This is the secret sauce to being happy. Oprah Winfrey famously said, “Forgiveness is giving up the hope that the past could have been any different, it’s accepting the past for what it was, and using this moment and this time to help yourself move forward.” In this episode I explore some common misunderstandings about forgiveness. I also go into my own struggles with forgiving the person who abused me as a child, and how it changed my life when I was able to open my heart.

Is Unconditional Love for Real?

Is it possible to love unconditionally? Not just one person, or a few…but…everyone? Yes. While I can’t say I’ve come anywhere near mastering this, I’ve learned how it is indeed possible. And how ultimately it’s the most selfish thing we can do (in a good way).

How to be Spiritual and Have Clear Boundaries

Spoiler alert: it’s not selfish when you say, “No thanks.” Are you a people pleaser? One of the things I see most often in my clients is confusing being spiritual with being all-sacrificing. People can mistake taking on the role of the martyr in everyday life – and doing everything for other people but nothing for themselves – as a spiritual practice. As with most things, there is a middle way. In this episode, we go into a surprising way to apply mindfulness and the concepts of emptiness to saying, “No” compassionately and from a place of unconditional love.

Why Other People Piss Us Off

It’s easy to blame what other people do or not do as the source of our anger and frustration. But in reality, why we are upset has nothing to do with them and everything to do with our own mind. When we grasp this concept, a whole new kind of freedom opens up for us in our relationships. You’ll learn about The Manual we all have that’s filled with expectations of how we think others should behave if they’re going to be in our lives – and how to do things differently. When we do this, we are no longer relying on how other behave behave to feel happy. And that, my friends, is a freedom unlike no other.

Emptiness for the Real World

What does it mean on a practical level when we are taught the importance of emptiness? How does that apply to our real lives? Like at work, or in relationships, or in having dreams and goals? Are we supposed to let go of it all because it is all nothing, it is all empty in the end? Short answer: No. In this episode I’ll give you hilarious stories of my own mistakes exploring this question. I also cover some surprising examples of how the concept of emptiness can actually help you make your relationships more rich, your dreams more achievable, and your life more well-lived.

What a spiritual practice looks like for a Rebel Buddhist

In this episode I discuss how my practice has evolved over the years – from when I first started meditating and tried desperately to fit into a culture so different from my own, to where I am now as I step into the authenticity of being on a spiritual journey guided first and foremost by my own inner Buddha. Spoiler alert: it is totally possible to meditate at a full moon rave in Thailand.

Ancient Wisdom and Modern Science: mindfulness for the real world.

Ever feel like mindfulness seems great on the cushion or on your yoga mat, but when you step off, all hell breaks loose in your mind and you lose your sh*t all over again? Sometimes it can be hard to translate spiritual practice to practical, messy life. Like when you blow up at your partner or yell at your kids. Or when you hate your boss or feel like the whole world is against you. In this episode, I talk about how I finally found a practical way to apply the teachings to my life on a daily basis, using tools gleaned from modern science and cognitive coaching approaches.

What does it mean to be a Rebel Buddhist?

The Buddha was a revolutionary. He found his own path and encouraged us to do the same. He gave us a recipe that he followed and offered us to try it – and said that if it didn’t work, feel free to cast it aside. What does it mean when you also have a rebellious soul and want to honor the teachings and also your own inner voice to find your own path? What if you don’t quite fit in with the usual picture of a Buddhist practitioner, peacefully smiling amidst a calm rock garden and bubbling water features? Can you want to tame your mind + strive for a spiritual life AND want it to be filled with wild adventures (and misadventures)? Can you love the solace of silent retreats AND sweating to thumping dance music at 2am? What does it mean if you sometimes overdrink, swear a lot, or party too much yet identify as a sincere Buddhist practitioner? This podcast is about going back to the grassroots nature of Buddhism, where we practice in community and explore day to day life in order to find our own path. Where we learn by talking with each other about our experiences and practice, and not just relying on guidance from a handful of teachers (if we’re lucky enough to even have such access). We do this while using the guidance of the Buddha’s experience, the wisdom of the teachings, and our community of like-minded practitioners.

The Truth About Freedom – 3 Common Mistakes People Make

When I started my business and chose “Freedom Junkie” and “Freedom Sessions” as a part of my brand, I have to admit that I was feeling pretty original. Most coaches were focused on manifesting “success” and finding your “true purpose” or your “genius work,” or living your “dreams.”

These are not bad things! However, Freedom as a word was something that a smaller, more wacky, unconventional and renegade group of coaches focused on. After call, convincing people freedom was da bomb was a lot harder than convincing them to want to be rich or successful…or happy for that matter. As with anything awesome, the word “freedom” eventually caught on in the coaching world, and now you can find the word Freedom everywhere!

But what does this really mean? Does this mean more people are actively looking for more freedom, or that more people are truly teaching how to create more freedom? I sure hope so!

