“If the doors of perception were cleansed everything would appear to man as it is: infinite.” ~ William BlakeWhat exactly is Wonderlust Living? Simply put...Freedom. Freedom from limits and freedom from boundaries. Valerie Gangas, life coach and owner of Wonderlust Living describes it as:
"wonder-to be filled with admiration, amazement, or awe; marvel; lust-ardent enthusiasm; zest; relish: living-flowing freely, as water."
"I want what this girl has – these were Oprah’s words after Valerie spoke about the revolutionary effects Transcendental Meditation had in her life. A thirteen year sleeping disorder and deep depression after her mother’s death, followed by a fateful encounter with a friend, spawned her initial foray into Transcendental Meditation." (ValerieGangas.com)
We wanted to know more...
M: Hi Valerie, thank you for agreeing to be interviewed for Rebelle Society. Wow, your bio is quite impressive. Can we start by giving our audience a brief description of Transcendental Meditation (TM)?
V: Transcendental Meditation is an extremely simple mantra-based meditation. You learn how to meditate over a 4-5 day period with a certified TM teacher. There is a very systematic way you are taught, and right out of the gate, you are able to meditate.
When I say meditate I mean, go beyond your thoughts. You transcend your mind and dive into yourself. This practice helps you gain a wider perception of reality.
As William Blake wrote, “If the doors of perception were cleansed everything would appear to man as it is: infinite.”
This is what Transcendental Meditation does for you. It carries you into the light that is within all of us. The interesting part about Transcendental Meditation is that the calm, happy feeling you get while meditating, spills over into your waking life. You eventually have a chilled, lighter feeling in between your meditations that carries you through every area of your life. It’s amazing.
M: And how were you drawn to TM? What made this form of meditation appeal to you?
V: I actually wasn’t drawn to Transcendental Meditation. It found me. I was at a dinner party, and I was still completely broken up because of my mother’s death. A man whom I had never met saw me crying and decided to have a little chat with me. I explained to him that I didn’t think I could go on in such pain and I was just exhausted from not sleeping.
He explained to me that meditation would help ease the pain of my mother’s death and cure my sleeping situation 100%. I had nothing to lose, so I just went for it. Neither one of us could have ever foreseen what happened next.
I guess all those months I spent crying and praying on my bathroom floor did something for me. I knew someone was listening, and the answer to my prayers came in the form of Transcendental Meditation. After that, life really opened up to me.
M: I read that there was an amazing transformation that happened to you, not only spiritually but physically too. Can you touch on that for our readers?
V: For the first time in my life, I truly connected with myself. I knew exactly who I was. That was an amazing feeling. Beyond that, I knew that I was completely connected to the entire universe---the trees, birds, people around me, and God. We were all one. That is such a powerful feeling.
I also knew that life in this world connected me only to my "small self," the person I thought I was. When I laid that "small self" to rest, a much deeper individual was born. In this space of inner silence, I found my true self.
My sleeping problem began to seem like a tiny ant compared to the greatness I could see around me. It no longer was in my consciousness, so, in turn, it no longer existed. My inner reality now matched my outer reality, and it was amazing.
M: Fast forward to when you became this new person.
V: The day I learned to meditate I felt an overwhelming sense of love pervade me. All of the morals and messages that my mom bestowed upon me coursed through my veins. I became a new person, suddenly filled with total self-awareness. I saw this beautiful world through sparkling new eyes.
It was unbelievable to me that one minute I was as low as I could go, and after meditating for twenty minutes, I was filled with more love and happiness than my heart could handle.
Extraordinary things just started happening to me. Out of nowhere. My sleeping problem disappeared, overnight. I started finding myself in unbelievable situations---like being on stage with the Foo Fighters at Lollapalooza or chatting with Wynonna Judd after a concert. It was absolutely insane, and it just kept happening.
At the same time, even ordinary experiences like taking a walk or having dinner with a friend felt extraordinary to me. Inwardly, I felt a deeply moving richness to my existence. I started to forget how sad I had been...and that sleeping problem seemed seemed like a dream (no pun intended).
M: Is this when Wonderlust Living was born?
V: No, it took me a while to learn how to live with this new feeling. My cup was so filled with love and joy that I needed a fair amount of time just to stare at the trees. I took a lot of long walks, went on tons of road trips, and spent my days wondering how I had made such a quantum leap.
It was as though my mind had to catch up with my soul. After about nine months, I started thinking of how I could talk about this inner freedom with which I had been blessed and---more importantly---how I could help other people find it. My company was born on a snowy winter night in Fairfield, Iowa. The rest is history.
M: Who is your target audience? Who needs life coaching?
V: My target audience is anyone who feels stuck in their life, anyone who is being held back by limiting beliefs, anyone who feels unfulfilled in their life. I tend to connect to all people regardless of their age or background.
