must have been maybe 2006 or 2007. I was working and living in the Aspen, Colorado area and I was a single parent and I was finding that I was kind of moving up in the ranks of nonprofits in terms of responsibility and such. So I was really investing my time and effort into my…. *dog barking* Hi Harper… into my career. So, you know, any extra dollars I had, I would spend on coaching and things like that. And I was walking up a mountain with a friend at the time, and she was expressing how she admired me for investing in my career. And I said to her that I really admired her for investing in her health. She was doing a yoga teacher training. She had talked about meditation with me, and she said, Oh, why don’t you try something like that? Why don’t you try meditation? And I said, because I can’t empty my mind. And she said, Kelly, because at the time I went by Kelly, that’s not what meditation is about. And so fast forward about. Five or six years, I moved to Austin, Texas, and I lived right next to Dharma Yoga and I was going there every day and I would look forward to doing yoga asana. But I really looked forward to Shavasana and meditation at the end. And through that, I met Kelly Lindsey and Kelly Lindsey, of course, is one of our founders. She’s one of our teachers on Mind Oasis and I went through Kelly’s Dakini Meditative Teacher Training, and that’s really how everything got started.

Kaleigh: [00:02:51] It’s so funny, I think you, Kelly [Lindsey], and I have the same sort of entry story yoga, but we love Shavasana and not…..

Karuna: [00:03:02] *laughs*

Kaleigh: [00:03:05] I love that. So why do you feel that meditation is important in your life? You went from just doing yoga loving Shavasana and then somehow started meditating and then felt that it was important enough to keep going.

Karuna: [00:03:23] …and to teach it to others because something I think I’ve always been kind of a spiritual seeker my whole life. I grew up in the Lutheran Church, a very wonderful liberal Lutheran Church in Wisconsin, and to this day, I think a lot of my ethics and morality are guided by that time in my church. But I went through a really hard time. From the time I was about twenty five, I’d say, until thirty five or thirty six. And while maybe on the outside, I looked like I had my act together, right? I had a career and I was raising a son and out, having fun and doing lots of things like snowboarding and climbing mountains and all that stuff. There was a part of me that was deeply dissatisfied, deeply dissatisfied with my life, with my world around me, and I couldn’t put my finger on it. It kind of felt like whiny, like what’s wrong with me, right? There was definitely this element of something being wrong with me. And when I started to meditate slowly over time, people would say things like, you know, place your hand on your heart. And and I was like, Why am I putting my hand on my heart? You know, because I’m a total cynic and but I could feel this tenderness that I didn’t even know existed. I don’t think anyone had said to me, like in my lifetime place a hand on your heart and notice the tenderness that’s there. So I had really good meditation teachers that weren’t all just about connecting with your breath for no good reason. They were helping me to connect with my breath in order to become more present to my life.

Karuna: [00:05:06] And through that process, I realized that my life was all fucked up and and it was heartbreaking. And I remember going to Kelly Lindsey and saying, Wait a minute, wait a minute. Ok, meditation isn’t about emptying your mind, but I thought meditation was about getting calm. That’s what it says on Yoga Journal. Meditate, get calm. And I don’t feel calm, I feel worse. I feel sad. And so I found this deep well of sadness. And for people who know me, that deep well of sadness had a lot to do with my mom dying when I was twenty five, very unexpectedly in a motorcycle accident. And that sadness defined me for a decade. But after the initial grief wore away. I had a grief that I no longer felt I didn’t know that’s what was running the show because I wasn’t present to what the hell was going on in my body. I was just trying to survive. So I started meditating and realized I was a hot mess and realized that we’re all hot messes and through working with my hot mess, I got happier and I became kinder and I had. More regret when I wasn’t kind. And. I sort of stopped having as many friends, I found just the friends that kind of aligned with me. And I found a purpose for my life so that if I died today. Having done lots of things wrong, I know I’ll have done some things right because of my presence of mind and heart.

Kaleigh: [00:07:01] I think that one of the points you just mentioned is something that’s not often discussed is that you might lose friends along the way and it may not be a bad thing. It may be painful at the time, but when you start practicing, it can change things in your life that you don’t expect.

