Meditation... at work!? A practice that might previously be considered "woo-woo" is gaining steam. Nadene Cherry joins the show to share her experience with workplace meditation, and how it helped her not only live a healthier life, but helped grow her sales from $10M to $20M. Listen along as Nadene shares her story and even leads us in a guided meditation.
MEET THE GUEST
Nadene Cherry (she/her), is a corporate mindfulness speaker who discovered the power of meditation for personal and professional growth. Certified in MBSR (Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction), Nadene leads mindfulness talks and meditation for large tech companies, such as Cisco, Salesforce, and CDW, as well as wellness institutes like Canyon Ranch and various real estate companies.
A demonstration of how articulation of personal processing habits improves relationships.
4 phrases to offer yourself.
5 min guided meditation you can do at work (or on your commute).
Insight on some of the stigma associated with meditation to decrease resistance.
HEATHER: Welcome to the podcast “For Anyone With A Job”, where we're on a mission to unravel the yuck, lift some of the weight and fear, and arm you with the tools to talk about mental health at work. I'm your host, Heather Bodie and today we're joined by Nadene Cherry. She and I were introduced through a mutual friend who said we would really like each other. And that friend was not wrong. We sat together for just over an hour and it absolutely flew by. Nadene transformed her corporate career through the use of meditation. And now she teaches others how to do the same. And I'll tell you as someone who has always wanted to meditate more, but I could never quite get into a routine, or I don't know, I always felt like I was doing it wrong… This conversation really helped me shift my thoughts in a way that has allowed me to start to incorporate meditation into almost a daily practice. So let's see if she can help shift something for you too.
NADENE: If I close my eyes, it is because I'm channeling some words or something. It's not because I'm not trying to be disrespectful. It's just something I do when I'm trying to articulate myself and speak clearly. So just wanted to let you know, I don't want you to catch you off guard. I just arrived back from Tokyo a couple days ago, and I'm still adjusting to the jetlag. So um, yeah, so I might close my eyes to get a little bit more clarity. Like that.
HEATHER: I almost jumped out of my body when you said that. That is quite literally the exact demonstration of something that I talked to people about all the time, really, which is, if something you need to do for your intellectual, emotional health… more or less thinking capacity, shows up physically. Sharing it with whoever you're with, allows them to not write a story about it.
HEATHER: So I get to know that if and when you close your eyes, it's for you, and for seeking thoughts and clarity and intention, and is in no way about me or about our dynamic.
NADENE: Oh, I love that. You shared that. Because now it makes me more. I've just started to share that with people.
HEATHER: Yes, that's it, magic.
NADENE: Okay. I'm going to keep doing that. You inspired me to keep doing that then?
NADENE: Yeah, I felt a little weird about it. But now I'm gonna just go for it.
HEATHER: What an absolute gift to to provide the person you're with. Okay.
NADENE: Oh, I feel so good about this now.
HEATHER: Yeah. That's it. Because how often do we? Well, we do all the time, every day, our brains are wired for story. So we take the information that we have. And then we fill in the gaps so that we know how to feel about it. We know how to navigate the space, we know how to keep ourselves safe. We know what we can and cannot share with somebody. So we're taking in these physical cues. We're taking verbal cues, all that stuff. And if we don't know the why behind the way someone is behaving, it's so easy to write a story based on our own. And of course, we will like there's no fault in that there's no value judgment, just like thank you for the information. Now. I don't have to write a story about that.
NADENE: Yes, yes. Or I create a new story that I didn't know before.
HEATHER: Yes, yeah. There’s no holes in my cheese. You filled it in the cheddar.
NADENE: Yes. I love that. I'm curious. Another time. You could tell me how that shows up in other ways, you know, physically that people may demonstrate. Oh, like you had that was not a foreign concept to you?
HEATHER: Yeah, not at all.
NADENE: It could be a Twitch, it could be a tick. It could be, you know, a tapping, it could be a doodling. I was in a meeting once with a guy. We were having the most serious I was when I was in sales, a security meeting. And this guy was doodling the entire notebook. But it was his way of processing.
