Leaving the past behind in every sense, Patricia (Patti) Montella moved on from a successful 20-year corporate career to an even more adventurous ride that changed her life—forever! For the last two decades, she has been practicing meditation and teaching the science of yoga around the world, through The Art of Living (www.artofliving.org). In an interview with Anamika Khosla, Patti shares a glimpse of the extraordinary life she has been living since she first became an Art of Living teacher in 1995.
The Beginning of a New Adventure
Patti enjoyed her life – traveling the world, a successful career in sales and marketing, a good family, friends, social life, and financial stability. In spite of all that, she suffered frequent migraine headaches. Patti shares, "The allopathic doctors filled me up with all kinds of medicines for years and nothing worked. I knew I had to find another solution. That's when I began noticing that whenever I felt a migraine coming on, if I got quiet and observed my own breath, it seemed to dissipate." It was obvious there was a connection between my breath and meditation to dissolve the migraines; I wanted to learn more.
At the time, Patti, a free-spirited and independent career woman, regularly traveled the world enjoying everything life had to offer, including weekend jaunts to the Caribbean to play polo. However, she says she eventually reached a point where she felt something was missing in life. She moved from Texas to Colorado planning on starting her own business, and that's where a client told her about the Art of Living course. "The course flyer spoke about breathing techniques and meditation, so I signed up immediately!," she says.
Soon after completing the first course, she attended the Foundation's 5-day meditation course. "There was no stopping me after that. I felt so much bliss and freedom at the end of every meditation that I just had to dive deeper into this path."
Then & Now
"Exploring this level of consciousness through meditation continues to be a wonderful—and powerful—experience," Patti says. One year later after she experienced her first Art of Living course, Patti met the renowned spiritual leader and humanitarian Sri Sri Ravi Shankar. He immediately invited Patti to become a full-time Art of Living teacher. She left her career and life as she knew it in 1998 and has been traveling the world non-stop ever since, teaching the ancient wisdom of the Vedas and leading meditations for thousands of people.
She reveals, "I find sharing the benefits of meditation and the science of yoga more charming than anything else in the world. It's so fulfilling to see the stress dissolve on someone's face and the smile return in just 20 minutes of meditation."
Impact on Her Life
"Meditation increases perception, observation, and expression. These are necessary qualities to live a happier, healthier life with good relationships," says Patricia. She recounts a personal experience that occurred not too long after one of her first long meditation retreats. "I was with someone who became extraordinarily angry and was directing all of it at me. Rather than reacting to the flood of anger, I was able to observe my own state of mind, even in the heat of the moment. I was even aware that I was observing my own mind, and I found this fact fascinating. The heightened awareness made it possible for me to respond rather than react to this person's anger. As a result, I was able to diffuse the situation and restore peace and save my own mind. It was really an "ah-hah!" moment."
She continues, "Before learning meditation and the breathing techniques, I probably would have reacted to this person's anger and a big conflict would have ensued, with hurt feelings. I realized that it was the regular practice of meditation with the breathing techniques that empowered me to respond and not react and diffuse the negativity. It was a mind-blowing experience."
Patricia says that sharing the ancient wisdom of the Vedas and leading people through guided meditations always brings a sense of grace and gratitude not only to their life, but to hers as well. She shares, "I start every online course, meeting, or seminar with some kind of meditation. Every single time, without exception, participants comment on how much more relaxed they become in body and mind in just a few minutes. People are amazed at how the breathing practices and meditation we teach help them to let go of the past, respond more skillfully in the present, and stop worrying about the future. Everyday, someone tells me how much this knowledge has helped them improve their lives physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. People just become happier! I have the best job!!"
Guided by Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, Patti recently started teaching and leading guided meditations through online forums.
She adds in summary, "Everyone deserves to learn meditation. It's not a luxury, it's a necessity in life. Peace in ourselves, in the family, and in society begins and ends with our own state of mind."
Patti is also a published author and freelance writer. She writes a monthly column for www.plaidforwomen, and writes regularly on her blog, www.thetravelingmystic.com. She is also currently working on a book about her life experiences on the spiritual path.