When Sah D’Simone laughs, his entire face lights up. It’s one of those addictive laughs — the kind that makes you smile and laugh right alongside him. When you talk to him, it’s clear that he’s meditated for a while. There’s a thoughtfulness to every word he chooses to say; he speaks calmly and carefully. The word “mindful” truly applies to him.
A hard working, humble, and gracious man with an unshakable faith, D’Simone was born in Brazil and moved to the US when he was 16, living most of his life in New York and Florida.
Coming from a career in the fashion industry, he often felt like he was missing something. He trusted that there was something else for him in the world — something deeper and more fulfilling.“Trust is the law of the universe,” he explains. In November of 2012, after years of hard work and financial investments he made the decision to leave his career and the company he had founded. Until that point he had been struggling, abusing drugs, and “living on autopilot,” he recalls.
A short time later he found himself riding a bike throughout Amsterdam where he spotted a Buddhist painting hanging in the back of a van. “It planted a seed,” he explains, and he started immersing himself in research and writings about meditation, spirituality, and all things that encompassed “holistic living.”
However, despite the many changes he made, he still felt he hadn’t truly found peace. His explorations eventually led him to India in the spring of 2014 to participate in a 10-day silent retreat. While there, he noticed that the inner chatter he was always so desperately trying to escape had finally begun to quiet. Afterwards he traveled to Nepal for more searching and underwent a 30-day silent retreat, this time experiencing what he would call the equivalent of a “nervous breakdown.” Here he uncovered so much fear and judgment, not only towards himself, but also towards the other participants. He describes the experience as the beginning of his “graduation.”
Today, D’Simone works as a transformational and meditation coach and often deals with the topic of mental health. Having overcome his own battle with depression, he shares that “shame reflects worth, and that he “had a thick cloud of shame.” He had felt inadequate, wrong, and unworthy (all programming he inherited from his family, in which depression and anxiety ran rampant).
While some only associate trauma with matters like death or war, D’Simone believes trauma can be anytime someone feels neglected. It is reflected in the way our nervous system “digests” events. No two people will ever process an experience the same way. “What’s a five for you, might be a ten for me,” says the coach.
Maybe that’s why it isn’t that surprising when he states that 67% of people experience trauma before the age of 18, and that 1 out of 5 people in New York City is diagnosed with a mental illness, daily. “Everyone is either in it today or will be in it tomorrow,” he concludes. It’s why he puts such emphasis on having compassion and kindness towards other people, insisting that generosity can really (unknowingly) make an impact.
While arguably still in its infancy, the science and research on meditation is impressive to many people, including D’Simone, who has personally noticed positive changes within himself. In fact, today it has become almost trendy in mainstream culture. Yet, despite all the physical benefits meditation can provide someone, the meditation coach believes one of the main draws is the opportunity to train yourself to notice when you are getting “hooked” on a feeling or thought, and to make the conscious choice to let it go. “Every time we get hooked on a painful thought or experience,” he explains, “we reinforce it into our subconscious and it’s like watering old seeds. But, if we notice ourselves getting hooked and choose to let it go, we then machete the old stuff and plant new seeds.” Even if the detachment lasts just a few seconds, D’Simone sees it as a victory.
For him, there are no tiny moments. Every moment is big and every moment counts. He describes them as “mini moments of enlightenment.” He believes salvation is when we realize that our past and our mistakes are not an inherent part of ourselves.
For as much as he’s known for being a meditation teacher, he’s very quick to advise that meditation alone is not enough to see long-lasting changes to one’s mental health. It needs to be done alongside breathwork, a clean diet, and proper exercise.
He recommends a mandatory, daily self check-in with your thoughts, feelings, and breath. “Take a moment to do self-inventory,” he advises. “Observe your internal landscape — what are the quality of your thoughts? What is the quality of your breath? What are you feeling?” Getting more in tune with the state of one’s mind and body is crucial to the healing process. It’s about knowing where you’re at so that you can better know what it is that you need.
Aside from one-on-one coaching, D’Simone has gone on to lead workshops and retreats all over the world. In addition to his breathwork and meditation exercises, his book, 5-Minute Daily Meditations has become a best-seller with a second book on the way (a memoir). The man has a dedication that is inspiring and clearly fueled by a genuine passion to serve others. “Go volunteer and be of benefit to someone else,” he suggests. “Be generous even when you have nothing. The key to abundance and fulfillment lies in shifting from an ‘I’ to a ‘we’ mentality.”
Julia Piantini is a wellness consultant and writer from Orlando, Florida. Her mission is to tell the stories that have inspired her, in the hopes that they may inspire you. Find her on Instagram at @theserverandthesage or on her website.