In Conversation with Karishma Donde, on Breathwork and Digital Wellness

I see the idea of the detox everywhere. A detox for sugar, for gluten, for dairy, for alcohol… and for social media. There’s this incredibly pervasive idea that we must live in absolutes – either eating sugar over the holiday season, or cutting it out completely. Either scrolling mindlessly through our feeds in bed at night, or deleting the Instagram app off of our phones.

What I believe that more and more people are realizing is that this is a generally ineffective way of living, and that we so often go back to our old habits with a vengeance after that detox is complete. 

Instead, what if we were to create lives where balance was the elemental, day-to-day constant? There is social media, cookies, that glass of red wine, but we incorporate all elements in a way that feels balanced and eliminates the need for a massive detox? I believe this to be the future of wellness, and to be a fundamental principle of self care.

I am diving more deeply into the idea of digital wellness in my interview with Karishma Donde, a trauma-informed breathwork coach who helps people to release stress, anxiety, struggle, and trauma through breathwork, with a focus on digital wellness. 

We go deep not only on what the heck breathwork is, but how it is an integral tool in addressing some of the digital UNwellness that we so often see across industries and demographics in our work. We are at a point in history where, as Karishma puts it, digital wellness is no longer a luxury, but a business and lifestyle necessity. Read on to learn about how you can take action in your daily life to create a sense of balance that makes detoxes of all kinds a thing of the past.

I’d love to learn more about your personal and entrepreneurial journey that has led you up to this point. What informs your “why” in your business and in your life at large?

I spent a long time searching for happiness and purpose in my life. From trying to fit in a box that my culture had all laid out for me to having the perfect body to jumping to over 10 corporate jobs and having over 5 failed side businesses. I was always trying to find something that would make me happy and set my soul on fire, and that I wanted to make an impact in some way. 

In 2010, my gallbladder gave out on me and I had to have major surgery to remove it. The doctors told me that it was from being on excessive binge and diets cycles (which I had been on since age 10). Dieting is so normalized that it felt like I was doing nothing wrong all those years. That health issue and realization brought me into this journey of healing my own body/mind/soul through somatic healing practices like breathwork and coaching. I also gave up on western medicine and pursued natural medicine for any and all ailments from that point on. Since then, I have been antibiotic free for over 10 years and have diligently studied preventive medicine and care. 

Breathwork was incredibly healing for me, and I believe that everyone deserves to know about this practice and how to heal themselves, in general. Now, I coach others to live a healthy life holistically: mind, body, and soul spirit. 

My dream is to open a natural healing hospital where people can come not just for retreats and trauma healing, but also have the best preventive care in the world with doctors who specialize in things like ayurveda, homeopathy, and natural remedies. I think that the world deserves a place where there is more than just conventional medicine but actually individualized treatments for everyone. A true mind/body/soul/spirit healing facility.

Breathwork is a practice that I didn’t begin until 2019, and it absolutely rocked my world. Can you share more about what breathwork is and how it can be impactful in both a practical and spiritual way? How does breathwork contribute to our overall wellness?

Breathwork is a powerful tool that can help those immediate feelings of stress, overwhelm, frustration, and anger by harnessing the might of our own breath. It’s also the #1 healing modality in the world used by ancient civilizations to release pent up trauma and stuck emotions in the body. 

We are so conditioned to constantly DOING that we’d rather do anything else than be bored. So often when we are in the place of “I have no idea what I want to do right now, I guess I’ll eat a snack or go binge watch another show…” we are literally afraid of being in the present moment, of just BEING and doing nothing. That’s where breathwork comes in. It helps us to slow down and come back into the present moment with ourselves. It helps us to surrender, to trust that everything is happening for us, to break through limiting beliefs, to have compassion for our bodies, to really love and believe in ourselves. 

So often, we turn to medications to deal with issues, which only suppress the root when the root actually wants to heal and grow. When the root of our trauma, anxiety, and stress is suppressed, it continues to persist. You may notice how similar situations continue to happen to you or that you’re stuck in a cycle. That’s just your body telling you that you need to confront this and work with it, head-on. Breathwork helps with emotional processing so that you can live a more joyful, happy, present life. 

