The Mindful Coach



Get ready to hear inspiring stories, learn powerful coaching skills, stay updated on the latest technology, and gain insights from conscious marketing experts. Tune in to ‘The Mindful Coach’ podcast with host Brett Hill as he interviews an incredible lineup of coaches and helping professionals in the The Mindful Coach Association community.

Are you a coach or helping professionals who values mindfulness in life and work? Meet your colleagues in weekly meetings, list your services and who knows? You could be a guest on the show! Free membership.

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I always just say, start from where you’re at and begin again. So wherever you’re at, you can be mindful. And when you disconnect, you begin again and come back to this moment. – Theresa Kulikowski Gillespie

Theresa Kulakowski-Gillespie, a former gymnast and three-time NCAA champion at the University of Utah, joins us as a guest on the podcast.

Her unique journey, from being an Olympic alternate to navigating chronic illnesses, has led her to become a mindfulness meditation teacher.

With a deep passion for sharing the foundations and benefits of mindfulness, awareness, compassion, and love, Theresa focuses on supporting high achievers in sports, military, and professional settings.

Her personal experiences and dedication to helping others build resilience and well-being through mindfulness practices make her an invaluable guest for this episode.

You can connect with Theresa at

Plus, don’t miss her youtube channel!


00:00:01 - Brett Hill

So hello and welcome to this edition of the Mindful Coach podcast. I'm your host, Brett Hill, and we have a really special guest here today, Theresa Kulakowski Gillespie. She has an incredible story. She was a gymnast and she was in the 1996 Olympics as an alternate and three times NCAA champion at the University of Utah. She struggled with an identity loss situation, which a lot of us have been through similar situations. But this is so intense, particularly for professional athletes because they're so, you know, somatically and their whole body isn't in there. We have to really be committed to because, I mean, think about what it takes to perform at that level is something not many people can actually are called to do. And even if you are, being able to do is a whole other thing so suddenly that needs to go away after so much time or often, sometimes due to injury or just time. And so we're going to hear about that from her and her pivot, her transition from that. Also struggling with adapting to several chronic illnesses as well. And this eventually moved her to becoming a mindfulness meditation teacher, where she's really deeply passionate about teaching others the foundations and the tools and the benefits of mindfulness awareness, compassion and inside of it all, love, right? That's amazing. And she's currently in West Point, where she lives with her husband, who works at the West Point Academy as a professor there. And she has a nine year old son and she's founded fit into it. I love that. Fit into it. Does that fit into it? Yes, it does. And she's a holistic wellness performance consulting business focused on bringing introspective tools such as mindfulness and meditation. And a lifestyle prescription. That's one of my favorite phrases I've heard all month. A lifestyle prescription to high achievers, meaning athletes and military populations and people who are really, really trying to get that last five, 1% out, five to 1% out of their lives. And the things you have to do whenever you're at that level of performance can be very challenging. So welcome to the show, Theresa, thank.

00:02:16 - Theresa Kulikowski-Gillespie

You so much for having me. I'm really looking forward to being here.

00:02:20 - Brett Hill

So great. I know when we first talked about this and I just, something in me just kind of resonated with what does it mean to be someone who's done such. I don't know, what is to say, almost like you're all in, particularly with athletics, where you're just so, your body is just so in it and you're just driving, driving to a level of performance that most people have never experienced and then that goes away. What in, you know, your ground just kind of shakes. So you've been through an experience, so tell us a little bit about that story and, you know, how you got called into gymnastics and then, you know, your shift out of that.

