Ananda Leeke: Author, Artist & Chief Mindfulness Officer of Ananda Leeke Consulting

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My Native Admission Statement: Hi Groovy People! My name is Ananda Kiamsha Madelyn Leeke. I’m Michigan born. Maryland raised. Elizabeth Seton and Morgan State educated. Howard and Georgetown Law trained. My own struggles with unworthiness, stress, and panic attacks from working as a lawyer and an investment banker opened the door to my healing journey. During the early stages of my healing journey, I was introduced to mindfulness, meditation, mantra chanting, yoga, reiki, journaling, creative writing, and art making. With the support of these practices, a therapist, a life coach, an acupuncturist, family, friends, and sacred and creative communities, I learned how to navigate my emotions, stress, and panic attacks.

After I witnessed the impact of mindful practices in my life, I decided to study and become a certified yoga and mindfulness meditation teacher, reiki master practitioner, and artist-in-residence at Smith Center for Healing and the Arts. These experiences laid the foundation for my current work as an author, an artist, and the Chief Mindfulness Officer of Ananda Leeke Consulting, a 19-year old personal and professional development firm that helps high achievers, corporations, and organizations become more resilient, effective, and productive with mindful communication, creativity, leadership, self-care, and technology practices.

My Native Advice:

Start your day with three to seven deep breaths. Be still and allow yourself to notice your breath in your body. Make your breath your BFF. Give thanks for your breath, body, mind, spirit, heart, and life. Set an intention for your day. Surrender your need to control the details and retire from being the assistant manager of the universe. Allow yourself to be available to the next great vision and version of yourself. Allow yourself to receive your blessings. Practice mindful self-care, forgiveness, and gratitude. Give yourself the gifts of loving kindness, compassion, nonjudgment, and patience. Celebrate your small, medium, and big wins. And remember when you love, accept, appreciate, and take great care of yourself, you are in a much better position to love, accept, and support others in your life, family, career, business, and/or community.

Any emerging industry trends?

In the United States where I live, the most common sources of stress include work, money, the current political climate, the future of the nation, violence, and crime. Guess which ones are the most common among adults? Here’s how the American Psychological Association’s (APA) 2017 Stress in America survey answered the question.

#1 – The Future of the Nation, 63% of adults (specific issues include health care – 43%, economy – 35%, trust in government – 32%, crime and hate crimes – 31%, terrorist attacks – 30%, high taxes – 28%, social security – 26%, and government controversies and scandals – 25%

#2 – Money, 62% of adults

#3 – Work, 61% of adults

#4 – Current Political Climate, 57% of adults

#5 – Violence and rime, 51% of adults

In the past two years, I have noticed more companies and organizations are helping their employees overcome stress by investing in and offering wellness programs and retreats that focus on mindfulness, meditation, mindful communication, mindful creativity, mindful leadership, mindful self-care, and mindful technology. For instance, a group of mindfulness program leaders from companies including Aetna, Genentech, and LinkedIn launched the Mindful Workplace Alliance, website, and Mindful at Work Month (October) to fuel a game-changing movement of mindfulness in the workplace that promotes human flourishing in 2018. As a group, they develop and connect workplace mindfulness leaders, share best practices, and build community.

Nonprofit organizations have demonstrated their wellness commitment by including mindfulness programs in their conferences and retreat offerings. The Marisla Foundation held a resilience retreat for 50 environmental CEOs that included mindful communication, creativity, mindful journaling, leadership, self-care, and technology sessions in January. I led presentations on mindful creativity, communication, and journaling. The Nonprofit Technology Network (NTEN) offers mindfulness workshops and activities during its annual conference. NTEN’s April conference included meditation and yoga lunchtime classes and a resiliency session that I co-facilitated with a team of three mindfulness and tech consultants. In May, the Wonder Women Tech Global DC Summit offered mindful moments led by yours truly in the morning, afternoon, and late afternoon. Each mindful moment focused on centering and deep breathing.

Some companies are extending their wellness workplace investment to their local communities. Companies such as lululemon, WE, and Eaton DC, a global brand merging hospitality with progressive social change in the form of a hotel, co-working members club, and wellness center, have invested in their local communities by offering wellness and self-care programs. For example, lululemon and WE launched the lululemon luminaries program in the D.C. area in May. They provided a free three-month relational mindfulness program to 20 women wellness leaders, entrepreneurs, and creative and law enforcement professionals. I was selected as one of the lululemon luminaries.

Eaton DC is offering free meditation classes in its Wellness Center Monday through Friday. In addition, Eaton DC is offering meditation to social justice activists, community organizers and changemakers in a meditation class I am leading on the second and fourth Thursdays of each month. Eaton DC also operates Eaton Radio, a community-based podcasting platform that hosts my Thriving Mindfully Show, a monthly program that features conversations with social justice activists, changemakers and creative and wellness professionals who are using mindfulness to share their gifts with the world.

