Sought after by parents and even the United Nations, Tammy Lelie Skinner offers peace, presence and the opportunity to manage your emotions in any situation with her 7 Floors to Balance® program.
This straightforward system works for kids and adults and Tammy’s mission of peace is exactly what makes her Mindful Maverick material – I mean, imagine giving your child a set of tools they can use whenever they are feeling angry, disappointed, sad, overtired, overwhelmed, or anxious so that they can self-regulate those feelings. I know you all feel me when I say if everyone could do that, it would change the world! It’s certainly helped both the child and the parents in my crazy family. So welcome our latest Mindful Maverick and learn more about the 7 Floors To Balance…
- What’s your mission? Tell us about your organization/business.
My mission can be easily sized up through a quote by Dolly Parton -“I always just thought if you see somebody without a smile, give ‘em yours!” I relate to that because in a way, giving others a smile felt like my calling since I was very young. It always caused me a lot of pain to see others suffer and I felt a deep drive to do something about it whether it was through songwriting, leading yoga retreats for adults and kids or volunteering throughout college as a camp counselor for underprivileged kids. It was in 2010 when I first moved to Sonoma County and subsequently got hired as the resident Kids Yoga and Kundalini Yoga instructor at the renowned Solage Spa in Calistoga that I first started creating a program to use to help children and adults develop emotional resilience and self-empowerment.
After doing much research with the children especially, I identified 7 basic feelings that correspond to each energy center in the body which also corresponds with endocrine glands. I also saw that when parents tended to be stuck on the “mad” floor in their body that their children would match that as their energy would get stuck on the same floor. The analogy of an elevator to represent the Kundalini (energy at the seat of the spine) seemed to be a metaphor that resonated with my kid clients because what kid does not love elevators or elevator buttons?
After some trial and error, I pinpointed precise tools that would help children and adults create the opposite feeling state inside their body, so if they were feeling angry by pressing the magic elevator button on the 3rd floor (doing the yogic tool), they would get unstuck and move their elevator up to the 7th floor! Thus began the birth of my signature experiential program, 7 Floors to Balance®, which fulfills a need for practical and instant tools to achieve emotional well-being. Today it is a lead program for the U.N. designated Culture of Peace Education Program (CPEP) and serves as a globally available experiential program which helps people of all ages and from all walks of life identify what metaphoric floor they are stuck on emotionally and gain instant/practical tools to access peace of mind and joy along with gaining feelings of self-compassion, empathy, self-esteem and a sense of connection with others.
7 Floors to Balance® is noted for its versatility and universal use for (and is currently being implemented in) all industries including education, entertainment, business, Health & Wellness and more.
In my work with children, I travel to schools and train classrooms at a time or entire school districts on my program. I also work with children in 1 on 1 and have many families that hire me to teach them together so they may have a healthy emotional paradigm to work from. In my work with adults, I go more in depth using a signature guided imagery and yogic breathing technique to release deeply embedded fears that have acted as limiting filters throughout your life. I have done everything from facilitating workshops, 1 on 1 sessions and doing speaking engagements. All my work involves imparting practical tools for self-care and instant mood elevation while also creating feelings of being secure, playful, confident, loved, heard, inspired and more. Clients experience a direct knowing that they are not their thoughts and their feelings but rather that they have them and just as easy as it is to have them it is just as easy to let them go.
- How long did it take you to reach important milestones in your business or organization?
Although I had been teaching the program unofficially in different capacities throughout the years it wasn’t until October 2015 that I went full steam ahead and launched it as a business. It was 8 months after that date that I secured my first contract with the Guerneville School District and had the opportunity to train all students from TK-8th grade along with the staff. This proved to be important as it proved to be a very strategic partnership and caught the interest of other organizations that I was able to get my program in a public school and supplying tools for bully prevention, emotional resilience and self-calming in a secular fashion.
- Tell us about the “start-up scares”: Was there a moment where you ever seriously contemplated quitting?
Yes and it was because I was feeling overwhelmed and that I was being called by this mission that just felt too grand and impossible to reach. The turning point came in a conversation with a spiritual teacher who told me that the world is waiting and so eager for my work and that the fear that was holding me back came from a deep seated fear of abandonment that had been passed on to me from my mother. When I got clear on this blind spot that I had had all these years that was holding me back, I was able to let it go and it freed up so much energy that had been stuck and attracting opportunities that hadn’t been feeling in alignment with my greater vision which really was to bring about global peace first by imparting it in the hearts of individuals with the goal of it spreading outward into the larger communities. This helped me not feel so overwhelmed and also aided the momentum into attracting alignment with Pathways to Peace (UN Peace Messenger) which eventually ended up in me being asked to forming a partnership with them and having 7 Floors to Balance® become a lead program in their UN designated Culture of Peace Education Program!
