Teaches mindfulness

Monique Zander, artist, motivational speaker and entrepreneur, conducts meditation workshops designed to center participants in the present. Photo by Marshall Smith

Monique Zander hosts Idyllwild meditation workshops that help connect and center her participants in the now, in each person’s particular present. “The past is recrimination and the future is what might happen,” said Zander. “What is important is the present. It is important to be mindful of this moment and to live in that mindfulness.”

For Zander, her path to meditation came when she recognized her disconnection from an authentic core identity.

“Until I was 39, I didn’t know who I was,” said Zander. “I thought I was only a role — mother and wife. I had nightmares of things closing in on me, falling on me. I believed there must be more.”

Zander decided to go back to school, to the University of California, Irvine’s Certificate Program in Interior and Environmental Design. “I took Design and Esthetics, a course that required me to read ‘Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance,’” she remembered.

As is often the case with a personal journey of spirit, a book or seminal event can open a path. For Zander, the book began a process of reframing her identity. She became her process — defined by the conscious steps she was taking each moment. “I began to learn that I was not defined by my mind,” she recalled. “My mind could observe and comment on my actions, but ultimately I had to choose what to accept and what to reject, in the moment.” That choosing came from a deeper place, a place informed and enriched by spirit.

Her step-by-step, in-the-moment journey led Zander to a successful career in interior design, then to owning an art gallery in the Laguna Beach area. One day, an art gallery patron told her she had a gift. “What gift?” Zander asked. “For accessing spirit,” the woman replied.

Zander next chose to take classes in meditation. “I began to recognize there was so much more to me than I had ever realized — not just what I did for a career or accomplished, but my energetic presence, my spirit. I noticed I had this effect on people without saying anything. They were moved, sometimes to tears. That ‘noticing’ changed my life. I began holding meditation and women’s groups in my condo. I went to school in Irvine to learn hypnotherapy.”

Another formative step in walking her path sprang from an encounter with another woman who came into her gallery. The woman booked speakers for Fortune 500 events. Prior to this chance encounter, Zander had been experiencing and visualizing what she was learning from leading her groups. “Deep down I knew I was a speaker,” she remembered. “I began visualizing myself in that role believing if I could visualize it, I could manifest it.

“The woman talked more about what she did and then said, ‘I need a speaker for this upcoming event,’ and without thinking, I said ‘I’m a speaker.’” A new career opportunity opened for Zander. “I sold my gallery and began to make my living leading groups and speaking at these large motivational events.”

Zander notes that all these transitions were “now” based, the inspiration and moment of decision coming at almost the same time. “I felt I just tapped into my higher self and a collective subconscious. I don’t know where this comes from, I just accept it.”

Zander continued her exploration of the “now” spirit and higher self by studying quantum physics and neuro linguistic programming. “I understood that the universe was providing me with these opportunities just at the moment I needed them,” she said.

“What I realize now about my gifts and my growth, especially after moving to Idyllwild, is that it is my calling to share them with others. People don’t have to be governed by the mind. There is so much more from which to seek direction and purpose.

“Initially [after moving to Idyllwild], I thought there were too many people already doing this kind of work, but with the encouragement of some friends, I began. Spirit knocked on my heart and I opened the door.”

With the door opened, Zander now has more people interested in attending her workshops than she has space to accommodate them. “I want to keep these gatherings intimate, not in commercial space. That is why I hold them in my home. One group has been together for a year now and they consider themselves family. There is no idle or superficial talk. People are here to do the work of spirit — to listen, to share and learn from each other.

“In this country, there is a deep hunger for spiritual exchange. I always establish a ring of protection in our workshops and people feel that energy. I consider myself a facilitator, not a teacher. This is work we do together. I’m thankful for this opportunity and I live in gratitude each day.”

All workshops fees from Zander’s meditation classes are donated to the Idyllwild HELP Center.