by Zac Hersh

ZachJourney_0.pngMy name is Zac Hersh, but I go by “Z.” I am a 23-year-old recent college graduate, certified personal trainer, yoga instructor, mindfulness and meditation coach, and an accomplished distance runner, and triathlete. I am also the co-creator of the Mood mobile app.

For most of my life, I have dealt with a significant amount of anxiety. These feelings were subconsciously present for the first 21 years of my life. I say “subconsciously” because I thought being in that state was the normal way of life for everyone. 

My junior year of college, however, I hit a wall, experiencing panic attacks so severe I stopped going out and ultimately lost most joy in life.  It was like being at the bottom of a hole, looking up and seeing the top, but having no rope to climb out. I knew I had a few options, a life without joy or go on a journey to find a way to help myself out of that hole.

It began with physical exercise. When my anxiety came up, I would go to the gym and workout. Eventually I got into running, swimming, biking, and yoga. Going through long exercise sessions helped me, but it wasn’t practical to continue dropping whatever I was doing to take off for an hour-long exercise session anytime my anxiety flared up.

It was then that I was introduced to the world of meditation and mindfulness; thus my studies shifted from the body to the mind.

Eventually through this study, I found myself traveling the world, attending meditation and mindfulness retreats. Before returning to my senior year of college, I attended a meditation retreat in the mountains of Switzerland, this led to the first week of my life that I was completely in command of my anxiety. I excitedly returned to school confident that I had mastered my anxiety, it took about two days for me to realize that, yet again, I had the same problem as before. When my anxiety came up, it wasn’t practical for me to go sit in meditation for an hour or even ten minutes.

The more I looked into it, the more I began to notice commonalities between different fields. Monks spoke of gratitude the same way the top ultra-runners on the planet do. The highest caliber of yoga instructors I studied under spoke about breath in the same fashion my triathlon coaches did. Each discipline, though they contain various teachings and lessons, have distinct similarities. I realized I could take what I felt were the two most powerful practices from all fields (gratitude and conscious breathing) I’d studied and boil them down into an easy-to-do practice to help myself with my anxiety.

To this day my journey continues, now paired with a mission to bring my process to the world through a mobile app called Mood. I am also dedicated to bringing awareness to anxiety, a problem that grips so many of us, yet so few speak about.

Be grateful and breathe. We’re in this together.

Disorder

Comments

Such an inspiring story...well, it's back to the practice every day. Yes. Gratitude. Even on my worst day I call upon it.