What has been the most radical thing you have done in your life?
I have done a lot of radical things in my life. I had a child when I was twenty years old- that was pretty radical. What was radical for me, in the sense that it shifted my reality, was after having five children and never really having been alone with myself, I left for Greece for two weeks. For the first time, I went on a retreat all by myself. I studied yoga and lived in Greece for two weeks. I think it was my Declaration of Independence. It really shifted things up.
Opening All That Matters on Main Street in little ole’ Wakefield, RI was radical because twenty years ago, yoga was a mysterious thing. You did it in somebody’s living room or you heard about some Indian guy who was a contortionist.
Who has been the biggest influence on your life? What lessons did that person teach you?
One of my mentors who recently passed is Michio Kushi. He was the founder of the Macrobiotic Community. When I was 17 and 18 years old, and just searching, I kind of felt that the world was a crazy place.
At that time, I found Michio Kushi and he was talking about the Order of the Universe and that when we are connected to nature and each other, life starts to flow. He talked about balance in life and yin and yang. I ended up studying Macrobiotics, food, and healing for a very long time. He told me, forty years ago, when I first met him, that the “biggest problem we are going to see in the future is mental illness because people are so disconnected from each other and nature.” I remember thinking, “What on Earth is he talking about?” He was one of my first teachers outside of my school teachers and parents. All of a sudden, new doors opened, things began to make sense. He put me on this path in believing in the natural order of things.
What does mental wellness mean to you?
Being at peace inside our body is becoming harder and harder. At All That Matters we say inner peace leads to world peace- but that is no easy feat. I found that, for me, it’s not just being calm when we’re meditating or on the yoga mat. It’s being calm even in a storm. We practice on the mat, to be calm off the mat.
Everyone is always going to have “monkey mind” especially because life is getting faster and we place higher and higher expectations on ourselves. Our job in the holistic health field is holding the bar for sanity; offer tools for a more balances life- letting folks know it is not only possible but essential. People are forgetting that being peaceful is a possibility. It feels sometimes like elusive possibility – but it’s a possibility nonetheless and takes a village!
One of the reasons I’m a big supporter of Peace Love is my family has a history with mental illness. On my own level, I have those genes, and I think that’s why I was brought to this holistic health world- to help people and to stay one step ahead of it the best I can. At my lowest point Art shifting everything. I have a certificate in Art and Healing.
What gives you Peace of Mind and how do you share that with others?
It’s a new thing, but I realize now that I don’t have to be busy all the time. As someone who owns more than one business and who has five children, I didn’t know how to not be busy. Whether it’s a day spent letting myself watch tv, reading books, or painting – just knowing that not being busy is an option has been a great contributor to my own peace of mind.
How do I share it? It’s what I do 24/7. I’m lucky to be in a position where that’s what I do. I created All That Matters 20 years ago to help people be at peace. We teach and provide all the ancient tools that are tried and true. Yoga is a beautiful science and philosophy on how to be whole. I’m in the business of helping people to do this everyday.
What is your dream for 2015?
I realized for myself that I need grand adventures to keep me excited about life. I’ve learned that I have to make room for magic. I have to make room for grand adventures. I am off to Turkey to work on the Syrian border for just a week and I am working on a couple of other projects. My vision for 2015 is to keep cooking up grand adventures and hearing the wisdom from within.
Read the full article, Five Minutes with Joan Dwyer, Founder and Director of All That Matters Yoga and Holistic Health Center, on PeaceLoveStudios.com.