00:03:07 - Theresa Kulikowski-Gillespie

Well, my call into gymnastics was actually, my dad was in the army and we lived over in Germany on a little military base over there. And my older sister was doing gymnastics and I was two and a half, and you had to be three to start the classes. But I. I kept running in on my older sister's classes, and so the coach finally said, fine, just let her start. And so just let her start because she can't show it up because she keeps running in. So at two and a half, I started gymnastics. And I can honestly say it was my first love for sure. I mean, I slept in my leotard, I lived in my grips and my beam shoes, and I watched gymnastics. If I wasn't at the gym, I played gymnastics at home. And, yeah, I just loved it. And when I was four, we moved back to Colorado, or moved over to Colorado from Germany, and we watched the 1984 Olympics. So that's when I saw Mary Lou Retton win the Olympics. And I basically made it up in my little four year old mind that I was going to do the same thing. And so 1996 was my Olympic dream. I knew I was going to be 16 at that time. And so, yeah, I mean, like, fast forward. Twelve years, I. Twelve years of hard work. Twelve years of hard work. Yeah, yeah. Hard work, dedication. I mean, hours upon hours in the gym leading up to the Olympic trials, I was actually homeschooling because we had to work out twice a day. So we worked out in the morning and we worked out in the evening, and I made it to the Olympic trials. And I actually finished 6th at the Olympic trials, and they took seven on the team. So I officially made the team. But what happened was there were two athletes who had petitioned their score from the previous competition, and so I was bumped to eight. So I was named the official Olympic alternate. Yeah. Which was a very bittersweet experience, and it then gave me the possibility of competing collegiately. So I accepted a full ride scholarship to compete at the University of Utah. And that's where I became an NCAA all around champion and a balance team champion. And I met amazing friends and I had a lot of fun doing gymnastics. Gymnastics. So I did that, actually, for five years. And then at the age of 23, you know, my last year in college, gymnastics was very, very hard. I struggled a lot with injuries. They found a tumor on my spinal cord, and it was just a very, very. Yeah, I was kind of falling apart in body and mind, and I was burned out. So when I was 23, I was done. And then I really struggled because, you know, gymnastics was the only thing that I knew. It was the only thing that I remembered from the time that I was two and a half years old and I was Theresa the gymnast. And so when I no longer had that, I really struggled. I struggled with the depression, anxiety, identity loss. So it was hard, and I felt very lost. I didn't really feel like I had the tools that I needed to navigate that process. And that was actually kind of what got me into things like mindfulness and meditation. That was like the first little tipping point of maybe I should try this out.

00:06:33 - Brett Hill

So was it like, all of a sudden that, you know, like, you were in the gym and now you're not? You know, it's kind of. Or was it more of a transition? Like, was there a moment where you just had to, like, I can't do this anymore. I'm. I don't know why.

00:06:50 - Theresa Kulikowski-Gillespie

In college, gymnastics, I was still doing college. So I actually graduated in 2002, but I had what was called a fifth year because I had torn my Acl my sophomore year of college. So I had a medical hardship. So I had this fifth year where I was doing some pre physical therapy requirements and so, still going to school, and I finished out that season. Yeah, but. But it was that season where they found the tumor and. Yeah, and so the last thing that I did in gymnastics was actually tear my rotator cuff on bars. Yeah. I didn't see double as. And so that's how it all ended, because competition was over.

00:07:34 - Brett Hill

I see. And so that. So when school was over, that was it then. Right. And that was it. And so now it's like. Like you said, so. Well, like, I was Theresa the gymnast, and now I'm Teresa, but I don't know who that is because it's not the gymnast anymore.

00:07:52 - Theresa Kulikowski-Gillespie


00:07:53 - Brett Hill

And that. And then you. You had us like, what do I do? Who am I now? And how did that. How long did that period last? And how did you get introduced to. I think we kind of know. You know, mindfulness was a benefit for you at some point. And how did that come into your life?

00:08:13 - Theresa Kulikowski-Gillespie

Well, you know, I go back to when I was actually a teenager. I read the way of the Peaceful warrior by Dan Millman.

00:08:21 - Brett Hill

Oh, yeah.

