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  • Valerie Hope

Ep. 54 - Time To Come Alive: The Longest Journey With Dorsey Standish, Chief Mindfulness Officer For Mastermind Meditation

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Time To Come Alive: The Longest Journey With Dorsey Standish, Chief Mindfulness Officer For Mastermind Meditation

Every week, I have a phenomenal opportunity to connect with the guests. Sometimes, the guests I know well. Other times, I don't. In this case, this is a guest that I'm getting to know. I'm grateful to invite you to read as I talk with Dorsey Standish. She is the Chief Mindfulness Officer for her organization. This is an opportunity for you to get a chance to be even more mindful to understand what that means, understand her journey, and see yourself reflected in what she shares with us.

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Dorsey, thank you so much for being a guest here. I am grateful that you have the courage to come on the show for someone that you barely know. I met Dorsey on the phone. This is the first time we saw each other because I was introduced to you by a mutual friend, Katie Troutman. Shout out to you, Katie. Thank you so much.

One of the things that I was committed to in 2020 was looking at how to expand my reach to connect with different people and people I didn't necessarily know. I found that most of the people that I interviewed in my show were 98% of whom I knew. I was friends or their friends of friends, but I was somehow acquainted with them. I wanted to expand myself beyond that.

Katie, thank you so much for being a member of my tribe. That will help me accomplish that goal. Dorsey, thanks for coming on board. Because of your role as Chief Mindfulness Officer, it would be wonderful for you to start our conversation with a mindfulness exercise, as we tend to on this particular program, and we can talk more about who you are in your background. Are you good with that?

That sounds great, Valerie.

Take it away.

If you're in a place where you can, go ahead and let your eyes softly close down. I’m bringing the attention inward for a moment. We'll take a few breaths together, inviting an inhale through the nose and releasing the breath out of the mouth, and two more deep cycles of breath. Let’s take a deep breath and let it go. Take a moment to thank yourself for taking this time to invest in yourself by learning and growing with this conversation.

I’m giving you the opportunity to set an intention for your time reading this show. It's simply to be present and read. Maybe there's something specific that you're looking for. Through these simple practices of breath awareness and conscious intention, we get to bring ourselves more fully into the here and now. Take one last breath together through the nose and out through the mouth. Gently blink, open your eyes, and come back into the space.


I feel renewed and restored. Thank you.

Sometimes it takes a breath.

It's funny you say that because I had to drive one of my mentees. I mentored a group of young people. She was going to a dance audition in high school. She is an 8th grader. She told me how nervous she was all the way there. I said, “Are you breathing?” She’s like, “No, I'm not breathing.” I'm like, “Let's breathe.” When we got to the parking lot, we did a breathing exercise.

It didn't necessarily completely remove her nerves, but she started to realize how little she was breathing and how that contributed to that anxiety and the tightness. Dorsey, tell us about yourself. First of all, you are a chief mindfulness officer. You're the first and only person I've met with that title before. I'm fascinated about what it is that had you become this or take on this particular role in your life.

I have the pleasure of running a company called Mastermind. My role there is overseeing everything from our daily operations to managing our teachers, engaging with corporate and community clients, writing a lot of our mindfulness curriculums, and teaching in front of corporate and community audiences.

I'm someone, as a practitioner and teacher of mindfulness, who finds it easy to compartmentalize and say, “I practice mindfulness in the morning. Can you bring that into your whole life, the way you do business and the way you relate to people?” For me, the title of Chief Mindfulness Officer is a reminder. Every time I sign my signature at the bottom of an email, I’m like, “Am I living what I'm teaching?”

Did you come up with the title yourself?

When I stepped into the role of running the company, it was something that made sense since it's a meditation and mindfulness company.

I love what you said about knowing that you now have to embody this quality in all areas of life because you're right. These days, the word mindfulness is spoken more often than it was several years ago. You also get a sense that it's tied to yoga and meditation practice, but the term mindfulness is about embodying the present moment and being in the moment. When you think about between the time you opened your eyes and now that you're sitting here, what does mindfulness look like in your day?

