I believe that presence and taking back your responsibility to respond to situations can transform your relationships, your marriage, your finances, your business, your health, the way you treat your body, and the way you treat others. Just imagine if you were to live in a world where each person was responsible or had the ability to respond with compassion. That ripple effect could affect everything.

As a part of my series about “How To Develop Mindfulness And Serenity During Stressful Or Uncertain Times”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Jessica Caver Lindholm.

Jessica Caver Lindholm is the Founder of ToLivingFree, which is dedicated to helping visionaries create prosperity by doing their soul work to change the world.

Transforming from small-town country girl to global success as a writer, speaker, and coach Jessica has positively impacted the lives of her clients with her soul work for nearly a decade.

Her mission is to financially empower visionaries to do their soul work and create massive impact and experience real freedom through her coaching, courses and the endless stream of free content she shares online.

You can connect with Jessica on her Website or Instagram or tap into soul led prosperity now with her signature Journal Yourself Rich bundle.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you share with us the backstory about what brought you to your specific career path?

Ialways felt like I was capable of doing anything, but as I grew up I felt as though the expectation was for everyone to follow this specific path. That never really resonated with me because I always found myself to be someone who was obsessed with freedom, and I believe that freedom is one of our greatest opportunities in life and it’s something we take away from ourselves. We fall into the expectation of the way we think things are supposed to be. That never resonated with me. So, when I got out of college and started feeling the societal pressure of expectation I was reminded of the freedom, joy, and curiosity we have as kids. I wasn’t ready to let that go, and it led me on a path of figuring out how to not lose that. I had a full ride to college, and I was expected to go out and do big things after graduation, but I didn’t do that. I ended up taking on a series of side jobs to avoid getting sucked down some path, and through that, I stumbled into being an entrepreneur.

I come from a long line of farmers, ranchers, artists, people with freedom and their own businesses, and I wanted that for myself as well. So, I just started trying everything from yoga to personal training, to making purses and jewelry. I was in this state of constantly looking to not lose my freedom. One day, I switched gears and wanted to share my freedom and energy work with others. It was something I practiced my whole life, and I found a way to combine my business skills with mindset work to help reach other people. So that’s been my path for over a decade now, helping others discover their own soul-work and making it work for them.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started your career?

Right at the beginning of my business, I had only made $7,000 in 2013 and in 2014 I decided something needed to flip. There’s this idea that people who pursue the entrepreneurial life come from money, or start from somewhere, but that wasn’t the case. My mom has even joked that if she didn’t know me, she wouldn’t believe my story either because it’s so crazy. But in 2014, I had this moment that I think a lot of us hit, this moment of near rock bottom where we don’t allow ourselves to go down anymore. That moment is really a miracle because it’s when we shift our perception and start to rise. Coming into 2014, with no success to show for myself, there was a flip and by May of 2014, I was making $10,000 a month.

Something miraculous happened there, and it’s something I really truly believe can happen for every person. I’ve even seen it happen with my clients. I had a client from Canada, and I didn’t know it at the time, but she had breast cancer and was on welfare, everything that would seem like things weren’t going to go her way. However, within a couple of months, she went from a cancer patient just trying to survive to make $10,000 a month and had flipped her story around. In these moments, these magical, miracle moments, we can flip our perception.

The same thing happened to me when we built our house from scratch. We hadn’t been planning to build a house, we didn’t have the money in the bank, it wasn’t in the plan. However, one day when we were driving around the neighborhood we now live in, I had this revelation that this would be my house. It was this magical sort of decision that flipped my perception and became reality. Yes, I took the aligned action, but it was the shift in perception that enabled us to come up with the money to buy the house. It was crazy how the money appeared without me having to really do anything dramatically different, and even at a time when everyone around us was saying how difficult it would be to close on a house, we made it happen.

I have so many of these examples of how these flips have helped not only me but my clients. When we’re not committed to the story of being trapped and are instead open to the possibility that something better is available, there’s a shift in perception in that moment that “A Course in Miracles” calls a miracle. And when you have miracle mindedness, you are open to go from $7,000 one year, to over $10,000 a month the next.

What advice would you give to other leaders about how to create a fantastic work culture?