00:08:21 - Theresa Kulikowski-Gillespie

And that kind of planted a seed of. Okay, there's maybe also about a gymnast, right? Yeah. Yeah. He was a world champion gymnast, I think, actually. Yeah. So I had read that, and then in college, I was really struggling, and I read the art of Happiness by the Dalai Lama. And so those two books had kind of planted these seeds in my psyche of mindfulness meditation, like alternative ways that weren't so hard charging. And so I remembered those. And so once I was out and I was really struggling, I started seeking that a little bit more. You know, I started looking into Jack Kornfield and Tara Brock and John Kebat Zinn, and I would just read their books and I would do their meditations. And I remember very specifically laying on my bed just doing body scan practices. And can I just connect with the feelings in my feet? And can I do it without judging what's there, you know?

00:09:20 - Brett Hill

Well, that and. Right. And that's really the hard part, particularly. I mean, this is impressive because you're on your own. It's not, you know, it's hard enough to do whenever you have a trained facilitator, but you're just reading a book going, oh, now I'm going to do a body scan meditation. That's.

00:09:33 - Theresa Kulikowski-Gillespie

Yeah, yeah. But I. Yeah, I guess I would say Enric Hanson because he brought a lot of the neuroscience into it. And I would say that being an athlete and being kind of, like, into science, I needed a little bit of that validation of, like, okay, this isn't just some kind of woo woo practice. Like, there's actually brain science behind how this is going to help you.

00:09:59 - Brett Hill

Right? Because, you know, the peaceful warrior is a really good book, but there's a. You know, there's a lot of woo in that, which is great. And I'm all about the woo as well. But I'm like you. I'm a technical technologist. You know, I worked at Microsoft, and I've been involved with technology from before way too long, let's just say that. And so I'm all about the science as well. So I really. We have a big crossover there. That's great. So that the neurological aspects of it helped you kind of say yes in some way.

00:10:33 - Theresa Kulikowski-Gillespie

Yeah. I think because I wanted to be a physical therapist, I eventually changed my course. But I had taken anatomy and physiology, and I loved learning about the body. So when I read Rick Hanson's books and he was talking about how, like, Buddha's brain, I think about that.

00:10:53 - Brett Hill

Yeah, yeah, yeah.

00:10:54 - Theresa Kulikowski-Gillespie

And like, okay, the amygdala becomes quieter or the hippocampus becomes more activated. And to me, that just really resonated. With me and. And help me understand it and maybe be more willing to give it a try. Like a dedicated try.

00:11:11 - Brett Hill

Mm hmm. Mm hmm. Like, yeah, there's some science here. It's not just a spiritual practice adapted to, you know, the common man, but there's actually something behind this. So you're experimenting with that, and you learned the neuroscience, and then what happened?

00:11:28 - Theresa Kulikowski-Gillespie

So then I went to pa school because I took a couple of years off, and that's when I kind of, like, struggled with.

00:11:34 - Brett Hill

Can you help us out with the initial PA school?

00:11:38 - Theresa Kulikowski-Gillespie

Oh, physician assistant.

00:11:40 - Brett Hill

Okay. Thank you.

00:11:41 - Theresa Kulikowski-Gillespie

Yep, yep. So I took a couple years off, and then I became a physician assistant, and I. That's a two year schooling, and I was just, like, really struggling with anxiety and fear, and so I was relying upon these practices a little bit more. And then.

00:11:58 - Brett Hill

I want to interrupt you just a second. You were having anxiety and fear. Was this about the job, like, performance in the job, or was this related to just general generalized anxiety?

00:12:09 - Theresa Kulikowski-Gillespie

Yeah, it was just. I mean, I had always lived with anxiety, so I always had to have, like, the performance tools to help me with relaxation. But. But in pa school, it was really anxiety around speaking out and, like, asking questions in class and. Oh, yeah, I had horrible speaking anxiety.

00:12:29 - Brett Hill

Oh, well, that's interesting, because, you know, it's like, it's so. That really catches my attention, because as a gymnast, you know, your body, your performance is on display, you know, and being scored by judges and the audience and there. And it matters, and the team wants to win. There's so much pressure.

