Lauren Snyder

I was born and raised in the Ojai Valley, the long colonized lands of the Chumash people. I grew up on the outskirts of town on a large family ranch, where I spent much of my childhood out of doors.
Throughout the entirety of my life, there have been four main areas of healing that have supported me, enlightened me, and healed me. They were Movement, Mindfulness, the Arts, and Animals/The Natural World. As I began to journey into understanding my life’s path and following the calling my heart had set for me, I realized that every step of my journey has been in some way intertwined with these four pillars.

Even from a very young age, I was (almost) painfully aware of my inner thoughts and emotions. Looking back at diaries from my youth, even a barely literate six year old me, scratched out notes of inquiry about the “dark sad feeling”, or

glowed electric from the brilliance of the sunrise. As I got older, this “sense” of emotion and connection only expanded, and although there were signs of empathic ability, it was not until my early twenties that I was able to name it and understand it. It was upon that realization, that mindfulness became an absolute cornerstone to my health and well being. In order for me to distinguish my emotions from those surrounding me, awareness and self study became essential.

As a child of rural upbringing, movement was never questioned as an absolute staple of human existence. In my teens, I was introduced to Yoga and the meaningful ways in which the movement of the body could bring about more than just a fit physique. It was also in my pre-teen and teenage years that I became an avid hiker and adventurer; climbing Mount Whitney, learning to rock climb, backpacking, and getting certified in scuba diving. The more ways I could explore how to move my body, the happier I was.

As with movement and mindfulness, animals have long been a staple in my life as well. Although my parents were rather hesitant to invest in a family pet early on, the abundance of feral cats in our area, left me many opportunities to rescue kittens and try to earn the trust of wandering felines. Our ranch was a working horse ranch and I remember countless evenings of sneaking off to the barns or pastures to simply sit and gaze at these magnificent creatures. Horses have long thrilled and inspired me in ways no other animal does. I was sixteen when I rescued my first cat from the shelter, and she has been with me for seventeen years now; a wise companion and friend through all of life’s experiences.

Lastly, there is the Arts. I credit my mother and my grandmother for my passion in creative expression. They both instilled in me from a very young age, the magic of a piano sonata, the blissful escape of musical theater, and the joyful self expression of drawing and painting. I was trained in piano from the age of seven and had a gift for playing by ear. Although I detested the hours spent languishing away at practicing each repetitive note, to be able to sit at the piano and dance across the keys still to this day is an instant relaxation. In middle school, a connection to music blossomed into a love of art and I flourished in my art classes, winning various awards and accolades. When I left work to be home with my firstborn, it was art that carried me through the long days and nights as a new parent.

My entire life has in some way revolved around unconsciously gravitating towards things that connected to these areas. In trying to find my first job, I bombed an interview for a coffee shop and ended up working outdoors at a local lake and recreation area. After my son was born, I began to sell artwork and used art shows and artist groups to more deeply explore creative expression. After my daughter was born, it was volunteering with animal rescues and teaching an animal art class. I practiced yoga, I went on retreats, I meditated, I wrote, I drew, and I explored. I read books about Reiki and I set intentions for my day. On and on, like a magnet, I was pulled in the direction of these particular things.

There are so many more examples and stories of how the four pillars of MAMA (Movement, Arts, Mindfulness and Animals) have shaped and grown my existence; but those are for another time (or book perhaps?). As I am now, I am just one woman on a journey to follow where her heart calls her and to continue to explore and share the joy, wonder, and healing that these things can bring to one’s life. I do hope you’ll come along for some of it.

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200 Hour RYT (Registered Yoga Teacher) - Certified Reiki Master - C.A.A.T.P. (Certified Animal Assisted Therapy Professional)