HEATHER: Yeah. It gave him and he may, for example. So I live with ADHD. So he may, for example, live with some sort of information processing difference. And so he has to channel energy in something that is physical like in his fingers and again, so that he can hear what you're saying. Because otherwise that chaos lives in a way that it doesn't have a way to come out. And can come across as unfocused or fidgety. It was like utilizing as a tool so he could hear you
NADENE: I could tell that he was capturing the essence of everything going on. It's just so funny how you would look at someone, and you see them doodling. And you're you think they're taking, like really good notes. But they're actually, like, you look, it's covered in like scribbles. I'm like, bulleting. He's like draw fish, you know. And so it was just different.
HEATHER: But anyways, I had a workshop a few months back, and we worked on. So what we work on is sort of a formula for how you say what it is you live with, how it shows up in your body, and then what someone can do to support you, which is exactly what you demonstrated. I'm gonna do this. This is why and so don't think anything of it. Okay, supportive.
NADENE: This is so great.
HEATHER: And this, this wonderful gentleman in his I would say probably like late 50s, early 60s stood up. And in front of a room of 70 of his peers, said I was very recently diagnosed with major depressive disorder. When I'm in a depressive episode, it's hard for me to get my thoughts gathered. So I rub my head a lot. So so if you see me while we're rubbing my head, he said, challenge me to a thumb war, because it can help me sort of come back to myself.
HEATHER: And I was like, that is the coolest! And the whole room was like - some people were like smiling, crying, you know. And I said to the room, I said, Now that you know this about this person, do you trust him less or trust him more?And the whole room was like. MORE! We fell in love with him, you know? So that's a demonstration of a time that someone has a -
NADENE: Physical manifestation. And I like that. You said, Where can you feel this most? Probably a feeling or an emotion in your body? Yeah. Is that right? Yeah. And how does it show up?
HEATHER: How does it show up? Mm hmm.
NADENE: And that could be a bad thing. Or it could be a good thing1 Like for him It was I'm feeling depressed. And I show it shows up, you know, with this head rubbing -for me, it's closing my eyes. It's, it's a good thing. I'm aware of it because I'm pulling in something. I'm channeling something. That's interesting. That's really cool. I'm going to - I want to take that workshop of yours.
HEATHER: Please do. Please do.
HEATHER: I'm so glad we just jumped right in.
NADENE: Are we recording?
HEATHER: Yes. Okay, we're recording the whole time.
HEATHER: I know a bit about you. But for someone who's listening and just meeting you. What is the quick version of who Nadene is today?
NADENE: Yes. Who Nadene is today is the little girl who was always trying to tell Nadene what to do, how to share her voice, how to share her message. And Nadene covered that little girl up for a while as the world will guide us to do. No fault of the world or our parents. But Nadene is today now speaking her truth. At first. That little girl Nadene was saying hey, I want to be on a stage maybe as a dancer, maybe as Beyonce. But as I got older, that little girl didn't go away, it got covered up as I mentioned. And then when I started meditating, it became a little bit more clear each day. Every year I kept getting more insight about what that looks like on a stage and it was as a speaker. And then once I started meditating, and I started experiencing all these great benefits, I knew that this was actually the platform the channel that I was supposed to speak on, because it brought me personally so many wonderful life changing insights leading me closer to that little girl. Closer to home.
HEATHER: When that little girl was still hidden what did work look like before the now version of you?
NADENE: Hustling. Hustling hard. That's what I was good at - hustling. So corporate America, sales enterprise tech sales. Trying to fit in covering up my eccentric authentic self trying to get success trying to get the bag trying to get my name on top of the list trying to sound like a dude talk like a dude walk like - it was so uncomfortable. But I kind of got good at it! But it was exhausting. It was exhausting. And I was missing out on my life. I was missing out on the present moment completely. I was just so fascinated with the future and you know that I'll be happy when syndrome right? We all have I'll be happy when I have this. So that lasted about four years. And then I
HEATHER: That discontent or that, that that portion of your career?