Karuna: [00:07:21] I think for a while, I don’t say it any more, but I think for a long while, [00:07:28] I used to say that meditation should come with like a warning, you know, a warning sign that says Red Alert your life if you practice regularly is definitely going to improve. But getting to the place where you would use a word improvement can hurt like hell. [00:07:47]

Kaleigh: [00:07:48] Yeah, it can be a really bumpy road.

Karuna: [00:07:51] Yeah, as simple as… I love Lizzo, OK? I absolutely love Lizzo. I also like Kanye West and I also like Jay-Z. And if I listen to Lizzo and then try to meditate, all I can hear are Lizzo’s lyrics. So I’ve also gone to a place where sometimes I’m that old person who drives without music or even has to listen to music without words for weeks on end to kind of cleanse the Lizzo out because she had gotten in the middle of my meditation practice, right? So it’s these goofy things. Right? These little things that you don’t realize are actually within you kind of interfering with your ability to be present.

Kaleigh: [00:08:32] So how do you feel like you’re able to make the choice? Some people might think, Oh, well, I love Lizzo. I don’t want to give that up. Fuck my meditation practice, you know? So what makes you prioritize your meditation and say, sorry, Lizzo.. See you later.

Karuna: [00:08:50] I fall off the wagon all the time in so many different ways. I, a lot of times will be Lizzo. It’s you and me, girl. We’re just, we’re going to go ski, we’re going to go do it. But because I keep a meditation journal, which, by the way, I did not do until very recently, and it has changed my life again, so I love that there’s always learning to be had. I can see that when I don’t go to bed at 8:30, that’s my bedtime and I’m an old lady, when I have too many glasses of wine. If I listen to Lizzo, if I don’t do my Wim Hof breathing all of these things, I can see how it directly impacts my meditation practice. To your point, someone might say, Well, who the hell cares? The reason I care is because my meditation practice is the thing that grounds me, it allows me to be a sane human being in this world. It allows me to be a good mom to my grown son. It allows me to be a pretty good wife to my husband. It allows me to show up for Mind Oasis in the way that Mind Oasis needs me to. And because I guide meditation, it also helps me to really empathize with anyone who’s undertaken the adventure of a meditation practice. Because you know what? It’s really fucking hard. Yeah, and people and I love it. I can’t remember. I think it’s Pema Chodron in her book The Wisdom of No Escape, which is one of the things that I’m leading a class in right now. [00:10:26] And she goes to Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche and she’s like, I’m doing everything wrong in my practice, I can’t visualize, I can’t do this, I can’t do that. And he just sort of like pats her hand and says, Sweetheart, I always wonder about the people who say it’s too easy. Like, I wonder what’s going on there. And that’s been a big inspiration for me because I don’t think it’s easy. I think it’s worthwhile. [00:10:49]

Kaleigh: [00:10:50] That’s totally, totally. Yeah, it’s not like the pictures where you just see someone sitting still and peacefully. And maybe if you were in a cave or something for a few years without any distractions, I don’t know. I’m sure I could find something to be upset about in that situation. 

Karuna: [00:11:09] It’s too cold. It’s too dark too wet, too light! Bugs!!

Kaleigh: [00:11:17] It’s depicted in this way. If you meditate, your life will look like this. And that’s totally not true. And I feel like that’s some of the beauty of Mind Oasis. And what we share is that you’re living your real life. Your meditation is a part of it. It can help it. And here’s other challenges that you can face along the way.

Karuna: [00:11:40] I agree with that wholeheartedly, and I think it’s also Pema that says if you put thought bubbles above the heads of, let’s say, 50 meditators back in the day when we can meditate in person together and everybody looks all serene. And so you get these great pictures of serene looking people. But if you understood the remembering… The fantasies, the planning, the fuck you emails that are actually going on in the thought bubbles, right? But I’ll say this, and it’s really taken me guiding the advanced meditation immersion. So I would say just recently I’ve actually become a meditator, which is interesting because I’ve been teaching and guiding meditation on Mind Oasis for over four years. But just recently I discovered that if you put in the hard work, [00:12:32] that calm thing that yoga journal likes to promote, I believe it is possible and that it’s more attainable. You can touch it more frequently if you really do have a consistent practice, but it is literally that consistency that’s going to get you there. And sometimes it’s hard to get to the consistency because it doesn’t necessarily feel good in the beginning, so, part of a strong meditation practice is the stick-with-it-ness, and you kind of just have to trust that other people have done it in the past before you and that they. Their wisdom is boomeranging back. [00:13:12]

Kaleigh: [00:13:13] How long did it take you to?…. Let’s back up. Do you have a daily meditation practice or?

