Maintaining Mindfulness in a Chaotic Time With Lee Papa

Furloughs. Layoffs. An economy-crippling pandemic with seemingly no end in sight.

Who could’ve predicted the tumult that would enter our lives in 2020? In troubling times such as these, maintaining one’s sanity can often seem like the most important job of all.

Mindfulness speaker, trainer and author Lee Papa, a leading wellness expert on the meetings and conventions circuit and beyond, is well-versed to help us through these chaotic times.

Meetings Today’s Tyler Davidson talked with Papa about her new book, A Year of Mindfulness for Beginners: Daily Mantras, Meditations and Prompts, and her advice for all of us who are weathering these most-stressful days.

Listen to this Meetings Today Podcast to find out more.

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Read the transcript below:
[Start transcript]

Tyler Davidson: Hello, and welcome to this Meetings Today Podcast. I’m Tyler Davidson, vice president and chief content director at Meetings Today, and we’re joined right now with Lee Papa, a mindfulness speaker, trainer and author, and a frequent subject on videos and stories on Meetings Today. I’ve loved working with her for many years and really seeing her in action, such as with the Mindfulness Lounge at big industry conferences like IMEX America. Thanks for joining us, Lee.

Lee Papa: Oh, Tyler. It’s always a pleasure. Thank you so much.

Lee PapaTyler: And, so why don’t you kind of fill everyone in who may not be familiar with what you do. What is your claim to fame in the meetings mindfulness field?

Lee: Well, I guess that would be the Mindfulness Lounge™, which I created specifically for the industry.

(Photo: Lee Papa, a mindfulness speaker, trainer and author)

Years ago I owned and operated a 6,000-square-foot wellness center in Las Vegas. And in 2014, I spoke briefly at IMEX America on one of their fireside chats, and I was introduced to IMEX—they were referred to me as a wellness expert—and I had not really understood what IMEX was up to, what they did, until that point. And I fell in love.

I fell in love with the industry. I fell in love with the meetings professionals and all of those players that come together to make events, and so then I closed my center and I created my keynote, ‘How to Live and Lead Mindfully,’ which MPI brought me back to IMEX in 2015 to do the Smart Monday keynote for that day.

And then we went to the Be Well Lounge, which IMEX started, and when they were broaching the subject—they’re always ahead of the curve; I love working with those folks—and they created the Be Well Lounge. And so my product is called the Mindfulness Lounge™, and that is offered through their Be Well, and the rest is history.

The Mindfulness Lounge™ has really been a mainstay and a beautiful foundation for everyone who is looking to bring well-being and wellness to their events, and it’s something that happens throughout the event. So it’s not a one-off talk or a breakout session—although I do those. This is ongoing education throughout the event, and it gives the attendees a takeaway that is truly life changing.

[Related: 15 Wellness and Mindfulness Techniques for Chaotic Times]

Tyler: Boy, everyone can sure use that right now, as we’re in the middle of the pandemic here—we’ll get to that in a second; we’ve got a lot to talk about. First is, you have a new book that is just coming out, A Year of Mindfulness for Beginners: Daily Mantras, Meditations and Prompts. Why don’t you let everyone know what that’s about?

Lee: Well, it is a mindfulness companion. It’s 365 days of insights, and like you said, daily mantras and meditations and prompts. And truly, I have been wanting to write this book for years, because so many people, especially after an event—the attendees have come to a Mindfulness Lounge™, and I can offer them the meditations that I do, but I really want them to have something that they can continue on their journey that they started.

So I mean, for years—like at least three years—I have been wanting to do this beginner’s guide. And apparently the universe thought I was taking too long, because in October of last year I was at an event and I received an email from a publisher and they were looking to write a book on mindfulness for beginners and wondered if I would be interested in writing it. And, you know, when the stars align like that—publishers don’t do that; they don’t reach out to you.

So, obviously, there are key players that made that happen. But I am thrilled to have brought this to market. I’m very proud of the information that’s in there. It is inspirational. It will deepen your practice.

And it’s also a great takeaway for sponsorship opportunity. So, not only is the Mindfulness Lounge™ a great opportunity for sponsors, because how many things can you sponsor that are actually life changing? And that’s not really from me, because I never really started saying life changing until so many attendees sent me emails and testimonials and did videos for me and just use those words.

And so I’m like, I need to really embrace that for people because I know it was life changing for me. And it truly is life changing work, and I’m so happy to bring it to the industry.

Virtual Mindfullness Lounge
Photo: Lee Papa presenting a virtual Mindfulness Lounge™

Tyler: Yeah, and I’ve seen you in action at your Mindfulness Lounge™, and I think it’s probably a great sponsorship opportunity, too, because in the cacophony of a big conference like that, a real basic thing is you could go there and just relax and get your thoughts together, and escape the constant sort of scrutiny and input that constantly happens at any conference.

Lee: Constant mind chatter that we have, and the thing is this is based in science, it’s steeped in science, about the power of quieting the mind, the power of meditation and how the benefits are so far reaching it almost feels like the Holy Grail when you tell people what the benefits are. But if you would just take one or two of the benefits—let’s say you sleep better, or when traveling for events, it reduces jetlag symptoms—and you have more clarity, you retain information at a higher rate.

