It was August 2016 when Johane Ligondé suddenly lost consciousness while cleaning her home. Shortly after, she visited a neurologist, underwent several MRI and CT scans, and learned that there was a colloid cyst, or a benign tumor, in her brain.
Ligondé, a Baldwin resident and Freeport educator, began practicing what her meditation teachers had taught her for years — breathing consciously, moving her body, connecting with others and volunteering more. A few years later, her doctors told her that her cyst had shrunk and her overall health had improved.
Ligondé, the principal of J.W. Dodd Middle School in Freeport, who also works as a yoga and meditation teacher, recently launched an e-book that describes to readers the seven activities that she did every day that contributed to her improved health. More than a dozen people attended the launch party via Zoom on Nov. 27.
“After trying different activities, I discovered seven things I did every day that contributed to my overall improved health, mood and life,” she wrote in the book. “These included getting rid of my extreme fatigue, sadness, headaches, brain fog, and, best of all, got rid of my lack of self-fulfillment.”
Many participants were close friends or clients of Ligondé, having known her through her self-help firm, Joyous Leader International LLC, which she launched four years ago. Ligondé, 39, who traveled to this country from Haiti when she was a child, meets with a group of people every Saturday morning to meditate together.
Her book, “The 40-Day Joyous Challenge,” is a self-coaching journal that encourages readers to explore breathing techniques and meditation, as well as the “sacred seven” activities that have helped Ligondé.
She recommended practicing gratitude; moving your body; meditating, breathing and being still; connecting with others; laughing out loud; feeding your soul with self-care; and feeding others.
While the e-book was free on the day of the launch, it costs $3 now, and a percentage of the proceeds, Ligondé said, would benefit SKY Schools, a program within the International Association for Human Values that teaches educators how to manage stress and negative emotions.
“This is such a gift, and it will transform and heal so many,” SKY Schools representative Susan Ramsundarsingh said during the launch party. “Thank you for having the courage to bring this to the world. I am so grateful for you and inspired by you. Thank you for always keeping SKY Schools in your heart.”
It took 40 days to launch the book, Ligondé said before introducing someone who was instrumental in the creation of it. She credited one of her clients, Nicole Danielewicz, with the inspiration for the book because she was helping her through relationship challenges in her life.
“I’m beyond thankful because she unlocked this inner strength that I didn’t know that I had,” Danielewicz said. Ligondé “pushed me, definitely more than I ever would’ve pushed myself, and I know she saw that potential in me before I could even see that.”
After describing the “sacred seven” activities, Ligondé invited participants to sit comfortably with their spines straight, shoulders relaxed and hands in their laps, and to breathe deeply. She led a group meditation for seven minutes while one of her clients, Dara Lemite, softly played the flute. Participants were then asked to write down in a journal any emotions or thoughts that arose.
“Getting to see this project reach this stage and be able to reach so many people; it just excites me . . . and all of us who get to experience and be our best selves with the help of it,” yoga teacher Mia Campbell said of the e-book. “Thank you for doing this.”