By Mudassir Raja
When someone broaches the word ‘meditation’ and ‘teacher’, an image of a long-bearded guru (sage) sitting cross-legged in the mountains of Himalayas might rally in our mind. But that’s patently cliché.
Daniel Matallana, a young meditation teacher and holistic therapist from Colombia, is baulks at such stereotypical approach as he prances through a music therapy as an antidote to fighting depression and anxiety.
He has been working with The Mind Institute, a private hospital for children with special needs, in Qatar for over one and a half year now.
The story of the young professional caterwauls to the phrase ‘blessing in disguise,’ – dealing with emotional and physical ups and downs with strength. Nearly, ten years ago, the carefree youngster was stabbed in the back by muggers in Bogota, captial of Colombia. He struggled for life in a hospital. The close contact with death made him realise its value.
Community recently got a chance to interview the 31-year-old therapist to run the gamut of his life and profession.
How would you introduce yourself to our readers?
I am a teacher, who helps people through music, dance and yoga. I enjoy my work as it brings people back to normal life. I teach self-love to everyone.
I have graduated in Philosophy from Colombia. I had my own dance company in my country and I used to teach dance in Brazil as well. Later, I went to London and got a Master’s degree in Dance Movement Psychotherapy.
What kind of work have you been doing in Qatar?
I was hired by Evolve, a wellness company in Doha. I was hired as a therapist. I attend children with special needs, be it autism, Down syndrome and other learning disabilities, aged 3 to 8 years. Movement and music are very helpful in communication. It’s a way of communication. I support them with dance therapy in one-to-one and group sessions every day. Some of the children are very scared and introvert. So music and dance really helps them find their own voice.
How did you become a therapist and teacher?
My narrow escape from death taught me some important lessons. I first learnt how sacred and important life is. It led me to spirituality. It brought me closer to my life and my purpose. I wanted to share my positivity and healing energy with others.
Dance, meditation and yoga became my tools to deal with depression, anxiety and other hardships faced in life. I was lucky to get education from some of the best teachers. Travelling to different countries also ushered in a positive change in my life.
I teach yoga and provide dance therapy classes at three different studios namely, Yama Yoga, Miya Yoga, and Evolve Wellness in Doha.
How do you help people? Are you satisfied with the response?
I help people cultivate self-love. I encourage and teach them express self-love through music and dance. I have three offerings for those who want to attend my sessions. The first is an online course. A free course , it offers pieces of meditation advice on how to deal with anxiety and depression. Secondly, I teach yoga classes regularly. One class is often for three months. Thirdly, I conduct and address workshops on a monthly basis.
Initially, people from different non-Arab expatriate communities came to me. Now, local people and expatriates from different Arab countries also attend my sessions.
There are many things that make people depressed in life. They do not find real purpose in life. They do things that they do not like or love. They do things to impress people they do not even care about. They buy things that they do not need. People also face stress in their relations. They are often emotionally wounded. And they lack love for self. In the absence of self-love, they develop negative habits.
How do you differentiate between self-love and selfishness?
Self-love is a positive thing. It comes from honesty and wisdom. It helps one in making good choices in life. It produces positive energy. On the other hand, selfishness comes from immediate gratification. It does not help in making wise choices in life.
Tell us about your experience of living in Qatar.
Qatar is a wonderful place. The country has a lot of new opportunities. It is a young country fast finding its identity. I enjoy living and working here.
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