Mary Hoyt Kearns of Your Stellar Self: 5 Lifestyle Tweaks That Can Dramatically Improve Your Wellbeing
An Interview With Candice Georgiadis
Making time regularly for the habits you want to cultivate — even if that means blocking out time on your calendar. When you repeat a behavior regularly, that’s when it becomes a habit. A Lot of this is about training your body and mind to do things automatically. Also, don’t beat yourself up if you miss a day. Just try your best to carve out the time to incorporate these wellness practices into your life.
As a part of my series about “5 Lifestyle Tweaks That Will Dramatically Improve One’s Wellbeing”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Mary Hoyt Kearns.
Mary Hoyt Kearns is an internationally sought-after healer, intuitive coach, author, developmental psychologist, and retreat leader. Her mission is to help people discover and nourish their inner light. For over 20 years, she has studied, practiced and taught behavioral health methods including stress management, mindfulness practices, positive psychology methods, breathwork, energy medicine, healthy daily habits, and more. Mary holds a PhD in Developmental Psychology from Fordham University, is a reiki master teacher, certified life coach, and registered yoga teacher. Her new book, Lessons from a Reluctant Healer: On Learning to Listen to that Still Small Voice Within to Better Bring Your Gifts to the World, is out now.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you share with us the story about how you first got involved in wellness?
It began for me at age 11, when I first learned to practice yoga. A teacher at my school created an after-school program that anyone could join and I jumped at the chance. I’ve practiced yoga ever since — off and on for many years, and regularly for the past 17 years.
For as long as I can remember, I’ve had a passion for working with people of all ages to develop mind, body and spirit wellness. In the early 2000s, while under the stress of working full-time, writing my dissertation on how people use biomedical and complementary healthcare, and raising my daughters as a single parent, I learned the vital importance of self-care. You can’t be your best for others unless you take time to take care of yourself. That was the beginning of my journey of learning how to heal myself so I could heal and support others.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started your career?
Since I’ve been working in the realm of mind-body-spirit wellness, and concurrently continuing to work on self-growth, I’ve found that the number of synchronicities I experience has greatly increased. One of the most interesting ones happened a few years ago when I was holding a workshop in Brooklyn. One of the participants, Aurorah, told us that she lived in Atlanta, but was in New York City for a meeting that ended up being cancelled. So she had searched online to see what was happening that weekend and came across my workshop. In talking to her, I learned that she had a podcast, Blood+Moon+Milk, and had just interviewed a woman I had sat next to at an Omega Institute retreat during a weeklong Past Life Regression workshop with Brian Weiss two weeks earlier. Synchronicity!
Can you share with our readers a bit about why you are an authority in the fitness and wellness field? In your opinion, what is your unique contribution to the world of wellness?
I have a background in science, spirituality, and holistic health. I’ve studied a wide range of wellness and have a lot of practical experience working with others and on myself. I have my PhD in developmental psychology and took every available neuropsychology offered by my grad school. The neuroscience of human behavior is something I’ve been passionate about for decades.
I’ve been certified as a life coach and Reiki practitioner for nearly two decades. In 2017, I completed my 200-hour yoga teacher training and in 2019, I completed my Reiki master teacher certification. I’ve traveled the globe and have studied wellness modalities such as reiki, herbalism, and shamanism with the very best teachers in the world in order to bring those practices to my clients.
My unique contribution is that I approach wellness from a 360-degree perspective: biological, psychological, emotional, social, and spiritual. We need to address all of those in order to feel fully whole.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?
There are so many! I would say that all of my teachers-–my dissertation advisor, elementary school teachers, yoga teachers, reiki teachers and all of the other world-class teachers I’ve had the good fortune to learn from–have been instrumental in helping me to become the person I am today.
Ok thank you for all that. Now let’s move to the main focus of our interview. We all know that it’s important to eat more vegetables, eat less sugar, exercise more, and get better sleep etc. But while we know it intellectually, it’s often difficult to put it into practice and make it a part of our daily habits. In your opinion what are the 3 main blockages that prevent us from taking the information that we all know, and integrating it into our lives?
- While we know on an intellectual level what is good for us, on the “basic instinct” level, we are wired for instant rewards. So if you see that tub of ice-cream in your freezer, you know you’ll get that instant reward — it’ll taste good and the sugar will give you an immediate buzz. The more primal part of the brain tells you to go for the immediate gratification while the executive function is what helps us take the long perspective.
