Anne Espiritu is a Wellbeing Practitioner and Advocate. She currently works as Director, Strategic Initiatives at The Contentment Foundation, an education management company that offers simple, powerful tools to help teachers, students and adults meaningfully navigate their inner selves. Espiritu is also a former Organizational Tech-Industry Leader.

Where did you grow up and what was your childhood like? Did you have any particular experiences/stories that shaped your adult life?

When I was three years old, my well-intentioned mother would sneak out of the house and leave me and my brother with our Yaya (caregiver in the Philippines). She couldn’t bear to see me upset each time she’d leave. Upon realizing she was gone, I would find myself crying on the floor feeling confused and abandoned, not ever knowing when my mom would come home. 

As an adult and to my surprise, discovered through meditation that much of my fear of abandonment stems from those moments. That 3-4-year-old, fearful and confused version of me still pops up from time to time in my adult life and expresses that fear of someone leaving by not allowing people to get too close. It’s something I’ve done a lot of work to heal through the years.

We often don’t realize that there are certain events in our lives, big and small, that shape the way we see our day-to-day experiences. With different healing modalities, it is possible to reprogram them over time so that we stop living in the past and instead, enjoy the fullness of today. 

What is something you wish you would’ve realized earlier in your life?

I wish I learned how to find comfort in discomfort at a young age. I spent a lot of my time during my younger years avoiding or running away from anything that made me feel uncomfortable. It was only later on in life when I realized that discomfort is the ultimate precursor to growth and expansion did I start to lean into it. 

The way we deal with discomfort in our day to day reality is an indicator of how we deal with opportunities that may seem difficult to overcome yet promises to reap abundant harvest over time. The only way we can stretch the edge of our potential every day is to have a healthy relationship with discomfort. By exercising that muscle with the small things (ie. add 10 more seconds to your best ab plank!), we make it easier to endure the discomfort with the big things. 

What are bad recommendations you hear in your profession or area of expertise?

Fake it till you make it. 

We need people who can humbly, yet confidently admit when they don’t know how to do something, and consequently, be resourceful enough to find someone whom they can learn from. 

As a former organizational leader, I only hired people who showed authenticity, self-awareness, and confidence. Character is most important because anyone who holds such virtues can learn skills fast. 

On a macro level, we need more people who are courageous enough to be their true selves. Suffering comes from the denial of or resistance to what is — and when we shield our egos with masks of “perfection,” the light within us dims over time. In my experience, I have found this to be the foundation of suffering. 

Tell me about one of the darker periods you’ve experienced in life. How you came out of it and what you learned from it?

I think the “dark period” is no longer a reality I subscribe to. There is light in any situation and depending on how we’re viewing any situation, it can either be a dark moment (which feels morbid to me!) or it can be a tremendous opportunity to evolve and expand as a human being. Perspective, not necessarily our outer circumstance, is what shapes our reality.

That said, one of the most uncomfortable, yet rewarding seasons of my life was these last three years when I decided it was no longer feasible for me to keep shifting around my external reality to find lasting happiness. I decided to come face to face with my wounds and layer by layer, begin the excavation process of healing. In 2017, I decided to jump off the corporate hamster wheel to find greater purpose in life beyond deepening the pockets of people whose pockets were already deep.  I landed in Bali where I joined a non-profit organization full time. It was during this period when I was able to quiet down my environment enough to witness the tears and hear the cry of my aching heart.  This is where I experienced a deeper layer of God’s grace, love and wholeness. 

As they say, when the student is ready, the teacher comes. When I made the intention of and commitment to truly transforming my life from the inside out (the only place where sustainable change can transpire), God brought me an endless stream of teachers, guides, and support systems. It starts with intention, God takes care of the rest. 

What is one thing that you do that you feel has been the biggest contributor to your success so far?

Self-awareness.

When we develop our capacity to witness ourselves and not get emotionally and mentally hijacked by our outward circumstances, we become the author, architect, and creator of our reality. It starts with self-awareness and from that vantage point, we become empowered to design our moment to moment experiences. The power to choose how we want to experience something and focus on what we have control over is where true empowerment lies. 

What is your morning routine?

I wake up around 6 am and immediately launch myself in prayer and meditation. This is one of two times in the day when we are most suggestible (meaning, our filters of consciousness are down so we have more direct access to our subconscious mind) Recently, I’ve adopted doing the rosary which has helped bring me into that divine energy. It’s a great way to remain in my Spirit, as opposed to allowing my ego to dictate how it wants to move through the day.

Meditation has helped me train my focus. When my focus is all over the place, it becomes challenging to keep myself centered and remain in high vibration thoughts throughout the day. During my meditation, I do boxed breathing from the belly (4 seconds inhalation and four seconds exhalation) throughout my mindfulness practice  — this helps keep the default of my nervous system in parasympathetic mode (rest and digest). 

I have a full glass of water because our body dehydrates while we sleep. I have one shot of espresso to get my daily jolt of excitement and then shortly after, I look at my Whoop data (fitness band) to plan my morning work-out based on my recovery level. 

I usually stretch for about 15 minutes and then launch myself into my daily work-out, either a two-mile run, a 30 minute HIIT session, or twice a week, I double it up by doing both. I work about 6-7 days a week. I like to get my endorphin fix in the morning so I can get my movement out of the way — that said, studies show we are most primed to work out around 4 pm. 

Around 10 am, is the time when I finally open my laptop to get some work done. Typically, my first meal is around 11 am or noon, depending on the last time I ate the night before — I do intermittent fasting, which means I only give myself an 8 hour window for food. 

What habit or behavior that you have pursued for a few years has most improved your life?

Regulating my sleep cycle. I’m currently visiting family in the US so my sleep cycle has been off for a few weeks and I feel a massive difference in my energy source.  Sleeping and waking up at the same time daily is one of the most important daily habits that can make an enormous impact on how we feel daily. 

Pro tip: Eat at least three hours before bedtime. When we eat too close to bedtime, the energy that would otherwise go towards repairing our body is spent digesting our food. 

What are your strategies for being productive and using your time most efficiently?

I keep my vibration high! When my self-care routine is on point, I notice how infinitely more productive I am no matter what project I’m working on. We can pretty much feel inspired to do anything when our vibration is in a good place — even doing taxes and laundry becomes fun!

What book(s) have influenced your life the most? Why?

The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz – a fantastic book I’ve read more than once. This book is packed with powerful and practical tips on how to live and remain inside of your authentic power. More specifically, it’s helped me understand how to shift the dynamic of my relationships with others by making small changes within. No external engagements necessary — the work happens on the inside. As a result, I’ve healed deep, unconscious wounds that were preventing me from living a flourishing existence.  

Do you have any quotes you live by or think of often?

Below are two quotes that serve as the main backdrop of how I choose to show up in the world. 

“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” –Maya Angelou

“Be the change you wish to see in the world.” – Mahatma Gandhi

“The meaning of life is astonishingly simple. The journey is the destination.” –  This is my own personal quote that helps me remember to find pleasure and enjoyment in the process. If it’s not enjoyable, something needs to be adjusted!