9 Tamara Green & David Dachinger: Loving Meditations
Tamara Green and David DachinGer found a way to turn a terrifying diagnosis of stage 4 cancer … into a practice of gratitude and mindfulness … and a fast-growing business called Loving Meditations.
I’m Melinda Wittstock and Tamara and David join me today on 10X Together to talk love of business … the business of love … and how to leverage adversity to create a beautiful, rewarding and intentional life of love and abundance together… and remembering that every day is a gift.
Today we talk about gratitude, mindfulness and learning to be truly present for each other in your relationship … and in how you do business. Plus how these practices can get you through just about anything life throws at you … and why your true calling in business may be simply sharing how you yourself overcame adversity alone or together as a couple.
When Grammy Award nominee David Dachinger was diagnosed with Stage 4 cancer, he had already been recording meditations with his wife Tamara Green, a couple’s psychotherapist, hypnotherapist, and meditation facilitator. Described by Elle Magazine as the “Soul Centered Love and Relationship Expert, Tamara applied her expertise to healing her husband, who was also enduring chemotherapy, radiation therapy and surgery. Months later when the Oncologist wondered aloud David had beaten a very aggressive diagnosis, the couple knew they had a business helping others.
The result is Loving Meditations, a business they have bootstrapped for 3 years. Their app is now used in 35 countries around the world, and a growing online support community.
Tamara (TAMRA) is a behavioral health expert, psychotherapist, hypnotherapist, mindfulness and meditation facilitator, author and speaker dubbed “the soul centered love and relationship” expert by Elle Magazine. For 18 years she worked as a psychiatric social worker at New York Presbyterian before launching her private practice.
Now as co-founder of Love Meditations with her husband, the composer and Grammy nominee David Dachinger, Tamara (TAMRA) combines her professional training and life experience as a cancer caregiver to create powerfully effective guided meditations to help thousands to achieve peace, love and wellbeing. David, whose compositions for the Super Bowl, The Masters and the NFL have been heard by more than 1.5 billion people Super Bowl, The Masters and the NFL, has also been making his contribution to inspirational change by producing music and video for awakening and motivational media including Access Consciousness, Masters of Quantum Healing, Miracle Mondays Meditations as well as Loving Meditations. David is the bestselling author of Live Calm with Cancer, David is also featured in Cancer: From Tears to Triumph, a book filled with inspiration from survivors, health care and support professionals, caregivers and loved ones.
A true man of service, David is also a fire lieutenant and EMT.
Melinda Wittstock: Tamara and David, I'm so excited to have you on 10X together.
David Dachinger: Hi, Melinda. We're excited to be here with you today.
Tamara Green: Very excited, yes.
Melinda Wittstock: I look at you two. You're so inspiring in so many ways in what you've been through. And it occurs to me, isn't it how interesting with a bit of time and distance that what we felt was happening to us, was actually happening for us?
David Dachinger: It's a really interesting perspective. It's one that we've had now that we've been through the cancer experience together and we can talk more about what that experience was but in the thick of it, yeah, it's like you have to shift from the trauma and drama and not becoming a victim identity to what's the bigger picture? What's the gift in this? Where is this going to take me and what can I … how can I change my experience of this so I'm not at the affect of it but more I'm going to define my experience because that's my choice.
David Dachinger: And in the thick of being treated for stage four cancer, I decided I'm going to look on this as an extreme survival adventure and see what my body is capable of and any time I can remember, I'm going to be grateful for what's positive in my life, as opposed to focusing on what's wrong. And I'm going to try … I'm going to move into the space of receiving because there's quite a few people out there from medical professionals to friends to relatives who really want to step up and show up during this difficult time. How can I be better at receiving what they're bringing? And so, then it changes from becoming an adversity to actually being an experience of self-discovery.
Melinda Wittstock: That's beautifully said. Tamara, what was your perspective through this whole process where you meet, you fall in love, you both have your gigs but then, the cancer that David endured and you both endured together, resulted in a business.
Tamara Green: Yeah, who would have thought at the time of diagnosis? Definitely not me. That's for sure. David and I had such a long journey of being together, breaking up, getting engaged, and then breaking up. And so, it took about, wait, how many thousands of days?
David Dachinger: 6,346 days from initial meeting to getting married.
Melinda Wittstock: That's amazing that you've kept count. That's so cute.