I think this is a really important question, because it goes to a bigger vision for your work, for your community, for those who might work with you, and for yourself and your lifestyle. I think the issue a lot of people have is that they try to figure out the “hows” right now and hope that if they add up enough “hows” it will get them to their dream. But the exact opposite is so vital. You have to go to the “big vision,” or what I like to call the vision beyond the vision, and work your way backward and reverse engineer from the energy, emotions, and feelings of that already being done.

So what this looked like for me is that I knew from the very beginning that a core pillar of my work is freedom. Freedom for me in the work that I do is built into three things, freedom of time and being able to do what you desire with your own time; freedom of money and not need to worry about money but actually live in a state of overflow; and the freedom of emotions and mindset to find happiness within the self. So I always knew where I was going, and as long as I’ve been able to stay consistent in my vision it’s been very easy for me to make choices in my community, in my business, and even for my team. I work to maintain an incubator of freedom for anyone who has been a part of this work. It’s been beautiful to create that for myself, but I didn’t know about the joy that would come with being able to create that freedom for my team. And because of it, even in the craziness of everything going on right now in the world, I have these amazing team members, community members, and clients who look up to me as a leader to demonstrate what it means to live free no matter the circumstances. True freedom comes from within, and I have people reaching out to me every day thanking me for teaching them that even during times like these they are still in control of their own freedom.

Is there a particular book that made a significant impact on you? Can you share a story or explain why it resonated with you so much?

I am a voracious reader. I love love, love reading. I love getting what I need from a book and then quickly moving on to the next one. I will say, at the beginning of my business when I went from making $7,000 a year to have a business, it was such a vital point for me and my transformation of choosing to step into my greatness. And a book that I’ve mentioned a little bit in the past that meant a lot to me at that time was The Science of Getting Rich by Wallace Wattles. It’s a short book and gets straight to the point, but I read that book 6 times back to back. I had never heard anyone talk about money and abundance in that way before and something about it just clicked for me. I think I had always felt this guilt around wanting more — wanting more money, wanting more out of life, wanting more reach, just really wanting more. I felt like that was greedy or bad because I did have an amazing life, but there was still part of me that did desire more.

I remember coming across a line that said something about the feeling of you wanting more is similar to plants wanting to grow, it’s just a part of life. When I started looking at it that way and looked around at the examples in nature, it made sense. If you give a plant free-range it is going to grow, and grow, and grow. It is absolutely natural for all living things to continue to grow and expand, and not just stop at some point. When we don’t squash that down it actually leads to innovation, and creativity, and so many beneficial things in the world. What I can absolutely say to be true is that where I’m at now, allowing myself to continue to desire more, have more, be more, also allows me to share more, give back more, and impact more in a positive way. That book created such a powerful impact for me to continue to step into the powerful leader that I’m able to be.

Ok, thank you for all that. Now let’s move to the main focus of our interview. From your experience or research, how would you define and describe the state of being mindful?

Mindful at its core is present, and I think presence is the number one thing that all of us are craving. We are in a state right now where we have the opportunity to be more connected than ever, and yet we also often feel more alone. It’s because we’re never really present with anything or anyone. We are always multitasking, or thinking about what’s next, or staring at our phones while watching a movie while cooking dinner while playing with our kids. Mindfulness for me, more than anything, is a presence at this moment.

When we can be present in a moment, the moment begins to expand. It’s as if time slows down or almost doesn’t even exist. There is a miracle at that moment where you feel all of life in an instant. One of the things that I’ve really practiced for myself while doing this work for some time, is being present. Sitting outside and just being there, watching the clouds, listening to the birds, and just being. Because I really believe that presence expands our lives and helps us understand who we really are and the interconnectedness that we have with everything around us. We’re not alone when we remember to be present.

This might be intuitive to you, but it will be instructive to spell this out. Can you share with our readers a few of the physical, mental, and emotional benefits of becoming mindful?

