Meredith Rom is an author, yoga teacher, coach, as well as the inspiring voice behind the Rising Women Leaders Podcast. Here we talk about how pain led to her soul's purpose, the life-changing trip to India that acted as a catalyst, and her best tips for tapping into your creativity.
Let's start out with your early years. Could you tell us a bit about how you grew up?
I was a dreamy, joyful child. I loved spending time outside climbing the magnolia tree in our front yard, playing with neighbors after school, making art, and also spending time alone.
Qualities that still ring true to my life today were my love of more “witchy” things - I sometimes made “potions” out of berries and grasses; I loved playing “psychic” with my friends with the Magic 8 ball; I had “tea parties” with stuffed animals; and I loved dressing up and dancing with girlfriends at sleepovers.
I would say our household was progressive, my father is a doctor and cares deeply about environmental protection and policy and my mother is a watercolor artist. Spirituality however was not a primary focus in the house, though I would say my mom found that connection through making her art and my dad found it in nature. Sometimes we went to our local Episcopalian Christian church, but yoga and meditation came into my life later on.
I understand it was a stressful lifestyle that led you to change your life. Could you give us a glimpse into how you were feeling during your graphic design/photography days? What difficulties do you think ultimately led you to say enough is enough?
There were many factors that led to me completely changing the direction of my life. I was living in New York City finishing up school at NYU when physical stress began to manifest in my body. Chronic headaches, muscle pain, and a flare up of cystic acne all made me want to escape my body. Around the same time, I went through a difficult breakup, was finishing school during a recession and had no idea what I really wanted to do with my life. I went to my vices to “numb out” from my discomfort - sugar, alcohol, prescription pills - but soon saw these were not addressing the root of my problem. Something was out of alignment.
While my years in New York City were also filled with self-discovery, fun and friendship, it became clear as time went on that the track I was on—to have a full time job in a high-stress environment, working on the computer for long hours every day—was not for me. After not hearing back from job after job I applied for, I finally took it as a sign and gave myself permission to ask, “If anything was possible what would I want for my life?” That was when I started feeling the intuitive pull to move across the country to San Francisco.
When you first found yoga, were you resistant? Or was it a sort of homecoming of the soul?
It was a homecoming for me. Yoga was definitely hard at first, I was storing so much stress and physical pain in my body in the beginning, and there was no where to run away from it. But the relief I started feeling from going inward like that was immediate, and it became my new source of comfort as my other vices fell away. I always felt connected to spirit - something greater than myself, and finding yoga opened up a whole world of teachings and community that felt like home.
On that note, what would you say to someone who is leading a very stressed out lifestyle, but views yoga/ spiritual modalities as too "woo woo"? How can said person dip their toes in?
We all need to find the tools that work for us. So, I would invite others to keep a curious and open mind, and start looking for the teachers and resources that work best for them. There have been times in my life where I've tried to invite others to the teachings and resources that have worked for me, and have been disappointed when they wound up judging them or brushing them off. But that did show me that we all have our own path, and we need to find the teachers and tools that resonate with us on our own. No one can push that upon anyone else.
The desire has to come from inside of you. If you are open and seeking help to shift your life, pray to be guided to the resources that would be most suited for you, and keep an open, curious mind about what you discover.
I’m only here to be a guide for those that are seeking guidance, and feel a resonance with what I share. I wouldn’t push my beliefs on anyone.
When you took your leap that lead you to India, were there people in your life telling you that this was "crazy"?
Yes there were some people that didn’t understand it, but I didn’t really care. There was a deep calling from within me and I knew everything that unfolded would be exactly what I needed. Luckily, I didn’t feel a push-back from family—or, at least, they didn’t share their worries or fears with me.
I now tell my clients part of embodying the “Queen” archetype is to be fiercely dedicated to our intuition, and to use boundaries when needed.
Sometimes we need to spend less time with people that instill fear or worry into our choices and set better boundaries to stay true to what’s inside.
What was the most interesting or surprising thing you encountered while living in India?
I was surprised by the extremes - it’s one of the most dirty, chaotic places in the world, and at the same time one of the most deeply pure and peaceful. Nothing is hidden there. The light and the dark are all out in the open for everyone to see.
I was very affected seeing the amount of trash in the streets. Although we generate much more trash in the West - we hardly ever really see it because it is whisked away by garbage trucks to be buried in the Earth. In India, you see everything. It’s not clean and tidy like we like to be in the West. It invites you to face the darkness of what we are doing as humans on this planet. The pollution, the trash, the homeless people—it’s all there out in the open. No one is trying to make it more presentable. And yet, amidst all of it, there’s also so much joy and beauty there. The temples are profound. The spirit of life and celebration is everywhere. It’s everything all at once.
It reminds me of duality - how knowing one side of the spectrum truly helps us know the opposite. That’s why I find it so interesting how numbed out our culture is. We cut ourselves off from the dark (with antidepressants, alcohol, drugs, etc) to numb out the pain, the rage, the difficulty. But meanwhile, we are also cutting ourselves off from the light. Pain is, after all, a gateway into our deepest truth.
For someone who feels stressed and disconnected from their inner child, their creativity, and their soul's purpose, what do you recommend they do? Are there particular rituals you would advise said person to begin to bring into his/her life in order to realign their heart and their actions as you have?
Reconnecting with your body would be the first thing I recommend. I believe that is where we store all our deepest wisdom, insight and intuition. So what would it look like to take really good care of your body? To be eating clean food, to exercise regularly, to go to bed early, to let go of the foods that make you feel heavy or stuck, to let go of the activities that make you feel stressed. To find what relaxes your nervous system.
It’s hard to be creative when your nervous system is in a place of fight-or-flight, so first I would say see what you need to feel comfortable and relaxed in your body. For me, that looks like practicing yoga (I love going to classes as well as teaching them) - restorative and yin yoga as well as the more active practice. It also looks like cranial sacral therapy to restore balance in my nervous system, and, again, healthy organic food, walking and running. Personally, I am vegetarian and avoid all cane-sugar. These are the things that help me feel most in tune with my body.
To be creative, we also need to give ourselves empty space, stop absorbing so much information all the time from our phones. We need to let ourselves get to a place of emptiness for creativity to flow.
That can look like meditation, exercise, or another practice I love: morning pages. Try writing 3 pages first thing in the morning. If you have nothing to write, just write “I have nothing to write” until something comes. Write about your dreams. Write about what you desire to happen in your life. Write about the ideas and inspiration coming to you. First we need to create the space for creativity, and then it will all begin to flow.
Finally, how can we learn about the services you offer? And where can we connect with you further?
You can also learn more about my coaching offerings at meredithrom.com. I support women by helping them follow their intuition, face their fears, and use their voices to be a beacon of light for others to awaken in this world. I offer business coaching for entrepreneurs, and I’m also developing a new Priestess initiation program for women feeling the call to explore spirituality and healing on the path of feminine leadership.
I published a memoir in 2017 of my travels in India: Just Be: A Search For Self-Love in India. It can be found on Amazon here.
Follow along on instagram ~ @risingwomenleaders