We’re excited to introduce you to the always interesting and insightful Lauren Schmidt. We hope you’ll enjoy our conversation with Lauren below.
Lauren, looking forward to hearing all of your stories today. So let’s jump to your mission – what’s the backstory behind how you developed the mission that drives your brand?
The mission of The Circle is to create positive micro and macro change through organizing and facilitating experiential wellness retreats.
My life was changed when I was 12 years old. My grandmother who was an avid world traveler took me on my first trip out of the country to Greece. In Greece we drenched ourselves in culture and history. Immersing our souls into the sites and living like locals. We enjoyed the flavorful Mediterranean food and my grandma let me drink wine and stay out late with the adults. It opened my mind and my heart to accept different cultural perspectives, ways of life, personalities and communication styles. I came away imprinted with life long memories and friends. After that experience I developed a deeply ingrained notion that the big world out there is truly the BEST classroom we could ever put ourselves in.
Before leaving Greece I was offered to be involved in a summer camp the following year. When I got home I immediately asked my mom if I could return the next year to help kids learn English in the camp. She embraced my wild-child spirit and luckily said yes. I saved all of my babysitting money that year. At 13 I traveled with another girl my age and some college students. I remember enough Greek vocabulary to navigate us through the streets of Athens to get us where we needed to be. That year was more about inner growth for me. It developed my giving spirit and allowed for me to make a positive impact. I was contributing something good to the world and it made me realize how important compassion is to not only our souls mission, but the fate of our planet as well.
After that, I came down with a case of the incurable travel bug and have continued to invest in my own growth through experiential learning and traveling the globe, ever since.
This is only half of the story though. The other half begins on a blue yoga mat 13 years ago. I was a psychology student at the University of Colorado in Boulder struggling with depression, body image, and anxiety. I got curious about alternative healing, yoga, and what I now refer to as “inner-work” after my first exposure to a yoga community. I was fortunate to have deeply talented spiritual teachers that encouraged yoga as a way of life. I learned to apply the tools of yoga off of the mat, integrating them into the inevitably bumpy path we call life. I became fascinated by the mixture of spirituality and psychology and have made it my personal mission to find balance between my head and my heart. When I graduated college the only thing I knew about my next step was that “I wanted to help others”. I didn’t really know how to combine my passions of psychology, yoga, and traveling this big worldly classroom. The desire was simply to heal individually and help collectively.
The natural trajectory of this path led me to become a yoga teacher 7 years ago. I witnessed the positive impact of a dedicated yoga practice on my everyday life. Over the next several years I worked to refine this life mission and passion weaving yoga and wellness, with exploration and getting out of our comfort zones. I created The Circle to expand the impact of this mission. I now am sharing and spreading the deep transformative nature that changed my life so long ago. The Circle facilitates containers for people to unplug, explore, heal, and transform their lives through wellness based travel. We live by the three pillars of Inner Work, Exploration, and Community. Joining an experience with the Circle is so much more than an average yoga retreat. It is a supportive container to go deep with yourself. To get out of your comfort zone and the demands of your everyday environment so that you can soften, learn, and breathe life into the parts of you that make you feel alive, whole, and complete.
As always, we appreciate you sharing your insights and we’ve got a few more questions for you, but before we get to all of that can you take a minute to introduce yourself and give our readers some of your back background and context?
I am a yogini, entrepreneur, forever student, mermaid, dancer, and lover of all things art, psychology and wellness. I am a forever student and ultimately learn the most from my international solo-travels, my yoga students, and my retreat participants. As you read above, I have been seeking international solo adventures since the age of twelve. From that age forward I have embodied the perspective that getting out in the world is the best education you can give yourself. I use my knowledge of psychology on an everyday basis and geek out about ways to make life lighter and full of love through practices that combine mindfulness, hacking the nervous system, and modern psychology. I have spent over a decade dedicating myself to practices such as yoga, breath work, dance, and flow arts. My background in corporate America consists of 8 years of large scale event planning experience, and a myriad of organizational culture skills. Bringing my love of exploration and travel to others, through both the inward journey and beyond, my mission is to support and create space for others to follow their dreams and to live ALIVE.
I facilitate unique wellness retreats both locally in Denver Colorado, and all over the world. I combine my background of psychology, the roots of my yoga practice, and the potency of traveling into one big life-changing experience. The goal is to bring easily applicable tools to participants to take home with them so they can be empowered to continue their process after the retreat. It is a lifelong journey.