Becoming more mindful goes back to that place of being present, and when you’re present, you’re no longer reactive. I believe it’s Sadhguru who calls it “responsibility.” You’re either reactive in a situation or you’re responsible in a situation, and it’s not the typical way you think about being responsible. He talks about being responsible as our ability to respond, and when you are present in a situation you have reclaimed your ability to respond. So, when someone cuts you off in traffic or says something means, when we’re being present or mindful there’s a pause before you actually react to anything or act on anything. At this moment you can choose how you want to respond. By doing so, it brings real connection and greater trust in ourselves. I believe when we can truly learn to trust ourselves, we can find a whole new level of compassion for ourselves, which automatically leads to compassion for more people.

I believe that presence and taking back your responsibility to respond to situations can transform your relationships, your marriage, your finances, your business, your health, the way you treat your body, and the way you treat others. Just imagine if you were to live in a world where each person was responsible or had the ability to respond with compassion. That ripple effect could affect everything.

Ok. Here is the main question of our discussion. The past 5 years have been filled with upheaval and political uncertainty. Many people have become anxious about the dramatic jolts of the news cycle. The fears related to the coronavirus pandemic have only heightened a sense of uncertainty, anxiety, fear, and loneliness. From your experience or research, what are five steps that each of us can take to develop mindfulness and serenity during such uncertain times? Can you please share a story or example for each.

Step one, for me, would be to accept and feel the current emotion. Honestly allow yourself to feel whatever emotion you’re feeling. It’s absolutely vital, especially in a time where we put so much pressure on ourselves to be perfect. We see all of these articles all the time telling us that stress is bad for us, but then we feel stress about feeling stress. Sometimes we “law-of-attraction” ourselves to death and think it’s not okay to feel however you feel. That’s not true. We’re not meant to only feel-good emotions, we’re meant to be allowed to feel all of them. An example I have of this is in the communities I’ve created. I recently noticed in one of the communities that one single person had left. At first, I thought it was interesting that I noticed, but then I started questioning myself and what I had done to make them leave. So, I allowed myself to feel that for as long as I needed to, but then I turned it into a story I could tell. I knew it was something that the members of my community feared as well, losing clients or feeling rejected. It’s one main reason why we hold ourselves back from putting ourselves out there. However, if we allow ourselves to feel the emotion of that fear, we can choose differently to move forward.

Once you allow yourself to feel the emotion you may notice that it moves through you quickly. So, it’s important to remember at that point that you need to be present. Even if things outside of you feel out of control, we’re always in control of our inner state. This comes straight back to presence, and the easiest way to connect with your presence is with a breath. You can’t control what’s going on outside of you, but you can control your breath. Breathe in deeply, hold for just a second at the top, and then release for sixty-seconds at a time. I personally love the Wim Hof breathing technique. I find when we do this, we take our power back because even something as simple as seeing how long we can hold our breath distracts us from what’s going on outside of ourselves. As long as we’re just taking the next breath, we know that we can make it.

Next, zoom out your perspective. We can get so focused on what’s happening right now that we end up creating the idea that there is a problem. The mind is always looking for ways to solve things. But when you zoom out your perspective, you take your attention away from the singular thing you are focused on. Think of it as a visualization practice. Set a timer for something as small as sixty-seconds, close your eyes, and zoom out from what’s happening to you at this very moment to a bigger picture of the entire planet. You can even go out further than that if you want. But I find that zooming out and visualizing the entire planet as a whole, seeing that it’s still safe and orbiting, and the sun still rises and sets, can make you realize that we’re all interconnected and nothing on the larger scale has really changed. We still have everything we need to survive. This applies even if you feel like everything around you is changing at the moment, and there’s a sense of peace that comes with that.

Step four is to remember that you’re a storyteller and take your power back by telling a new story. My background is in anthropology and cultural anthropology and I’ve learned that the first thing we do when our basic survival needs are met, honestly even before, is telling stories. It’s how we pass down the lineage, history, and all of the things. But, because we’re all natural storytellers, we often forget that we’re storytellers and we can tell a story that either serves us or ultimately strips away our power. We need to remember that things aren’t happening to us, we’re still telling our own stories to a certain degree. For me, that story is that everything is always working out for me. So think about it, what if everything was always working out for you? I love to use it as a journal prompt to release the fear. Ask yourself, “If I truly believe that, how would I feel about the situation? How would I now show up? What would I change?” One of the things you can do is write down a list of all of the things you’re afraid of and flipping each story. Look at all of the things you’re afraid of right now. Some of your fears may indeed be true, but some may just be stories that you’re telling yourself. So it’s important to go through them and flip them.

