Dana talks about her meditation journey, living in a tiny house, and mastering British English grammar
By Rohan Gunatillake
By now, you’ve probably had the chance to read some of our other Teacher and Team Q & As. Dana is normally the interviewer, but today we’ve turned the tables and she is the interviewee. Here we talk with Dana about her evolving meditation practice, book recommendations, and getting familiar with British English. Get to know her as we flip the script.
Sure! As a freelancer, I was looking to start writing about topics I was passionate about. I had been a long-time buddhify user and thought it’d be neat to author a piece about the impact meditation has had in my life over the years, and in particular, what a powerful tool the app had been in helping me to better manage my anxiety. When I searched to see if buddhify had a blog I could contribute to, I noticed that they didn’t have one yet. I decided to take a leap of faith, email Rohan to express thanks for the app, and to say to keep me in my mind should buddhify ever need any help with copywriting, editing, technical writing, or content strategy. With the reboot of a new version on the horizon, the timing just worked out.
I’ve been a professional writer for over a decade. I started out as a newspaper reporter, I’ve worked at ad agencies, and I’ve done content marketing for a VoIP company and a major bank. While at the core my responsibilities are quite similar to previous jobs, there’s a subtle nuance that actually makes a big impact. This is the first time that I’ve gotten to write about something I genuinely care about and take great interest in on a personal level. It has been exciting to combine my passion for writing with my passion for meditation and mindfulness. What also feels really different is being part of a company and behind a product that is contributing to the well-being of other people.
It has varied over the years. I started by using buddhify and primarily listened to “Fade” every night before bed and “Fluid” when I was feeling overwhelmed. In Alabama, where I previously lived, the meditation community was less visible. That changed when I moved to North Carolina. In Asheville, there are so many sanghas to explore — I’ve had the opportunity to sit at the Asheville Shambhala Center, Urban Dharma NC, Zen Center of Asheville, and Heart of Insight. During my first year here, I went to group sessions pretty regularly. Typically, these were 30 to 45 minute sits followed by a dharma talk. This was a real period of deepening for me, and I started to transition from being more of an ad-hoc meditator to someone who practices daily. Currently, I share an office space with my husband and we meditate together each morning before we start the work day.
Oh wow, so many things come to mind. I’ll give my top three. First of all, I’ve loved curating user stories for the blog — both being able to share my personal story and communicating with other users to get their inspirational stories about mindfulness and meditation. Secondly, it’s been interesting to work with the people who voiced meditations I’ve been listening to for so many years. Some days I go from listening to Rohan’s voice on a walk to messaging him about an assignment on Slack — so that’s a little strange and funny. Lastly, I’ve learned a lot of British lingo. Early on, we decided that British English would be the standard for content (aside from user stories, which would vary based on the location of the storyteller). So I’ve had to familiarize myself with the nuanced grammar and spelling rules. When editing copy, I often stumble across unfamiliar phrases or words that I have to look up before determining if I have a suggested edit or if this is just a part of the British vernacular that I’m unfamiliar with. I also love learning new British slang just from casual back-and-forth chatting with the team.
Hiking! Since moving to North Carolina, I’ve gone on at least one hike a week. It’s so amazing to be in a place that has such a variety of outdoor trails to explore. I love being in the mountains, going to find new waterfalls, and just spending the day in the peace and quiet of the outdoors.
Honestly, I’ve read so many that it is hard to keep track. I’ll try not to overthink this. Off the top of my head, I’d say some of my favorites are Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind by Shunryū Suzuki, 10% Happier by Dan Harris, Buddhism Without Beliefs by Stephen Batchelor, and Instructions to the Cook: A Zen Master’s Lessons in Living a Life That Matters by Bernie Glassman and Rick Fields.
The two of us share a living space that is 98 square feet! Right now, we live in a tiny house community, and I like to joke that we are the tiniest of the tiny. On a day-to-day basis, I forget that this is something that is unique — to me, it is just our cozy house that we come home to every day. The decision to go tiny was the first step of my mission to declutter my life. Getting rid of an enormous amount of material possessions has been such an indescribable freeing experience. It really has changed everything and has had a domino effect. Once my physical space was simplified, I was able to shift my focus to working through some of the clutter of my inner world. So just to come full circle, in 2017, once we had settled into the tiny house, that’s when I went from dabbling in mindfulness practice to making a commitment to make meditation a habit. Overall, I think being a minimalist has cleared a lot of unnecessary distraction from my life and helps me to better live in the moment.
Dana’s first experience with buddhify was as a user, and she initially got in touch to express her appreciation for the app. She recently joined the team to support and manage the written content for the buddhify app and website. An experienced writer, editor, and content specialist, she is based in Asheville, North Carolina.