Everyone’s experience is different, but by doing breathwork often and integrating it into your life, you’ll see a compounding effect where each time is different but also more rewarding than the last. Some breathwork experiences can also be quite spiritual in nature. You can find that the question you’re always seeking but never have the answer to can be found through breathwork. 

For me that was, why were my parents in an arranged marriage? I could never understand a concept like arranged marriage, and growing up I saw my parents as complete opposites who rarely got along…and I always wondered why they stayed together. I got all my answers during one powerful breathwork session which was really healing to me and allowed me to continue to break my own ancestral and cultural trauma. 

We were talking the other day about the concept of digital wellness, which is hyper relevant to us both as I work as an Instagram Coach and you have such a presence on Instagram for your business (killing the Reels game, girl). I think that we do dwell a lot on our general wellness, but what often is not top of mind is how we create wellness in the digital elements of our lives. What does the concept of digital wellness mean to you?

When we look at the wellness industry 20 years ago, our environments were mainly based on two dimensions: social and physical. Inherently the things we surround ourselves with were what defined us. We live in an age now where there is a 3rd dimension in our environments that can no longer be ignored, which is digital. 

Digital refers not just to our phones, but also to our laptops, our TVs, anything that happens to have a screen. What we are seeing is that people are lacking those deep relationships they crave because the number of followers or likes we get on social make our brains falsely think like we are ‘loved, seen’ but on a deeper bodily level we are lacking the depth that our soul craves. 

The other day, you shared the quote “Digital wellness is no longer a luxury, it’s a business and lifestyle necessity.” I happen to agree with you implicitly. This idea of digital wellness is in stark contrast with the ideas of “detoxes” that we frequently see – a social media detox, for example. I’d love to get your thoughts on how we can create a healthy relationship with digital mediums in our daily lives so that we don’t get to the point where we require a detox. How can we implement practices in our daily lives to enhance our digital wellness?

There is a practice in the digital wellness industry known as digital feng shui. To understand digital feng shui first, we must understand what feng shui is. 

Simply put, “Feng Shui is an ancient Chinese practice balance developed by observing nature’s flow and ability to neutralize negative energy and enhance positive energy”… It’s all about balance. 

Now 20 years ago, this was really applied to more of the physical spaces that surrounded us, but now can be applied to the digital realm. Take the way we look at our digital devices, for example. Is your desktop screen cluttered, how about your folders, what about your phone screen… what do you FEEL when you look at all of these things? 

When we aren’t intentional about our digital spaces, it leads to digital overwhelm and digital hoarding. Which is basically when you store things for too long and never go back and clear them out – for example, with photos (especially now in the social age, we have millions of pictures that all look the same). Having that clutter there eventually leads to stress and disorganization, which continues to accumulate. 

Unstead you want to strive for BALANCE, which is the key to truly flourishing in the digital age. A best practice here is to do something I call “digital laundry.” Similar to how you cleanse your clothes when they get dirty, you cleanse your digital devices. This can consist of: taking the time to organize your desktop and folders weekly, ensuring the background on your desktop matches your intention, clearing out old text chains, unsubscribing to subscriptions that don’t make you happy, turning off your auto-play on YouTube or Apple TV. I guide people through this in my free 5-day digital cleanse challenge where we keep each other accountable with cleansing our digital spaces through one new actionable step everyday 🙂 

How does breathwork play into your idea of what digital wellness looks like in practical application?

The most scarce commodity in the world is our attention. Where does our attention go every day? I think as humans we don’t realize that we have the power to give our attention to the things that matter to us. 

When we put awareness on how we are projecting our attention, we can finally take proactive measures to really keep our environments as sacred spaces. When we do that, we have the time to BREATHE. Take breath breaks often, come back into the present moment, and realize how truly blessed you are. 

The other piece of it, to me, is addressing all areas of trauma, which cannot gloss over things like: trauma bonding with our digital devices as a means for safety, social media trauma from cyber bullying or other acts of social violence online, or even the simple digital trauma of not feeling safe to be seen. 

This is how the breath and digital wellness work in harmony of each other. We can leverage our breath when we take the necessary steps to fully process our traumas and cleanse our social, physical, and digital environments to truly enhance our human experience. 

Any last tips that readers can take into their lives today?

  1. Turn off your notifications on your devices
  2. Buy an alarm clock and sleep without a phone in your bedroom
  3. Take breath breaks after every completed task!

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