NADENE: Both. That portion of my career. So I spent 18 years in corporate America high pressure tech sales, but for the first four years, I was in that hustle grind kind of asshole ego scenario. Like, get out of my way, I'm more important than you, but I really didn't know a thing you know. And then four years in, I got slapped in the face by the universe with the most tragic information that come across my way. And that is that my mom, my best friend in the world, had been diagnosed with breast cancer. And up until that time, I had not experienced any sickness or illness in my family. So it was a huge hit, especially to someone I'm so close with. And so that rocked my world completely. Everything I thought I cared about the success didn't matter anymore. It just - all I cared about was the present moment. Being with my mom being in life completely. And we got through all of the surgeries and all the doctor's appointments and everything. And after that, thank goodness, she was able to be at the cancer. But I was left with this lonely, depressed, totally down state. And that's when meditation found me. It was recommended by a couple of colleagues and clients. And I was like, you know, tried it once, not into it. Its so woo woo, granola. I don't have time for that. Right? I don't have time for that. I don't do it. Right. And that's a really big misconception that people have about meditation is that, oh, I have too many thoughts. I can't do that. And I would suggest try again. Try it a different way. So I started practicing it, and oh my gosh, that shit works. Like, I would ride the bus downtown and listen to YouTube meditations because there were no apps then. Yeah. And oh, my goodness, it was - started, things started changing. I was feeling happier, I was sleeping better. I started paying attention to things I would never notice before, like, beautiful trees outside or gorgeous flowers or someone smiling, passing me on the street. My conversations got deeper, which was really cool. I started being more present with people who I was talking to. Learning more about them really building that compassion within myself.
But the craziest thing of all happened, and that was that my performance, my sales at work doubled in a single year, which was nuts. Yeah. And I know, it wasn't - It wasn't a coincidence. It was in 2008, during the biggest recession of all time, my sales doubled from $10 million to $20 million dollars 4 years into my career. And my leadership was like, Yo, girl, what are you doing over there? And I was like, Well, I'm meditating over here. And I'm looking at the trees. They were like, okay, you keep going, okay, free. Go ahead, whatever you're doing, just keep going. So I did.
The thing was, I was like, You know what, this sounds nuts. But I know, it's the reason you know, I know that. I'm connecting the dots more clearly. And so I started to research, it turns out, there's this part of the brain called the corpus callosum, it connects the left and right part of the brain. And the left part of our brain we're used to working through it's the analytical, critical thinking, logical thinking strategies structure. The right side of the brain, we don't really tap into as much as the creative, intuitive, Big Ideas side of the brain. So when you meditate, you're actually thickening the connection between the two. So it was like, when my clients were coming to me, and they were saying, like, I have the biggest problem ever. I need 25,000 hard drives tomorrow to solve the security problem, I was able to come up with an idea very quickly, instead of freak out and say no. And that was ultimately what continued to lead to my success at the sales company. I mean, I did continue practicing meditation. I went on to win the President's Achievement Award in my sales company four times. And I attribute it to meditation. I was like, Oh, my gosh, I have to start sharing this practice with more people. So I created a meditation community in my company, in this fortune 500 big enterprise. And it started with three people in a conference room. I was spitting my game, I was like, Hey, are you interested in trying something new? and of course, everybody's stressed out and feels disconnected from themselves and wants to try a new way to just feel. People want to feel, really. And today, I'm proud to say it's over 700 people and
we grew it quite massively. And they're reporting really great benefits. In fact, last month, I did a survey of 50 Regular meditators and 100% of them said they're seeing an improvement in their mental health. 81% say they see an improvement in their performance on the job. 77% say they feel less anxious and more clear. So it works. It works. And so I just continue to offer it as - for as many employees as possible all over the world.
HEATHER: I'll never forget the first time I had one of those tiny shifts that made a giant change inside me in relationship to meditation. I was- I was on an app, and I was taking a walk, and I was hitting one of those - Before I was diagnosed, I was diagnosed with ADHD in my early 30s. But before then I would go through these cycles of extreme anxiety, it would hit a peak, and then I would hit a depressive episode. That could last anywhere from like three days to three months. And it was I was seeing these cycles happen over and over and over again. And having this experience of like, I won't do this again, I'm not gonna let this happen again, next time will be different. And it was just so much the same, the same, the same, the same. And so I was reaching out to meditate, any - I was one of those people who like, if it could potentially help put it in my suit pot, like, throw it all in, I'll eat it. I'll eat it. I'll drink it. I'll breathe it. I'll believe it, you know? And so I had downloaded this meditation app. And it was a five minute - because in the beginning, I couldn't get myself to really sit - it was a five minute walking meditation. Yes. And I put it in and I started walking around my neighborhood, it was a summer day. And this meditation essentially spoke to the fact that we often look at the other people on the street when we're walking and have thoughts like, why are you in my space? Why haven't you moved over far enough on the sidewalk? Your dog is big and out of control. Why are you wearing that? Like these sorts of judgments of the people in our space, and we don't tend to reflect on the cool design in the crack in the sidewalk, or the flower, the singular flower on a tree that doesn't have any flowers on it, and the colors of it and the smell of it.