Local businesses are also investing in the wellness of their local communities. Qi Kratom CBD Tea has taken the lead in bringing free meditation to the U Street, NW neighborhood in D.C. Since April 2018, Qi Kratom CBD Tea has partnered with Ananda Leeke Consulting to provide a Mindful Monday Meditation class. The class serves a diverse community that is intergenerational. Ananda Leeke Consulting is using the Thriving Mindfully Meetup Group to build and support this community online.

Also, I have noticed an increase in sound healing practices used by my coaching clients and workshop participants. They are using sound healing to overcome tech distraction, increase their focus and productivity, navigate increased stress levels, and enhance their sleep and overall well-being. I am also using sound healing in my personal practice.

Any industry opportunities or challenges?

The first six months of 2019 were SUPER BUSY for me. I didn’t realize how much I needed to slow down and deepen my self-care practices until I had an emotional meltdown and realized I had been giving a lot of myself to my business without really taking great care of myself. That realization came while sitting in a relational mindfulness workshop that was offered as a part of the lululemon luminaries program I was selected to participate in. Thanks to the support of lululemon, WE, and my amazing 19 fellow luminaries, I was able to re-invest in my self-care.

My journey as a lululemon luminary inspired me to launch the Thriving Mindfully Summer of Self-Care, a three-month journey (June 21 – September 20) designed to help us:

- Remember and accept we are worthy of and deserve self-care.

- Nurture our spirit, heart, mind, body, breath, and life with self-care each day.

- Offer ourselves a dose of the Big 5 — loving kindness, compassion, patience, nonjudgment, and forgiveness — when we don’t show up fully and practice self-care the way we’d like to.

During the three-month period, I am leading online and DC-based meditation and mindfulness classes and workshops, publishing inspiring blog and social media posts, and providing resources including inspirational Instagram and YouTube videos, Spotify playlists, and Soundcloud podcasts with reflections, journaling exercises, guided meditation, tips, and resources.

What's next for the Business in the near future?

Currently, I am developing a moon meditation series for the fall and winter seasons, designing several self-led online courses for 2020, creating wellness-inspired artwork, preparing new content for the Thriving Mindfully podcast, and writing my third memoir, Thriving Mindfully.

Ideal experience for a customer/client?

They would enjoy knowing that they are seen and heard. They would appreciate and benefit from feeling safe and secure as they practice mindfulness and related practices. They would also appreciate me showing and sharing my some of my vulnerabilities.

Career advice to those in your industry?

Be your authentic self. Listen and pay close attention to what people are saying before you speak. Ask questions when you are not sure. Speak to everyone regardless of their socioeconomic status. Show appreciation and gratitude.

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What do I do best?

My spiritual and self-care practices are AWESOME. I am great at carving out time to experience them. They are the main reasons I am able to show up and share my gifts and mindfulness services. I am also great at building community, holding space for others, and celebrating my small, medium, and large wins.

What makes me the best version of myself?

I surrender to Spirit. I breathe deeply. I practice mindfulness, forgiveness, gratitude, and self- celebration.

My Motto?

Make Your Breath Your BFF!

My Favorite People/Role Models?

My favorite people and role models include my parents, Dr. John F. Leeke and Theresa B. Leeke; my niece Jordan; my brothers Mike, Matt, Mark, and Meico; my BFFs Jason, Wayne, Yael, Garnet, Henry, and Xina; my Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority sister Kamaria Richmond; my godfather Fred; my godmother Toni; my cousins Sharon and Chester Paul; Oprah Winfrey; Dr. Rickie Byars; Dr. Michael Bernard Beckwith; M.J. Harris; Kyle Cease; Spring Washam; La Sarmiento; Ruth King; Alice Walker; Mara Brock Akil; Faith Ringgold; Amy Sherald; Dr. Ayoka Chenzira; Sylvia Lewis; Abiola Abrams; Michelle Obama; Barack Obama; Cicely Tyson; Dr. Maya Angelou; Louise Hay; Ayesha Ali; and Bill Resnick

My Favorite Places/Destinations?

London

Chicago

Toronto

Vancouver, Canada

Aswan, Egypt

Senegal

Turkey

China

Jamaica

Paris

Big Bear Retreat Center in Big Bear, CA

Sedona, AZ

Oakland, CA

San Francisco, CA

NYC

Miami

My Favorite Products/Objects?

Crystals, mala beads, lavender oil, lavender and sandalwood incense sticks, Trader Joe’s organic oatmeal, lululemon underwear and activewear, Intention Planner by Meico Whitlock, African Goddess cards by Abiola Abrams, MAC lipstick and lip glass, my black and blue wig that my niece Jordan helped me select, Essence Magazine, Mantra Wellness Magazine, Oprah Magazine, Prevention Magazine, Mindful Magazine, Ann Taylor Loft white jeans and vegan black and brown leggings (all of my ATL clothing!), and my blue Caroline Abrams eyewear

My Current Passions?

