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Sarah Maria on Living Healthier
Since some of our listening audience may not yet know who you are, would you please tell us a bit about yourself.
I am currently an author and body-image expert who helps people love their bodies no matter how they look. My work and passion is to help people discover and experience the beauty that is already inside of them, right now, in this moment. I assist them in removing the illusions that prevent them from seeing and knowing their inherent perfection. Once people connect with this beauty, they discover that anything is possible—that they can create a body and a life that they truly love. They can absolutely create the life of their dreams. My mission is to create a world where every person sees the beauty in themselves and in others. My book, Love Your Body, Love Your Life outlines the five-step process that I have developed for helping people break free from Negative Body Obsession (NBO), which is the near-constant rumination about one's physical appearance, including thoughts and feelings about not being attractive enough to live life fully. The book and my business are the result of my own struggle and healing. I fought with NBO and different forms of disordered eating for well over a decade. Fortunately, with the help of many great teachers and spiritual wisdom, I was able to create a body and a life that I love. I have trained with well-known teachers and physicians, including Deepak Chopra, Dr. David Simon, Wayne Dyer, and Jack Canfield, among others. My book and work has been endorsed by Deepak Chopra, Dr. David Simon, and New York Times best-selling author Marci Shimoff, as well as many other notable physicians, psychologists, and educators. Prior to writing Love Your Body, Love Your Life, I received a law degree from Stanford and a Master's degree in international affairs from Columbia University.
You are a great success. Because of what you've accomplished and where you are in life, what would you tell others to Inspire them today, regardless of where they are in their life?
Oh—I love talking about this! There is just one thing you should know: wherever you are at, and I mean wherever you are at, you can create a life that you love. I know this to be absolutely true. I have been through many periods of deep and dark despair. I have been in so much mental, physical, and emotional agony that I wanted to end my life absolutely. I know what suffering feels like, whether mild or severe. I also know that when you are in the midst of crisis, it can seem unbearable and unmanageable.
Yet I have also found that the times in our lives where we seem to hit rock bottom, those times when the world seems to implode around us, can eventually give rise to the greatest beauty, bliss, and ecstasy. Your misery can become your joy. Your tragedy can become your triumph. This is possible for each and every person. Wherever you are at, whatever challenges you are going through, you can transform it into triumph—you absolutely can.
To create this transformation, accept exactly where you are at, accept whatever is occurring, whether pleasurable or painful. Then fix your mind and your attention on what you want to create. Whatever beauty, love, and greatness you want to experience, create a vision for it, set a goal for it. Then begin to work with the universe, conspire with the universe, to create what you desire. Step 1 is to accept the present. Step 2 is to intend the future. Practice these two steps and little by little you will see your entire world transformed from where you are to where you want to be, from your struggle to your ecstasy.
We all know that inspiration can change lives. Can you share a personal story of someone who inspired you and made a difference in your life or a defining moment or experience that inspired you or changed your life?
I love to talk about this as well! Yes, absolutely inspiration can change lives—inspiration changed my life completely.
There have been many people who have inspired me. There have been two people, in particular, however, that served as inspirational catalysts to completely transform my life: Deepak Chopra and his business partner Dr. David Simon, co-founder of the Chopra Center for Well-being.
When I was going through absolute agony, suffering terribly, I read a book by Deepak Chopra that filled me with hope and inspiration. It gave me exactly what I needed to get through the miserable time. I then attended a Chopra Center event and met both Deepak and David in person. I attended a number of their events within a few months. The energy of them, their programs, and everyone at the Chopra Center delivered the healing that I was desperately needing. Whenever I was feeling out of sorts or off balance, I thought of them, read Deepak’s books, sent an email, and it would help me to stabilize and keep moving in the direction of healing, health, and love. I have overwhelming love and gratitude for both of them. They are and continue to be a source of inspiration and tremendous blessing in my life.
You make it look easy, but I'm guessing you've experienced challenges in your life. Can you share with our listeners how that has strengthened you to reach success? In other words, how do you overcome adversity?
Adversity can, and often is, one of the greatest blessings in life. Challenges force us to grow and adapt in profound and important ways. An interesting fact of the human brain is that it identifies what it wants, without realizing what it takes to accomplish it. I think this is an evolutionary requirement for the advancement of the species, for if we accurately anticipated and gauged all the challenges, no one would ever do anything!
The most important thing is to change how you look at adversity. The natural human tendency is to anticipate adversity with fear and trepidation. We want to increase pleasure and avoid pain, so we waste our time trying to avoid adversity. Realize that adversity is the opportunity. Adversity simply means that you are being required to expand, develop, change, and grow so that you can create and experience an entirely new reality. Adversity is a blessing. It is showing you concretely how you can shift your life to move in the direction you want to go to create the life you want to live. There is no need to overcome adversity. Rather, transform adversity. Better yet, let adversity transform you. Ask adversity what it is trying to teach you. Listen to adversity and let it guide you. Wake up to the wisdom that the universe is offering you always. Let adversity be your wake-up call to transform your life and yourself so that you can create what you desire.