The second I opened my eyes, I tried to feel my body in the bed and enjoy that feeling. My mom got me these Ugg socks for Christmas that make my feet feel amazing when I wake up because they're warm. I try to savor that feeling of warm feet and find gratitude for that little moment of joy. I try to imitate my cat. I do a little bit of stretching when I wake up to feel in my body. I do the same thing every morning. I’m making lime water or tea. It's easy to slip into that routine and go on autopilot, but I try to take little moments to taste my tea, close my eyes, and enjoy it.


I have a daily practice in the mornings, anywhere from 30 to 45 minutes of seated meditation and gratitude journaling. Sometimes, some mindful movement, depending on time constraints. I have formal practice, but what gets me and why I enjoy mindfulness is those moments of bringing that mindfulness into daily life. There's a quote from Jon Kabat-Zinn that I love. It’s like, “The real meditation is how you live your life.” Coming back to that theme of trying to live what I'm teaching, not for those 45 minutes in the morning but throughout the day.

Not Quite Strangers | Mindfulness
Mindfulness: Real meditation is how you live your life.

I'm trying to think if I even noticed I was in a bed. I was like, “It's time.” If I'm lucky, the days that I don't use my alarm to wake up, meaning I wake up before the alarm typically. That's when I get enough sleep. I will wake up without my alarm, and I feel like I relish that moment right after waking up. I don't feel like I have to run to the next thing. You have to tell us where you can get those Ugg socks because the feeling of warm feet is something that I don't take for granted.

Upon waking up, that moment is sacred. If I think about the gratitude of having another opportunity to open our eyes, the alternative is we would not be able to talk about it. It sounds like the routine that you have in the morning being present to that is important. It doesn't become a routine. Routine implies that there is some systematic, automatic, robotic behavior or habit that we don't have to think about.

This question popped up in my head. I want to talk more about your background. Before it disappears from my head, this idea is that building habits require us to do something over and over again. It does become automatic. We don't have to necessarily think about something before we do it. We can more easily integrate it. How do you balance this notion of building habits so that you can do them more regularly without any resistance but also be mindful? That's the best question I'm going to ask you. Relish that.

As a mindfulness and meditation teacher, the number one intention when I work with clients is to help them create healthy habits. The neuroscience of habit formation makes things more automatic and easy to practice. It is important. If we had to consciously decide whether to brush our teeth every night, that would be exhausting.

I study the brain. I love knowing that our brains have that autopilot feature and that habit is a safe foundation from which to build and grow. I know that if I cultivate these strong morning routines and evening routines, I'm setting myself up for success. I carry out those routines. How lucky I am to have them. The gratitude that I no longer have to negotiate with myself about whether I'll meditate for how long. I get to drop in and enjoy that. Habits are something to be grateful for. When we learn how to work with our minds and use them for positive demonstrations in our lives, that's a positive thing.

I'm hard on myself. One thing that I try not to do with mindfulness is to judge or criticize myself for how I live and how I carry out this chief mindfulness officer role in my life. I like to look at it as little successes every time I wake up to the moment. I set the stage every day. Any time I realize I'm distracted and come back,  that's a win and a success. Every time I stop and smell the flowers or feel my clothes on my skin, that is the gift of being human. I have these strong sets of habits. This is what I share with my clients. The more you work through those routines, the more you can be present for them and the more enjoyment you get out of those routines.

In mindfulness, do not judge or criticize yourself for how your life. Just consider them as little successes.

What I'm hearing is that it's almost like you eliminate the resistance or the amount of energy that needs to be exerted to practice a particular habit. Being able to allow that habit or have the behaviors that kick in naturally engages a different part of our brain. We can observe what's happening in that moment as opposed to having to use our bandwidth to carry out what's happening in the moment.

I wanted to get some context for everything that we're talking about here. One of the things that we talked about when we first met was your love of science. You've mentioned something about the brain that fascinates you enough to explore it from this perspective. Tell us about your background and how you got to where you are now.

