Barb Schmidt is an international speaker, philanthropist, spiritual mentor, and best-selling author of The Practice. She has devoted more than 30 years to her studies with inspirational leaders such as Deepak Chopra, Thich Nhat Hanh, Scott Peck, Buddhist nun Tenzin Palmo, Thomas Merton scholar James Finley, and Marianne Williamson.
In 2001, Barb brought a larger community into discussions on peace initiatives with her partnership with Florida Atlantic University’s Peace Studies program. In addition to speaking globally, she offers workshops and classes on spiritual practices and hosts events with many notable speakers including the Dalai Lama, Dr. Jane Goodall, Caroline Myss, Dan Millman, Gabrielle Bernstein, Tara Stiles, and James Finley.
BB: Tell us about your journey that eventually led to you developing Peaceful Mind Peaceful Life and The Practice. www.peacefulmindpeacefullife.org
I have been a seeker of deep meaning and truth all of my life. I spent my days as a girl and young woman, trying to find happiness, self-worth and well being in the external world. I thought that if I just had all the things that I saw others happy with I would then be complete. It wasn’t until I checked myself in for a 6-week treatment stay for my bulimia that I discovered the source of all happiness and a meaningful life is inside me.
I went on a search and study of many spiritual practices, and in the last 30 years I have found a daily practice that has helped me find peace, courage, and self-love. I know deeply that everything I need is within me. I cannot control the outer world but I can handle whatever comes my way with courage and certainty. Having found this deep inner peace it is my passion to help all beings do the same. When we all connect to our source of inner peace we will have outer peace in the world. It all starts with a sitting with ourselves each day, getting past the thoughts in the mind and learning how to tap into our hearts and just be.
I founded Peaceful Mind Peaceful Life as a massive worldwide non-profit to teach and inspire this truth: when we are at peace with ourselves, when we love ourselves unconditionally, we will spread peace to others. Following the words of Mahatma Gandhi, “be the change you wish to see in the world”, I share these spiritual practices with others by teaching my three-part daily guide, which I call The Practice.
BB: Where do you find your source of inspiration?
I find inspiration by living my life in the present moment. I bring my mind back from the past and future and truly become nurtured and inspired by the people, places and things that touch each moment. I love reading the works of the masters, mystics, saints, and teachers of the past and present and I continue to go on retreats. We have the greatest source of inspiration within. When we are able to hear the whisperings of our heart through a regular spiritual practice, we are inspired to live our greatest and most magnificent lives.
BB: What drives your passion for all of the work you do with Spirit of Giving Network?
I believe strongly that what we can do together will change lives and ultimately change the world! So I founded Spirit of Giving Network as a way for all non profits to work together sharing resources and ideas to make the lives of all men, women, children, and families better, brighter and more loving.
BB: You’ve taught classes on meditation. Why is it so hard for many to become students of meditation; to clear the mind from the outside world and just be in the moment?
We have so much going on in our lives that our attention often becomes scattered and unfocused. We want to do so much, but the problem here is that there is only one thing we can do each moment. If we don’t take the time to stop and just be throughout the day, we run out of the mental, physical, and emotional energy we need to keep going.
I am determined to de-mystify the word meditation, take the fear out of peoples minds about this practice and really teach this life changing practice in a way that helps people understand and say, “I will try this!” Meditation is a practice of “sitting with yourself” letting the thoughts in the mind come and go by placing your attention on an object such as the breath. The mind is meant for thinking so we can’t stop the thoughts from coming but we can gently bring our attention to the breath, instead of answewring the thoughts or pushing them out of the way- in this practice we are learning to be. Be with ourselves, with our thoughts and in this being we become strong, confident and loving of what is in this moment. We can’t do it right or wrong- Gandhi said, “the only failure in meditation is the failure to meditate.” Meditation is a training to be in the present moment! We show up to our meditation spot and just sit.
BB: Can you give a few words of wisdom when it comes to finding meaning and happiness in life? Or at least how to get started?
A daily practice of meditation connects us with ourselves deep within. We begin to come out of our mind and drop into our heart. We little by little begin to hear the “whisperings of our heart.” Ten years ago I hear the voice within say, “you are meant to bring peace and love to the world.” I wasn’t sure what direction that would take but I left that meditation knowing that this was my purpose in life; the meaning of my life. So here we are I have founded Peaceful Mind Peaceful Life teaching, inspiring and empowering people to live from within. We can’t know what we came to this planet to do unless we sit in silence with ourselves daily and listen.How to get started: Find a practice and practice it every day!
BB: In addition to nourishing your inner peace, what do you do on a daily basis to nourish your body?
I take great care of my body. I walk daily, I practice yoga 4 times a week, I do Pilates, I take baths, I get massages and I am a vegetarian. A daily practice of meditation and mindfulness starts to align our mind, body and heart. We begin to feel a great desire to take care of our bodies and our mind.
BB: How do you maintain the Balanced Babe Lifestyle?
I lead an incredibly busy, meaningful life. I am a Type A who lives in the moment, with energy and passion. With all of the meetings, lectures, interviews, social plans, and writing time, I feel that my life is in balance and I love the path I’m on! Imagine this! My morning meditation keeps me grounded and sets the tone as I go out into my day. I put my focused attention on others as well as on my activities so that I am really present in the moment. I take time to eat my meals mindfully, and I always set aside time to get in exercise and self-care. I enjoy time with my family, friends and my sweet dog, Ellie. For me, this is balance!