Internal Lifestyle founder, Imani O’Blige freed herself from the stress of East Coast living with a few simple steps: a change of perspective, better eating, and deeper breathing. But any [naturally skeptical] Eastsider will tell you, putting this into practice is not so easy. The battle of self vs. self, indeed, is one few have mastered.
Her “weapon” of choice? Qigong, a holistic system of meditation and movement. Imani now shares her knowledge via a wellness program she’s developed, and sat with UWM to give her insights into how us mere mortals may actually get on the road to our best life, too. Good news: it could cost less than $20 and 2 minutes of our time.
UWM: Where are you from/where have you lived (in what cities/suburban areas)?
Imani: Born in Hackensack NJ, I was raised in the neighboring town and third largest city in the state, Paterson. Over the years, I have nomadically spread my time in Queens, NY and the Lower Eastside of Manhattan.
What is the common thread blocking people from wellness that you saw?
I’ve come across the most creative of ideals from others as to why they haven’t taken their wellness to the next level. Yet, the common thread I’ve noticed between them all has been the unconscious doubt they held towards the improvement of their lives.
What was the changing moment for you towards wellness, what was it that caused you to realize you were unwell?
Meditation was the jump start in my wellness journey. It was the beginning of understanding the present moment, and how the uniting of mind, body, and breath induced new experiences of sensitivity to the world within and around me. Wellness became much more than diet for me; it was the way I breathed, which reflected how I thought and felt.
So, many aspects of self-care I have learned since then — revealing how unwell I can be if I were to even slightly return to my old ways.
For those of us who live in food deserts, what is your guidance for someone who doesn’t have time/budget for consistent juicing/nutrition?
I’d start any beginner on a budget with infusing their water. It’s the easiest and most affordable way to build a healthy habit in the strive to changing your diet. A case of water, bag of cilantro, blueberries, and a bag of lemon are all less than $20. Slicing and placing them in bottles takes less than two minutes. Wah Lah!
How did you meet your teacher, Sifu Gainey?
Most of my family on my Father’s side are Taoist Qigong Instructors, Practitioners and Energy healers taught under Sifu Gainey. My grandmother introduced us.
It is often challenging to stay grounded as an entrepreneur, what is the one common thread through each of your days?
Entrepreneurially or otherwise, committing daily efforts in big or small ways keeps me consistent. Being gentle on myself mentally and emotionally through my alternative practices, keeps me grounded.
Especially in urban areas, it is often overwhelming to breathe deeply (there are a myriad of smells, somewhat suffocating pollution). What is your guidance for those of us who feel disconnected from the breath?
Make time to get away. Surround yourself with as much nature as possible. Forest, ocean, rivers, or parks. Nature cleanses like a filter of the earth. Environments like these automatically put you into a space of ease within yourself. Quietly, you can acquaint your awareness to a steady rhythm of breathing that’s long, gentle, and deep. Doing that once a week, for starters, will help you reconnect.
Imani is the founder and Chief Strategist of InternalLifestyle.com, a holistic health & green beauty blog that encourages women towards alternative methods for healing and self-care. She has been studying TCM by way of Taoist Tai Chi Kung under Sifu Roosevelt Gainey for the past 5 years and currently is finishing her certification studies as a Clinical Nutritionist.
Imani is also the founder of MyGardenBed.com, an online holistic health, and green beauty bar, where she shares her organic/natural beauty, detoxifying, and energizing handmade products.