I have always been a Math and Science nerd. It is a little bit of judgment, but I wear it proudly. My nickname growing up was Dorky Dorsey. I loved Math and Science. I took as many science courses as I could in high school. I was lucky to go to an all-girls school. That was a woman in science STEM. I was empowered to go off to school in Philadelphia and pursue Mechanical Engineering as a degree. I got into research there. I loved everything and learning about how the world works.

Early in my life, loving science looked like studying hard, getting this engineering degree, interning, and working for Texas Instruments for several years. I got this incredible opportunity with TI to go from a mechanical design engineer, working on projector housing, housing the lenses and chips that project our movies onto the screen at the theater, to managing a program to bring the DLP chip in the form of spectrometer which is a light machine.

I got to travel all over the world and learn about different aspects of science. I was living the best life. I had spent my 25th birthday in Taiwan, overlooking the City of Hsinchu, and I was like, “This is what I meant to do.” A few months later, all of that traveling and the stress of launching a product caught up with me. I had a total experience of burnout and mental health issues. I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder. I had to take some time off of work.

Work had been my whole life. Now, I had all this time and space to fill. I still love science. I started looking, “How can I train my brain for stress resilience? How can I better equip myself to manage the stress of life and work and engineer a life for myself that I love that wasn't if I took out one thing, everything would disappear?” In those few months off, I started looking at mindfulness research. I’m reading a lot of different books.

I was already studying, practicing yoga, and teaching in the community. I was familiar with this idea of stillness, but there's a type-A, perfectionist, go-getter. You could not tell me before that time that it was valuable to sit still and do nothing. I read all the research and the philosophy of mindfulness. I was like, “This is something I need to commit to.” I'm grateful that if I need to protect my mental health and am going to be told by doctors what to do, I want to be doing something for myself every day.

After that experience, I committed to a daily mindfulness meditation practice. I started exploring not just the science in my daily job at TI but also the science of living. We talked about habits. What are positive habits for me? How do I continue to strengthen my brain like you train your body at the gym? Our minds can create a heaven or hell for us to live in. I was obsessed. What habits can I make on a daily basis to change the way I perceive the world and the way I impact the world?

It's often that we go through these traumatic things in our lives. We look back and say, “Thank goodness for that.” That was my biggest challenge. That was a catalyst for everything I do. That was the commitment to mindfulness meditation and the penchant for sharing it with other people who might be skeptical and type-A.

I started teaching free mindfulness classes at TI. I had experiences of flow state where it was like, “This is what I meant to be doing.” In 2016, I know that my mission and calling is to do this full-time and bring accessible science-based wellness to people in the corporate world like me who wouldn't normally see the value of training their minds.

I'm curious about the first moment that you thought, “Mindfulness practice is what I need.” You've been diagnosed. You had a yoga practice already, but what was that thought, idea, or conversation? What was it that sparked that you’re like, “I need to implement some of this in my life?”

There was a lot of resistance. At that time, all I can remember is, “No, don't make me sit still. What am I accomplishing here?” I'm still the person who will put meditation on a list of things for the day because I'm that person who likes the checkboxes and the streaks on apps of how many days in a row you've done something. There was so much resistance for me when starting.

One book that changed my life in the way that I perceive the practice of mindfulness was Andy Puddicombe's book Get Some Headspace. He's the Founder of Headspace. It's a great meditation app. I had read a lot of research, but I still didn't think that I was a good meditator. I thought that I couldn't do it. I still use this metaphor in all the classes I teach, but the idea is that our minds are like the sky. A lot of times, there are clouds, storms, energy, emotions, and thoughts passing through.

When we practice mindfulness, we're not trying to get rid of thoughts or have this perfect experience. We're getting up in our airplane, flying through the cloud cover and inhabiting that space of blue sky where we can look down and see the thoughts and the obsession about, “What am I going to do later? What did I do yesterday?”

The emotions of sadness about not being at work for so long didn't have to go away. You're talking about that girl going to dance class who was nervous. That doesn't have to go away, but it can be part of your experience without defining who you are. Pema Chödrön says, “You are the sky, and everything else is the weather.” The perspective on life that I got from that book influenced my growing mindfulness practice and helped me not feel like a failure because I was distracted every time I sat down to meditate.