But ultimately, it concluded with instead of looking at those people wondering why they're walking the way they are, why they're staring at their cell phone, why their dog is so big or whatever. Look at them in the eyes. And think I wish you well. Yeah, I hope you're well, I wish you well, yes. And I spent five minutes just looking at it. Some people made eye contact with me, some didn't. But either way, I like felt my whole body change as I just thought, I wish you well to every human I saw on the sidewalk. And that was absolutely transformational for me. I don't even when I'm not listening to that app. Now. As I moved through the world, as I'm walking down the street, if I ever catch myself in those like (grumble) your dark moments, I can quickly tap into I wish you well. And that's all thanks to meditation beautiful.
NADENE: That's called a meta. It translates - It's a Pali word translates to loving kindness meditation. And so if you are anyone listening, looking to transform your frustration, anger, to an open heartedness and a more ease a loving kindness meditation is a beautiful practice. I do that in the airport, by the way. And it's,
HEATHER: That's a good place for it!
NADENE: It's, it's this beautiful practice. I actually teach this a lot where you offer four phrases to first yourself and then someone you love. And then someone who's kind of an acquaintance than someone who's neutral to you, who maybe you don't know their name, but you see out in about a neighbor, and then someone who you don't necessarily see eye to eye with, not the person who you want to, like, kick them, you know, hard. May you be well! May you be peaceful! But it's for someone who has moderate difficulty. And so the phrases are that you wish them and there's a variation of the;
May you be well, may you be healthy, May you be safe and protected. And may you live a life with ease. And so you go through a meditation where you direct those well wishes to each - each of those people. And at the end it feels like your heart is completely expanded. And like us said you just walk through the world with a different lens. And it's just an easier way to live. It's a more joyful way to live a more present way where you can experience the richness, I call it, the “awe”, really my new favorite word, the awe of life, the beauty that's right there in front of us.
HEATHER: And not just intellectually, but from a body experience. For me, anyway, I've felt - when I say I feel that shift, I'm grateful for that intellectual trick that I can, you know, I can notice it intellectually and emotionally. But I can feel it physically. Because when I walk through the world, and my existence and my day, having a sort of negative or frustrated bent to my thoughts, which is biologically, it's easier for us to go there. I can feel it in my stomach, I can feel it in my chest, I can feel it in the way I breathe, I can feel it in my neck and shoulders when I'm holding tension. And when I'm doing that sort of loving, expression, even if it's just in my thoughts, I can breathe deeper and easier.
HEATHER: And my heart rate is a little bit slower in a healthy way. Right. And so it's - it's easier, not just here in your head, but easier, all over the whole thing.
NADENE: And it all begins with awareness. And that really is what meditation is. It's awareness training. Because once you're aware of it, without judgment, you can choose another thought, willingly you can choose another practice or tool, you can direct that anger or fear and transform it into loving kindness, like you said. So I teach that it begins first with awareness. It's that catching yourself, that catching yourself, it might take us 15 minutes to be like, oh, yeah, you've been on that hamster wheel of negative thought, the past half an hour. But eventually you catch yourself. And once you do it, the second step, I call it the three A's, awareness, attention, and then awe, you catch yourself with awareness, then you redirect your attention to the present moment. And then you get to experience the awe of the present moment, that aliveness, that curiosity and wonder that exists beyond our limiting beliefs.And when you practice that enough, through meditation, ideally, regularly, it's like a muscle working at the gym. It just becomes overtime, your default state. Yeah, pretty dope.
HEATHER: It's the coolest.
NADENE: It's the coolest.
HEATHER: I’m feeling curious about stigma. I feel like even even you and I casually knowing that having known each other a short time, but I think we've, we've landed on on one similar page, like we're like, we're like meditations like coolest. Yes. I want to acknowledge the fact that both of us have even just verbally kind of dismissed it like oh, I don't have time for that or like, it's “woowoo” or, you know, we're using these phrases to say like, added to add that sort of underscore of like it's easily dismissable by many people or feels kind of like floaty and ethereal. When my experience of it in reality has been very grounded and very, not ethereal at all detached from my body, but very connected to my body. How do you - what stigma do you see pop up for people? And how do you debunk that?