00:12:50 - Theresa Kulikowski-Gillespie


00:12:50 - Brett Hill

But you're so. It's so interesting to me, because while that's true, you don't have to say anything.

00:12:57 - Theresa Kulikowski-Gillespie

Right. I was much more. Well, yeah. So I definitely had to work on that piece. I had to work on the relaxation and the visualization and all of that for performance anxiety. And I was confident in myself and my. My ability to perform through my body. But I had always been self conscious about my voice. Like, as a kid, I had a deeper voice. People thought I sounded like a boy. Yeah. So I just had, like, fear around my voice, and I still had it as an adult. And so every time I was in class, like, we had a really small class of 36 people, and we were in there from eight to five every day. And, you know, there was a lot of conversation, and there were a lot of opportunities to speak up, but I was always just anxious about it. So, yeah, I mean, I think I relied upon the tools of meditation a little bit through that time. Some of it was just, let's survive this and get through the day, please.

00:14:01 - Brett Hill

Yeah, exactly.

00:14:02 - Theresa Kulikowski-Gillespie

Yeah, let's just get through. And then, you know, I got. Or I finished Pa school, and I worked a couple years as a civilian pa, and then I joined the army. So at 29 years old, I took a direct commission into the army. And initially, I actually felt okay. I didn't really deal with a whole lot of anxiety, but once we deployed, this was in 2010, we deployed to Iraq, and I was the medical provider, so I was, like, the go to person if something happened and.

00:14:32 - Brett Hill


00:14:33 - Theresa Kulikowski-Gillespie

Carry my little pager. Yeah, I had to carry a pager around everywhere I went. And so because that was pretty distributed.

00:14:41 - Brett Hill

There in a lot of ways, if I recall. Yeah, no, you're gonna get a call about it, you know, an IUD incident, like, you know, 100 miles away, so on call. Wow, that's. That sounds so stressful. And I'm making up this scenario. I have no idea what your reality was like.

00:14:59 - Theresa Kulikowski-Gillespie

It was stressful. Yeah. I mean, compared to, say, what my husband had to go through, my situation was not nearly as stressful because we had a very built up area. My husband was, like, stirring poop, you know, like, they lived away from everybody for months at a time. But I was on a very built up military base. We had a combat support hospital, so fortunately, I had a. We had a lot of support, so it wasn't, like, solely on me to, you know, take care of everybody. But I definitely, like, I remember laying in my chew, which is the little unit that you lay in, that you sleep in. And I was just, like, holding my heart the whole first night there because I was so scared. And, like, I can do this. I can get through this. And I got through it.

00:15:48 - Brett Hill

I can feel it when you're doing that. My mirror neurons are firing over.

00:15:54 - Theresa Kulikowski-Gillespie

Yeah, yeah. And I relied a lot upon things like meditation and mindfulness and just, like, some breathing and a lot of the self compassion work that I had practiced before, I relied upon that. So instead of judging myself for being afraid over there, it was just kind of like, okay, can I hold this with some compassion?

00:16:15 - Brett Hill

Yeah. Because it is objectively stressful, you know? Yeah. So that's beautiful. So you were there, did. Just as a little side note, did anybody notice you were doing these things or make any comments about the way you were managing yourself?

00:16:33 - Theresa Kulikowski-Gillespie

No, there were only a couple people who really knew about it, because, interestingly, right before I deployed, I had taken guided visualization training. So, like, helping people with visualization and imagery and my company commander and my battalion exo were actually kind of interested in it, so I did a couple of guided imagery sessions with them. So not mindfulness meditation per se, but, like, guiding them through. Let's imagine that you're in a relaxing place, you know? And so, yeah, there were a couple people who were interested, but most of the time I was just doing it in the privacy of my little tiny trailer.

00:17:19 - Brett Hill

That sounds great that you had those resources there. So how long did that deployment last?

00:17:28 - Theresa Kulikowski-Gillespie

I was over there for nine months.

00:17:31 - Brett Hill

And then you came back home or.

