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Meet Samia Bano of The Academy Of Thriving in Culver City / West LA

Today we’d like to introduce you to Samia Bano.

So, before we jump into specific questions about the business, why don’t you give us some details about you and your story.
I survived child sexual abuse when I was eight years old. That experience of abuse left me feeling a very confusing mix of sadness, anger, hurt, shame, guilt & yes, fear. Oh, and how many forms that fear took… I was afraid of telling anyone the truth. I was afraid of asking for help even though I needed it desperately. I was afraid that no one would believe me. I was afraid that even if they believed me, they would still blame me. After all, I still blamed myself. So I became silent.

The self-blame & sense of shame & guilt also made me afraid of trusting my own judgment & ability to keep myself safe. That manifested in my life as a strong fear of taking risks or living outside of my comfort zone. I was also afraid of letting anyone come close to me in case they hurt me again so I mentally & emotionally isolated myself. But even as I choose to live in that kind of isolation I became afraid of being alone. You see I was afraid that as damaged as I had become, I could no longer love or be loved. And it was the thought that I could no longer be loved, that I was no longer worthy of being loved as I was, that devastated me the most, that made me the most hopeless and afraid that I would never be able to breakthrough my silence & isolation.

There is a saying: Fear has two meanings. Forget Everything And Run. Or Face Everything And Rise.

As young as I was when I survived the abuse my capacity to face my fear was very limited and I instinctively found myself trying to forget everything and run, run away from my feelings and thoughts because I couldn’t bear the hurt they caused, the fears they bought to my consciousness. And for a while, this strategy of denial worked. And if I had my way, I may very well have chosen to stay in denial for the rest of my life rather than face my fears.

But fortunately or unfortunately, depending on how you look at it, life doesn’t work that way. For us to keep living we have to keep growing. And to keep growing we must learn to face everything & rise because sooner or later we will reach the limit of how far we can run and find there is no other way forward.

About 12 years after I survived the sexual abuse I reached my limit of how far I could just forget everything & run. I had done everything I knew to help myself heal, to stop suffering, but it wasn’t enough, not even nearly enough because my sense of suffering was intensifying and was getting worse. I realized that I had a choice to make. I could either face my fears and break my silence or let myself die. And I’m not saying that to be dramatic. That was just the stark reality of my life at that point because I could no longer run away from my feelings nor could I bear their burden, at least not on my own.

Breaking through my silence at that time is to this day the scariest thing I’ve ever done in my life. Until the very moment the words revealing the truth of my past poured out of my mouth in front of the person I had chosen to first tell my truth, I had not been sure that I could actually do it.

Once I broke through my silence and allowed myself to receive help & support I so desperately needed I started to heal from the trauma of my abuse with leaps and bounds. It still took me another eight years of devoted study and the struggle to apply what I was learning to get to a place where I finally felt in control of my life & well being. A place where I was finally living with inner peace & even joy, and it wasn’t by accident. Along the way, I realized that it was my life purpose to share with others what I had learned about how to heal and live with inner peace & joy, so others wouldn’t have to suffer as I did.

This is what motivated me to found The Academy Of Thriving, where we are on a mission to help 1 billion people in the next five years experience a life of unconditional love so they can truly thrive in their lives. Our students engage in transformative learning that allows them to master how they think, feel & act so they have the power to change their lives and change the world in massive, positive ways :).

Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
There have definitely been many ups and downs along the way.

When I first decided to start my own organization rather than just get a job somewhere, I was challenged by a lack of knowledge. As a psychology major in college, I had learned nothing about how to start or run an organization. So I had to embark on a new journey of learning about business and entrepreneurship. On this journey, I realized that the lack of knowledge was in fact the easiest and most fun challenge for me to solve. This is because knowledge about the ‘how-to’ aspects of business is very easily accessible to me and I love to learn new things.

The bigger and biggest challenges I faced (and continue to face) are all internal, related to new fears and new insecurities that crop up as we walk along new pathways. For example, I developed the insecurity that I didn’t have enough knowledge or experience about business. I was afraid of making any mistakes that might ruin my business and reputation, force me into bankruptcy, etc. This led me to compromise on some critical aspects of my dream. For example, I was told again and again by others that my dream to build a University of Thriving, spread over 70 to 80 acres of land, is impractical. That such a project is too big, too expensive, and too risky given my lack of experience. A part of me believed this. Although I didn’t entirely give up on this dream, I did decide to mark it off as a longer-term project that I’ll revisit after ten years or so. While on the one hand, this seems like a reasonable thing for me to do under the circumstances, my heart knows that if I step forward with greater courage and faith in this dream of mine, I can make it happen now. So my current challenge is to grow even stronger in my faith and take even more courageous actions everyday.

Please tell us about The Academy Of Thriving.
The Academy Of Thriving is a transformational educational institution on a mission to help 1 billion people in the next five years experience a life of unconditional love so they can truly thrive in their lives.

Our method is to engage our students in transformative learning that allows them to master how they think, feel & act so they have the power to change their lives and change the world in massive positive ways. And we are known for doing so in a way that makes change fun and easy :).

You see, one of the biggest lessons I learned in my journey of healing & inner peace was that we can choose to be happy, we can choose to live with inner peace & joy regardless of our circumstances. We just have to learn how to do it. And once we master this skill — yes, that’s right, it is a skill to be able to choose to be happy — we have the power to transform any challenge into an exciting opportunity for positive learning & growth. We have the power to take control of our lives & well being. And in the process we also get to change the world, and not only change the world, we get to make it fun & easy to change the world!

How you ask? It’s because our happiness and inner peace & joy are infectious and powerfully transformative. They magnetize people to us. Think about it. You want to be around people who exude positive energy, don’t you? That is people who are happy and peaceful and solution-oriented. People whose happiness & inner peace spills out as loving & caring energy towards all. And you want to be on the receiving end of that loving & caring energy, so you seek their company, their friendship, their counsel, don’t you? That’s right! They don’t have to struggle to make you listen to them or care about them. You want to contribute to their wellness, to reciprocate the love & care you receive from them, don’t you? And think about it, when you are hanging out with happy people, isn’t everything just so much more fun & easy? And it is because happy people know how to have fun & go with the flow & stay positive & solution-oriented even when challenges come up, isn’t it? Happy people know how to CREATE fun & ease for themselves & others, and because we want to be around that kind of positive energy, we are magnetized to them. True or true?

Do you look back particularly fondly on any memories from childhood?
Running in our family amusement park from ride to ride, and playing games with my cousins, brother and sister :).

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