Karuna: [00:13:23] Yeah, mostly

Kaleigh: [00:13:25] To get there,

Karuna: [00:13:26] Though, I will. I just have to give a little shout out to Elizabete Gomes because she has something she calls her string of pearls and she’s not. I don’t even know. I haven’t asked her recently, but the last time I asked her, she was like something like 600 days of daily meditation, literally not missing. That’s not me. I would say that I’m at a ninety five percent accuracy, right? Most days I sit and it took me. Until probably about 2018, so five years, you know, I would just show up on Wednesdays for Kelly Lindsey’s meditation, group meditation because I loved that community, I would drive literally an hour and a half each way in order to be with her. And then I would sit and fantasize and daydream during the meditation itself and then enjoy coffee and chai with all of my friends that I loved, right? So that motivation was different. But the motivation was good. Connection community. That’s OK, right? But that consistency thing is real. It changes everything, it’s a complete game changer, but I really do believe that it takes a while unless… you’re just an Elizabete Gomes and you’re just, I’m just going to do it right and there’s people like that. But that’s not me.

Kaleigh: [00:14:48] What do you think helps get to that consistency if you’re struggling, if someone is struggling with that?

Karuna: [00:14:55] It’s such a great question. It’s super chicken and egg. So I had a teacher a few years ago say that every time she got on her cushion, it was as blissful as an orgasm. And I was like, Really? You’re doing something very different on your meditation cushion than I’m doing, right? But I know what she means now. And instead of even if my mind is wandering, and even if in theory it doesn’t seem like a good meditation session, I’m always so much happier when I’ve sat. And so. At some point you give up the struggle, like if it’s not a “great” meditation session, it just doesn’t matter. You sat, you’re going to reap the benefits, something’s going to come out of that. So you kind of have to get to the point where instead of you feeling like you have to sit because somehow you’ve made a commitment to yourself, instead, it’s that you cannot wait to sit. And that shift in mindset, just it’s just key.

Kaleigh: [00:15:59] So what are some things that you could suggest to help someone get to that point? Because, like you said, it’s chicken in the egg, so if you’re not enjoying your meditation, it might feel like I have to.

Karuna: [00:16:10] Well, one thing is that I think that people think that it’s a solitary sport and you know, we know on Mind Oasis it’s not. But I think that when we talk about it like that, it sounds like we’re like, Just come join our community because we want you to be a part of it, right? But I think what people have to understand is, No, we really mean it. Having a good guide which you can get through an app to help guide you for the first couple of years, I think is really helpful. Left to our own devices, our mind is totally whack a doodle and it’ll come up with so many different bizarre ways to hijack you. It can be very discouraging. So I think, like the solitary warrior in this sense, is a terrible idea. Minimally allows someone to help guide you those first couple of years. The second thing I would say is that if you’re serious and if you can taste the little benefits that you think might happen and or you just believe in the people around you who are like, if you meditate, things will change. Get a good teacher, get a really good teacher. And. I used to be a little bit more like Shamatha, Shamatha, Shamatha, but I’ve loosened up. I think that there are a lot of different ways to get your mind to settle enough to be present. But you want someone who’s reputable and knows what they’re doing. And then the third thing I would say is I’m not kidding about the online group meditation, right or in person, if that’s something that you can do these days. A couple of different things happen. One is you start to look forward to the community that you’re going to sit with, and you can’t get that on an app. On an app, even if it’s a live session, you’re looking at a teacher, right? But if you come to community meditation, you’re with a group of other people. You start to kind of get to know them. You might like a shirt they have on. You might notice a cat or dog or a kid in the background. You find out that they live in the same town as your grandma. I mean, there’s all of these little connections that can be made. And so you start to look forward to seeing those people, those faces those smiles, right? Or sometimes not smiles. And then you’re like, Oh, no, like, what’s wrong with Michelle or whatever? So there’s that. And then the accountability that happens is pretty interesting. So like, let’s say you schedule Wednesday mornings at nine and you’re like, I’m going to go to those community meditations. You know, on Thursday, excuse me, on Tuesday, you start thinking about it, you know, and then you’re like, Oh, maybe I should sit for 20 minutes because I’m thinking about meditation anyway. And then you go and you have a good time and you’re like, Oh, wow, I actually had a really good day. And the only thing that was different was meditation. I went to community meditation. So then Thursday comes around. You’re like, Maybe I should sit again. So what happens is you end up with sort of this upward spiral of accountability that I think is really key. So one, don’t go at it alone. Two, get a good teacher. I happen to be one. I like to say that I’m a better teacher than I am a meditator. And three, take advantage of group meditation.