We all have ideas on how to improve our lives, whether it be a new job, moving to a new city, or finding love, but change can be a bit scary sometimes. Can you please share an experience with us where you "stepped off the ledge" with only faith, and took a big risk, based only on your belief that you would succeed?
Writing a book and starting my business was absolutely a step into the unknown. In order to write my book, or rather allow the book to be written through me, I had to completely change my beliefs about the world. I had to abandon all of the negative beliefs, all of the conditioning and delusions that I had grown up with. I needed to discover an entirely new way of thinking, doing, and being. I had to accept what I was being told on faith. I had to accept it enough that I could begin to implement it in my life.
My life completely transformed itself as I let go of earlier delusions, but then I had to take another leap of faith, another step into the unknown in order to share my transformation with the world. I didn't know a single thing about writing a book or starting a business. I had to learn absolutely everything as I went along. I had no idea how much it would cost, or how to go about anything at all. All I had was my dream, my vision. This was all. And I had the belief that I could achieve my dreams. This was enough to get me started. Everything else I learned along the way, on an as-needed basis. Now I know for sure that the universe was there to assist me the entire time. My willingness to be transformed, to be guided, was the only important factor in my success.
How can others do what you did?
Anyone can do what I have done. Anyone. There is nothing special about me or what I have accomplished in any way. I simply had a strong desire. I had an intense longing. And I was willing to do whatever it took to make it happen. But I was also willing to let go and trust. You can absolutely create the life that you desire. You can experience that which you long to experience. The only key is that you take time to identify what you want, intend to create it, and then release this desire into the hands of the universe, trusting that it will bring it to fruition when the time is right.
Approach the universe as a co-collaborator. You don't have to do it all alone. In fact, you are never doing anything alone, although sometimes it can feel very lonely, like you are the only one fighting for your dream. Trust, however, that the universe is your co-collaborator, wanting to help guide and direct you, nurture and sustain you. So by all means dream, and dream big. Imagine whatever you want; envision whatever you want. Then release these dreams into the world and always be listening for guidance. The universe will tell you every step along the way: a little more of this, a little less of that. Focus in this direction, not so much in that direction. Be open and responsive to whatever messages the world is sending you, and you will gradually and effortlessly arrive at your destination and experience the fulfillment of your dreams.
What process, steps or exercises do you recommend that our listeners could do right now and each morning, to improve the quality of their lives?
The very best thing you can do is to tell yourself that you are already perfect, already whole, already complete. You already are that which you desire. Simply remove everything that prevents you from knowing and experiencing your perfection, brilliance, and beauty. Very few people in today's society need more to add to their To Do lists. All of our are overflowing as it is. This perpetual sense of having to do is part of the problem. If you are wanting more from life, look inside and discover what it is you want. What is your deepest longing, your truest desire? What is your heart and soul yearn to experience? Then set an intention to allow this into your life. Do you want more love? Set an intention and allow. Do you want better health? Set an intention and allow. In the process of allowing, gently discover what prevents you from experiencing that which you desire. If your heart yearns for something, if your inner-knowing longs to experience something, trust that it is already available. Simply allow it to come into your experience by removing all that is preventing it. You don't need something new to do. The very best thing you can learn is how to simply be, and in that state of being, everything takes care of itself. Accept the present, intend the future. Accept unconditionally what life has sent your way, and trust completely that you can create what you desire. Accept and intend. Let go and be. This is all you ever really need to know.
What's the greatest joy in your life?
The greatest joy in my life is living love, wherever it may lead. I have one purpose in life and that is to love. To give, to serve, to love—this is all. To live this love moment-by-moment is the greatest joy and the greatest blessing. When you know how to listen, this love will lead you. When you know how to listen, this love will guide you. When you know how to listen, you will discover that you are this love longing to experience itself. Simply become aware and the love will guide you wherever you want and need to go.
If you had to wrap up the wisdom of your life to leave as your legacy—call it YOUR BRILLIANCE—what important things that you've learned would you want to pass on to others?
You are love longing for the love-worthy. When you find it within, your search will be over. Become the love that you are. Experience the love that you are, and then live that love every day, every moment, every breath of your life. When you do this, life becomes in and of itself and ecstasy.
If you had just one more thing that you could accomplish in your lifetime, what would it be?
If I had just one more thing that I could accomplish in my lifetime, it would be complete surrender. It would be to surrender completely to the process of life, the beauty of life, the brilliance of life. It would be the abandonment of any and all self-concern, the release of any sense of self. I would completely, totally, and effortlessly surrender myself into the arms of the universe to be guided, used, and directed, my intention aligning perfectly with the intention of the universe.