The following blog post is a Q&A with the newest Simple Habit Expert Michelle Garcia. You can listen to Michelle on Simple Habit here.
Tell us about yourself, Michelle
I grew up in Denver, Colorado. My family is still there along with a large extended family, so I go back often to visit. I moved to Arizona when I was twenty-years-old and attended Arizona State University. I worked at the University until I was approached to apply for the police department in Mesa, Arizona.
I love dogs; I didn’t use to be much of a fan until I got a dog and fell in love. My last dog went blind suddenly, and I became her full-time caretaker, teaching her how to maneuver the world without sight. We went on walks daily, and she did just fine without being able to see those last few years. I look forward to when I’m ready to have a dog again.
What inspired you to work with first responders?
When I retired from the police department after 20 years, I immediately started yoga teacher training. There was a portion of training when we were studying yoga nidra, and we read a meditation script to one another. When I got up from that session, I felt something, and I knew I needed to know more about this type of meditation.
I remember feeling nervous on my way to Level I training. I wasn’t sure who was going to be there and if we would have anything in common. I was surprised to see veterans and professionals who work with individuals in various states of crisis. Given my experience in the police force, I knew this yoga nidra practice was so applicable to first responders. I found I could take the “woo-woo” out of the practice and apply it to veterans and first responders in need.
The majority of people think meditation is about finding nirvana when it’s really about finding a place that is just okay or tolerable.Michelle Garcia
How did you learn about mental health?
When I was told I had Post Traumatic Stress, I realized I had to make some better choices when it came to mental wellness for myself. I knew that if I didn’t take care of my mental health, it affects not just me, but those around me. I can’t serve others if I don’t take care of myself first.
Now, I meditate most mornings for ten minutes, I wish I could say “every single morning,” but sometimes it doesn’t happen, and that’s okay. I go to acupuncture weekly and take hikes to clear my head and enjoy nature. I do infrared sauna sessions, with cryo chamber therapy and float sessions. I also see a somatic therapist and incorporate EMDR, which I find is very helpful.
What kind of content are you excited to create on Simple Habit?
I’m looking forward to creating content to help people who are feeling stressed, or discomfort. I want to help people enjoy taking a 10-15 minute break. Also, I’m excited to teach people how to notice body sensations. Even if something feels uncomfortable or bad, can we find a place in the body that feels okay? Can we learn how to balance those sensations? The majority of people think meditation is about finding nirvana when it’s really about finding a place that is just okay or tolerable.
What are your favorite words to live by?
I have a few quotes that I like.
“I am enough.” and “Master your thoughts. Change your life.”
I live by the words that change is inevitable, and I will adjust and adapt because we are not meant to be stagnant and still. Life can change in an instant, so live life to the fullest.
Looking to follow Michelle? Listen to Michelle’s first series, Fully Relax Your Body, on Simple Habit.
Michelle Garcia isn’t your typical yoga instructor and meditation educator. She spent 20 years working in the field of law enforcement, both as a patrol officer and as a detective. It was through her police work that Michelle encountered individuals who were in a state of crisis. Seeing these troubled people inspired Michelle to retire from the police force and turn to a different kind of public service.
Through her own diagnosis of Post Traumatic Stress, she found yoga and meditation as a way to handle and process strain from everyday life.
She holds a 500-hour master level Yoga certification, and she’s also a certified Yoga Nidra Instructor via the iRest Program. She has taught trauma-sensitive yoga and meditation to a diverse group of people.
Michelle has taught at an alcohol and drug recovery center, the Army National Guard, and victims of sexual trauma and human trafficking. She currently teaches in the San Francisco Bay Area at police and fire departments and veteran centers. Find out more about Michelle at www.michellegarciayoga.com.