Katherine Robinson has long found benefits from natural methods to calm her mind, but it wasn’t until a sudden illness that she began to realize it might be her professional calling as well. Once she had that “a-ha moment,” she knew she had to teach people about the heart, meditation, breathing and how to let the body heal. Meditation wasn’t easy for her at first. She felt anxious, couldn’t turn off her brain and repeatedly asked herself why she was doing it. Gradually, though, Robinson began to find her center and a renewed sense of resilience that gave her inner strength. In 2016, she was certified as a meditation, mindfulness and stress relief teacher and she’s passionate about sharing the gift of meditation with students of all ages. And despite Covid-19 forcing events to go virtual, she’s committed to giving people a safe space to breathe during these uncertain times.
Years in St. Pete
Born in St. Petersburg, moved to Oregon at age 5, lived in Boston and Vermont and moved back in 2008
Organizations involved in
Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at Eckerd College and the Better Living for Seniors Consortium
What gets you out of bed every day?
My dog. His name is Falcon and he's always anxious and excited to be outside nice and early. I also always get excited to find out more ways to improve my teaching skills, to help people de-stress and activate their self-care.
Why St. Pete?
I've always felt comfortable here and resonated with tropical climate of St. Pete, the tree and flowers and the fauna and flora and not having to shovel snow. I went to college in Vermont and was really shocked that first winter when I came back to school - the wind chill was 50 below zero and it had been 70 degrees in St. Pete the day I left. I also love the the ocean here. It's a healing source for me, and my favorite place to go to wind down and meditate.
What is one habit that you keep?
I meditate at least once a day. it really helps keep me grounded and tuned into a higher awareness and activates my inner serenity and gives me stability during these times. We don't have much externally to hold on right now so it's really important to anchor within ourselves.
who are some people that influence you?
My mother has been such a supportive force for me, especially during some difficult transitions in my life. She's always believed in the work I do and never questioned it. She comes up with ideas and always listened to me. She gives so freely from her heart and doesn't ask for much in return. My brother has also been a huge influence and always been there for me shining his light. I almost see him as a spiritual teacher. He's taught me so much about what's important in life and how to stay as healthy and vibrant as possible.
What is one piece of insight - a book, methodology, practice - that you would share with our readers?
I'm excited to share one of my favorite breath techniques that can instantly help you, especially when you're not feeling great. It's called the square breath or box breathing - you can have your eyes open or closed, and you breathe in four counts, hold four counts, exhale for four counts and hold again for four counts so it looks like a square. Practice for one to two minutes and you'll see immediate benefits. When we're stressed, we usually hold our breaths or breathe in a shallow manner which is perfect environment for fearful and stressful thoughts.
What is one thing you wish you knew about your work 3 years ago?
How simple the practice of meditation and breathing could be. It doesn't have to be complex or time consuming and you don't need years of training to get good. Even if you just have five minutes to practice every day, you're training your mind and your body and nervous system to be resilient during such a stressful time on the planet.
What inspires me to keep teaching is these are very tough times and people are very isolated at home and not as able to connect with family, friends and the community. We want to return to a normal world but its not happening yet, and this can cause a lot of stress and inner angst. I want my students to know two things moving forward - that they are never alone and there are so many inner resources that we can grow within ourselves on a daily basis to feel better and less stressed no matter what's going on in the world. Sometimes it just takes a minute or two of breathing. I'm starting the fall semester with seven week meditation and stress relief classes and I'll be teaching a course about uncertainty, self compassion and the importance of breath. Last year we put on a holiday meditation gathering and we'll be able to do it again over Zoom this year. I'm excited about continuing to connect to build community and peaceful relaxation online. It's amazing to be able to feel the good energy of everyone coming together and even though it's virtual, we really aren't that far apart.