Today we’d like to introduce you to Deborah Salazar Shapiro, MSW.
So, before we jump into specific questions about the business, why don’t you give us some details about you and your story.
Growing up in El Salvador and witnessing extreme poverty, war atrocities, and natural disasters impacted and altered my childhood and my destiny. By the age of eight, I had firmly decided on a vocation as a bodhisattva. Of course, as I child I didn’t know the word, which refers to a person committed to putting others first, until much later in life. So, for lack of a better understanding and vocabulary, I knew then that I wanted to become a psychotherapist.
As a young woman embarking on a journey of self-discovery and healing, I found a clear path through the arts, service, and education. Later, I pursued a masters-level degree in psychology at the University Dr. José Matías Delgado, San Salvador. I focused on individual and family therapy and also worked directly with children and adolescents. My experience included working in children’s hospitals, schools, psychiatric hospitals, and women’s correctional facilities.
I eventually moved to California and in 2011 earned a master’s degree in social work from the University of Southern California (USC), specializing in military social work and veteran services. I completed internships at both the Veterans Affairs Hospital in Long Beach and the Alzheimer’s Association of Orange County, where I worked as a substance abuse counselor and a bilingual mental health clinician. Despite those accomplishments and achievements, my childhood experiences in San Salvador kept me from finding peace in the present.
It was only when I began to study mindfulness in earnest that all the pieces of the puzzle started coming together. In fact, that was one of the reasons I was inspired to write and co-illustrate “The Magical Mindful Day,” which was released on Earth Day 2018. “The Magical Mindful Day” is a children’s book for people of all ages, intended to inspire the practice of mindfulness, to raise awareness of our interconnection with all living beings, and to remind children that the Earth is their friend.
Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
This question makes my heart smile. Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh has a phrase and book called, “No mud, no lotus.” In other words, no pain, no gain. I’ve had my share of that—just like everyone else! Moving to the U.S. at age 24 from El Salvador was not easy. I didn’t know much about living here and I knew only a few people, but I did trust that what unfolded would be in my best interest if I followed my heart. Though I have had many challenges, it has been a rewarding journey, leaving me with no doubt that hard work pays off.
We’d love to hear more about your business.
Rather than defining what I do as my “business” or a “company,” I prefer the term “calling.” And my calling is to be a facilitator in helping to ease suffering. Through mindfulness meditation workshops, speaking engagements, and, of course, The Magical Mindful Day, I am simply here to plant seeds of awareness, love, and compassion to benefit all living beings.
Particularly given the circumstances of my upbringing in El Salvador, I know what it is like to feel overwhelming anxiety. I know what it is like to be afraid and to feel a great loss. I think that is where I can really make a difference, especially among today’s youth, many of whom are burdened by these feelings.
Who also deserves credit? Have you had mentors, supporters, cheerleaders, advocates, clients or teammates that have played a big role in our success of the business? If so – who are they and what role did they plan/how did they help.
Due to my curious nature, and since my early teenage years, I have intentionally sought out those teachers and teachings that focus on alleviating the suffering of human beings. In September 2009, I had the great pleasure of meeting Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh at Deer Park in Escondido, California. I was deeply touched—and transformed—simply by being in his presence. Over the years, I have kept my focus through his teachings and books, particularly “Anger: Wisdom for Cooling the Flames” and “The World We Have: A Buddhist approach to Peace and Ecology,” which also inspired me to write “The Magical Mindful Day.”
Practicing mindfulness also became a catalyst for expansion, leading me to complete the University of California Los Angeles, Mindful Awareness Research Center (MARC) Intensive Practice Program; and later the yearlong Training in Mindfulness Facilitation. I met exceptional, compassionate teachers there, particularly Diana Winston, Director of Mindfulness Education, who helped me find a way to be more present in my daily life, more compassionate with myself and others, and more courageous to pursue—and celebrate—my accomplishments, even those I had once thought impossible.
I have also had the honor to study with Dr. Dan Siegel; Jack Kornfield and Trudy Goodman, with whom I had my first ten-day silent mindfulness retreat. I’ve learned from so many other teachers and mentors, too many to mention. Equally important are the kind supporters of “The Magical Mindful Day” who inspire me to keep going with my work!
My heart is filled with gratitude for the support I have received from the many generous and wise professionals and teachers who have bestowed upon me their knowledge, insight, and kindness. I feel I am a strong vessel to carry our collective message of change for as long as I am alive.
- The Magical Mindful Day Book $15.00
- El Dia Magico de Mindfulness Book $15.00
- Website: www.DeborahSalazarShapiro.com
- Phone: (858) 213-8513
- Email: info@DeborahSalazarShapiro.com
- Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/deborahsalazarshapiro/
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/deborahsalazarshapiro
- Twitter: https://twitter.com/deborahsshapiro
- Other: https://www.linkedin.com/in/deborah-salazar-shapiro-msw-bbb6001/
Seth Mayer, Catherine Hatfield and LAVA Studio