Meditation is becoming an increasingly popular way to manage stress these days. From apps and online videos to meditation centers, mindfulness is having a moment, and for good reason. “There’s quite a bit of data [suggesting meditation] is effective for reducing stress, depression, and anxiety, and helpful for people coping with pain,” says Sara Lazar, Ph.D., an associate researcher in psychiatry at Massachusetts General Hospital and an assistant professor in psychology at Harvard Medical School. For industry professionals, whose fast-paced days demand a high-level attention to detail or require them to always be “on,” stress is a constant, yet often unwelcome, companion. SevenFifty Daily spoke with four drinks pros about how they benefit from meditation and how the practice may help others in the industry.
Clarke Boehling, a producer liaison and sales rep for Rosenthal Wine Merchant in New York City, started practicing transcendental meditation (TM) six months ago to help combat rising stress levels related to his job. TM is a form of meditation that reduces distracting thoughts through exercises that promote relaxation. For 20 minutes a day, twice a day, Boehling silently repeats a mantra, which was given to him by his TM instructor. “It’s just a combination of sounds that’s tailored to you,” he says. “From the very first time, it had a really incredible impact on even just my physiological state. I could feel my body relax in ways that I haven’t felt in a long time.” He adds that the positive effects have carried over into his work life. “Meditation helps with interpersonal communication,” he says. “It allows me to be more present for my clients. I’ve had more meaningful interactions with my clients since I started meditating.”
In addition to her regular meditation practice, Alicia Cuadra-Cutler, the food and beverage outlets manager and sommelier at Quail Lodge & Golf Club in Carmel, California, employs short mindful breathing techniques—such as inhaling for four counts, holding her breath for four counts, exhaling for four counts, and holding for four counts—to manage high-stress work situations in the moment. “It’s an instant re-centering,” she says, adding that it also enables her to confront any conflicts at work with a better mind-set.
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Giuseppe LoCascio, a U.S. agent, marketer, and the owner of GLC Wines in New York City, says that the self-awareness he has cultivated through his meditation practice has become his biggest career asset. “You’re always talking to people,” he says. “Our industry is a small world, and what you say is extremely important—and how you say it is equally important.” He adds that his meditation skills help him remain cognizant of his actions and surroundings and maintain his composure, especially in work situations where the drinks are flowing and inhibitions may be lowered.
Melissa Monosoff, a Dallas-based Master Sommelier and the education director for the Court of Master Sommeliers, says that meditating helps her regulate stress and anxiety and, ultimately, enables her to be a better leader at work. “If I’m coming from a place of calm, then people follow suit,” she says. “If I’m coming from a place of anger and agitation and worry, people follow that.” Monosoff says that in worst-case scenarios, uncontrolled stress can lead to her being walked all over, or people feeding off her negative energy and adopting a negative attitude themselves. She regularly uses the meditation app HeadSpace and streams yoga and meditation videos on YogaGlo, but she also finds meditative walks to be helpful in getting her out of a pessimistic mind-set and putting her back in tune with others—a useful strategy when leading a team.
Beyond stress management, industry professionals appreciate how meditation positively impacts their workday. Monosoff likens the effects of meditation and the way it helps her stay attuned to her surroundings to being on the floor. “As restaurant people,” she says, “we see and hear everything going on.” Being present and feeling in control of your own actions yields better professional interactions and opens the door to meaningful opportunities. There are multiple ways to meditate, whether it be through an app, with a teacher, or in a self-created practice, and everyone we spoke with said the fear of doing it “incorrectly” should be eradicated; it’s the fact that you’re doing it—and the results—that matter. As LoCascio puts it, “Without meditation, you’re the passenger—and with meditation, you’re the driver.”
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Shana Clarke is a wine, sake, and travel writer, and the author of 150 Vineyards You Need To Visit Before You Die. Her work has appeared in Saveur, Fortune, NPR, Wine Enthusiast, and Hemispheres. She was shortlisted for the Louis Roederer 2020 International Wine Writers’ Awards and ranked one of the “Top 20 U.S. Wine Writers That Wineries Can Work With” by Beverage Trade Network in 2021. She holds a Level 3 Advanced Certificate from Wine & Spirit Education Trust and is a Certified Sake Sommelier. She will always say yes to a glass of Champagne. Learn more at www.shanaspeakswine.com and follow her @shanaspeakswine.