I have meditative practice. I learned that several years ago. For the first time, I went to a passion meditation course and ten days in silence, where we spent up to eight hours a day in meditation throughout the day. That experience in and of itself took something. I realized that not only being in silence, and when I say silence, I mean you're not even talking to the people around us or making eye contact. The tables were pushed up against the wall. There was no opportunity or temptation to want to engage with the people around us and be present in the moments that we were experiencing.

The experience for me was impactful, but I remember feeling like, “Being quiet is nice.” Most people in my life were surprised because I don't spend a lot of time in silence in front of others. I found that it was liberating for me. I get my energy from people, conversation, doing things, and taking action. What I noticed was when I wasn't in an environment where I didn't have to worry about whether I looked friendly, polite, kind, or considerate. I had to think of no one else but me, my interactions in the day, and the meditation practice that we learned and practiced. It was liberating in a way. I realized that there were ways I needed to challenge myself. I'm curious about you in the workplace, having implemented this, and you took on this mindfulness habit. What impact did that have on the work you did and the environment that you created around yourself or for others?

We shared that experience of silent retreat, and many epiphanies come when you set aside that time. I'm glad that we share that. One of the reasons that I left TI after starting a meditation practice and sharing it with other people is that once I was meditating every day, I worked a lot less. I had more intention about what I was doing.

It got to the point where I was working four hours a day and finishing the work I had to do as a program manager. I didn't see the work the same way because I was more focused and intentional. My concentration had gotten better. That added benefit of feeling like I did something for myself every day. No matter what the world throws at me, I've connected to a place within me that's always at peace and present. I know that's there, no matter how many crazy emails I get.

My efficiency increased after I started meditating. That was Illuminating to me in terms of how this could be beneficial for other people if they would take the time. The other interesting thing that happened with my time away that changed my perspective was I was gone for a few months. I came back, and people around me were like, “You were out for a few weeks.”

They're living the same day every day. We're talking about autopilot. It’s easy to get stuck in a rut, not a routine, but a rut. You settle for the life that's in front of you. I did not want to do that. I found this new efficiency, commitment, and caring for myself. I wanted to continue exploring that and sharing it with other people. That awareness in the workplace that you're talking about is what showed me that this could be valuable for other people, and I needed to make that my priority.

The first time I did the meditation retreat, I did have some experiences. I remember coming back into sound again. Not that we were in some chamber. There were nature sounds, but coming back into conversation, interaction, and activity with other people. At first, it was jarring, but the second time I went to that retreat, I went as a volunteer. In my role, I was managing all the female students. I was like a resident assistant at a university. People came to me when there was some emergency or if there was a scorpion in their room.

I balanced the doing with the hours of meditation because I still meditated with the students throughout the entire ten days. What I found interesting is what you expressed when you had this knowledge. In this consciousness, you were more efficient. When I came back into life, I recall having the experience of the emails and competing priorities not phasing me. I remember saying, “There's another email.” That didn't necessarily mean I had to finish this. The drama of the day-to-day workload didn't impact me the same way.

I've had to maintain that by making sure that I still had integrity in practice, but having had that shift in how you process your energy and time, not only had you interact with the work you did differently, but it sounds like you were perceived differently, or at least you notice that people's perception was based on some past or rut that they created for themselves.

You think about the work that you now do with these corporations or individuals. You mentioned how type-A you are and how you want to bring this to others. What do you see is the biggest challenge for that to take root for people to make that shift or break out of those ruts?

We're at a tipping point where science is catching up to what we know anecdotally. From people, these experiences of better concentration. We can see scientifically those changes in the brain or behavior. Science is a big motivator for the people that I work with. They like to think of it as a user's guide to their own brain. Everyone has a brain. We all want to know how to use it better and make it more efficient. We can be happier, more productive, and more effective than what we do.

Everyone has a brain and wants to know how to use it to be happier and become more productive in life.