So, we are bombarded with all these different, educational offerings and networking events, and not everyone comes from a place of being gregarious and a people person. There are a lot of people that are introverts that have to really force themselves to do this kind of networking. And yet when you are in mindfulness practice and you offer these—they’re 20-minute sessions, you offer this throughout the day. They get their respite, they feed their soul, they quiet their mind. They bring their—it’s really a vibrational frequency—up, and they’re ready to get going again.

[Related: Changing Lives Through Meditation and Mindfulness in the Be Well Lounge]

Tyler: Well, excellent. And, everyone kind of needs this training right now. We were talking before we started taping, and I was kind of telling you, ‘Wow, you know, everyone’s been sheltering in place and really everything has been disrupted so much.’ And I was thinking, hopefully this will get back to normal, and then of course, you can be out there promoting your book. But then we as we were talking, it’s like people really need services from people like you right now. And what would your advice be for people out there?

Lee: Well, for sure. Immediately I started offering online—they’re called weekly connects and shares—in smaller, intimate groups, for people that really need a constant in their life, that maybe they haven’t embraced the mindfulness and meditation practice yet, but they need that constant support in that foundation. And so I’ve been doing that, and I’ve been offering that on a weekly basis, either on Wednesdays or Saturdays. So I’ve had that.

The book is definitely something I highly suggest, whether it’s on an individual basis or it’s on a group basis. What a great offering that would be—so many people are getting laid off. And I was thinking, wouldn’t that make a great, kind of part of a severance package that they get a book on mindfulness? Because change—what we’re going through right now is abrupt change.

And when I was meditating about this in early March—I guess it was early March already, right, when all this started coming down? I feel I’ve been training for it my whole life and especially the last 10 years, for sure.

But we have not experienced abrupt change like we have experienced over this time over these weeks. And a lot of people are not used to managing change or understanding change, they are stuck in their program. That is their pattern. That is their ritual. You get up, you do this, you go to work, you have your weekend, whatever that pattern is, and now you’re forced into this abrupt change.

So how do we manage that? How do we understand it? First, I think it is the intention that we put behind anything that we do is so very powerful. That if we intend to use this time to be in fear—and when I say intend, because you’re repetitively speaking of it, right?—then that’s what you’re going to create.

If you look at this time, which I believe is part of an incredible evolutionary process that we are in—it is fascinating to me. And being in a place of mindful practice, which means I’m the observer, I’m stepping back. I’m not in the tornado as the participant, but I step back as the observer—and it’s more like, wow, look at this happening. Look at all of this information that’s coming to light.

What we’re getting in the world is less than optimal, right? Some people would say it’s horrific, but I’m gonna go ‘less than optimal.’ So we judge it, right? But the thing is, when we get shaken, when things get shaken up, like what’s happening now, some things are coming to light that will make you angry. Some things are coming to light that you couldn’t possibly fathom are true.

And sometimes you want to push away those things because you’re like, ‘Oh, but I want to feel good. I want to be in mindfulness practice.’ And what I have learned as I’ve kind of elevated through the years of my own practice, is sometimes we need the contrast to see the light, because contrast brings clarity, and unless we have the contrast—which might be anger, might be a loss of a job, which might be something political that’s going on—unless we have the contrast, we will not be able to grow. We will not learn the truth, which is the knowledge.

So, contrast is our greatest teacher and it brings clarity, and so I don’t shy away from it anymore. I embrace it as the extraordinary teacher that it is.

[Related: Lee Papa Shares Tips on Dealing With Stress at Meetings]

Tyler: Do you have anything for anyone that is particularly stressed out right now? Is there any sort of little exercise they can do to really just sort of center their mind and get in a more relaxed space?

Lee: Absolutely. You know, my most popular meditation is something that I give away, and it’s on my website,, you can go to ‘Shop’ and ‘Meditations’ and you’ll see ‘free’ on the bar on the left, and it’s called Waterfall Chakra Wash. It’s six minutes long. Do that every single day.

It’s more about the consistency of your meditation practice rather than how long you do it. So do that six-minute free meditation every day and you will feel relief.

Tyler:  That’s great. And so why don’t you tell everyone the website URL again?


Tyler: And I suppose they can find A Year of Mindfulness for Beginners there?

Lee: You most certainly can, under ‘Shop’ then ‘Books.’

Tyler: Excellent. Well, thanks for joining us, Lee. I really appreciate it. And I look forward to checking out the book, too. It’s very exciting, congratulations.

Lee: Thank you so much. Take care.

Tyler: You, too. And thank you for joining us for this Meetings Today Podcast. Go on over to You’ll find a variety of podcasts featuring thought leaders in the meetings and travel industry. We hope you’ll enjoy learning from their knowledge, and have a great rest of the day.

[End transcript]

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Read next: Lee Papa's Tips to Stay Well on the Road

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About the author
Tyler Davidson | Editor, Vice President & Chief Content Director

Tyler Davidson has covered the travel trade for nearly 30 years. In his current role with Meetings Today, Tyler leads the editorial team on its mission to provide the best meetings content in the industry.