In the Spotlight: Nadia Abbasi

What’s your name? 

Nadia Abbasi

How old are you? 

20 something


Officially, it’s in philanthropy.. aka trying to use $$$ with the intent to make this world better.


Love. Traveling. Learning. Yoga. Meditation. Laughing. Tea. Politics. Womens’ rights. International Development. Entrepreneurship. Scuba Diving… I could go on.

For as long as I’ve known you, you’re always a walking ball of positive energy wherever you go! Where does your fullness of life and energy come from?

It comes from knowing that life is a mirror and for having a positive self-image. I love myself.. not in the asshole, narcissistic way where I think I am better than everyone.. it’s totally not about being better than anyone else.. it’s more about getting intimate with your own self and owning it. I told myself a long time ago that I deserve to get everything I want from life and I want to make my life count and make it significant and impact people.. that requires energy and that requires you to be in the present moment. I often find myself when I lack energy, when I feel tired, exhausted, uninspired, negative, depressed, and just can’t even get myself out of bed… it soon dawns on me that I am not living in the present moment.. my mind is so busy thinking, thinking, thinking… to a degree where it is toxic. You no longer live in the present moment. In that moment, you’ve lost your power because you let your mind.. which our minds can be so violent at times.. take over. I’m not saying you need to be happy and full of energy at all times. I am saying in those weak moments, you need to feel those emotions, you need to watch yourself when you get lazy, you need to watch yourself when you feel disconnected.. those are moments that I call the sandpaper. You have to view those shitty times as the sandpaper that’s helping you scrape, mold and shape you to be a person of faith.. and to have faith through difficult times and realize this is emotional and spiritual growth to be able to observe your life and remain calm and be at your core. Sorry for the long-winded answer, to be precise… my core beliefs (like the ones mentioned) and perspective on life is the source of my fullness and energy.

Where do you find your inspiration?

Eckhart Tolle. Deepak Chopra. Rumi. Oprah. Thich Nhat Hanh. Sergio Vieira De Mello. Tony Robbins. Ralph Nader. Desmond Tutu. Immaculee Ilibagiza… it spans spiritual leaders, world leaders, random everyday people with remarkable life stories and qualities. I realize the one quality I am inspired by most are the people that serve this world and are givers at their very core. They’ve invested their lives to serve and live in service to others.. that inspires me the most because that’s the footprint I want to leave behind in this world myself.

What does being a soul-seeker mean to you?

I believe as we go through life.. you will experience a new layer and new depth to yourself and your soul.. as you experience these moments mindfully, you will have new breakthroughs and get closer and closer to your source and core of who you are. I also seek to understand other souls.. other people and try to observe them to learn lessons from them. I love making soulful connections to people where we can relate and connect.. this is partially related to my travels as well. One of the most memorable and life-changing trips I went on was in Brazil around 2014. It was my first solo trip that was such an unexpected journey that opened my eyes to people, places, new culture and to myself more importantly on a very deep level.. life really can be amazing if we open ourselves up to it.

I actually don’t know much about meditation besides it’s used to calm your mind and soul (right?). Can you tell me your thoughts on meditation? I know there’s several types of meditation, which type of meditation do you do?

I think a good place to understand meditation would be maybe how you started with the question. Avah, you mention that meditation can be used to calm your mind and soul. Based on my understanding, experience and current knowledge of meditation (trust me I have much more to explore in myself and in the practice) that meditation is simply meeting your mind where it is. Being the observer of your thoughts, accepting all that arises for what it is. Watching yourself and others from a place of strictly observation. There is a huge difference between judgment and observation. You simply just see what happens inside of you, outside of you, around you and so on. Also, another thing about meditation is that it allows you to see the calm that already exists in the present moment and in your soul. There is a place beyond your mind that is called “the now”/present moment and also where you and your spirit really live.. it’s where everything in the universe lives. No thoughts really live there. When you are deeply present and in this meditative state, thoughts come and go and you can observe them as I explained before. Some characteristics of this state and of the now is the most obvious—pure peace, calm, ease, your body is physically relaxed as your mind is.. the universe is in alignment. That’s how I can best put into words when you experience the power of the practice of meditation. And yes, there are many types of meditation. The most basic ones where people have self awareness and an easy place to start is how alert you are after physical exercise. You feel your body, your energy, you aren’t thinking much.. you feel alive! This is a good start and a place to help you get a taste of what it feels like when you are totally present in the moment and thinking less.. you are feeling more—that aliveness and feeling it in your body and the energy around you. I use guided meditations, affirmations (which aren’t really meditations but another tool to train your mind), yoga, other forms of physical exercise, WRITING helps see yourself and gain the awareness, and just practicing present moment awareness—when you feel yourself at unease, discomfort, emotionally charged (whether happy or sad, etc) your mind is particularly racing with thoughts—tell yourself “Avah, I see you are [insert emotion/feeling/whatever is happening in your mind] right now”. This is meditation. Meditation encompasses anything that brings to the now in my definition.

