Gators join together for mindfulness.
On April 4, 2017, two remarkable UF alumni spoke to a packed room about how the practice of mindfulness can promote personal wellness and stoke one’s career. They spoke from experience: Michael “Mickey” Singer BA ’69, MBA’70 is a multi-industry entrepreneur who transformed his career setbacks into success, with two bestselling books on mindfulness. Trish Ring MS’93, PHD’96 felt stifled in her career as a clinical psychologist and so pursued a new line of work as a life coach and the proprietor of an equine life coaching ranch.
Against a backdrop of warm coral tones, on adjacent chairs befitting a heart-to-heart, Singer and Ring shared how self-reflection and a sense of acceptance helped them recover from professional grief. Singer offered a philosophical perspective, framing mindfulness as a crucial mental activity, while Ring used her trademark approach of blunt self-inquiry, couched in her psychology education and experience, to advise listeners on how to shake up their preconceptions.
“How would you be if you loved every moment in front of you?”
Singer, who studied economics at UF, launched enterprises in construction, teaching, and programming. His 2007 No. 1 bestseller The Untethered Soul, featured on Oprah in 2012, describes the lessons in inner peace he learned after his software company failed. Singer bounced back from the loss by exploring what it meant to accept all of life, good or bad, and turning his findings into a New York Times Best Seller. “How would you be if you loved every moment in front of you?” he asked the audience. “You’d be good at everything you do.” Singer founded the Temple of the Universe, which offers morning meditation sessions, topical talks twice a week, and well-attended Sunday services. The non-denominational spiritual organization, based in Alachua, Fla., invites people of all faiths to participate in activities that promote inner peace.
“When there’s a 2,000-pound animal in the ring with you, it shakes up your framework a bit.”
Ring draws a distinction between “sorrow and suffering,” believing the first is part of life and the second is unnecessary. She’s a Certified Equus Coach who has her clients talk through their concerns in a round pen with horses, which are very sensitive to human emotions. “When there’s a 2,000-pound animal in the ring with you, it shakes up your framework a bit,” she explains. Her program takes place at Blue Star Ranch, which she and her husband Carl created out of “several derelict plots of land” to create a refuge for people to enjoy nature and seek self-improvement. The ranch is the largest equine coaching facility in the Southeast.
Blue Star Ranch has a small herd, just seven horses, and Ring says each of them has a unique personality. She is deliberate about pairing guests with horses both for their skill level but also for their emotional needs.
“For generations and generations, people have healed with horses,” says Ring. “With horses, it’s like a Rorschach.”