Unfortunately, it seems that for most, things haven’t changed outside of the verbiage used. I’m seeing a lot people say, “Make more money and [therefore] have more freedom!” “Work from your laptop and have more freedom!” “Become an entrepreneur and have more freedom!”

While these are all fun things to have in life, these aren’t really the things that bring you TRUE freedom – they’re just twists on the words success, passion, and location-independence, for example. Do they help you with freedom? Sure! But do they address the root of freedom? No.

We use the word Freedom rather nonchalantly, but the word Freedom implies freedom from something. We can free ourselves from external constraints with financial abundance, location independence, self-employment….

But what’s the ONE THING we are all really seeking freedom from?

We are ALL seeking freedom from suffering. Not even freedom from pain, but from suffering! As the famous quote by the Buddhist teacher Haruki Murakami goes, “Pain is inevitable. Suffering is optional.”

The {often} hard truth about freedom is that it is so profoundly about the work you’re doing on the inside. In their pursuit of freedom, most people don’t remember these key points:

3 Common Mistakes People Make When Seeking Freedom

1. Forgetting that you first have to own your shit.

Freedom must begin here, with the knowing that life is in YOUR hands and no one else’s – not with your militant boss, your insensitive boyfriend or your mean sibling; not in your past with your controlling/abusive parents, not your crappy neighborhood or the fact that your parents didn’t help you pay for college, not your short stature or your frizzy hair. NONE of that has to do with your freedom in this moment, right now. Until this fact is absorbed, there will always be excuses instead of solutions. And here’s a tweetable, amiga:

You cannot create freedom with excuses.  (Tweet it!)

2. Not knowing what you want and what it feels like

First, get clear about what freedom FEELS like to you, because freedom is a FEELING. Focus on how your body experiences freedom, what it feels like to be free, really conjure up that feeling and its vibration and tap into it. This is the only way you will truly ever be free. If you have no idea what freedom will feel like to you, you won’t ever know when it’s arrived, and you’ll keep seeking in all the different places for it – which are often simply distractions. Unless you actually FEEL free, the other stuff that’s supposed to get you there doesn’t really matter. So be sure you are clear about how you want to feel and experience this whole Freedom thing;)

Once you’re clear about what the Freedom feels like for you, start to get detailed about the other aspects of Freedom.

There are 5 “currencies” of Freedom, not to be mistaken for freedom itself. These are:

  1. time
  2. money
  3. energy
  4. creativity
  5. location

When you are clear about what you want to achieve with each of these forms of freedom moolah, you can more easily see what ISN’T giving you freedom. For example, if you are clear about what you want in a relationship, if you are in a bad or even simply mediocre/”maybe” relationship, you can more easily walk way from it.

Why is this so? When you are clear about what you want, you can make decisions more easily and with more confidence, and you will be less likely to tolerate something that isn’t clearly what you want, or stall taking action due to being unsure or insecure.

When people vacillate about whether or not they are in a good relationship, or if they “should” be more patient with someone or consider their “potential,” this is likely because they aren’t clear about what they want.

When you are clear, you can say, “Sorry. Homegirl don’t play that.” Or, “I don’t date for potential. That’s sooooo 80s.”


When you’re not clear, you start wondering if it’s your shit, or if it’s because you’re tired or mean or too picky. You start wondering if it’s because you are judging them and you know that is a “bad” thing to do. However, when you are clear, it’s not personal. It’s just the facts, ma’am.

3. Not taking action (or simply taking the same actions you’ve been taking and expecting a different outcome)

Once you’re clear about what you want, it’s time to act on that. Only then will your life start to manifest more freedom. And that action needs to be different from what you’ve been doing. You can’t keep doing the same thing expecting a different outcome!

Only when you start saying, “No” when you don’t feel like doing something; when you stop tolerating, when the fear of not being free is greater than the fear of being alone and you leave an unhealthy relationship…

Only when you ACT on behalf of what you want – and you start banking your freedom currency – will freedom manifest.

It’s not enough to dream and set intentions and talk about it. It’s not enough to get a Freedom tattoo on your back or write down all the ways more money will help you get more time, energy, and passport stamps.

This is where the rubber meets the road. Act, and you shall receive (tweet it!).

So ask yourself this now:

:: What’s my shit? What is my baggage, my mistakes, my habitual patterns that no longer serve me, MY self-limiting beliefs...what part of the way my life is right now is not a part of my creation? (Hint: none of it)

:: What DO I want?

:: What’s one thing I can do right now that will move me closer to freedom – to what freedom means for me?

What does freedom means for you, and how you’re going to start manifesting it. The more free women in the world, the more free communities and cities and countries and continents…and the more free souls to light up the universe!

If you want to join a tribe that is totally committed to creating more true freedom, inside and out, click here to learn more about the Freedom Club.