- We tend to focus a lot on the past and the future, instead of being present. Rather than dealing with the situation at hand, we need to stop ourselves from thinking about what was or what could be. When you practice mindfulness, for example, you are better able to see what’s in front of you in the present moment and eliminate some of the blockages.
- Making time regularly for the habits you want to cultivate — even if that means blocking out time on your calendar. When you repeat a behavior regularly, that’s when it becomes a habit. A Lot of this is about training your body and mind to do things automatically. Also, don’t beat yourself up if you miss a day. Just try your best to carve out the time to incorporate these wellness practices into your life.
Can you please share your “5 Non-Intuitive Lifestyle Tweaks That Will Dramatically Improve One’s Wellbeing”? (Please share a story or an example for each, and feel free to share ideas for mental, emotional and physical health.)
- Breathwork: Learning ways to move your breath in specific patterns in order to lower your stress levels, calm your nervous system, or feel more invigorated. Examples include box breath, an ancient yogic technique now used by Navy Seals, which helps get your body into a non-reactive state so you can approach situations calmly and rationally.
- Mini-Meditation: Even taking two minutes to sit and focus on your breath or notice what your body is feeling without judgement. Just doing that throughout the day can be enough to bring your heart-rate down and help you think more clearly.
- Practice Gratitude: Positive psychology research has shown that if we take just a few minutes each day to think about what we are thankful for, it lowers our stress, reduces anxiety, helps alleviate aches and pains, boosts resilience, and gives us a more positive outlook. It also opens our eyes to opportunities we might otherwise miss by programming our minds to recognize the positive in any given situation.
- Get Grounded: This can be as simple as getting outside and walking either barefoot or wearing shoes with a natural sole that allows the earth’s electromagnetic energy to connect with your body’s electromagnetic energy. You can also just sit on the ground! Research has shown that grounding lowers your blood pressure, boosts your immune system, helps you sleep better and much more.
- Connect with Others: We have an epidemic of loneliness in the U.S. that started before the pandemic. Loneliness has a huge negative impact on emotional, physical, and cognitive health. And, conversely, support from others has a huge positive effect on our emotional, physical, and cognitive wellbeing. We are social creatures so it’s incredibly important to connect with others — even if that’s just through Zoom or phone calls.
Is there a particular book that made a significant impact on you? Can you share a story?
When I was 11 and just discovering yoga, I came across a book on Transcendental Meditation by the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi. A lot of it passed over my head, but the book contained a progressive relaxation technique that I continue to use, and have taught to many of my students. It’s a very helpful technique for bringing calm to the body and mind, and one that I find very helpful when I’m trying to fall asleep.
You are a person of enormous influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger.
As a developmental psychologist, I would love to create a movement to make social skills, like empathy, compassion, kindness, and caring a part of school curriculum that would include entire families learning and practicing these skills together. I think that’s the best way to make the world a better place for everyone. If we all approached life with these values, just think how much better things could be.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Do you have a story about how that was relevant in your life?
I’ve always loved Douglas Adams’ quote, “Time is an illusion. Lunch time doubly so.” As silly as it sounds, there is a profound truth in the idea that time is a concept with quite a bit of subjectivity to it. When we are doing something we love, engaged in an activity that takes us beyond our ordinary reality, when we are in Flow, time takes on a very different flavor than it does when we are doing something tedious. We often say we don’t have time for the things we would like to do, but if we were to take inventory of all the ways we are using our time, we would likely find things that could easily be eliminated (like doom scrolling or binge watching) in order to make room for the things that nourish us.
We are very blessed that some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this if we tag them :-)
Since 1986, I’ve wanted to meet Keanu Reeves! I sense that he has a deeply spiritual side to him. I first saw him in a PBS series, “Trying Times” where he portrayed the son of a moving company owner. In the episode, “Moving Day,” Keanu wanted more than anything to be a dancer, and was trying to convince his tough stereotypically manly father that he didn’t want to take over the family business. I loved that he knew what his purpose and passion was and wasn’t going to let anyone stand in his way. I also loved him in “Little Buddha,” where he plays Siddhartha.
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Thank you for these fantastic insights. We wish you only continued success in your great work!