- Did you ever “fail” or make a substantial mistake in business or organization? Any serious Challenges? How did you overcome and resolve it?
I am 100 % the type of person who doesn’t believe in failure being a negative thing; rather I see it as an opportunity for growth. A most recent challenge that I did have to overcome was in the form of getting better at boundary setting which is definitely a muscle that I need practice at. The challenge came in the form of a potential partner that I was about to enter into negotiations with and it came to my attention that this person was not in integrity and had a reputation for poor people management. My passion for what I do and deeper calling and commitment to my brand helped me to make the easy decision of inching away from that partnership in an honest and communicative way which is something that I strive for. I learned that clear and honest communication that comes from a place of calm and a full heart is always well received. So that was a nice growth opportunity.
- What’s the most impactful action you’ve taken to reach your goal/s?
I was in a health spa buying lavender sachets one day chatting with the manager and she had mentioned that she had raised her kids in Guerneville and that they had all gone to Guerneville School. So I mentioned how I had taught my program to the after school program there and her face lit up as she told me she had heard about it and that she happened to be on the school board and asked if it would be okay if she passed my info along to the new superintendent who had just been hired. I followed up right away sending her a school proposal and subsequently I received an email directly from the superintendent asking me for a meeting. The rest was history.
I really believe that one of the most impactful first action steps that I took was securing a partnership with a public school district and not only gaining the trust of the superintendent and principal but also in gaining the credibility that it lent to the program itself. Another impactful experience has been my relationship with Avon Mattison who is the founder of Pathways To Peace (PTP), which is an International Peacebuilding, Educational and Consulting organization dedicated to making peace a practical reality through both local and global projects. Incorporated in 1983, PTP is an official Peace Messenger of the United Nations and has Consultative Status with the United Nations Economic and Social Council and works with the U.N. Centre for Human Rights, U.N. Centre for Human Settlements, UNESCO, UNICEF and other agencies.
Founder of PTP, Avon Mattison, developed the Culture of Peace Initiative (CPI) with then-Assistant Secretary General of the United Nations Robert Muller in 1983. The annual highlight of this initiative is the International Day of Peace (Peace Day), held annually on September 21. When Avon Mattison called to tell me that my program inspired her to revive the Culture of Peace Education Program she started in 1984 and then asked to have 7 Floors to Balance® be a lead program for it as well as a partner I was dumbfounded and jumping up for joy at the same time. It has been so fun to witness the development of our newfound partnership unfold every day. The collective and supportive energy in our upward spiral light brigade inspires and energizes me!
- What would you tell your younger/earlier self? Any piece of advice?
I would have told younger Tammy to stop trying to control my circumstances so much and to definitely not try to please everyone because in trying to please everyone, you end up pleasing no one. I would have told myself to surrender more to life rather than trying to figure out what it’s all about or to fix other people or their problems because what others needed from me more than anything was more “presence” and “attention” not being stuck in my head trying to figure it all out. I definitely would have told myself that in the end all that matters in life are your relationships with the people you love and that everything and I mean everything else is secondary. Time is the most precious commodity and our time with the ones we love is not limitless even though we are sold in our consumer culture that the opportunities in life itself can be. Yes, that’s true but in the end it’s the time and memories you spend with people you love that fills the heart with the lifetime kind of satisfaction.
- What the best advice YOU’VE ever received about pursuing your vision?
I have a few golden nuggets of advice I received that I keep secure in my heart. The first piece came from a lifelong SHEro of mine, Jeraldine Saunders, who created The Love Boat TV series. In fact, the show was based on her real life experiences as the first ever female cruise director aboard a luxury liner. We became quick friends after I gushed to her how much her TV show had impacted my childhood and my love for telling stories! She taught me two very important things. First, she said to never turn down an invitation that comes your way as you never know what next great opportunity you will miss out on. Or for that matter who you’ll meet that can change the course of your life (this includes romantic interests!). If anything, I’m a good listener so I took that advice to heart and I have always surrendered to the knowing that an opportunity may present itself out of every and any conversation and to always be on the lookout and be receptive. Another golden nugget was delivered courtesy of David Goldhill who was the former president of Universal Television Group and a mentor of mine. He told me that not using my gifts was the equivalent of saying “no thank you” to God and crossing your arms but rather he encouraged me to metaphorically stretch out my arms in surrender and to say “thank you” for what I had been given and to use those gifts for my greater purpose. I never forgot that advice and it has always stayed with me keeping the ember burning. The last nugget came from Avon Mattison in a sweet and encouraging conversation we had around the time we met. She told me that money is love concretized. I have found this to be so true because my driving force and motivation every morning I wake up is my love for people and seeing them smile especially when that smile is elicited from a face that normally experiences suffering, hardship, loneliness and fear.