NADENE: Yeah. I hear people have previous experiences with meditation, and so they're quick to dismiss it. I would argue meditation is the most important meeting you will have all day. It's the one with yourself. And I like to introduce a beginner's mind approach to Buddhist term beginner's mind meaning, try it as if you were trying it for the first time, like you've had no previous experiences.
The reality is, if we don't take an intentional pause, we're moving throughout the day, and thoughts, emotions, feelings can pile up without our acknowledgement, not to mention in our body so there could be anything like physical manifestation, right? For example:
Do you remember when Greek yogurt was a thing?
HEATHER: Oh, yes.
NADENE: And everybody's like, Oh my God, you gotta eat the Greek yogurt changed. The Greek yogurt is so high in protein, oh, blah, blah. So I was like, okay, yeah, man, eat this Greek yogurt. So I sit down and meditate. After all, I've been eating this Greek yogurt. And I'm like, Oh my gosh, when I got quiet, I realized, Oh, this is why you've been feeling sick. You've been eating this Greek yogurt like it took a pause for me to recognize something I was doing that was coming from my mind was having an impact negatively on my body. And so that's just one example of what happens when we don't intentionally take a pause, we're just covering up what could manifest in another way, right?
HEATHER: How often not just could what will manifest another way
NADENE: You know, it's like, when I get quiet, and meditate, and I noticed, ah, I'm feeling rather tired today. And I like to say, not necessarily, I'm feeling tired, but I like to apply a soft mental label,like an observer would. Tiredness is here, or sadness is here, or anxiety is here instead of identifying with it. And what I'm able to understand that in that moment about myself knowing that it's impermanent, knowing that it's temporary, knowing that it'll be different in an hour or tomorrow, I'm able to navigate my day better. With that information, perhaps I don't have that important client conversation in that day, right? Perhaps I make another choice, because I know I'm not feeling my best. Or I get quiet. And I realize, ah, that conversation that I've been putting off with my cousin is really bothering me. And it's really impacting how I'm showing up at work with my family, probably time to have that conversation as difficult as it may be. So, without pausing, we continue to cover up, we aren't looking within, and we're letting the outside world continue to tell us what to do. And so that's why it's really important to take a pause.
HEATHER: I think sometimes that stigma or that misconception of the impact of meditation, or even the process of meditation, comes from this place connected to the use of the word like woowoo, or whatever, where it's like, all light and airy. And, you know, this place of like, of peace and stillness and quiet when the reality of what you were just saying is that meditation is awareness. And sometimes it's awareness that something really ugly and gross is going on. But holding it in awareness allows you to make choices based on that totally.
NADENE:There's nothing woowoo spiritual religious about what I'm teaching. It's information.
HEATHER: It's good information, information processing, so you can make decisions. Absolutely.
NADENE: It's yes, it's information.
HEATHER: I was thinking about that this morning, I have a wicked case of ADHD, which I talk about a lot on this podcast and a lot when I'm onstage in front of people. And I manage it the best that I can. I'm learning new things every day. Also, as my body changes as I age, it manifests in new and different ways. I am medicated at the moment, but even when I medicate some days, that's incredibly effective for me. And some days it's not. And today is one of those days that wasn't all that effective. And I found myself in something I call a chaos spiral, where little details that I missed have caused me to backtrack, or, you know, run back upstairs three times before I leave the house or stop at three locations instead of two. Or I got in the car today. And my gas tank was on absolute empty. And I wonder how is it possible that I drove home yesterday, and had no idea that it was on empty? And that left me in this sort of scramble this morning.
That I used to say, what's wrong with me? Why am I like this? How can I not grow out of this? And now I have that same level of frustration, but I get to say things like, I know exactly why I like this. And I still feel frustrated and it's still unpleasant. But I don't hate myself in the way that I used to. When I would say what's wrong with me. What is this mystery? Now I can say it's not a mystery. It's just frustrating as hell. And that allows me to just say, Okay, I'm in chaos right now. And - and how do I tackle it? Rather than feeling like I need to be someone or something else.