Tamara Green: Which turns out to be 17 and a half years.
David Dachinger: We're not pushing 100 years old but we're a little left of 50.
Tamara Green: So, we had already been through quite a bit with our relationship. So, by the time that David was diagnosed with stage four cancer, we had already reached a deep level of commitment and real love, real devotion. And so, with the cancer diagnosis, and four days prior to David being diagnosed with stage four cancer, our son … at the time he was 13 … he was diagnosed with Lyme Disease. So, there was a lot going on all at once.
Tamara Green: But after my initial freak-out because I was like what the hell is going on with our family? One week we're perfectly fine, perfectly healthy. And the next week I'm finding out that both of my guys are really, really sick. And I'm the caregiver. I need to pull myself together and just be there for them.
Tamara Green: And what I found in myself was something that I just didn't even know that I had or knew that I had and that was the ability to love my husband even more than I had before. And it came through in a just being so present. It wasn't that way when the diagnosis first came. I was kind of freaked out and not sleeping very well, kind of anxious, very worried, that sort of thing. But after a few weeks of going through hell inside of my own brain, I finally stopped myself and said come on, Tamara. If a client was asking you hey, all of this is going on, what should I do? Why don't I just follow my own advice and go back to the tools that have always worked for me like meditation and gratitude. So, that's what I started. And taking care of myself like going to yoga. So, that's what I started to do. And boy oh boy, I really became very, very present in every single moment which really does take love to a whole other level. Our relationship to a whole other level.
Melinda Wittstock: Both of you are using words like gratitude, being present, being able to receive. These are all things that I believe we need to succeed in life, to have a full life. Certainly, in entrepreneurship, the entrepreneurs that are most successful in business master these things in the end because entrepreneurship throws enough adversity at you, in the ups and downs of that rollercoaster ride in business, that it's almost like therapy. You know?
Tamara Green: Definitely.
Melinda Wittstock: If you want therapy, become an entrepreneur! And in your case, it's a different sort of adversity but it leads you to the same place. And then, of course, to overcome it, you've got to master these things.
David Dachinger: Right. And some of it, some of the gift, was using the tools and the cancer journey and realizing that we could pay that forward to others who were going through a similar journey and carry it over into a business where we could be of service and we could use all the things that we picked up on the way, the things that went right, the things that went wrong, the struggles, the challenges. And so, that moved forward with us when we created Loving Meditations. And so, it became the structure and the framework for how can we help people transmute their suffering into something that's more of a making friends with suffering or more of a presence.
David Dachinger: And so, we think that part of the beauty and the mission is to have them walk that walk, and now put ourselves in the shoes of people that are in need of something that's going to help them shift and make it a little easier. And so, it's always part of our mission to keep that in mind, to keep that at the forefront of what we're doing.
Melinda Wittstock: So, how was Loving Meditations created? Was it just something that you started doing together as part of the cancer cure, in essence? You started creating these loving meditations and then that grew into a business? Talk to me a little bit about how that all came to be.
Tamara Green: That's a great question and it's probably helpful to give a little bit of a backstory. So, I'm a psychotherapist and for about seven years prior to David's diagnosis, had a YouTube following where I would provide weekly, live meditations … I mean, weekly meditations that would be recorded. David would take my guided voice and then add his amazing music to it. And then, put that on the YouTube channel. So, that was going on.
Tamara Green: And then, when David got diagnosed, we were actually using the very thing that we were creating like guided meditations and imagery and video and that sort of thing to actually get through the experience with quite a bit of success. We stayed pretty calm for the most part. We certainly had our moments for sure.
Tamara Green: So fast forward, David's gone through radiation. He's gone through chemo. The last step for him was to have surgery. In the follow-up visit with the oncologist, he was telling David, and we were both in the room when he was saying this to David, “You know, you had really brutal treatment. And most people don't fare nearly as well as you did. And Tamara, you were so calm as a family member. You guys must have been doing something. What were you doing?” And then, that's when we told him that we'd been doing meditation and mindfulness tools and gratitude and other kinds of mind/body practices. And he said, “I want that for all of my patients.” He really lit up. And in that moment, David and I looked at each other and we just knew, a business is coming out of this. And that's when Loving Meditations was born.