I see a lot of openness in the clients I work with to mindfulness when it's positioned in a particular way and following some of the scientific benefits of a secular science-based practice. There are still these leftover connotations for meditation from the ‘60s and ‘70s. A lot of the Asian meditation practices were brought over to the US by hippies. People still think of meditation as a hippie thing because of how it was originally presented in the US.

We're gaining traction in terms of science-based. You see articles in the Huffington Post, the New York Times, and these mainstream news outlets about the benefits of mindfulness. I'm seeing more curiosity and openness from these corporate clients to try it. One of the biggest barriers I see to people doing it is fear of not knowing what it'll be like and what will happen when I close my eyes and pay attention.

Sometimes, ignorance can be bliss. I've thought about what that person said to me fifteen times during my meditation, and that is affecting me. There's a lot of power in the practice of awareness. It can be unnerving to get that window into your mind and start seeing what's there. The biggest thing that I do with people that I work with is a lot of us, especially type-A learners, have this desire to read all the books before we start. We get all the information and try to practice. The best way to learn how to meditate is to meditate and experience it.

I love that you include that bit of gathering your energy at the beginning of the show.

Sometimes, the practice of meditation gets built up to be something big when mindfulness can be as simple as rubbing your pointer finger and thumb together and feeling that sensation or feeling the bottom of your feet on the floor and taking a deep breath in and out.

The biggest barrier is wanting to know everything. There is some anxiety around practicing. The best antidote to that I've seen is to get people immediately experiencing the practice and bolstered by those scientific benefits and the confirmation that mindfulness meditation is not religious. It's a way to enhance your brain and life.

I want to talk about two things now. One is you mentioned this idea of people being fearful about noticing what they're experiencing or noticing those thoughts. Say more about that. What have you seen? What have you experienced? What have you done?

I can relate to this in my own life. I was letting go of a friendship that wasn't working anymore. I didn't want to feel those feelings. There's a lot of resistance for me to slow down. I kept myself busy. I did meditations that were more concentration-oriented. I wouldn't have to drop in and feel what was going on. There's a line in the book The Alchemist that I love, which is, “The fear of suffering is worse than the suffering itself.” I see that a lot with myself and with others. This fear of feeling what they're feeling, and in reality, that fear is a lot worse than feeling it.

What helped me and what I share with my clients are techniques to switch into more of an observer-witness perspective with difficult emotions. I have clients who have chronic pain and illness that’s debilitating. We're not going to fix that or try to change anything, but we can change the way we relate to those experiences.

One of my favorite practices is feeling the anxiety or the sadness. I’m noticing where it is in my body. Is it hot or cold? Is it changing? Is it static? Is there a shape? Is there a color to it? Is it prickly? All of a sudden, it's me in high school being the scientist with my magnifying glass. I was like, “What's happening here?” I lose the attachment. I’m like, “It's my pain. It's my sadness. I can't do this.” I'm simply observing what's present in the physical body at that moment.

The perspective shift is one of the most powerful things for meditators. We see in the research that mindfulness meditation is great for managing chronic pain. They've done studies where they look at the activation in meditators' and non-meditators brains when they're experiencing pain. The neuronal firing doesn't change. They're still experiencing the same level of pain, but they don't report being in as much pain or seeing it as a never-ending permanent condition and aspect of their lives. One of the biggest gifts of mindfulness meditation is we can't change what's happening to us, but we can change how we perceive it, respond to it, and move forward.

One of the gifts of mindfulness meditation is understanding that we cannot change what’s happening to us. We can only change how we perceive and respond to them.

To get back to your original question about people being afraid to be with themselves and be in stillness, we live in a culture addicted to constant simulation and distraction. If someone asks you how you are and you're not busy, there's something wrong with you. It's easy to let all of these things get in the way of simply being still. There's a lot more fear around it. Once you start practicing it, a lot of that fear goes away. You're able to be with your experience, whatever it is. I went in a lot of different directions with that.