HEATHER: And to me, that's meditation, that awareness. Yeah.
NADENE: Can I offer one more phrase for you?
NADENE: I just shared this on a phone call before we began. Another phrase that I like to offer when I find myself in that self critic mode. How human of me. How human of me to feel frustrated, because it is the human condition. We're human beings, the only species that has these kinds of feelings and thoughts and emotions and and so it makes sense. Yes, how human of me. I'm a human being. And another phrase that I share often is living life with a loose grip. That doesn't mean we don't have wants and desires, but not clinging so tightly to the fact that my gas tank is on empty. And why isn't it a different way? Why is it in a way other than it is right now? Last night, I was having trouble falling asleep - I just shared with you - I just got back from Tokyo a couple days the jetlag is nuts. I was thinking, oh my gosh, it's midnight. I haven't slept. We have this awesome podcast interview, you're gonna sound like a dum dum. And then and then and then I invited that phrase, loosen your grip to how you will be to how it could be. Loosen your grip to Oh, no, I'm not going to be rested enough to have this important conversation. Loosen your grip to what you think the future outcome will look like. And when I did that I fall asleep. Living life with a loose grip. A softening to what we think it should be how it should look.
HEATHER: Would you be willing to close us out with a short meditation and the reason I say short is because I'd love for folks to like sit at their desk or to maybe on a lunch break or even a quick 10 minute break - recenter themselves.
NADENE: Oh, yeah, of course. My pleasure. So first things first, wipe away any preconceived notions of meditation. Act like you've never heard the word meditation before and you're just following guided sitting practice. First, make yourself comfortable in the chair that you're sitting in and be sure to turn off any of your distractions. Noises, bells, buzzers, anything that could bother you for this short period of time. And when you're comfortable in your chair and your legs are uncrossed, your feet are on the ground, resting your hands on your legs. Your chin is tilted slightly downwards as if you are resting your chin on a soft ball. Allow your eyes to close. And for the first time today, give yourself complete permission to be still.
Letting go of whatever happened already today. It's already in the past. Can't change it now. Pressing the pause button on whatever is coming in the future. Giving yourself access to the present moment and really sinking into right now. You can do that easily by feeling the feet connected to the ground. Feeling your hands touching the pant leg. Paying attention to the sounds in the room you're in.
And now allowing yourself to focus your attention just on the breath. Feeling the rise and fall of the chest. Of course the mind has wandered by now. Absolutely normal. All good. Just gently guiding your attention back to the rise and fall of the chest the breath, like a lost puppy coming back over and over.
Noticing like an observer any thoughts that are trying to occupy your mind space. Any feelings that are present in this moment - emotions. Without judgment, just noticing like a researcher. Knowing that whatever you're feeling is perfect in this moment. It's just right. You're doing it right.
It'll be different. In 10 minutes. It'll be different tomorrow, just noticing what is right now.Bring into mind
if there's anything in this moment you wish to release that might be holding you back a limiting thought
an old conversation, an old story that just doesn't feel like you. Stale. Use this moment just to release it with a deep breath. If there's anything on your heart in your mind that you wish to call forward to take its place.
Feeling can be anything: joy, freedom, acceptance, love. Use this moment to welcome it in. Hold it close to your heart. Take a deep breath, close our practice breathing in and breathing it out. And when you're ready, can bring some attention to the body sitting in the chair, the feet on the ground, wiggling your fingers and toes. And when the time feels right, you can allow the eyes to open.
It's always interesting to observe any shifts you might notice from before and after the practice. And holding that with love for yourself.
NADENE: You dig it?
HEATHER: I totally dig it! How do you feel?
NADENE: I feel great.
HEATHER: Okay, great.
NADENE: Amazing. Thank you.
HEATHER: If you'd like to connect with Nadene or find out more about her work, head over to our website, Nadene? cherri.com. That's n a d e n e c h e r r y.com. You'll be so glad you did. You guys. We just loved another half an hour talking about mental health. Spending just a few minutes a day talking about thinking about putting words to what it is that you're experiencing will change your life, your relationships, and maybe even your job. Visit Heather bodie.com where you can stay connected with us sign up for our newsletter can get access to show notes, bonus content, all kinds of stuff. And remember, you don't have to be an expert to talk about mental health at work. I'll see you next week.