Kaleigh: [00:19:28] Absolutely. Yeah. I just got feedback from someone who recently joined community meditation because she was like, I just can’t get the consistency on my own, but I’m loving the discussions before and after and the guidance, and I really think that’s like what we always say is the secret sauce or the special sauce of Mind Oasis is that it’s not necessarily talked about that much, but that accountability piece and showing up to meditate with other people can be so powerful and it truly does. Every time I hop on community meditation, I’m like, Oh, I had a good day today.

Karuna: [00:20:04] I know, I know it’s so great. And I’ll just say that I think we get a lot of feedback that people who have struggled but have wanted a meditation practice but have struggled have found their consistency through meditation and even people who maybe only show up once in a blue moon. These days, I’m thinking of Charlie. You know, Charlie was with us in the very beginning and he would sit every single day and he had tried to have a meditation practice before that. And and that was how he found his consistency. And he still sits every day. But he just comes to community meditation, maybe once a week or once a month, right, because it’s there for him. But he doesn’t need it anymore because he’s in a different phase of his practice.

Kaleigh: [00:20:45] Exactly. Yeah. We go through an evolution with our practice, and so it’s really nice to have support in whatever different stage that you’re in.

Karuna: [00:20:57] And I would just say one of the things that those of us who have a more consistent practice can do is to actually show up once a week to community meditation, to be of benefit to other meditators, to be there for them. Even if you didn’t say a darn word energetically showing up and having a smiley face and like just showing up is helping to hold space for people as they get to get into the groove of their own practice.

Kaleigh: [00:21:25] So since we’re talking about community meditation, I would love to hear the story of how you thought of the idea for Mind Oasis and what happened after that.

Karuna: [00:21:37] So I actually didn’t think of the idea of Mind Oasis. It’s pretty interesting. Mind Oasis just sort of came to me in an airstream in the middle of the desert in Arizona. I was on a month long meditation retreat in 2017, early 2017. I had gotten married and about two weeks later, I told my husband that I was going by myself on a month long, silent meditation retreat. And he was like, what? So a couple of months later, I took off to Cochise Stronghold, which is a really beautiful area in Arizona, and I was really gung ho. I was in the middle of Kelly Lindsey’s Dakini Meditative teacher training, and we were supposed to go on a retreat of like three to four days. So I decided to go for a month. And I was assured by most people I was prepared, but there were a couple of naysayers and I of course, ignored them and I got there and I was all prepared. I had, you know, my 20 cases of Topo Chico and my lentils and my oatmeal. And I had my own airstream and I got through like day three and I was like, Oh, no. I was like, Oh no, wait a minute. This is not like feeling good, like it was not feeling good. And I was like, OK, well, it’s day three Karuna. I’ll like, take it easy, you know? And then, a week had gone by and it wasn’t getting better.

Karuna: [00:23:10] In fact, it was getting worse. And when I say it, what I mean is I would wake up, do my practices in the morning and then I would do some seva. I was doing fire mitigation, so I was hoeing weeds out of the desert in like a hundred degrees as my Seva. And then I’d go in and I’d take a little nap and then I’d go back to my practices and I’d make dinner. And by about four o’clock, it’s interesting. I’m having that sensation in my stomach as we’re doing, as we’re talking right now, I would get this sensation in my stomach of dread. And part of it had to do with me being afraid of what was going on in the outside world. Part of it had to do with me being afraid of what was going on in my inner world, but it was almost. Heart stopping, it – felt like I couldn’t move. It was paralyzing, this sensation of unease, and in my meditation practice, it wasn’t so much that my mind was all over the place. My mind was just straight up mean and it was replaying every shitty thing that I’d ever done to another human being, which there was plenty of fodder and every shitty thing that had ever happened to me. And there was also plenty of fodder. You know, I’ve lived a pretty big life, and when you live a big life, you have a lot of joys and a lot of sorrows and everything in between.

