We had the good fortune of connecting with meditation teacher & mindfulness expert, Anthony Profeta, CMT-P and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Anthony, what’s the most difficult decision you’ve ever had to make?
The most difficult decision I ever made was also the biggest risk I’ve taken so far in my life. It was the decision to leave traditional medicine and become a meditation/mindfulness teacher.
I entered the meditation path for my own personal reasons back in the year 2000, but never with the intention of teaching these practices to others. It was simply my way of cultivating a deeper connection with what I still call God – as well as – a tool to help me navigate through this stressful world and nurture of life of greater happiness, peace, and well-being.
I always knew though that I wanted to assist people in their journey to health and healing. I thought I would be serving others though a career in traditional medicine. So after college I entered medical school in NYC to work on that path. But, so many scientific studies point to the fact that stress is the underlying root cause of nearly all illness, disease, and doctor visits. The American Institute of Stress finds that 75-90% of doctor visits in the US are stress related. And therefore, I decided to take a more holistic turn with my services because I didn’t want to just kick the can down the road or put a bandaid over the problem. I wanted to assist those coming to me in really getting to – and eliminating – the underlying root cause.
I understood from my own first-hand direct experience how meditation helped me through very stressful times in my life. And so, I decided to look at these practices as not just from the lens of spirituality, but rather through the lens of wellness and see what the science says. At the time there were nearly three thousand published articles on meditation and today there are over nine thousand. These studies without a doubt show the benefits these practices have on distressing the body naturally. And so, I decided to leave traditional medicine and focus on stress management techniques and practices.
This was a very difficult decision because I was leaving behind what many people would say is an ideal profession. I was heading on a very secure career path. One which would lead to the American dream of the beautiful house, with the white picket fence, dog in the yard, security for my family, etc… But, something in my heart was pulling me in a different direction.
Friends and family members thought I lost my mind. Some thought maybe I had a nervous breakdown. They couldn’t understand why I would turn my back on medicine and go off to become – as some of them said quite sarcastically – “a yoga teacher”.
There were many friends, who though concerned, showed they cared by trying to encourage me into returning. There were a couple of so-called “friends” though that actually turned their back on me and ended our friendship because of the decision I was making. And that began to add to the difficulty of the decision. Regardless, I felt I needed to follow my heart and began to deepen my study and knowledge of these practices even more.
Prior to 2015, I was studying with teachers in meditation centers all around the US. But, in 2015, I flew off to India. I spent time living as a monk in monasteries of Nepal & India intensely studying a variety of techniques and meditation methods of different eastern traditions. I spent a week in a monastery in Assisi, Italy studying centering prayer and christian contemplation. I’ve studied a variety of secular mindfulness practices as well as the relaxation response from Harvard’s Dr Benson. All the time, trying to amass a vast number of tools to add to my toolbox.
I knew if I wanted to be of help and service to the most people I could then I needed to know a variety of techniques because not every person will resonate with the same method or practice. And during some of this time, I had the blessed opportunity to be guided, taught, and mentored by such masters as Jack Kornfield, Sharon Salzberg, and The Dalai Lama.
But to be completely honest with you, there were many times I began to wonder if I did make the right decision because once I began to teach and offer my services there were many days when no one would attend my workshops, lectures, etc… I began to wonder and wrestle with the questions of “will I be able to pay the bills?”, “did I make the biggest mistake of my life?”, & “did I throw everything away by walking away from a traditional medical profession?”
But I continued pressing on! I was passionate about the direction I was going, what I was sharing, and the teachings and service I was offering. I felt deep in my heart that I was doing what I needed to do. And so, I persevered. It took a lot of dedication, effort, and belief in what I was doing but now things have blossomed in so many ways I could have never imaged or envisioned; especially once I started to add sound meditations and sound therapy services. And over the past eight years, I have shared these tools and practices with tens of thousands of people across the world. I can honestly tell you that amazing things happen when you follow your heart!
Alright, so for those in our community who might not be familiar with your business, can you tell us more?