00:17:36 - Theresa Kulikowski-Gillespie

Yeah, well, I was over there for about nine months, and then I had what's called r and r, which is rest and recovery. Came back home for two weeks, and then I actually went back for two weeks and then came home for good. So why they gave me that final rest and recovery, I don't know. But, yeah, I ended up, after about nine months, coming back home for good with my unit, with some of my unit.

00:18:02 - Brett Hill

And so somehow, then this transitions to you helping other people learn the same kind of skills that you've learned to use to help navigate transitions and high achievers.

00:18:17 - Theresa Kulikowski-Gillespie

Yeah. And it's kind of evolved over the years because when I got back from Iraq, while I was in Iraq, I had a weird reaction to the anthrax shot, and I got a very weird virus. And so when I came back from Iraq, I was slowly losing my health. So, like, within a year of redeploying, I was not able to really work out anymore, and I was noticeably getting just kind of sick. And. And then I had my son. And so, basically, in 2014, my whole system, like, kind of crashed. And, I mean, talk about identity loss. I mean, I struggled with identity loss after leaving gymnastics, but then I was, like, bedridden, and I didn't know what was going on. I was terrified. I had to leave my job, and here I am, a new mom. And so I was, like, really, really suffering. And the tools of mindfulness and meditation were kind of my saving grace, along with all the support that I was getting. But being able to just know that, okay, this experience in my body is not going to last forever. Can I hold it with a little bit of compassion? Can I get curious about it? You know, having all of those tools and those approaches didn't make everything perfect by any means, but it definitely gave me the possibility of getting through it. And then a few years ago, because those tools were so helpful for me, I then became a certified teacher.

00:19:50 - Brett Hill

And how did you. What certification did you take, if you don't mind? Me asking.

00:19:55 - Theresa Kulikowski-Gillespie

I did so through. Sounds true. Jack Kornfield and Tara Brock have a program called MMTCP. So it's the mindfulness meditation teacher certification program. It's a mouthful, but MMTCP.

00:20:11 - Brett Hill

And so that's a pretty extensive program, if I recall.

00:20:15 - Theresa Kulikowski-Gillespie


00:20:16 - Brett Hill

How long does it take?

00:20:18 - Theresa Kulikowski-Gillespie

It was two years. So we did the first year, which was really didactic. We would do, it was, everything was virtual, but we would do the teachings and then we would meet with our group. We had a mentor and then we had a mentor group, which we met with once a month, actually twice a month. And then the second year we continued to do some of the didactics and we had to do two practicums, so we had to teach to two groups.

00:20:45 - Brett Hill

So that's a pretty intense, that's pretty, that's a lot of training, particularly. And I know other people who've been through that as well, and a couple of the mentors in that organization. I'm happy that you had that experience. And so how did that then translate to the work that you're doing now?

00:21:05 - Theresa Kulikowski-Gillespie

Yeah, so the work that I'm doing now is really a blend of my personal experiences as an athlete, as a military service member, as somebody who's lost identity, mixed with the experience as a mindfulness teacher, mixed with my experience as a pair. So I feel like it's a nice blend that brings this whole kind of systems biology approach along with mindfulness meditation, self compassion to give people tools. It really is about empowering people with tools to reach their fullest potential in whatever their performance arena is, while also nurturing their health, nurturing their well being and their bodies and their minds and their souls.

00:21:55 - Brett Hill

That's amazing. So, and also it strikes me that, you know, you've been through this process of learning how to find your voice, you know, and really inhabiting a place where you're like, because I'm not hearing in you now, like this anxiety about not speaking up, you know? So it's kind of like you've really been through a learning curve there as well. I don't know what your personal, I don't know if you're experiencing that right now, but it doesn't seem to be.

