For Mandy Trapp, spending a year in Bali, Indonesia, was a great opportunity to gain some perspective on both her personal and professional life. But at the end of those 12 months, there was only one place that she wanted to be.
“So many people ask us why we chose to leave Bali and come back to Edmonton,” she says, “but both my husband and I grew up here, and our heart is here.”
In 2012, Mandy had started Lifestyle Meditation, a meditation training program designed to support mental health and make mindfulness accessible. She ran classes out of spaces across Edmonton, including her own home. Business grew steadily until 2015, when she and her husband, John, decided it was time for a change.
John, also a successful entrepreneur, had recently left behind a career in the construction industry and was ready to focus on his passions. He believed in Lifestyle Meditation, and wanted to focus on the future of the business. So they packed their bags and, along with their three children, moved to Bali.
“We had more time there to work uninterrupted and percolate on what was going to be next,” she says.
While there, the dream for a brick-and-mortar meditation space began to take shape. Removed from the everyday stressors of their lives back home, the pair gained perspective on how they could help the community. They saw that the meditation industry was blossoming, and knew that the need for mental wellness supports was growing in Edmonton.
“We still saw our friends’ social media, we still spoke to our teachers that were working in Edmonton, and what we saw was just a lot of stress,” Mandy says.
So during their year-long sabbatical, some 13,000 km away from home, they decided to act.
“Seeing how great things have been for most of us in Edmonton and Alberta, and then how they’re maybe not so great now, we just felt it was the right time to take this step,” says Trapp.
She explains that practising meditation supports a healthier lifestyle by counteracting the effects of stress. It lowers the heart rate, and turns off the fight-or-flight response that is often overstimulated in high-stress situations.
“When your mind is operating too quickly, your whole body starts to speed up and you experience things like high blood pressure or panic attacks. Meditation helps you to slow down and reset. It’s like going to the gym for your mind,” she says.
So in November 2016, the Trapps opened the Lifestyle Meditation studio.
Every detail at the studio, nestled between Westmount and Queen Mary Park, has been carefully managed to make the experience as accessible as possible. In the meditation space, visitors can choose a variety of physical supports including cushions, blankets and chairs to make the classes comfortable and relaxed.
And while the model is similar to a yoga studio, Lifestyle’s offering is better suited to the time constraints of a busy schedule. Most guided classes run for 30-45 minutes, though longer self-guided sessions also exist. The carefully crafted programs offer a range of techniques to help with varying stress levels and coping responses.
“There’s been a lot of laughs, tears and sighs of relief by the people who come into our classes,” Trapp says. “There’s such a huge need for mental-health tools to be more easily accessible, and that’s what we want to provide.”