Karuna: [00:24:37] And I just couldn’t like regulate. I could not regulate so from about four o’clock every day until eight when thank God, the Sun would go down and I’d have an excuse to go to bed. There was like four and a half hours of just straight up hell, it was hell within me. And the only thing I could do was to walk. And in retreat, you make a boundary and my boundary was really only probably maybe three acres. It wasn’t very big. And I would just walk and my Birkenstocks were like worn out by the end of the retreat because all I could do was walk and try not to die. And so I went through that for three weeks. So many times wanted to give up, but I’m tough and so I don’t know if I’m tougher or I’m stupid. But some combination kept me there. Plus, I didn’t want to admit defeat, I suppose. And I was sitting and it was another day of, and this time I was 11 o’clock and the sun’s coming down and it’s getting hot, and I’m going to have to put the air conditioning on, which was like, really startling to my nervous system. And something just clicked and there was like this download and it said, You know, what if you created something where people could come together like teachers and students and students together? So like community, no matter where they are, if they’re in an airstream in the desert of Arizona or if they’re in Zimbabwe or if they’re in the UK, and they could come together and meditate and study the healing arts together.

Karuna: [00:26:16] And I was like, Huh, that’s a really good idea. And it gave my poor brain something to latch onto which, by the way, this is not what you’re supposed to do in retreat. But I said, screw it because I was tortured. So I wrote like a five or 10 page business plan. And by doing that, it relieved some of the steam, right? And so when I got out of retreat and did 90 miles per hour home because I couldn’t wait to get back, I presented the idea and Kelly Lindsey, Denise Deniger, Michael Hewett and my husband all said, That’s a great idea. And I was like, Really? And they’re like, Yeah. So we formed a board, filed bylaws, became a 501c3 nonprofit, and it wasn’t until like the next year or maybe the year after that each one of them privately at some point confided that they really didn’t think it was going to work. But they didn’t. They didn’t want to curb my enthusiasm. And you know, it’s really interesting because I had said to myself, if any one of them said, it’s a terrible idea. I wasn’t going to do it.

Kaleigh: [00:27:22] So what happened next with Mind Oasis?

Karuna: [00:27:28] Oh, my goodness, what hasn’t happened at Mind Oasis? So let’s see. At the end of 2017, we piloted a bunch of or a handful of programs, and people paid money, attended classes and it worked. So at the end of 2017 after six weeks, we’d raised like five thousand in program revenue and then the next year it was something like, I don’t know, 30. In the next year, it was something like 80. And so we were offering more programs. We incorporated community meditation. We launched our first May Meditation Celebration. Used to be a challenge now it’s a celebration, all you softies out there, you know, and through all of this, it’s because of our board of directors believing in the dream. Donors coming through when we thought we were going to lose it. An amazing community of people who love Mind Oasis so much that when every time I wrote a resignation letter, I didn’t send it because I would think of their faces literally and the disappointment that they would feel if Mind Oasis went under.

Kaleigh: [00:28:51] So I’m curious how because the vision initially was bringing connecting teachers with students, Zoom was not cool back then. I remember I had my stint at Mind Oasis early on and was like training people on Zoom, you know, like getting on the phone and like, Here’s how you download it. Here’s how you get on. And I promise it’s not scary. And it was really like community meditation wasn’t an idea. And in fact, it was meditate on the 8’s in 2018 on like twelve-o-eight every hour is on the eight. And so that came later and the vision was just to connect students and teachers. So I’m curious how what’s been like the biggest surprise for you to come out of the creation of Mind Oasis and how it’s become a co-created thing? What were you not expecting the most?