00:22:21 - Theresa Kulikowski-Gillespie

There at the beginning. I mean, I always get a little nervous at the beginning of these things, but I have gotten better. I mean, I think, I think part of it is just like being able to practice it. I think part of it is going into it knowing that if I mess up, I still have that sense of compassion for myself. So I think that the self compassion is that safety, where it's like, okay, I might totally mess up, I might blank out, I might say the wrong thing, but I can befriend myself through this. And so it gives me a little bit more permission to just be human when in whatever I'm doing well.

00:23:02 - Brett Hill

And that's very gracious skill. That's a skill to have to be able to help other people as well, because, like you say you're working with people who are high achievers, they're, you know, they're on point and failure is not an option, you know, kind of thing. And it's like if something does go wrong, so often people are identified with that as if it were a part of them. So how, how do you help people with that particular thing? Like, because one of the things about these high achievers, like, you experienced this notion of, you know, you're, I'm Teresa the gymnast, and so if you're working with these people who are like high achievers, do you help them kind of. How do you help them find a way to kind of be really effective and at the same time understand that they are not their outcomes? Do you know what I mean?

00:23:54 - Theresa Kulikowski-Gillespie

Yes. That is a. I think it's a lifelong process. I think first and foremost, you know, you start where you're at, and so you start with this desire to be perfect. You start with whatever kind of conditioning, mental conditioning, whatever emotions are arising, we can hold it in that space of mindful curiosity. And I oftentimes take people into their bodies. So it's kind of like, okay, when I'm believing that I have to be perfect, what does that feel like in my body? How is that meant? I know you talk about the somatics a lot. And so. Yeah, things like Peter Levine and Bessel van der Kolk, I've read several of their books, and I. I do believe that the issues are in our tissues. And so kind of starting bringing people back into their bodies very gently, because if there's trauma involved, then I do believe that we can re traumatize. Yeah. So just very gently, kind of like dipping your toe into what is the felt sense of this belief? And then we can just kind of explore from there, getting curious about the experience. I really encourage formal loving kindness and compassion practice. I know it really helped me. I know it helps other people where you intentionally sit down and do kind of that methodical, may I be held in loving kindness or may I hold this experience with compassion and you just. Maybe at first, it doesn't feel authentic. But with time, it does, like, you begin to embody that compassion for yourself. So reminding people that just as they train in the gym, just as they train in the field, mindfulness is a training. So it's a tool that we train in, and we can remember in any moment to train in it. So I think in the high achiever realm, it's just important to remember that this is a practice. You'll get better the more that you do it. And you don't have to be perfect at it. We don't judge ourselves, you know, like, get into that loop of judging ourselves for not being the perfect mindfulness practitioner.

00:26:07 - Brett Hill

Do you have that happen to your clients? I mean, is it common experience where they get started and they go, this, you know, this isn't working. I don't know. I can't do this.

00:26:17 - Theresa Kulikowski-Gillespie

Yeah, I think it's a barrier because people think, well, something that I hear often is, I can't meditate because I can't calm my mind. My mind is too busy. I can't meditate. And so what I try to teach is it's not about quieting our mind. At least mindfulness meditation isn't about quieting our mind. It's really about observing our mind and becoming familiar with our mental patterns and our activities, you know? And then from there, we can kind of cultivate different thoughts and different patterns, but it's really about befriending what's already there.

00:26:55 - Brett Hill

Yes, that's. That's a good way to put it. I I find that that helps a ton. And. And also, I have a belief that if the act of that observing is calming over, you know, it takes a little bit of time, but, yeah, if you do that for a few moments, then I say a few moments, you do that for five, three or four minutes in and of itself. And the other piece I would add to that is the non judgmental piece. Right? Like, yeah. Is sort of like, oh, there's that thought. I shouldn't have that thought. I'm not doing this very well. Oh, look, there's that thought that I'm not doing this very well, and, oh, I'm so worked up about not doing it well. And, like, I don't. I suck at this. You know, it's kind of like all these language goes on, and stepping into the emotion of that, it's like, if you get. It's. It's very helpful to repeat the process of just going, oh, there's that thought, you know, there's me judging me. There's that judgmental thought just naming it was that phrase I heard. Name it to tame it.