People are people. We all want to be satisfied and happy. That is what makes coaching so much fun for me. I believe that we all have the ability to find creative solutions to all the challenges we meet.
I also believe that at the core we are all the same, amazing and loved. Sometimes we just need a little help seeing it. We are limited by our conditioning. We have the ability to think differently, and that is where my job comes in. I am here to help people see their reality truthfully, humbly, and helpfully. I am here to open my clients up in order for them to feel tremendously alive.
M: Could this program be integrated in the school system?
V: Absolutely. I don’t think you are ever too young to start making good decisions. This would be especially helpful for teenagers. I wish I had a life coach in high school. It would have given me someone to lean on other than my parents/friends to help me move towards my goals and keep me on a good path.
Life coaching helps you get rid of obstacles in your life and gives you the tools to create a life that you really want---not someone else’s dream for your life, but your own vision.
M: Valerie, children need coping tools in order to get through life. This is where there is a huge disconnection. How could Wonderlust Living accomplish this?
V: I think the best thing we could do for our children is teach them how to meditate. Consciousness-based education is a game-changer and an amazing tool to give children. Meditation will always center them and give them the ability to handle all of life’s curveballs.
The best way to incorporate meditation with children is to have it in their schools. This would allow them to meditate twice a day with their teachers and classmates, which would enable them to go on with their day rested and ready to learn.
It is really, really important while you are young, to live in an environment in which there is no fear. Where there is fear there is no true intelligence, especially emotional intelligence. You want to create a space of freedom for children. To offer them a chance not just to imitate what they see, but to discover for themselves who they are.
That, in my eyes, is really what education is about. To really live is to explore for yourself what your truth is. We can do this only when there is freedom, which allows for a continuous revolution within yourself.
To me, freedom implies great intelligence; would you agree? We are all unique beings with unique paths. Living within the limitations of imitation is the equivalent of playing it safe and also living in fear.
That is what our society pushes: not individuality, but quietly fitting into the framework of the culture. The intent is not to hold us down, but to keep us “safe.” Since we want to fit in, we play along until things fall apart and a shift is absolutely necessary.
Part of Wonderlust Living is recognizing the individual and co-creating a path that works for you. It would be amazing to help children grow toward this idea, thus empowering them from a young age.
M: Imagine if we blend Wonderlust Living with yoga, what the outcome would be. Is this something you are considering?
V: I strongly suggest to all of my clients that they find a spiritual practice to help center themselves. I personally love meditating. I find that it helps in all areas of my life, but every person is different.
Yoga would be high on my list of spiritual practices because it unites the mind with the body and the soul, connecting us to our essence. We spend the majority of our lives caught up in the mind. Both yoga and Wonderlust Living are ways of being. They are lenses through which you view the world.
I believe that yoga combined with life coaching is a home run. That's a big part of what Amber Shumake and I will be talking about in the upcoming book we are writing, Wonderlust Living. We live in a society that pushes the intellect: work hard and get good grades. What we have forgotten is that the soul doesn’t care about any of that. This leads to being disconnected from ourselves. That is when we get in trouble.
If we are constantly looking outside of ourselves to find happiness and fulfillment, we are going to be really disappointed. The greatest gifts life has to offer come from within. We are programmed to have the answers to life’s questions. We are programmed to be happy and to love. It is all in the blueprint of our soul, but if we don’t look inside we will never find it. Know thyself.***
M: If there was one thing you could leave us with to start the journey of living a stress-free life, what would it be?
V: Make a decision to stop the madness and take a trip inside yourself. Once you have made that decision you will find that an infrastructure of support starts to pop up all over the place.
Follow the signs, trust the universe, and keep moving toward your dreams. When you are doing the right thing for your authentic self, miracles start becoming part of your everyday life.
I would like to leave you with a quote that I think really reflects the heart of Wonderlust Living. One of my heros, J. Krishnamurti, once said,
“In oneself lies the whole world and if you know how to look and learn, the door is there and the key is in your hand. Nobody on earth can give you either the key or the door to open, except yourself.”
M: And how can we get in touch with Valerie Gangas and Wonderlust Living?
V: You can visit my website at www.valeriegangas.com or contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
M: Thank you Valerie for the wonderful work you do and for educating the Rebelle community.
V: Thank you.
Valerie Gangas is a Meditator, Consciousness Hunter, Speaker, Author, Life Coach, Philanthropist, Blogger, Travel Junkie, Sleep Enthusiast and Food Lover. She presently calls Chicago her home, but you can find her crossing the globe. Valerie invites you to take a chance, step out of your existing patterns and start experiencing the miracles that life has to offer. Learn more about Valerie and Wonderlust Living on ValerieGangas.com and connect with her on Facebook & Twitter.