Karuna: [00:29:48] That’s a great question, but can I go back and just do one little “revisionist” thing because I think this is so funny. So, I wish that I could say that the current programs we offer was, really well thought out and that, you know, it was strategically looked at and that there was analysis done. But even community meditation, which was called Meditate on the 8’s, like you said, and for people who are of my age or a little bit older, it was supposed to be sort of a riff. I don’t know if you remember, but you could click your cable channel and there was weather on the 8’s, so any time at 8 after the hour, you could check what the current weather is, which of course, is totally gone now. But that was sort of the idea. And even that I was driving down to the Hanuman Yoga Festival in 2018, in my car, coming down the mountain and I was like, Huh, you know? You know, so it was another download like, you know what we should do, we should offer daily group meditation online. And remember, this is 2018 and so to Kaleigh’s point, Zoom wasn’t cool. In fact, it was hard. People did not know how to use Zoom, and they didn’t want to learn how to use Zoom…

Karuna: [00:31:06] So we just somehow were poised for the pandemic. We just somehow. And so overnight, around March 15 of 2020. Everyone learned how to use Zoom. People who had vehemently opposed ever coming on Mind Oasis because of Zoom, were on Zoom that week, right? And they knew what they were doing. So it’s amazing, so these downloads, who the hell knows what’s up with that? Ok, so your more interesting question- Any surprise? What are some of the surprising aspects of Mind Oasis? Well, one surprising aspect is that we’re still here. And Kaleigh knows what I mean, but I’ll go into it a little bit. I’m not saying because there wasn’t drive. I’m not saying there wasn’t even money, and I’m not saying there wasn’t an amazing community of people. But the truth of the matter is, we’re in America, baby, and you need big bucks to make things go off the ground. And we definitely didn’t have big bucks. We had the support of my husband. We had the support of many donors. But when I say big bucks, some of our competitors have had million dollar investors. And so we had to really scrap our way to where we are today. And I just met with the Colorado Enterprise Fund and Colorado Enterprise Fund, gave us a loan last year, a small loan, but a big loan for us, right? Enough of a loan for us to do what we need to do in order to invest in our growth.

Karuna: [00:32:54] But up until that loan, it’s always been on the donors and the community and our teachers, the generosity of our teachers, believing in our mission and believing in what we’re up to. And that just is not Wall Street, and I’m not saying we don’t operate or run like a business we do, right. We operate full on as a business should. But in terms of the fact that we’re here in year five, that we have you as chief operating officer, that we have a program manager, that we have a team that’s helping us to advertise and that we’ve done it through literally blood, sweat and tears that really says something about how much our community cares about what we’re doing and that people value it. Our board has saved our ass way more than once, and at the end of the day, a lot of them don’t even hang out on Mind Oasis all that much, but they believe in the power of what Mind Oasis brings to our community.

Kaleigh: [00:33:58] Right. Yeah, there’s so many people who when we’ve had tough times, even just in the last few months that have been like, no Mind Oasis is doing something awesome in the world and it’s really inspiring and encouraging to keep going when things do get tough and they do. But yeah, so that would be your biggest surprise of what’s happening with Mind Oasis, how it evolved.

Karuna: [00:34:29] I think the dedication… I’m trying to think of anything else in my life where I’ve seen people that dedicated to something that maybe only indirectly benefits them. I mean, you raise your children with vigor because they’re your children and you protect your family because they’re your family. And, you know, maybe if you enjoy your work, you work hard, but that also means that you get revenue and you maybe advance and you go to school and you work hard to get good grades, so you get a good job. But like, I kind of feel like Mind Oasis is bodhicitta in action. Because it’s not about you as an individual per say, though, you might get benefits, right? I’m really looking forward to  Kimberley Teresa’s Mahamudra course that’s coming up. So I personally, I’m going to benefit from that, right? If bodhicitta is the wish to be of benefit to all sentient beings, that’s really kind of what Mind Oasis is and it’s organic and it’s… You can plug in as much or as little as you want to. I don’t think I’ve ever really seen that and it’s not Buddhist, right, and it’s also not – I’m trying not to – say, the name of the app that I want to, but you know, the orange ball thingy. It’s also not… There to make people millionaires. I think that’s different, and I think that’s worthy of being of surprise. That’s definitely not what I started in 2017. I just thought it would be cool if we could all connect. And I think we connect in a much bigger way.

Kaleigh: [00:36:36] Absolutely, yeah. It’s so cool to me to see the friendships across the country, and now we’re starting to grow and seeing people across the globe. And it’s just amazing and true friendships develop on Mind Oasis, which I would personally say is my biggest surprise because being online, you think it takes something away, but in some ways it’s even more intimate. Like you’re seeing my office right now, where I also meditate. My altar’s in the background, like it’s very personal and intimate to see people in their homes and the type of connections that form are real. It’s not. There’s nothing missing because it’s online, except being able to call each other and go meet for a cup of coffee, which is a bummer sometimes. But it’s great to have friends all over and people to visit and you know, when it’s safe. And yeah, it’s really special.

