For this month’s Wellness Talk, we reach into our spiritual wellbeing with Dani Van de Velde who is a qualified meditation teacher through the Awareness Institute Australia, and a member of the Meditation Association of Australia and the International Meditation Teachers’ Association.
Dani helps others understand and master the art of meditation, transformative inner practice and healing through private coaching, energy sessions, courses and tailored programs for individuals, schools and organisations. She is a popular speaker at industry forums, a published writer and holds regular retreats in Asia and Australia. Her suite of offerings is available online and in-person.
Dani’s teaching is experiential. She draws from techniques and wisdom of numerous world traditions, current research and her own experience. She is a Reiki Master in the Usui Reiki tradition and a sought-after healer and spiritual mentor with an international client base.
Before we get started, could you share with us how you started your day this morning? (we love hearing about morning routines!)
I woke at 5am and rode down the river, across the barrage and onto the ECP to East Coast Beach. I’m listening to historian and anthropologist Chris Gosden’s ‘A History of Magic’ this week as I ride.
I met with the Friday Dawn Dreaming meditation group on the beach and guided a classical pranayama meditation. I’ve been doing these outdoor meditations for charity since May and they’re so beautiful to do at sunrise.
Rode home and picked up some coffees for me and hubster on the way. I had two calls with clients and now I’m talking to you!
What is your story, what do you do and how you got into the work you are doing?
We can get so mixed up in labels of ‘what we do’. Essentially, I help people understand and master the art of meditation, transformative inner practice and healing. My focus is on enabling others to understand and work with the design and function of their mind/body/energy system, to engage in transformative inner practice for purpose-driven direction, maximum performance, self-healing and intuitive living – to live a spirited life. That happens in a variety of ways – through courses, talks, workshops, retreats, writing and private mentoring, and healing.
My earlier education was in finance and law and I enjoyed a fabulous corporate career based in Sydney, London and New York; all the while following my personal passion of esoteric arts and spiritual frameworks. In the early 90’s a restructure at work gave me a choice, to stay on that track or to take a redundancy and start to merge my inner world with my expression in life. Without any hesitation I took the redundancy, started formal more disciplined training in meditation and energy work, moved back to Oz, had the kids, set up a charity, and completed my meditation teacher qualifications. I set up my offering formally when we moved to Singapore.
How has COVID-19 impacted you personally and professionally?
Like many of us here I am acutely aware of the privilege and safety of living in Singapore during a global pandemic. That safety has allowed me to step much more fully into supporting others who aren’t coping so well. The lockdowns also required a greater focus on online content and experiences as well as distance healing work. As a result I now have an established online business, with over 30 guided meditation tracks on Spotify and InsightTimer app, music remixes, and a much more extensive global client base.
From your experience, what do you feel are the biggest health challenges people are facing today?
Can you describe your food philosophy?
It’s pretty simple: to listen to what my body is asking for.
I am mainly vegetarian and don’t eat fruit or dairy aside from goat’s cheese.
Sometimes when I’m out with friends and meat is offered, I’ll take a little but will usually regret the density of the energy afterwards. I pretty much only drink water during the day aside from good black coffee and I also love a good red wine.
What does gluten free mean to you?
I see a lot of clients with digestive issues and am aware of the havoc gluten can cause. Whilst gluten-free products are getting better, I have to be honest with you…The Whole Kitchen’s GF products are the best I have tasted. Somehow you have managed to crack the GF taste code that others aren’t able to crack. Whilst I don’t have a major intolerance (although I suspect we all do to varying degrees) my body responds very well to GF – much lighter, and easily digested.
What is your typical day on a plate? Do you have any go-to, family-favourite recipes (snacks or meals), if so please share the recipe!
It varies if I am in the healing rooms or not. On my healing days I fast. I have found that energy and intuitive guidance is much clearer with an empty tummy. I stay hydrated of course. It’s the same for meditation and inner practice as well. So if for example I am preparing to go on spiritual pilgrimage, I will prepare months before by eliminating all stimulants/toxins and fasting.
Every morning I am up very early for a 30km ride and I do this on an empty stomach. Once home I’ll have a black coffee and sourdough with avocado. I generally don’t eat lunch, but if I’m hungry it’s usually steamed veggies and some rice. I eat dinner with the family quite early as I prefer to go to bed on a not so full tummy.
I’m a recipe bore as we eat so simply at our place! Mostly fresh steamed veggies, eggs, and rice. I love pickles too and pickled anything really - bamboo shoots, cabbage, veggies. The rest of my family eats meat, but we’re careful to source for wild caught and free range where possible.
What are your top three tips for healthy living?
- Eat light and really enjoy your food. I think a lot of people have very weird relationships with food. Food and particularly botanical-based food is the original and best medicine for our human system.
- Have contact with nature every single day. Have contact with your spirit every single day.
- Make an act of generosity and kindness every day.
There’s more I want to share too: Move your body every day, don’t take yourself too seriously, and have some form of creative expression in your life.
For someone wanting to learn more about wellness/nutrition, what resources would you recommend? (This could be books, podcasts, websites, anything!)
First and foremost, listen to your body. There’s more neural traffic going from the gut to the brain than the other way around. Our systems are constantly guiding us as to what we need to thrive. It’s subtle cuing, but it’s there, and this is one of the major benefits of meditation: to create the inner space to hear it.
In terms of content – anything uplifting, lifeward and inspirational is essential currently. We are being bombarded every second with augmented news, statistics of doom and destruction. This weighs very heavily on the mind/body system which in turn compromises outlook, immunity, and general wellbeing. Make sure you balance your content field with light.
Do you have any affirmations, quotes, or mantras that you turn to regularly?
I love the power of mantra and engage with it every day with my morning practice. The mantras change depending on my spiritual focus, but a couple of tried and true ones are:
“It is what it is” “I did this” “AUM” “I will respond”
And one of my all time faves from Thich Nhat Hanh:
“I have arrived. I am home. In the here and in the now. I am stable. I am free. In the ultimate I dwell.”
How can our readers connect with you further? (any programs/social platforms?)
And finally, just a bit of fun, some sentence starters (just say the first thing that pops into your head!)
Three things I always have stocked in my fridge are...
Coriander, pickles, filtered water
To relax I...
Read, play guitar, ride
I’m most grateful for…
If I could eat only one thing for the rest of my life it would be…
Really…just one food type forever?