00:27:54 - Theresa Kulikowski-Gillespie

To tame it. Yes. I love that. I really love that.

00:27:59 - Brett Hill

So who do you work with these days? Like, what if, you know, when you're saying, here's what I do, how do you describe your work?

00:28:08 - Theresa Kulikowski-Gillespie

Well, I'm actually in a transition space, so previously I was actually working with a clinic. So I was doing functional medicine with the clinic in Utah, and I brought a lot of mindfulness and meditation into that population. So right now, as I'm. I'm building my practice, so right now I'm kind of drawing upon my own personal experiences, experiences I've had with patients who I've brought mindfulness and meditation into and then the soldiers that I saw years ago. So I'm hoping that as I've made this transition, I will bring more of those high achievers into my practice to be able to teach these really essential tools.

00:28:50 - Brett Hill

Well, that's such a huge need, you know, particularly for the soldiers. That's a very unique, you know, for high achievers like professional athletes or Olympic performing level athletes, as well as soldiers and executives, people who are putting so much pressure on themselves and finding their voice and disconnecting from judgment in a way where you can empower your performance and at the same time disconnect from the anxiety about it so that you can actually do that extra 1%, you know, that's, like, so important. It's really powerful. I would think that if you were, you know, you say, hey, this is a specific group, particularly like either veterans or returning soldiers returning from deployment, where there's could be a loss of identity situation there, you know. So you're like a identity coach or, you know, finding your ground coach of some sort?

00:29:46 - Theresa Kulikowski-Gillespie

Yeah, I think these tools are just so helpful in many, many situations. And when it comes to, like, the high achiever in that kind of environment, I think of mindfulness as a buffer. So because I, what can happen is we fall into this pattern of, well, mindfulness just means that I'm sitting back and watching the world and I'm not engaged and I'm just kind of passive and, you know, I'm going to lose my edge if I'm compassionate towards myself or other people. And it really couldn't be further from the truth. So true. Yeah. It doesn't mean that you're not going into the gym or to the field or wherever your training environment is and you are giving your all in those moments. It just means that now you have these tools that can buffer the stress because you cannot be up here all the time. I fell into that problem as an athlete, and that's why I was so burnt out and injured all the time, because I was always up here and I never knew how to, like, regulate my nervous system. Well, that's. That's not true. In college, I did learn more how to have fun. Kind of like, balance that a little bit.

00:30:53 - Brett Hill


00:30:53 - Theresa Kulikowski-Gillespie

But I hope. Yeah, yeah. But there was still kind of that, like, I'm going to lose my edge if I relax or if I take time off or. And it's like, no, your. Your body cannot be up here all the time. And so, yes, push, push, push hard when you're in the gym, and then bring in mindfulness, bring in meditation, reset, relax, decompress, and then you can bring it back up here.

00:31:18 - Brett Hill

Well, it's so true. And I, you know, I deal with my clientele and other coaches and others I meet. There's this. And the culture at large has got this whole mentality around. You have to be performing at superhuman levels all the time. You can't let up. There's no moment to relax, you know, and it's so driven. You have to be. There's this notion of if you're not constantly in fifth gear, trying to find the non existent 6th gear, that you're. That you're falling behind or you don't deserve the success. And I just think that we. It's what I call the Superman mentality. And I personally, I'm a little tired of it. It's like, you know, it's kind of like, you know, only the best of the best of the best deserve the pinnacles of achievement. And it's like, no, I don't believe that at all. I think that there's a great deal in humanizing this experience in such a way that you can't be in, you know, overdrive all the time, just like you're saying. And if you're mindful, you realize that earlier than before, you actually destroy your body or your nervous system. And that's why I think we have this epidemic of burnout and people feeling so disconnected, and we're just not organized around how to live healthy lives that also are even more engaged in more satisfying ways than if you're just trying to achieve all the time. You know what I mean? I'm kind of going my own soapbox here, so. Sorry about that. But I'm really passionate about this notion of this super superhero culture that we have, you know?