- Has having success in your business/organization or money changed you? In what ways?
The success that 7 Floors to Balance® experiences is not mine. It belongs to all the children, teens and adults I’ve worked with throughout the last 7 years who inspired me with their vulnerability and surrender. Any success that I’ve experienced has not changed me because as I share with my clients through a verse in my song (that is sung at the end of the program and also weaves and anchors all the tools with movement), “Joy, balance, peace and calm. That is who I am. That is who I am. That is who WE are”
- How do you create, innovate or break the rules in your life/business/organization?
As I may have already hinted at I am a big fan of Dolly Parton and always admired her optimistic attitude, good business sense and never giving up the integrity on her brand. I recently came across a quote from her which says, “You gotta keep trying to find your niche and trying to fit into whatever slot that’s left for you or to make one of your own”. I make my own. Early on I learned not to feel limited by being female but rather to embrace the strengths that intuitive ingenuity of a woman can bring to any situation. In my business and in life, I create, innovate AND break the rules by embracing that intuitive ingenuity and using it as my scepter. Playing in any worthwhile game whether it’s a video game or in real life means having a basic understanding of the rules but also knowing that the real secret to getting the “1-up” always requires an innovative and ingénue mindset that leads to discovering new worlds and making YOUR OWN NICHE as good ole Dolly would advise! I saw a need and I wanted to fulfill it so I did. My dad is an inventor and I grew up in a family where your innovative ideas were encouraged and celebrated. As a little girl, he would tell me stories about his childhood and it was painfully obvious that his entire life was colored by his experience fleeing Holland as a young boy just before Amsterdam became Nazi occupied. My dad’s family broke rules to survive and that lesson did get passed down to me so for that I’m grateful. My life is a canvas and as cheesy as it sounds I feel I break the rules by not believing in the rules but rather believing in my vision for the greater good of mankind and people.
- Tell us about your most successful launch. What was it for and what really moved the needle for you to make it a success?
My most successful launch to date was my 7 Floors to Balance®, training program I designed for teachers and students. It includes a personal training from me (for staff and students), a training manual and visual diagram for teachers/counselors to display in the classroom. What I believe moved the needle for me to make it a success and set it apart was the ability to market effectively to my target audience. With children, I know that I have to be entertaining and present things in a simple enough matter that’s also engaging and fun while also appealing to the kinesthetic, visual and auditory learners. Of course, it can get tricky when you are facing different grade levels but my experience as a French teacher and afterschool program director lent me the knowledge of how important a role my improv skills play when it comes to children and learning to go with the flow of their energy levels, interest, etc. For teens and adults, I am able to format the message in a different way that still engages them but also provides more scientific data to engage their more fully developed brains that need more back up explanations. Feedback on the school/classroom trainings have been wonderful with teachers reporting back to me that students who could never focus long enough to begin doing their schoolwork are now not only beginning it without being asked but completing it. Children who were being bullied are now confidently standing up to the bullying and gaining their own grounding. As a mother of two young girls, I want to feel comfortable knowing that I did everything that I could to make the world a better place for them and all the children who will grow up to be stewards of this beautiful planet. When I reflect on the advice from David Goldhill and him referring to my gifts I still recall wondering what he meant by that. Today I think I know. I have always had a curiosity about people and loved hearing their stories. I believe that an important ingredient for success in life is being a great listener. Not a good one but a GREAT one not only because the advice coming from others who have flown in the cockpit of success in their particular fields is priceless. But also because in the listening is when you are truly giving your gift of “presence” to another and it is in that gift that their own presence is activated. Today, I stand with arms outstretched saying a big loud THANK YOU with the understanding that I’ve found a calling that excites and motivates me enough to dream big and keep plugging. For you. For me. And for our children.
- Stevie Wonder or The Beatles? (this, I must know.)
The Beatles baby!!! And more specifically John Lennon (swoon)
Note from Jen: I begrudgingly accept that answer. 🙂
Former resident yoga/meditation instructor at the renowned Solage Spa, Tammy Lelie Skinner is the creator of the globally available U.N. Culture of Peace Education program, 7 Floors to Balance®. Noted for its ability to provide instant transformation and mood elevation as well as its versatility and universal use for children and adults, 7 Floors to Balance® provides easy tools to achieve peace on-demand by helping individuals identify what metaphoric floor they are stuck on emotionally to access peace of mind and joy along with gaining feelings of self-compassion, empathy, self-esteem and a sense of connection with others. It is currently being implemented in all industries including education, entertainment, business, Health & Wellness and more. https://www.facebook.com/7floorstobalance