Some feedback that I received from those I’ve worked with is that they appreciate the fact that I can bridge the science and the spirituality. We are living in an “age of anxiety” and not everyone I work with cares about the spiritual side of meditation and mindfulness. Many people, today especially, are seeking out my services for tools to help them deal with difficult emotions, gain some sort of mastery over their minds, as well as for guidance in navigating through this very stressful world.
Many also tell me that my years of study, the teachers I have had, and the dedication it must have taken to live in the monasteries and ashrams of India and Nepal are a factor they choose for working with me. And those who are of a spiritual background appreciate that I can tailor the practices to any spiritual tradition.
I get most excited when I see others gaining insights, having breakthroughs, and discovering the greatness that is within them. When they begin to see the benefits of these practices unfolding through their own experiences, that gives me great joy. While I can tell people all about the benefits of these practices, while I can point them to studies which indicate all that these methods can do for them, I don’t want them to just believe me for what I am saying. I want them to work the practices themselves until they discover the benefit for themselves. Watching how the journey unfolds for them is very rewarding. And I also get very excited when people begin to realize that they are not their thoughts. And that while thoughts are real in the sense that they are happening, they aren’t necessarily true and so they don’t always have to be believed. That is a big eye opener for many people.
As for the lessons I have learned and challenges I have overcome, this goes back to what I mentioned previously. When I first started guiding people on the road to self-discovery and well-being there were many challenges along the way. It definitely wasn’t easy at the start.
When I first shifted careers and began to put myself out there as a meditation teacher and mindfulness coach, no one knew me. And very often, in the beginning, one person or sometimes no one, was showing up to my workshops or events. It took a lot not to get discouraged, quit, and give up.
To overcome disappointment and discouragement, I would take those happenings as signs. If one person showed up that was a sign that this person needed a more personal or specialized attention, Perhaps, they would be more reserve in a group or even afraid to ask questions if others were there.
It was also important to have a strong support system of family or friends. I had my mother and sister who would listen and support me when things were rough. And that definitely aided me in challenging times. So, please make sure you have even one person to be that ear when you need to vent, that shoulder when you need one to lean on, or that voice when you need an encouraging word.
Thankfully, now everything for me is the complete opposite. My classes, workshops, & events are full and selling out. My Good Vibrations: Sound Bath Meditation experiences have sold out venues across Florida and other US cities & states. I’m offering sold out retreats around the world, I have been hired by major corporations to provided mindfulness sessions and wellness services for their companies and their employees, and I’m getting more and more requests for my 1-on-1 mentoring and spiritual coaching services each and every day. I wake up so grateful for all that has happened in my life.
Some of the major lessons I learned along this journey have been:
1. Always follow your heart and your passion!
Too many of us settle in life. We aren’t following our passion. The renaissance master, Michelangelo, once said: “the great problem for many of us is not that we aim too high, and miss the mark. But rather, we aim too low, and achieve it.”
Don’t settle for less. Don’t settle for what’s comfortable, otherwise there is no stimulus for growth. By following your heart and living your passion, whatever it is that you decide to do will be more rewarding. You’ll get up each day looking forward to what you do and what you are sharing with the world. It doesn’t mean there won’t be obstacles to over come or challenges along the way. But when you are following your heart what you do will not feel like a job.
2. Believe in yourself and what you are doing; even when others don’t!
So many people get talked out of their dreams. So many of people give up because of the words of others. If you have a dream, follow it. Pursue it! You don’t want to be at the end of your life, regretting the chances you didn’t take.
3. There is profound power in dedication, effort, perseverance & PATIENCE!.
Nothing worthwhile is easy. In exercise and weight-training circles they say, “no pain, no gain!” I believe that this also applies to life. There are some people who missed success by a day or one more try. Don’t let that be you!
If you truly believe in what you are doing, then stay dedicated, give 110%, and keep pressing-on! If you do, magic happens. But, also remember it doesn’t happen overnight. We hear of these “overnight success” stories but if you really look into them, you will find that there was a lot of hard work and dedication that went into becoming an “overnight success”.
