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Meet Anusha Wijeyakumar of Shanti Within in Orange County

Today we’d like to introduce you to Anusha Wijeyakumar.

So, before we jump into specific questions about the business, why don’t you give us some details about you and your story.
My awakening has been a life long journey and I feel in many ways that everything along my path was leading me to the point I am at today running my own wellness company. It was certainly not always fun or easy but I know that if I had not done the work internally and externally, I would still be working in my high stress, high powered corporate job earning great money but leaving me with no personal satisfaction or joy.

The real catalyst that got me on this path as a profession versus just practicing yoga and meditation in my own life was back in February 2015 when I was rushed to the emergency room with severe acute appendicitis and had to undergo immediate surgery as my appendix was close to rupturing.

This was just the wake-up call I needed in order to take a step back and review my life. Isn’t it funny how the universe delivers us these messages just when we need them the most even if they are difficult to hear and this one certainly was tough and painful! It was during my stay in the hospital I realized that even though I had a happy and satisfying marriage and personal life I was miserable in my corporate job and that was something major that needed to change. My misery had become all-consuming and I was unable to enjoy my relationships or life because of my own deep unhappiness within, knowing that I was not fulfilling my true purpose by staying on the safe path.

My personal mantra has always been, why not me as if you don’t believe in yourself who will? I have to believe in myself first even if all of the odds are stacked against me and even if it seems impossible that I will succeed. I had great fear of letting go of what I knew in the form of a secure job and regular paycheck to forge a new and unknown path ahead and I am sure many of us can relate to that feeling! However, through the practices of meditation and mindfulness, I was able to let go of my fear-based consciousness and empower and embolden myself to take the necessary steps I needed to in order to change my career path and change my life.

In May 2015, I left my corporate job to pursue my passion full time. Reflecting back, I cannot believe the things that have occurred over the past few years that have exceeded all of my own expectations of what I thought was possible. With the time frame I had given myself of six months to make it or break it, I was invited to deliver a yoga workshop that I created, internationally and across Southern California, including at Yogaworks NYC. I was blessed to be invited to speak at wellness events in Southern California and from there became a professional speaker on the science of mindfulness speaking around the world represented by an amazing all-female Agency on the east coast.

I was invited to teach as part of well-respected Yoga Alliance certified teacher-training programs across Southern California. I was fortunate to be signed by a Literary Agent who secured me a book deal in 2018 and my first book is due out in Fall 2020 by one of the largest independent publishers of new age and spiritual self-help books in the world. I have been awarded contracts with a leading hospital in America, where I oversee all of the mindfulness and meditation initiatives for their Women’s Health Institute. This includes their breast and ovarian cancer prevention program, breast cancer survivorship program, breast cancer research program and their maternal mental health program. I am humbled and grateful for all that has manifested in my life and my business through saying YES to life and having the courage and confidence through the practices of meditation and mindfulness to manifest my dreams into a reality.

We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
It has not been a smooth road to get where I am today and has required a lot of hard work, dedicated effort & commitment along the way to really believe in myself and my vision that I was trying to create with my company when I first started out four years ago. It required all of the self-belief I had and unwavering faith in my path of dharma as we call it in yoga philosophy which is the path of right conduct for my soul in this life. The main struggle was overcoming my own fear-based consciousness alongside the many glass ceilings being a woman of color in a sea of whiteness in the wellness world entails.

I was born in London and am the daughter of Sri Lankan immigrants and also lived in Australia & NZ. Being Hindu and having been immersed in these practices since I was born enables me to bring an authentic east meets west element to how I lead meditations and teach this ancient wisdom as it really does make up the fabric of my life.
This is what I feel is missing in the world of fashion and wellness as the voices writing on yoga and meditation are mostly white and the information can be very diluted and inauthentic. I am not familiar with many or any Hindu women that are invited to contribute to panels in fashion and the health & wellness scene as experts in the field of yoga and meditation. As we can see with the Black Lives Matter, Times Up and Me Too movements that representation matters and people want to hear from authentic voices that they can resonate with and relate to.

Going through this process taught me the most valuable lesson of learning to trust and surrender to life without resistance. To have unshakeable faith in myself knowing that the right opportunities would come as long as I remained calm and focused on my goals and my personal wider goal, of helping people through the ancient practices of meditation and mindfulness to find and maintain inner peace. When we open ourselves up to serving others from a higher place and make that soul connection within in order to fulfill our true destiny, we are then able to connect to the universe and things really start to flow.

So, as you know, we’re impressed with Shanti Within – tell our readers more, for example, what you’re most proud of as a company and what sets you apart from others.
What I love doing so much is making meditation and mindfulness practices available to all irrespective of your religious beliefs, race, gender identity, sexual orientation or background. So often we see the wellness space being very elitist and these practices not being made available to everybody but marketed to a certain demographic of people. I am focused on promoting diversity and inclusivity in the wellness world as it is important that all voices are represented and very rarely do I see any south Asian women or many women of color invited to be a part of these panels in the mainstream. I am also actively engaged in charitable endeavors and working with inner-city communities to bring the power of yoga and meditation for a healthy mind, body, and spirit into these localities to nurture and empower change from within.

My work as the Wellness Consultant for a leading hospital in the USA, the renowned Hoag Hospital’s Women’s Health Institute is something that also brings me great joy. I am involved in championing meditation and mindfulness practices for maternal mental health programs, breast cancer survivorship programs and early risk assessment and research for breast & ovarian cancer prevention programs. Merging holistic wellness practices alongside mainstream western medicine was always a dream of mine. Empowering women across all of these programs to live their best lives through the practices of meditation and mindfulness irrespective of their diagnosis is something that I LOVE to do!

So, what’s next? Any big plans?
What I love most about what I do is empowering girls and women to live there best lives and embrace more self-love and self-acceptance through the power of meditation and mindfulness. To learn to befriend themselves on their journey through life and let go of guilt, shame, and that constant internal critic and judge! To also empower more girls and women of color to believe in themselves and smash those glass ceilings rising up to their full potential and in the face of being told no and you can’t do it as I was told countless times throughout my life to instead scream YES I CAN and do it anyway.

My plan for the future is to continue to be a change maker striving to introduce more women and people around the world to the transformative power of a meditation and mindfulness practice and how until we take our last breath there is always hope to change our mindset and change our lives. I am very excited about my first book coming out in Fall 2020 and sharing my own personal journey with my readers of how a daily meditation and mindfulness practice can and will change your life and transform you from the inside out to live a more happy and fulfilled life so you can truly #liveyourbestlife.

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