Melinda Wittstock: It intrigues me that so many of the best businesses actually come from a personal struggle. Something that we've gone through at some point in our lives. Whether it is actually overcoming a disease like cancer or just something that happened to us as a kid, like a trauma of some kind. Or even just a lack or a gap or whatever. And we set out to solve that problem. And we can only solve the problem in business because we've been through it ourselves.
David Dachinger: True. And you could probably go so far as to say if it is a trauma that motivated or inspired the business, then maybe there's a healing effect to making that your mission. And in my case, I think it's important that it's enabled me to talk about not only the cancer experience but other parts of my life before cancer, before Loving Meditations.
David Dachinger: I was typically a very private person and so, I wouldn't have been crazy about having my picture out on a Facebook page or on videos. And I've really shifted. Now, I think it's been cathartic to tell the story over and over again to share it with people who are going through something similar and to be more visible. And I think doing the business together, with Tamara's support, because she's very helpful in getting me to feel comfortable doing some of these things that were outside of my comfort zone. It's been one of the gifts of doing the business and showing up and really wanting to do something for the community of people out there that are challenged with the cancer experience.
Melinda Wittstock: It's so challenging. I think of the toll that it takes on any family and how strong and brave you were, Tamara, as a caregiver to step into this. But you already had this expertise. How did it get you out of your comfort zone? How did it make you grow?
Tamara Green: That's a great, great question. I, typically, was not the one … I was the one that people turned to for help. And I typically was not the one that turned to others for help. And I did. It forced me. I had to, I had to. So, I did turn to my friends and I did say I need you to just listen and let me cry. And they would. Or I remember going to my yoga class and telling the instructor, if I start crying, will you just … don't ask me what's wrong. Just let me cry. Is that okay? And I did and she would come by and I would be holding a pose and she would come by with a tissue and pat my tears dry.
Tamara Green: I asked for things that I just never asked anybody for because I always thought I've got this. No problem. But I was definitely reaching my limit of what I could handle. So, I reached out for help.
Melinda Wittstock: Caregivers need caregivers.
Tamara Green: Mm-hmm (affirmative). Oh yeah. And caregivers, I call it the caregiver's syndrome, I run a weekly cancer caregivers support group and we laugh whenever I say this to the group. Oh, caregiver syndrome. When they talk about oh yeah, no, no. I'm fine. I'm fine. I don't need any help. I don't need any help. Ah, ah, ah, that's one of the … that's part of the caregiver syndrome where we don't want to ask for help. And that was definitely me in the beginning too. It wasn't easy at first but the more you practice it, the better you get.
Tamara Green: But yes, caregivers actually need somebody to care for them. And they need to, like David was talking about, they need to receive that help and ask for the help and then receive it.
Melinda Wittstock: Hmm, yeah. And it's often hard to … it's hard to ask for help. So, how did it change your relationship, all of this? It obviously brought you closer together going through something like this. But how did it change and what specifically changed in your relationship? And I ask this question because I think there are so many couples out there who could hear this and just start doing this now, not wait for a crisis to have to make them do it. You know? So, what are the main things where you think it really got strengthened and deepened?
David Dachinger: For sure, we've learned how to laugh at life and take things a little less seriously than before. We've had that gift throughout our marriage but this really makes everything, it gives you a different point of view where you know what? It's really not that seriously or this too shall pass or let's just not get mad or angry. We find ways to lighten up very easily.
David Dachinger: And second, at the spur of the moment, we'll throw on some funk music and start dancing. So, we've embraced getting a little more loose and moving our bodies more, having fun with that. And on a personal relationship level, the cancer experience, myself as the patient with Tamara as the caregiver, took our relationship to levels and depths that we just had never been to and some of that was her amazing transformation into a loving, present, giving partner and putting me in this position of receiving it and really embracing the gift that it was.
David Dachinger: And so, we've carried that forward too where I think I see her differently, appreciate her in a different way. It's kind of like the bond that someone might get if say you were in a war with someone or you've been in some extreme situation that you've survived with someone else. And you just share that experience together and somehow, it links you for the rest of your lives where you have just a common experience that's so deep and so meaningful that you're linked by it.
Melinda Wittstock: I can only imagine that deep bond, having gone through something like that. Is there a way, Tamara, for couples or sort of a best practice for couples and couple-preneurs in this case, to really practice being present. I love that you said the word present because so often I think relationships mess up and business relationships, even team leadership messes up, because people are living in the past or the future and not in the now.