They say it takes three years before a business is successful. So, be patient with things and be patient with yourself., Patience is a definitely a key ingredient. It was only through my patience, dedication, effort, and perseverance that my life and career unfolded as it did.
However, I do believe there is another magic, yet perhaps overlooked, component – let your drive and desire be for something greater than just financial gain alone! Not that finances are a bad thing. But, be focused on a higher ideal.
I didn’t get into the meditation/mindfulness realm for the money. I got into it to be of service. To assist people in knowing themselves, and to help then navigate through the difficulties of life.
So, do what you do to be of service to others! Let what you do be for a greater ideal than just yourself! And let the intention of what you do be something to help change the world for the better. I believe that when we do, great things happen, as well!
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
You’re in Florida, so you definitely need to spend some time at the beach! The sun and the ocean are very healing and cleansing and it’s a wonderful place to just kickback, relax, slowdown, and recharge. Our beautiful beaches are also the perfect place to get in a morning meditation!
I live in Vero Beach, which is about two hours north of Miami, but whenever I head down south to work or play some of the places I love eat at and hangout at are:
1. The Miami Design District: The area is known for its modern architecture and upscale design stores, luxury fashion shops, and galleries. The area is also known for its restaurants and cafes. It’s a great place to walk around and explore because many of the cross streets are closed to cars and traffic and public art decorates the area. The highlight might be the Fly’s eye dome which decorates the center of the district and was designed by Buckminster Fuller. If you are lucky you might be able to catch a free public concert by the Miami Symphony Orchestra (MISO) at the dome stage.
2, Wynwood District: This is one of Miami’s most happening districts. The wynwood walls are an outdoor museum as many large scale murals cover the buildings in the area. The surrounding warehouses are home to many craft breweries, cafes, food trucks, and funky art galleries.
3. Joe’s Stone Crab Restaurant: If you are visiting between October to May then this hotspot in South Beach is a must. It’s only open for a select time because that is stone crab season. It’s been in operation for over 100 years and the stone carbs are delicious!
4. The River Oyster Bar: Great place serving local and organic seafood. They also have a great drink and extensive wine list.
5. Gianni’s (at The Versace Mansion): If you are into fashion or a fan of Versace clothing then definitely check out this delicious Italian restaurant in this one-of-a kind historic setting. This mansion was the home of famed fashion designer Gianni Versace. After his death it was purchased and converted into a hotel and restaurant.
Of course, if you are into nature, sailing, boating, outdoor sports, yoga, meditation, fishing, museums, or shopping there is a lot more for you to explore and check out as well.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
There are so many people and books which come to mind! I don’t even know where to begin.
I definitely owe thanks to my mother & sister for their love, support, and encouragement. I might have not continued if I wasn’t able to vent my early frustrations and concerns to my mother.
I owe thanks to all those who have been my direct teachers, guides, and mentors throughout my journey; especially Jack Kornfield, Sharon Salzberg, Lama Zopa Rinpoche, the Dalai Lama.
Gratitude and thanks also go out to all those who have been my indirect mentors such as: Jesus, St Teresa of Avila, St Francis of Assisi, Thomas Merton, Rumi, Kabir, Yogananda, Plato, Aristotle, Nikola Tesla, Einstein, Werner Heisenberg, Swami Vivekinanda, Carl Jung, and too many more to mention.
I owe gratitude and thanks to all the studios, wellness centers, organizations, podcasts, & conferences who have provided me with the spaces and opportunities to teach and share my services.
And I cannot forget my 13 year old son, who has truly now become my greatest teacher, mentor in keeping me on my path, and also my motivating factor to continued success!
As for books: The Bible, The Bhagavad-Gita, & Autobiography of a Yogi have had profound influence on my journey.
Bio: First Image: Mike Seiler Photographer Additional Pictures: Top: Left Sound Therapy Image: Mike Seiler & Right Colored Bowls Image: Benjamin Thacker Middle 2: Chris Comstock Photographer Bottom: 2: Left: Vikal Basnal & Right: Donna Kocak