Shakti-Sutriasa

My Professional Bio

Shakti is the Founder of DecideDifferently.com, a personal development company that combines modern psychology and spirituality to support people seeking positive change and self-transformation. Through workshops, articles and meditations, Shakti shares her passion about conscious spiritual living.

Shakti has been called a “rockstar yogini,” and openly shares her love of the Divine Feminine with others to support their spiritual awakening and connect to their soul purpose. Being multi-passionate, she is also a writer and artist, who regularly contributes to the Huffington Post, is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker, and has an MA in Education.

Additionally, Shakti is the co-founder of The Willow School a private K-8 school in Vero Beach, FL. Started in 2004 with 11 students, the school currently has capacity for 100 and a budget of $1M.

Keep Reading ~ Learn More about Shakti

My Spiritual Journey

I’ve been on a soul journey my entire life and began actively searching for a path when I was fifteen. Back then I was a student at an Episcopalian boarding school and decided to see if Christianity was the way for me. At each chapel service (three times a week), I spoke directly to Jesus. Even though I loved the silence in that stone building, I soon realized it was not my path.

My sister and me on a camel in Rajasthan.

My sister and me on a camel in Rajasthan.

In college, I took a class on Eastern religions that included: Buddhism, Hinduism, Taoism and Confucius. I also learned about Native American traditions and Mother Earth as goddess. This opened my eyes to other world views and ways of seeing that felt more familiar to me but I was still afraid to choose, unsure which way to go.

My traditional Balinese wedding when I became Hindu

My traditional Balinese wedding when I became Hindu

Soon life took me to Asia where I read every book I could get my hands on about spirituality and religion. I also traveled throughout Asia and Europe, and visited many holy places. After two weeks in Israel, I seriously contemplated becoming Jewish. As I explored that option, I quickly realized that, like Christianity, it was too patriarchal. I needed a path of the feminine.

I then traveled to India and Indonesia where, after falling in love with a Balinese man, I committed to becoming Hindu. This choice gave me a path – a structure- and as I walked down it, I deepened my relationship with God.

As I did that, I realized I was ready for a teacher. I wanted to fully commit and deepen my practice. Calling for my teacher, turned my world upside down. I moved my family from Indonesia back to the United States – first to Los Angeles and then to Florida. Because my teacher wasn’t an Indian yogi or a Balinese Brahmin but a Jewish woman from Brooklyn who had an ashram in Florida.

My teacher, Ma Jaya

My teacher, Ma Jaya

I had come full circle - born in New York City – lived in Brooklyn- half my family is Jewish. After living on three continents and traveling to over 25 countries, I settled in Florida.

The process of having a guru and sitting at her feet, helped me turn on my inner light. It re-oriented every aspect of my life and helped me strip away all that was no longer true for me. This process wasn’t always fun and at times was pretty painful but was a necessary part of awakening.

And now I’ve embarked on my next adventure! Last summer I moved to Seattle. I'm settling in and deepening my practice of the Divine Feminine which I enjoy sharing with my tribe.

My Recovery from Drugs & Binge Eating

I have a friend who once told me he stopped smoking and started breathing.

When I quit doing drugs, I woke up. I’ll never forget the moment when my body finally cleared out the last of it. I was 20 and stood in some ancient ruins in Italy, overlooking the panoramic countryside and it was as if a fog in my mind lifted and for the first time in my life I felt truly alive. In that moment, I knew I was ready to know God. I didn’t know what those words meant, but that became the focal point of my journey.

Unfortunately, I still had to deal with my eating disorder. I knew that in order to successfully be on a spiritual path, I had to have a healthy psychology. It was time for me to heal myself.

From the time I was a young girl, I always used food to console and nurture me. It was my go-to. Starting in high school, I began to balloon from anxiety and stress. I could not stop eating.

Me in college

Me in college

My weight continued to yo-yo throughout my early 20s until I was ready to finally address my issues. I found and read a book by Geneen Roth called, When Food Is Love. Roth spoke directly to me and I began to use her suggestions and strategy. I stopped dieting and began listening to my body. “Eat when I’m hungry, stop when I’m full. Eat whatever I want.”

It took me four years to work through the underlying issues that were causing me to eat uncontrollably, make peace with myself and my past, and finally let it go and free myself. I had to make the decision that I’d be willing to be intimate with myself and with another person. In other words, I had to learn how to trust.

My Education & Credentials

I received my undergraduate degree in Art History from Boston University, a Master’s in Education & Curriculum Design from Michigan State University (while I lived overseas) and a Master’s in Social Work from Barry University while I worked at Willow.

I’m also a Licensed Clinical Social Worker, a certified happiness and success coach and a certified NET (Neuro-Emotional Technique) practitioner.

More About My Business Background

When I graduated from college, I was a hardcore environmentalist. In fact, I was certain this was the work I would do in the world. My first “real” job was working as an intern for the Union of Concerned Scientist. I then landed another non-profit job in Cambridge, MA before moving to Portland, OR where I worked at a recycling magazine.

But life had other plans for me and I soon found myself working as the sales manager’s assistant at a large knitwear factory in Hong Kong.

Teaching in Hong Kong

Teaching in Hong Kong

Moving there was a culture shock. Worse than that was the fact that my job wasn’t a good fit. The company was in financial duress and not being a Cantonese speaker severely limited by ability to help. During this time, I also realized that I yearned to do something needed, vital. After an agonizing six months, I quit and did some serious soul searching about what I needed and wanted in my life.

This lead me to teaching and I soon found a job at an international school where I taught English and art at the high school level. I worked there for the next four years.

When I moved back to the States, I briefly worked in the television industry but found that I didn’t love it. Once again, I began teaching, this time at a private elementary school in Santa Monica, CA. I worked there for four years before moving to Florida in 2000. Initially, I stayed home with my new baby but soon became an educational consultant at the River School that was on my teacher’s ashram. To make a little extra money, I also worked as a freelance copywriter.

Fundraiser for Willow With Arlo Guthrie in 2006

Fundraiser for Willow With Arlo Guthrie in 2006

In 2004, I co-founded The Willow School, a private K-8 school in Vero Beach, FL and served as the Executive Director until 2013. The school started with a line-of-credit I took out on my house. We opened the doors (despite two hurricanes that fall) with 11 children. In 2007, when the economy in Florida collapsed due to the housing crisis, we lost half of our enrollment and were $80,000 in debt. Instead of closing, we re-structured the staff, paired down to bare bones. In a year, we were back to break even. Now the school can hold over 100 children and has a budget of $1M.

In 2008, I went back to school again, this time for Social Work. As part of my schooling, I worked in community mental health with parents and children in foster care, low-income and with families who have experienced abuse. I also worked as a hospice social work intern where I counseled terminal patients as well as their families through the dying and grieving process.

Shakti-Sutriasa

In 2013, I left Willow to launch Decide Differently because I was ready to work with people in a more intimate, deep way. I currently offer workshops and meditation for people seeking positive change and self-transformation.

In addition, I’m a business consultant focused primarily on visioning, systematizing procedures and marketing.

I also write a regular blog that is syndicated to the Huffington Post and recently finished a book project. In my free time, I do sacred art, meditate, travel and enjoy the outdoors.