How has meditation helped you in your life?

It’s given me clarity to my life purpose, relationships, who I am, why I exist, and on a practical level, helped me problem solve like a beast in every aspect of my life. Practicing meditations is for people trying to kill it in life.. if you don’t know where you are.. you will have no idea how to shape your future. Planning, ideas, inspiration requires awareness of yourself and your goals and what you want to do. What you do now, who are you right this moment is fundamental to your success and what matters most. Not the past bullshit and not anxiety about the future.. but the now. This is how meditation gives you that power.

When did you start doing yoga? Who or what led you to start doing yoga?

I started yoga when I was in 6th or 7th grade.. we will say around 11, 12 years old out of pure curiosity on PBS—Wai Lana yoga. HAHA… I was lucky enough to come upon this random class and follow my curiosity. This cracks me up because my mom thought I was having an exorcism of some sort of doing these physical exercises at 6am regularly. I loved how it made me feel at that point. I didn’t understand the philosophy, the tie to spirituality, the depth of the practice.. for me, my yoga journey continues every single day of my life/every moment in life. The first sutra from Patanjali’s book of sutras basically sums up “yoga is now”. That our life is a yoga practice cause every opportunity and interaction you have with yourself and the world is a moment to practice awareness. I can’t believe I start yoga teacher training on Friday!!

What’s your favorite yoga pose? What do you like most about yoga? What do you like least about yoga (if anything at all)?

I like pigeon pose funny enough. It is really intense physically if you haven’t stretched out your hip or groin area. But let me tell you.. being a woman with hips.. we store a lot of shit there… it’s not only where we typically tend to accumulate weight.. but it’s believed to be a place we carry a lot of emotional energy… and as you go through your yoga flow to end up in pigeon pose at the end of class… something special often happens for me.. and it’s different every time. There are times I’ve bawled in tears trying to process break ups, death of a family member, feeling lost in life and feeling completely vulnerable in that position.. there are other times where I felt so at ease and open in that pose.. it’s something about that pose that gets me every time.

What’s a quote you practically live by?
I’m going to give you four that all say the same thing. Be here. Be the now. Be you. And make sure you laugh. Laughing helps. It’s a form of spiritual enlightenment.

What do you consider to be your proudest accomplishment in life so far?

That I’ve been there for people in the worst moments in their lives and I was side-by-side through their suffering.. and a few weeks and months after, I was able to help them take the next step, buy the apartment, go through the divorce, pass college, get over insecurities, inspire someone else.. I think my proudest accomplishment is when I’m able to help someone make those changes for themselves and to empower them.

What’s your next fitness goal(s)?

  • run a marathon.
  • climb mt. Everest.. it so expensive and climbing is tough shit.. this is more of a life goal. Climbers are so amazing to me.
  • do a split.. I am pretty close.
  • do a handstand.
  • get my yoga teacher training certification.
  • teach my first official yoga class.. (I’m teaching at a retreat in September before my training.. and I am freaking o_o!!!)

Be here. Be the now. Be you. And make sure you laugh.”

Thank you Nadia! You’re amazing.

[All photos used in this post were provided via @abbasi.nadia.]

UPDATE: Nadia now teaches Yoga classes every Saturday at 2pm in Astoria Park (weather permitting)!

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