Sound baths, astrology, moon cycles, Sunday livestream services from Agape International Spiritual Center, reiki healing music, mixed media collages, yin yoga, mantra chanting, Eshero’s song “Black Mermaid,” Toni Morrison: The Pieces I Am documentary, Queen Sugar on the OWN Network, Grown-ish on Freeform, oat milk chai, Irish oatmeal and hemp cookies from Teaism, luna cookies from Pleasant Pops, and cabbage and salmon cakes from Henry’s on U Street, NW

A Day in My Life:

What do you love most about Your City?

D.C. is a walkable city filled with great museums, galleries, parks, friendly dogs, and architecture. I love meditating and practicing yoga in Malcolm X/Meridian Hill Park. I love my U Street neighborhood.

Favorite breakfast meal & restaurant?

Oatmeal with berries

It’s hard to pick one restaurant. I love Teaism, Busboys and Poets, Judy’s Restaurant on 14th Street, NW, and D.C. Stone Pizza (love the falafel and hummus) and Jo Jo’s on U Street, NW.

Where do you enjoy getting lost?

The beach, nature, a bookstore, a grocery store, a museum, a gallery, or a park

My Pic of the Day:

The photo was taken during a mindfulness teachers’ retreat at Big Bear Retreat Center in Big Bear, California in September 2018. The retreat was special because I was able to dive deeper into my self-forgiveness practice. I also wrote some powerful poetry and fell madly in love with the trees.

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What Else to Know?

BIO:

Ananda Leeke discovered mindfulness when her career as a young lawyer and investment banker did not produce the level of success she expected. During her healing journey, Ananda studied and practiced meditation, reiki, yoga, art, and creative writing. As a result, she became a certified yoga and mindfulness teacher, reiki master practitioner, and artist-in-residence for the Smith Center for Healing and the Arts.Today, she listens to her heart and follows her intuition to help high achievers and organizations outsmart stress, tap into creativity, and have a healthy relationship with technology as the Chief Mindfulness Officer of Ananda Leeke Consulting, a personal and professional development firm. In addition, she hosts and produces the Thriving Mindfully Show on Eaton Radio and teaches meditation classes at Qi Kratom CBD Tea and Eaton Wellness DC. In 2018, she received Acquisition International’s Influential Businesswoman Award for the Most Caring Woman in Mindfulness Training and WeUpWomen’s Adelaide Smith Award for her work in self-care and wellness. lululemon selected her to serve as a lululemon luminary in 2019.

Her books, Love’s Troubadours, a yoga-inspired novel; That Which Awakens Me, a mindful creativity memoir; and Digital Sisterhood, a mindful technology memoir, are available on Amazon. She is currently writing her third memoir, Thriving Mindfully. She speaks at conferences and events sponsored by AT&T, Automattic, BlogHer, Congressional Black Caucus Foundation, Executive Women International, Howard University, Institute for Medicaid Innovation, Latinos in Tech Innovation and Social Media, Marisla Foundation, Meetup/WeWork, Nonprofit Technology Network, Sisterhued, Spelman College, Unity of Washington, DC, Washington National Cathedral, Web of Change, and Wonder Women Tech Summit. In addition, she regularly shares her meditation, mindfulness, and social media expertise as a commentator on WHUR 96.3 FM.

She is a proud alumna of Georgetown University Law Center, Howard University School of Law, Morgan State University, and Elizabeth Seton High School. She is a member of Unity of Washington, DC (meditation and reiki ministries), Insight Meditation Community of Washington, DC’s People of Color Sangha, and Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority, Inc. She lives in Washington, DC. Learn more at AnandaLeeke.com.

LINKS

Visit my website to learn more about me and how we can work together: https://anandaleeke.com.

Check out my mindfulness books on Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Ananda-Kiamsha-Madelyn-Leeke/e/B002BRGONC.

Read my blog to learn more about the Thriving Mindfully Summer of Self-Care: https://anandaleeke.com/2019/07/03/lets-claim-our-freedom-with-mindful-self-care-in-july.

Be inspired and sign up for my Thriving Mindfully newsletter. http://eepurl.com/dFtWGb.

Listen to my #ThrivingMindfully Podcast (over 90 episodes about mindfulness, meditation, workplace mindfulness, and mindful creativity, communication, self-care, leadership, and technology): https://soundcloud.com/ananda-leeke.

Follow me on Instagram and Twitter: @anandaleeke.

Join my A Mindful Cup of Tea Facebook Group: www.facebook.com/groups/mindfulcupoftea.

Connect with me on LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/in/anandaleeke.