One thing is the quote that you mentioned from The Alchemist, “The idea of suffering is what has a suffer.” Thinking about it, wanting to avoid it, wanting to diminish it, and how powerful our thoughts are in creating our reality. When you mentioned that study that was done, the idea of pain being managed through thought and the anticipation of pain or the anticipation of it never going away is creating the reality. The more we entertain it, the longer, pervasive, or intense it feels. It's easy to say these things. It's easy to say, “No, it's all in your mind. It's all your thoughts.”

You are a nerd when it comes to science. I'm interested in you sharing about the experience of that individual who finally allows themselves to peek through that window where they get to see or experience their pain, discomfort, or fear in a different way. What is that experience like to take somebody to that door or window? What’s it like for you and them? You don't have to validate all my questions. I'm pelting you with different things. I'm fascinated by you, getting to usher people into an experience of themselves that they may not be willing, able, or comfortable confronting.

It's humbling to guide people in the way and open them up to the experiences that I've had and the freedom and the releases that I've experienced when I let go of that resistance and opened up to that window of what's happening. I get to facilitate a class called Mindfulness For Anxiety. That class is challenging to facilitate, but it's rewarding. I'd say that in terms of being a facilitator for something like that. You need to do this on the posture. Geonka gets you all comfortable in your routine and focuses on the nostrils. He describes it with the body scan practice of using a surgical knife to extract the things that are holding us back.

With facilitating, it's a balance of making people feel safe and comfortable in the environment that they're in. You are letting them know that it's normal and natural for things to come up for there to be fear resistance. With mindfulness, the way I teach it is an invitation to connect with yourself and the environment. It's important to start with the foundation of simple breath and body practices before you dive into it. What does that anxiety feel like in your body? How does it change and shift? What's your emotional response to that?

I started working with some private clients. There's a whole process that I've created to help people feel comfortable and supported in their process. I begin to dive deeper as they're ready. The most profound experiences that students have are when they slow down enough to realize how much pain they're in some particular aspect of their lives that they've been not sharing with themselves.

I facilitated a class in the fall where we came out of meditation. It is journaling. We talked about it in pairs. This woman was bawling. She runs a communications firm. She's a powerful woman. She's like, “I've been taking care of everyone but myself. I didn't realize it until I came to this class and slowed down enough to reflect and learn.”

Whether it's a four-week class or a two-hour period, it gives people that feeling of comfort and safety. I allow them to have their foot on the gas pedal or the brake. I'm not like, “Go in deeper and get those things out.” You could say surface level the whole time. It's up to you. I've spoken this to many people. When they dive deeper, they get that emotional release and healing. It's an addictive feeling to realize that you have the inner resources within you to manage everything that's going on within you and around you.

Not Quite Strangers | Mindfulness
Mindfulness: It is an addictive feeling to realize that you have the inner resources to manage everything going on within and around you.

You're facilitating this. People don't have to come in knowing how to do this. What you pointed out is creating safety for ourselves is important in many areas of life. Feeling safe enough to confront ourselves not only takes our abilities but also shows how powerful we are. Not only do we create our own limitations, but we can create our own safety and allowance.

Going back to the Vipassana meditation experience, I had it the first time around. After nine days, they lift the silence, and you have the opportunity to interact. I remember the interactions I had. They split the men and the women during the course. Women were excited about being able to speak. The guys were like, “What's up?” The women went on and shared deeply before the end of the course, which was the next day.

Many of them who shared their experience through those nine days had something to say about physical pain, either migraines or some digestive issue. There was a lot of physical discomfort. They’re like, “I was sore from sitting too long.” Some health challenges, even if it's chronic pain, people expressed. At the time, that was easy for me. I don't have any issues.

I recall having a torn meniscus in both knees. I didn't want to sit cross-legged during the practice. During the nine days, I did not sit cross because I didn't want the future pain that I would confront if I did because of my knees. I had all these cushions. I put myself together in such a way that I was always comfortable.

All these people had these amazing breakthroughs in their physical bodies. The migraine, sweaty palms, anxiety, and flush meant something else. I’m like, “I didn't have any of that.” I had this insight that I didn't challenge myself physically. For the last three sittings that day and the next day, I sat with my legs crossed.

