Meet the ZenSmartsTM Team

Meredith Hooke

In the late nineties, I was a Financial Advisor at Merrill Lynch in La Jolla, California.  I loved my job, at the time I couldn’t imagine doing anything else.  But I was also constantly stressed out, anxious and often feared that someone would find out I wasn’t what I appeared to be, that I’m not really as together as everyone thinks.

I had tried self-medicating, therapy and self-help books – all the “traditional” methods of reducing stress.  I found periods of relief but the stress and fear always came back. 

I finally decided it was time to try meditation, even though the thought scared and even embarrassed me – what if my colleagues found out?

Less than 2 blocks from my office, there was a center that offered daily meditation classes.  No matter how horrified I was at the thought of meditation, you couldn’t get any more convenient than that, so I figured – what did I have to lose?

After a few days of meditating I began to feel calmer and more balanced.  After a few weeks, I started to feel almost invincible.  I soon realized that meditation wasn’t just about getting rid of stress and becoming a calmer person – it was a powerful tool that made me sharper, more focused and resilient.  Best of all, I no longer felt like a fraud, my imposter syndrome was gone.   

My passion for meditation grew over the years and I started going on intensive meditation retreats in India, Australia and all over the US.  I studied meditation philosophy exhaustively – arguably the greatest reservoir on how to understand and train your mind.  

The scientist part of me then wanted to understand what was happening in my brain to cause all these positive changes?  An explosion of research in neuroscience was starting to focus on the brains of meditators and the results gave me a quantifiable measurement and greater understanding into why I was changing so much.  This gave me even more motivation to keep up with my practice.

I continued working in the financial industry, moving on to become a Trader and Partner in a long/short equity hedge fund, where my practice was tested against a whole new level of stress.  I know I couldn’t have managed it without meditation.   

Almost two decades after I began training my own mind, I was ready to share my passion of meditation, the brain and understanding the mind.  I launched ZenSmarts with a focus on the financial industry.  

Having worked for over 25 years in finance, with positions in sales, management and executive positions and having spent thousands of hours meditating myself, I feel confident in bridging the two worlds with specific strategies to maintain balance in this fast paced and demanding industry.

I am an MMI Certified Meditation Instructor, Certified Life Coach and hold a B.A. in Microbiology from Miami University.  I am a native born Australian, and have lived and worked all over the world including, Sydney, London, Paris, Seoul and the US.  My home is San Diego, but I spend a fair amount of time traveling to teach meditation and combining that with my passion for kitesurfing.  

We all have the ability to train and take back control of our minds.  If I was able to do it, I know that I can help you do it too.  There is nothing you can do that will give you greater satisfaction in life than getting rid of a cluttered, uncontrollable mind and creating a peaceful, focused and sharper mind.



Karen Sennes

I first met Meredith when we worked on the same management team at Merrill Lynch.  I was immediately impressed with her ability to remain calm in any stressful situation – nothing seemed to rattle her.  When she told me her secret was daily meditation, I was intrigued. 

I was tired of being stressed out all the time and given her success, I figured why not me?  I then became Meredith’s first student – that was over 15 years ago. 

Over the years she has continued to be my coach; giving me a better framework for understanding my mind and brain.  Her coaching has enabled me to handle stressful situations more easily, be more focused and peaceful.  There is a sharpness that meditation gives me that I never dreamed was possible.

When Meredith asked me to join her in launching a business geared towards helping financial professionals thrive in a fast-paced environment, I jumped at the chance.  Having worked in finance for nearly 30 years, I knew firsthand how badly this industry needed balance.

Behind the scenes I consult with Meredith on all of the programs and workshops we offer and maintain all the operational aspects of ZenSmarts, freeing Meredith’s time to focus on teaching.

I am a native San Diegan and happily live here with my husband Frank. 

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