Ready to dive deeper into this? Check out Freedom School and see what everyone’s obsessed about. It’s not just group coaching. It’s a mindset revolution that you won’t want to miss.

This Bucket List is More Important

When we create bucket lists, we’re often thinking about mountains to climb, countries to visit, or other epic adventures to have. It makes sense that these things come up when we ask ourselves, “What do I want to make sure I do before I die?” After all – these things are exhilarating and form memories of a lifetime. Because my clients are Freedom Junkies, they want to do things like road trip for 6 months across the US, or ride motorcycles to the very tip of South America. Backpack the Dolomites and climb the tallest peak on every continent. Sky dive or bungee jump. And it makes sense.

But when we think about what people who are actually dying say they wish they did when they had more life force in them, we hear a very different story. Yes, many wish they had lived more full lives, but they way they interpret that is different than what you might think. When we look more deeply into what will truly be important for us so we can feel more free at the time of our death, we need to remember this uber -important item that needs to be on everyone’s bucketlist: forgiving. I know – it’s not as fun as paddling a Class V river in Africa, but hang in there with me.

Here’s a list of the top 5 regrets of the dying that a palliative nurse, Bronnie Ware, writes about in her book, The Top Five Regrets of the Dying: A Life Transformed by the Dearly Departing.

The Top 5 Regrets Of The Dying
1. I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me. “This was the most common regret of all.”
2. I wish I hadn’t worked so hard.
3. I wish I’d had the courage to express my feelings.
4. I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends.
5. I wish that I had let myself be happier.

My coaching programs are designed to help my clients live a life with no regrets. Until my mother died in 2017, I could say I had no major regrets. I really spent most of days walking my talk and making sure I prioritized authenticity and living a full life. I wasn’t perfect, but I felt pretty good about how I was showing up in life. However, after I had my daughter in 2014, I noticed that I started to feel some deep pain from when my mother abused me as a child, and I let this affect my relationship with her in her later years of life. I thought I had forgiven her, but when I had my own daughter, it seemed to have brought up a lot of that past pain again – and a hardening of my heart.

The last year of my mom’s life was one where, because of my lack of forgiveness, there was a lot of unnecessary emotional suffering between us. I fortunately had some positive moments with her just before her death, but I deeply regret not having let go of my anger sooner. When she died, I no longer had the time to work on forgiving her and loving her more fully, like I had been telling myself to keep trying to do. She was gone. And damn, did I regret not forgiving her sooner and opening my heart to her more in the last few years of her life.

If you look at #5 of the Top 5 Regrets of the Dying, notice how when we don’t forgive, we are actually not letting ourselves be happier. We are choosing to carry on a level of suffering that is actually under our control. I could have been so much happier in the moments I was with my mom. So much less…angry.

When I listen to the voices of my clients on the retreats I lead, it’s pretty apparent that a lot of our suffering stems from very old pain. Similar to my relationship with my mom, I hear stories of when a parent abused them and the chasm it created in the relationship. I hear about when their spouse had sex with their best friend decades ago. When a colleague stabbed them in the back and caused them to lose their job – and their house. When an ex lied to them and broke their heart. This list can go on and on. Of course, it makes sense that our suffering stems from something that happened in the past – but what we forget is that we don’t have to keep reliving that event over and over the present.

This type of ruminating really takes hold when we don’t forgive. When we bear the burden of resentment in our hearts, we feel it physically, emotionally and psychically, and when we feel it, the painful memories come back, and we relive the painful moments over and over again. It’s so crazy that we do that to ourselves! But it makes sense: our brains are trying to protect us from the same trauma happening, and keeping us hyper vigilant. “Hey, Ana, don’t forget when that happened! It royally sucked. Don’t ever let it happen again.”

So we don’t forgive.

But the thing we tend to forget is that forgiveness is not the same as not forgetting. It’s actually not necessarily detrimental to be able to remember painful events – after all, it is good to learn from them past and avoid entering into similar situations if it won’t serve us. But by not forgiving we are perpetuating the suffering of that event because we relive it every time (vs recalling the memory without being loaded with the resentment of not forgiving).

I know that right now, my bucketlist includes a list of people I need to forgive, and I’m getting on that pronto. And I mean TRULY forgive, no matter how scary it feels to do so (and trust me, it does feel scary – I’m working on it by doing this tonglen meditation with these folks in mind). But you know what? I’m really happy I’m getting on this, because I already feel more free in my heart, and I know I won’t die regretting that I didn’t let go of the emotional chain I was creating with my inability to forgive them.

So, Freedom Junkie, what I ask of you is that on that bucket list of yours, where you have a ton of amazing adventures planned, add to it that you want to open your heart and forgive. Let yourself be more happy. It’s scary – just like climbing a big peak can be – but it’s just as awesome.


If you want to join a tribe of people that will help you navigate this wild and precious life, come check out Freedom School – for rebels like you. It’s not just personal growth for rebels. It’s Jedi training for the new world.