What was fascinating was I talked about giving myself permission or safety. After nine days of doing the same thing every single day, and I've been okay and survived it, I created enough safety for me to go. “I could challenge myself physically and see what happens.” The idea is that we don't move during the meditation. I sat with my legs crossed for the first time in those nine days. We had an hour-long sit. For the first several minutes, it was fine. I was like, “This is good. I'm doing this well.”

All of a sudden, I remember feeling this burning, achy sensation, but not from my knees. It’s from my hip muscles. I was like, “I was not expecting that.” It got progressively more intense. By the time we hit an hour, not even an hour before that, it was painful. I wanted to move badly. I recalled that the moment I was like, “Why is this hurting bad? This is painful. Why am I putting myself through this?”

I realized that's where I hold so much of my tension in my body. My hip flexors, hip muscles, and lower back are where I'm scared, nervous, or feel like I have to force something, the part of my body that gets tight. I was like, “Let’s power through this, Valerie. Let's make this happen.” The term gird your loins is tighten up. That's where all of that tension was held.

Sitting that way for a long period of time, I couldn't hold the attention anymore. Naturally, I needed to relax. I realized that all the pain that was coming out was psychological. I started to cry. I'm like, “That's what that is. That's where all that tightness is coming from. I don't have to tighten up, control, protect, create, or force.” It was such a release.

The next two sittings were not as pleasant. It's still painful. I remember that night, I had the most dreamless sleep that I'd had in the ten-day period. The last time we sat, 75% of the pain completely disappeared. I reflected on that because of what you said about creating that safety. We have such a beautiful opportunity as human beings to connect with the parts of ourselves that make life rich and beautiful. Sometimes, we keep the thorns up or the gate locked. We don't dust things off, and it diminishes our ability to live life fully.

I am curious about you and your own life, Dorsey. Can you give us a sense of what it's been like knowing that you were diagnosed with bipolar and you had to build this practice as a result of making sure you maintained who you are? What has it done for your life? How is your life different? What's been the impact?

When we change, we don't always notice it because we're incrementally day by day. The biggest things that have been noticed are my family and people that have been close to me. I was texting my dad. I was at a furniture store. I was like, “I'm looking for a couch.” He's like, “Havertys was the scene of your meltdown.” He drove out with me when I moved to Texas in 2012. He was like, “They couldn't get the couch at the time that you wanted, and you let the saleswoman have it.”

I didn't remember it. I blocked that out. He goes, “That was the old Dorsey.” I have a lot of different opinions. They were like, “Are you always the same person? Are you different versions of yourself, or different chapters or different books?” The people I've known since childhood who witnessed me, especially in high school and college, where I was intense on academics, and you mentioned it in the intro you wrote for the session about a journey from the head to the heart or the brain to the heart.

In the past several years on my mindfulness journey, I've stopped relying on my intellect. I've invested in cultivating my heart and my heart center. My compassion for others and way of being in the world inspires more mindfulness and compassion for others. We all have our moments. There's a quote from Ramdas that I love. He says, “If you think you're enlightened, go spend a week with your family.” I'm not perfect. I still have those moments of losing my temper or feeling like I can't drop in and feel something and deal with it.

I've invested in cultivating my heart in my presence in a way that I now see everything that happens, whether it's good or bad, challenges or successes, as part of my journey, path, and practice. I have the ability and invitation to open up and trust that if I feel things and move through things, they'll become part of who I am and my story. It strengthens my presence and heart and how I can impact other people's lives.

Everything that happens in life, be it good or bad, puts you on the right path. They become part of your story and strengthen your presence.

Thank goodness for the old Dorsey because it provides contrast not only for you but that's what life is about. Life is about identifying the contrast because we know there is to work on, what there is to do, and what is there to take action on when we notice it. It sounds like it had a profound impact on how your family perceives you. You are more enlightened now. They have old Dorsey and new Dorsey conversations.

Dorsey, we're getting close to the end here. There are many things that you shared about the benefits of mindfulness in the practice that have not only transformed your life but also given people a roadmap to transform theirs. How do people get a hold of you? How do people get information about the classes that you offer or the private sessions that you do?

