Digging Deep With Hiroko

Hiroko Demichelis is a Registered Clinical Counsellor and an expert in neuro/psycho-physiology from Italy, specializing in mindfulness and positive psychology. She's the founder of the Vancouver Brain Lab, and the gal Anita's partnered with to create the mobile meditation project MOMENT.

What inspired your passion for positive psychology?

I was thunder-struck by a positive psychology professor, Martin Seligman. Dr. Seligman started his research in the field of depression more than twenty years ago. At that time, dogs were still (sadly) used for lab experiments. In his research, he found out that exposing dogs to some (random) electrical current would make most of them hopelessly depressed. MOST of them. Some did not succumb to hopelessness. He became really interested in studying those few resilient pups. Resiliency, self-efficacy, ability to bounce back, and post-traumatic GROWTH are some of the theoretical constructs upon which positive psychology unfolds.

I researched where I could learn more. I felt like one of the resistant dogs and I wanted to understand why. I moved to London, the only place in all of Europe with a Masters Program in  Positive Psychology, and I became a happiness expert!


Tell us one of your favorite things about being a mom! 

Being a mom kept me anchored, gave me a sense of direction when I felt lost. I always make sure I set up the table for dinner. Even if it's the two of us most of the time, it means celebrating the time spent together!


Gotta motto?

My mantra is: slow down, you will get there faster.

Learnt from a wise person. I love oxymorons.


How do you decompress after a long day?

So. This is my latest passion: hang on to your gitch. To decompress, I go to Third Beach and I take a dip in the ocean. Rain or shine. Winter or summer. Day or night. I make sure I immerse myself up to my temples.


Have you ever heard of the mammal dive reflex? Well, your heart slows down when you dive your face into cold water. It calms you (once you have survived the shock of cold, oceanic winter water.) Dolphin secret.

The photo was taken on Christmas day. See the hat?


What did you have for breakfast this morning?

Avocado, kale salad, and a spinach wrap from my favorite Lebanese restaurant.


Talk to us about MOMENT!

MOMENT, oh moment. We are so excited about this project. It is all about making meditation accessible, like an Italian espresso in Italy. We are dreaming, incubating and will soon give birth to the first mobile meditation studio in the world, and we are ready to launch several meditation events and programs, full of poetry and beauty. 

MOMENT is about the democratization and beautification of meditation! 


Any pets?

 Yes! Micia is a very elegant, yellow cat. Her color matches my furniture and she has four white socks.

 I was never a cat person before Micia, and when we adopted her I swore she would never sleep in my bed. Things don't always go as planned. 


What's one challenging, but rewarding, part of your job?

I am a clinical counsellor, a trauma therapist. My job is about supporting individuals to help them flourish through trauma, adversities, and false belief systems. At times, I meet my patients at a place of deep pain, I hear their very heavy stories and I suffer with them. Today, a new person told me, "I am leaving feeling lighter than when I arrived." Hearing something like this is my most heart warming reward.


Best way to spend a Sunday in the city?

I never spend my Sundays in the city. Sundays are spent at the barn. My beautiful teenage daughter has a burning passion for horses, and she rides a gigantic horse named "Thank God it's Friday" (Genius name, I know.) Maybe this is my answer to the "favorite thing about being a mom" question. 

Want to learn more from Hiroko? She's one of our featured speakers at the upcoming TED Talk-meets-yoga-inspired Storytelling Series.