Tamara Green: Yes. We, as entrepreneurs, are always striving, striving, striving, right? And I think the mistake that a lot of us make is we spend maybe 90-99% striving, striving. And there's not a balance of really looking at what you just achieved and being grateful or even giving yourself a pat on the back.
David Dachinger: Celebrating it.
Tamara Green: Yeah, celebrating it. So, if there is a balance between the striving and the … which is, of course, normal and natural for entrepreneurs … it really needs to be balanced with what you're grateful for or what you're happy about or celebrating your achievements. So, one of the things that David and I did during the cancer journey but we'd continued it every week since then is we love going out for long walks, like an hour or so, and we back and forth, back and forth, we spend that hour sharing with each other what we're grateful for, what we're happy about, what we're proud of.
Tamara Green: And something really shifts when you do that, especially if you're starting in a negative mood or disappointed or discouraged or things are moving too slow or whatever. You go into gratitude for an hour, trust me, it's going to completely shift your perspective. So, if you do that as a practice, especially as a couple … excuse me … it not only helps your business but it certainly helps you. It's a self-care tool, and then also, your relationship.
Melinda Wittstock: How do you balance everything? Take me through your day and how that works now with this business you have … and we're going to get a little bit more into the business and where that's going in a moment … but what are your daily practices in how you run the business together and how you balance business versus romance and parenting and all the other things that come with life?
David Dachinger: Well, that's an incredible challenge because no two days are the same and although we strive to have a consistency, I think part of our consistency is doing it different from a daily basis.
David Dachinger: But if it was a perfect day, we would have a team meeting in the morning after we've had our breakfast and some kind of workout and get organized for what's to come. And then, we split off and do our own thing. So, I tend to do more of the creative stuff, creating the videos, the music. And Tamara does a lot of the writing and creates material for group work and for some of our … we're creating a series called Behind the Scenes, so she's writing scripts for that.
David Dachinger: And so, some of it is recognizing what our strengths are and spending time with that. And then, assigning each other parts of the projects that we're best at doing, and not going to get too frustrated by. So, if it's something that's technical, it's probably going to go into my in basket. And if it's something that's a little more writing oriented or research or people oriented, that will probably go into Tamara's in basket.
David Dachinger: And then, there's the things that neither of us like to do and we're … that could be, say, sales where we tend to do it together because we support each other very well. So, when we're going outside of our comfort zone, and if I'm starting to get into a negative self-talk, Tamara is great at getting me back on track and instilling confidence. Or we'll consult each other with a problem and together we seem to be successful finding practical and positive solutions to them.
Tamara Green: I would love to add something to that as well because we both have a practice of gratitude almost every day, meditation. And like he said, we start off the day with some kind of body movement where I'm doing yoga or going on power walks. He's walking with me or running or doing weight training. We're very much dedicated to these practices that we've had in place.
Tamara Green: And I want to say this for those couples and entrepreneurs who don't have this kind of practice, you can start even with just one minute of deep breathing. Just focus on your breath in and out. That is going to take you a long way and then, before you know it, that feels so good, you're going to take two minutes. You don't have to have these practices in place now in order for you to start something, even if it's going outside and just noticing what's going on in nature, anything like that can really help to start a great day in presence or gratitude.
Melinda Wittstock: Oh gosh, so true. I think of my miracle morning and how they have evolved over time. Because they started out with yeah, just a little bit of breathing, some yoga. And then, there was meditation. And then, there was this whole gratitude practice. And then, there was this whole intention setting thing. And then, there was all these other things. Right? And now, I just don't know what I would do without that practice.
Melinda Wittstock: And if I miss it for any reason, travel or something, my whole day gets out of whack. I really, really notice a difference very, very quickly.
Tamara Green: So true.
Melinda Wittstock: So, what are some of the biggest challenges in your business. Talk to me a little bit about the business model and how it all works and what is easy, what's in flow, and what's hard about it.
David Dachinger: Sure. So we're bootstrapping this and we're going on three years old, started in 2016. So, the biggest challenges were really initially trying to do it all ourselves and starting to realize where our boundaries were that we just didn't have the skills or the talent to cover certain areas. So, in a great way, we've connected with some brilliant, really stellar people who are coming on board our team to handle parts of it and especially helping us to get a bigger picture. We tend to get so focused on the daily and creating the next meditation or the next feature for the app, and now we've been able to pull back and look at the business in more of a global sense and more of a time sense. Like what's our next quarter, our next six months, our next year, what's part of that mission going to look like?