Last, if you’re still feeling fired up about what’s happening around you, remove your emotion. Even if it’s only for a moment, remove emotion and just focus on tuning in to the next aligned action. It could be the simplest aligned action, like taking your kids for a walk. Just focus on the next action you feel aligned to take. It can be used anywhere there is fear, or trigger, or even trauma. It’s not pushing it down a long term or ignoring it, it’s just for a moment to focus on the next aligned action to guide you back to your most present, mindful, and serene state.

From your experience or research, what are five steps that each of us can take to effectively offer support to those around us who are feeling anxious? Can you explain?

The first step is to acknowledge the importance of putting your own oxygen mask on first. You’ve got to fill up your own tank first to be of service or support anyone else. This is especially important at a time like this when you may be around family members that you wouldn’t typically be around this much. It’s more important than ever to take five to ten minutes to go through the steps from the last question to reground yourself in your presence.

The next piece is to acknowledge and honor how others are feeling. We need to honor how others feel, allow them to do that, and be present there to support them if they want us to. That allows others the room to be vulnerable without judgment and makes them feel safe.

Next, don’t feel like you need to fix someone else. This happens a lot in relationships. When we care about someone, we naturally feel like we want to fix them because we want them to feel better, but part of the reason we want them to feel better is that we know we’ll feel better when they do. We have to remember to just allow others to be and support them when they need it.

Then you need to make your joy a priority. It gives others the permission to do so as well. I think we get it in our heads that if things aren’t going well, it’s our jobs to commiserate and perpetuate the bad. But it’s in those moments that we have the opportunity to make our joy a priority to not only stay true to ourselves but to lift others up.

Finally, I’d also suggest to just live in your ability to be a role model and an example of love when it’s applicable. You’re always being watched by those around you, especially kids. You have the opportunity to choose to be a leader at all times. It’s a powerful reality that we need to never forget.

What are the best resources you would suggest for someone to learn how to be more mindful and serene in their everyday life?

All you really need is a timer and something to write with like a journal, pen, or even your laptop so you can go through and work on the 5 steps I mentioned above. Anything you can write on to can get really honest with yourself about your fears, and really work through them to move forward. Another great resource is the Calm App, the nature sounds on there are great to visualize to! Also, the Wim Hof App and breathing practice he offers is fantastic and totally free!

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Do you have a story about how that was relevant in your life?

One of my favorite longtime quotes is actually from Anne Frank. She said, “Despite everything that is going on right now, I still believe that people are good at heart.” That quote has always been a core part of my belief system. From the youngest age, even when I’d see people do terrible things, or be on the news, or be in a terrible situation, that quote would always come to mind for me. The idea that despite everything going on right now, I really do believe that people are good at heart.

I feel that so much right now and find myself feeling even more connected to my community and neighbors. I see people playing catch, waving to each other, and even flying kites. Despite everything, I feel we’re more surrounded than ever by examples of people being good at heart. That quote, coming from a child who was in a traumatic situation, and its relatability to this moment in time shows us that deep down we can really believe in humanity. I think when we come out of this, and we will, we’re going to see some amazing examples of the upsides like deeper connection and compassion.

You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

Honestly, this really goes back to that idea of being present. We’ve talked about it a ton in this article up to this point, but I believe it’s everything. When we’re able to be present with another human being, we don’t need to judge them, fix them, or control them. We can honor them for having a different belief system, a different religion, a different culture, a different background, a different whatever it is, and we can look them in the eyes and see their souls. When we can do so, it reminds us that we are all connected and all as one. So, my greatest passion is to create a movement of beautiful humans around the globe who are choosing to be present in themselves first and foremost, and then take that presence out and share it with others. There is such a deep sense of peace and compassion when we finally feel like we’re seen, by ourselves and by another human. I believe that that level of presence will create the true freedom that every single one of us desires deep down.

What is the best way our readers can follow you online?

Through Instagram @jessicacaverlindholm and my and websitewww.tolivingfree.com!

Thank you for these fantastic insights. We wish you only continued success in your great work!