Karuna: [00:37:31] That was one of the things that happened during the pandemic is like once it was at least where you could travel a little bit, but you just had to be careful and pee in fields instead of in gas stations kind of thing. A shocking amount of people like connected with one another and even if it was socially distanced and masked or outside breakfast or whatever, like, we had people sending selfies of one another and they never would have met, I don’t believe, without Mind Oasis. And even like when we first started this podcast, you know, I know that that’s Harper’s bark. Yeah, right? And so, you know, and people have gotten to see me eighty six, my cat, because he’s annoying and he likes to make biscuits with his claws while I’m trying to teach. We get to see all sorts of wonderful, intimate parts of one another’s lives.

Kaleigh: [00:38:18] So Karuna, I want to ask you if you have one favorite tool, tip or like a mantra or something that you want to gift to our listeners as part of our closing? And then I have one more question for you after you do that.

Karuna: [00:38:38] Yeah, I do, I have a couple, one is I really believe that if you’re struggling with meditation, whether it’s in a group or on your own, that doing some very simple pranayama, a little simple breathing exercise that’s very gentle. For God’s sake, we don’t need anything that’s not gentle at the moment that it can really be of benefit to help smooth out your mind. In advance of a practice, so that’s kind of my go to these days, I’m doing not so gentle Wim Hof breathing, but that’s not for everyone, but I think a little gentle, mindful breathing before you start your session or during your session is really important. I think that getting out in nature every day, even if you live in the city and all it is, is walking around your block on the concrete, that’s OK. Notice the sky, notice the trees, notice the breeze. Just taking that moment to be mindful outside, I think, is really helpful.

Kaleigh: [00:39:43] I love that. And my last question is, what’s your truth?

Karuna: [00:39:49] You know, what’s really funny? I didn’t think about the fact that you’re going to ask me that because I ask all my guests that and right, when you got that shit eating grin on your face, I was like, Oh my God, she’s going to ask me my truth, and I have no idea. So my truth is that if you believe in something that you never give up. I wanted to give up so many times, and the right angel at the right time always kept me from jumping off the “I give up” cliff. And as a result, we have this vibrant community and we have everything we need at Mind Oasis in order to be of service in this world. So don’t give up, you just have to hang in there if it’s worth it and if especially if it’s of benefit to all beings, you have to hang in there. That’s my truth. Hang in there.

Kaleigh: [00:41:00] Thank you. Thanks so much, Karuna. It’s been really fun hearing this background from you. I don’t think I knew your meditation history, so it’s been fun, and I hope our listeners enjoy hearing this history of Mind Oasis, too, because it’s just really such a special place. So thank you for all you’ve put into it. I know you’ve given up many, many things to work and create this special special place for all of us. So thank you so much.

Karuna: [00:41:27] Thank you, Kaleigh. I just want to acknowledge that you have made all the difference in the world to Mind Oasis since last year and for people who are listening and don’t know Kaleigh’s, our first chief operating officer, and she is the glue that keeps it all together. And I believe that the reason that the future is so bright is because of you and your dedication and hard work and everything that has allowed to happen. So all of the rest of our staff and all of our teachers, they’re so much more supported than they’ve ever been. So just thank you so much and then just a thank you to all of our donors and volunteers and teachers and community members. Mind Oasis is like this beautiful. I don’t know what’s the thing under the sea… It’s like a coral reef. Maybe with all these different connectors and maybe some of you are the fish, and maybe some of you are the eels, and some of you are the reef itself. But it wouldn’t be this like amazing biosphere without every element and maybe even without the elements that made it tough because it proved to us that it was important.

Kaleigh: [00:42:41] Yeah.

Karuna: [00:42:42] So thank you. Yeah. Meditation, Happy Hour Tea Talk and Truth with Kaleigh. Thank you.

Kaleigh: [00:42:49] You know, we have all the K’s. Thank you.

Karuna: [00:42:54] Thank you. Have a good rest of your day.

Kaleigh: [00:42:56] You, too. Bye bye.

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