David Dachinger: And in a very exciting way, we've also, because this came out of a challenge, we, either Tamara or myself, were creating and voicing the meditations. And we literally stopped creating them because of lack of time. And so, we found that the solution to that was to start to collaborate with others who are amazing meditation facilitators or thought leaders and bringing them onboard in a win/win model where we can support them and promote them and cross promote them and feature them. And they can also take what they've created with us and use it in their world.
David Dachinger: So, now we've been in a beautiful flow with really, really inspiring meditation facilitators and other thought leaders who are doing short meditations, medium length meditations, long ones, and even in Spanish and English. So, they've added a new flavor and they've taken the problem of not being able to create content and now we actually have a backlog of content. So, that's been a beautiful thing.
David Dachinger: And also looking at some of the traditional business pieces like what you would typically call a funnel, that really would be a turnoff to us being kind of not sales people. But we're working with someone who repurposed it and called it an ascension model. So, instead of looking at it like here's this funnel. We're going to get these leads and start pushing them down through the funnel. This actually has a reverse perspective of we're going to grow from the basic offering all the way up to a more highly valuable and evolved offering. I think what we're really grateful about is turning some of the challenges into a beautiful solution that's improved what we're doing.
Melinda Wittstock: And so, where do you both visualize the business being, say, 10 years from now?
Tamara Green: We do have a big vision on Loving Meditations. We see ourselves making a big difference for those going through cancer treatment or living with cancer, because so many people are living with cancer for many, many years. And we want them to know that they really do have control over their attitude around their big life challenge called cancer, whether it's from a patient, caregiver, or survivor perspective.
Tamara Green: So, 10 years down the line we can see ourselves … well, we're already around the globe. Our app is in well over 35 countries at this point.
Melinda Wittstock: Wow, congratulations. That's awesome.
Tamara Green: Yeah, thank you. But it's this wellness epidemic. We envision a world where people access their natural wisdom and resiliency to actually architect a joyful life through self-care and loving themselves, loving kindness, which then in turn unleashes a worldwide epidemic of wellness.
Melinda Wittstock: I love that. A worldwide epidemic of wellness.
Melinda Wittstock: what is the kind of feedback that you get from people? Is it mostly people who have cancer or has it gone beyond that to other things that people suffer from either in health or I could see applications who are going through relationship issues or money problems or all sorts of things.
Tamara Green: It is across the board. I would say most people are chiming in, they're downloading our app, or we have something else called Waiting Room TV. We actually call it Loving Meditations TV. It's beautiful, environmental TV for waiting rooms.
David Dachinger: One of the exciting things that we're playing with right now and this has applications outside of the world of cancer, is virtual groups or like weekly support groups online. And we are going to create that for cancer and caregivers but really it could be applied to any … this model can be applied to any group or any challenge like addiction or people with PTSD, people that are dealing with challenges that could be relationship challenges. So, we see that as groundbreaking because of the technology that we're all embracing on a daily basis and it's enabling us to connect with people long distance kind of like we're connecting with you today. So, the ramifications of doing this online group work, it's very exciting. It really breaks the barriers of time and distance.
Melinda Wittstock: So, Tamara and David, you have such a beautiful vision and this is helping so many people, it has so many ways in which it can scale. And of course, it's brought you together too, and you're such an inspiration. I want to make sure that everyone knows how to find you both and work with you and get their hands on some Loving Meditations.
David Dachinger: Sure. Our main website which carries all the information is lovingmeditations.com. And the direct website for the app is calmcancerstress.com. So, that's C-A-L-M cancerstress.com. And we're out there on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn.
Tamara Green: And YouTube.
Melinda Wittstock: Everywhere. Well, fantastic. And all of that will be in the show notes so for any of you listening to this episode as you're driving, don't feel like you've got to … just go to the show notes at 10xtogether.com.
Melinda Wittstock: And I just want to thank you both so much for joining me today on 10X Together.
David Dachinger: It was our pleasure, Melinda. We're really happy to talk with you and we look forward to more great stuff.
Tamara Green: Yeah, this was delightful. Thank you so much.