00:33:13 - Theresa Kulikowski-Gillespie

Yeah, no, I hear you. And I do believe that there are healthier ways to do these things. And, I mean, I'm not heavily involved in gymnastics anymore, but what I'm seeing from the outside is that I think people are a little bit more conscientious about this. And I, and that there are some people bringing mindfulness into high level athletics. And as a result, athletes are lasting longer in the sport. They seem to be happier. They're not injured all the time. So my hope is that, and again, I'm not fully enmeshed in the sport, but from what I can see, there's a little bit more conscientious intention around training. And I'm actually going to talk to an organization this afternoon about bringing mindfulness into like a pretty big professional organization. So I don't know what they're looking for, but even just to have the conversation is like, it's a big deal. Yeah, that's one of the reasons I'm.

00:34:11 - Brett Hill

Doing the podcast and the mindful Coach association is because there is a movement happening and it's happening in, you know, at kind of a grassroots level. Just like you're saying people are, you know, inquiring. They're curious, like, does this work and how can this help us? And I'm, you know, all about promoting coaches such as yourself and others who are doing really important work. And to get, to get, like I say about the mindful Coach association, together we are a mighty force. And it's because there's only so many Tara Brocks and Jack Kornfields and, you know, out there in the world, but there are thousands and thousands of, you know, bread hills and theresas in the world out there doing this kind of work. And, yeah, I think collectively we're really making a big difference and I'm. Yeah, and I really appreciate. So I just want to say, you know, what would, how can people find you to connect with what you're doing?

00:35:13 - Theresa Kulikowski-Gillespie

I have a website, so it is fit. Fit. i love connecting with people via email. My phone number is on my website. I mean, I know we kind of live in the age of social media and if you have an online business, you need that. So I do have some social media, and ideally, I would love to chat, you know, like have a phone call, have an email, talk to someone. Yeah. Yeah. Because these are, these are rich and deep conversations and we need to have more of them, whether it's like professional to professional or if you're needing support as an athlete or a soldier veteran. Yeah, definitely send me an email. And I think that's in your show notes. Will you have my email, too?

00:36:00 - Brett Hill

Yeah, but my website is a good notes. And so, by all means, reach out to Teresa. Connect with her vast experience and guidance on how to, you know, be. Be more of what you do in a way that is more satisfying and sustaining to yourself and in a full, heartful and embodied way.

00:36:28 - Theresa Kulikowski-Gillespie


00:36:29 - Brett Hill

So what an amazing story, and blessings to you and your family and your work. So what would you say to our listeners? For some reason, I'm intuitively following this impulse, like a guide to get started with a mindful practice. What would you say is a good way to get started?

00:36:52 - Theresa Kulikowski-Gillespie

Yeah. You know, if you're on insight timer, I have a course, and it's called learning the basics of mindfulness and meditation. It's actually 16 days, and it goes through the foundations of mindfulness. So learning how to be mindful of the breath in the body, feeling tones in the body, mental activity, impermanence. And then I have a lot of guided practices. So in that course, I feel like it is really the basics of mindfulness. And if you want to get started in meditation, there's very specific guidelines on how to do that. And I know that many other teachers on insight timer offer courses, so I think the courses are very helpful. I know that there are other apps, too, which I'm not familiar with, but calm and headspace and buddify. But from my resources, I think learning the basics of mindfulness and meditation would be a really good starting point. You can also reach out to me, and I would be happy to do just an introductory session. We can talk about what your goals are, how you're wanting to bring mindfulness more into your life and go from there. I always just say, start from where you're at and begin again. So wherever you're at, you can be mindful. And when you disconnect, you begin again and come back to this moment.

00:38:12 - Brett Hill

Very powerful, powerful message there. Thank you. So, okay, so they can find you an insight timer as well. And so thank you once again and appreciate having you on the show.

00:38:23 - Theresa Kulikowski-Gillespie

Thank you.

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