I'm the Chief Mindfulness Officer of Mastermind. You can find us at We have a resources tab with different blog posts about applying mindfulness to different aspects of your life. We have a library of digital meditations that incorporate science and research learning at the beginning. There, you'll find a way to sign up for our upcoming classes and newsletter if you'd like to get a discount on your first class when you sign up.

You have an audience all over, Valerie. I'm excited to share that we started offering online classes. These are on Zoom. They meet on Tuesday nights. We're talking about jump-starting a mindfulness practice. We'll be diving into the attitudes or the pillars of mindfulness. How do you live that non-judgment that we talked about? How do you bring in practices specific to that and other attitudes?

No matter where you are, I encourage you to check us out. We're growing our community both here in Dallas and cultivating these online connections, which we believe is the future of the way that humans connect and nurture each other and being able to cultivate that safe space, even in an online setting. It's a journey and practice. I'd be honored if you guys would connect with us there. I'll share my social media channels with Valerie. It’s Dorsey Standish on Instagram and Facebook and MastermindMeditate on the same channels. Connect with us, continue the conversation, and enjoy some of the brain health learning and daily mindfulness practices that we share.

I'll make sure to take all of the points that you made, the website, and your social media handles, and place them in the show notes. You'll have that access. I'll also include some of the books because you mentioned some wonderful reading that you've done that also moves these conversations forward. In case people are interested in Pema Chödrön, Ramdas, The Alchemist, Paul Coelho, and all those, I'll be sure to include those. You might want to send me a list because you gave quite a few. If there are others that you didn't mention that you think will also help people, that would be phenomenal.

I can't have a chief mindfulness officer on this program and not have them close our session with some mindfulness. Dorsey has offered to do that. Before you do that, I want to encourage those of you who join us in the next episode. We have another wonderful opportunity to connect with another person. Get on time to if you want to make sure you get this in your inbox.

In the next episode, we have Janet Morrison-Lane. She's a director of the Vickery Meadows EAGLE Scholars Program. It's a college prep program for 7th to 12th graders. We’re going to talk about the importance of sharing and teaching young people how to access college, and not only the resources to go to college but the support system necessary for them to succeed when they are there. I’m looking forward to having that conversation with her and something that not only brings her alive but also the young people who have the fortune of interacting with her. Join us for that next episode. I'm going to turn it back to Dorsey to usher us out of the program with some mindfulness.

Let's take another minute here to connect with ourselves. Go ahead and roll the shoulders up, back, and down a few times. If you're standing, you might do some bigger stretches. One of the biggest benefits of mindfulness is the connection between the mind and the body. We are closing our eyes down again. We’re bringing both hands to the area of the belly. We'll take a few more of those deep breaths together. We’re inhaling into the belly and exhaling out the mouth. Two more like that. One more deep breath into the belly, letting go and relaxing the hands back into the lap.

Remember that no matter where now or this week takes you, you have these resources within you. Even three belly breaths have been shown to help shift our central nervous system from a state of fight or flight into parasympathetic rest and digest. We are taking one last breath in through the nose. Find out the mouth. Curling the corners of your mouth up in a small smile, sealing in your practice, your gratitude to yourself for continuing to learn and grow. Take this time to connect more deeply with yourself in the present moment. Blink the eyes back open and come back with perhaps a new perspective into the space.

Dorsey, Thank you so much for your time and energy and for sharing your message with us. I encourage those of you who are reading to follow Dorsey. There are some things I think in your own life that you'd like to bring to life that she can support you with. Have a wonderful day, everybody. Thank you for joining us. Bye.

Important Links

Jon Kabat-Zinn: “Meditation is simply about being yourself and knowing something about who that is.”


Her type-A” personality gave Dorsey Standish the edge and motivation to dig deep and go beyond the world of “doing” into the world of “being.” As the Chief Mindfulness Officer for Mastermind Meditation, she shares strategies that brought mindfulness into her own life and the lives of those she serves.


Recommended Reading:

Connect with Dorsey & learn about Mastermind Meditation


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