Inner Work, Exploration, and Community are the backbone of any Circle experience. Here’s a little context as to what they mean.
Inner Work: Inner work is the psychological and spiritual practice of diving deep into yourself for the purposes of self-exploration, self-understanding, healing, and transformation. It is the very core and foundation of the spiritual path. There can be no healing, purging, and awakening without going inward to examine both the light and dark parts of ourselves. If you want a meaningful path, and if you want to make a positive difference in your world, you must be willing to do inner work. We use experiential learning and principles of meditation, alchemy, psychology and movement somatics to help individuals learn about who they truly are and embody their higher purpose and path.
Exploration: The world is our biggest classroom and playground. Exploration leads to knowledge, understanding, and unification. It is through exposing ourselves to new environments, cultures, and ways of life that we can understand our impact and how we can leave the world a better place. Our retreats prioritize getting out of your known reality to explore landscapes of your mind and heart as well as the outer world. We always make it a point to learn from the local communities, give back to them, and honor the cultures we explore.
Community: Without question, commUNITY is a central aspect of the human experience. Community reminds us that we are a part of something greater than ourselves. Humans have an innate nature to find belonging. It is through belonging to a community that we can learn and grow and support the ever-changing landscapes within ourselves and our environment. We support one another with open hearts and minds. We learn to contribute to a communal container by sharing and being vulnerable.
With these pillars we mindfully create a fertile environment for our true self to emerge. An experience with The Circle is so much more than an average yoga retreat. It is filled with unique activities and self inquiry. It is an investment in your life’s unfolding. An endeavor filled with depth and richness.
We’d love to hear a story of resilience from your journey.
Like any business owner, I made a few mistakes when starting out. One of those mistakes came out of my fear around not getting enough people to sign up for my first retreat. Out of this fear I decided to sponsor someone to be on the journey hoping it would drive momentum. It was someone that I felt really could benefit from going on the retreat and was happy to give back to my community in this way. At the last minute the sponsoree couldn’t join us on the retreat and I ended up having to pay for their room and board even though they were not able to come on the retreat.
It essentially cut into my profits quite a bit. And with a few other small but costly mistakes it wasn’t ideal. My resilience arose when I was able to flip the lens and learn through these “mistakes”. I learned how valuable my offering is. I pay attention to every detail and the work that goes into the containers creates amazing results. The depth and impacts of the experience on the participants have been profound. One participant even remarked “I would pay double for all that this experience was and gave me”.
I also learned to trust that whoever signs up is meant to be there. No matter if it’s one person or a thousand. It somehow always ends up being the right people at the right time. The more that I tried to control the outcome of the sign ups the more bumps we would have. With this lens the retreats have gone off without a hitch and I saw with my own eyes how transformative my offerings can be. I am able to see that these small failures are really just steering me back on track and teaching me something so that I can do better in the future.
Can you talk to us about how your side-hustle turned into something more.
I have always had side hustles and encourage others to explore them. They are a healthy way to broaden skills and build knowledge.
After college I had built up a successful career in corporate America 9-5’s while simultaneously diving deep into the path of yoga. When I became a yoga teacher I began with about 2 classes per week. I loved it. I could watch myself improve and embody the content to which I taught. This side hustle grew to 4 or 5 then to 10 classes per week due to this passion to share in movement in the community. I studied as much as I could and developed my teaching voice. I spent several years building up a community which I became very close to. These classes were just as healing for me as they were for the students. It was truly something that filled me up.
Corporate America was lacking in the same fulfillment and I had also been feeling the desire to start my own business and go after my dreams. I had been doing dream-work on my deepest desires for this life. I decided to create the company out of dreaming and putting my passions on solid ground. The day that I registered the company as an LLC was a pivotal day and everything was quickly put into motion.
It was all about trust. Trusting that the work that lights my soul on fire is what I’m meant to be doing. Trust that putting the money down for the first retreat would be the right decision. Once I found my first location and hosting venue I was ready to market and drive the machine. It was not without challenge but it was an incredible first few retreats and was a confirmation of my dharma or my life’s purpose.
Now it is my full time effort as I am hosting multiple retreats per quarter and also offer planning services and corporate retreats and workshops. Helping others heal and transform their lives is truly the best job in the world!
- Website: https://www.thecircleretreats.com
- Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/thecircleretreats/
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Thecircleretreats/
Angela Ricciotti Instagram: @wildmusemedia