Mike Dannheim

It began with the sound of twisted metal and broken glass. In 2003, my car hit a patch of black ice in a storm on I-95 in Philadelphia and I slammed into a multi-vehicle pileup. 

Suddenly, I realized I was floating above the scene of the accident, watching as my friend pulled me free from the wreckage. It was truly an out-of-body experience, and I felt an indescribable sense of peace and love come over me.

I had no idea how much that was about to change.

When I came to, I was in the hospital and I didn’t know who I was. When someone would talk to me, I couldn’t remember what they’d just said. As hard as I tried, it was difficult to hold even the most basic conversations. I would just sit there and stare into space.

I felt terribly disconnected, like I was no longer fully integrated with my own body. Part of me was inside my body, but a part of me was still outside of it, powerless to respond. I felt helpless and terribly ashamed.

The doctor diagnosed me with a severe concussion and retrograde amnesia. He said that it was basically a hopeless situation and I would probably struggle like this for the rest of my life. I was only 22 years old, and I was devastated.

Besides the debilitating memory loss, over time the accident also left me with crippling anxiety and overwhelming despair. I began to slip deeper into depression, which eventually led me down the path to substance abuse. At one point, I even attempted suicide with an overdose of painkillers and alcohol in 2003. But even then, my descent into darkness wasn’t over.

The day I woke up in a holding cell with a DUI in 2004, I knew I had hit rock bottom. I could see firsthand how the cycle of suffering perpetuates itself.  At that moment, I completely surrendered. I had no choice left but to embrace my sadness, shame and fear and begin the journey to get sober and get my life back, no matter what. 

I was introduced to some simple breathing and meditation exercises in recovery that helped me see the first rays of light. I continued to immerse myself in my new daily mindfulness practice, and within 6 months, my memory was back, my brain function returned, and my life began to take off. By 2005, I was back to work at an investment bank, making lots of money. I thought I had it made, but deep down, something inside me had changed.

I realized that the firm and I were making a lot more money than our customers, which didn’t feel right. My brain was able to do the work, but I just wasn’t the same person any more. I knew I was in the wrong place, but when I tried to suppress those feelings, I felt empty and incredibly anxious. All of the stress from that ruthless, hypercompetitive work environment would re-trigger trauma symptoms and affect my health.

It became obvious that I couldn’t be my best when I was in the fight or flight stress response mode all the time.
If I wanted to heal, I would need to go deeper into my spiritual journey, so I quit my job in 2008 and started out on a quest to discover how to live authentically in all areas of my life. I became obsessed with eastern spirituality, neuroscience, psychology and anything that could help me get better.

Every one of the great wisdom traditions and religions I studied all pointed to the body as the source of enlightenment. My intuition told me that our bodies are always communicating with us and trying to guide us, but in our so-called “modern” world, it’s become difficult to receive these messages.

We grow up being told that our problems are all “in our heads,” but they actually take root in our bodies. I knew that if I didn’t clear my stress regularly through my daily practice, I would actually hold it in my body, in the form of muscular tension. Without a way to tune in to what my body was telling me, I would literally carry my issues in my tissues. Letting stress just accumulate would have serious negative effects on my health.

All the scientific literature I studied along with my own experience told me that the deeper we’re connected to our bodies and our feelings, the more joyful and enlightened our experience of life will be. I knew that I needed to get better at following my feelings and listening to the wisdom of my body, and I wanted to help others do the same… but how?

My quest led me to India in 2011, where I ended up working for Groupon. But traveling between there and places like Dubai, and seeing the extreme disconnect between the way people lived only served to highlight the disconnection I still felt in my own body. Outwardly, I may have had all the trappings of success, but inside I was still experiencing bouts of anxiety and suicidal thoughts.

When I was offered the opportunity to be CEO of Groupon in India, many were surprised when I turned it down, but I wasn’t. I knew my search was not yet complete.

In 2013, my journey then took me to New York, where I found myself on the management team of a hot Y Combinator-backed tech startup. But once again, the dog-eat-dog corporate world didn’t align with my inner path and just created more inner conflict. 

I kept thinking – with all this technology, why aren’t there more tools to help people? There’s a saying in the startup world that you should move fast and break things. I didn’t fit in any more because I wanted to move slow and fix things.

When I got the chance to help start Rise Up Ventures, an organization dedicated to teaching mindfulness and entrepreneurship to youthful offenders in the prison system, I jumped at the chance. That experience showed me how helping others heal can have a powerful effect on how we heal ourselves.

So in 2015, I headed to Bali to study Yoga, where I eventually became a credentialed instructor. That’s when I really started to develop the vision to combine ancient wisdom with modern technology. I sensed that somewhere, at the intersection of spirituality, psychology and technology, there was a way to tap into something deeply powerful and profoundly life-changing… but what was it?

It was while building a biometric payment company that same year that I met my future co-founder Thomas Gersten, who shares my passion for spirituality and technology. We quickly discovered we were both focused on the same question – how can we fuse spiritual wisdom with modern technology so everyone can experience a greater connection to personal wellness?

We knew that every one of us with a smartphone has a supercomputer in our pocket, which used to take up an entire room. We both understood the incredible potential to harness this power to improve people’s lives… we just didn’t know how. Together we began working with some of the world’s top researchers with backgrounds from MIT, Oxford, Cambridge, UC Berkeley and Stanford to find the answer.

We were doing pioneering work on motion-based biomarkers for wellbeing and were finally close to a breakthrough… so why did I feel even more blocked than ever?

It was in 2020 that I met an authentic traditional shaman who offered me the chance to join him in a healing ceremony using ancient plant medicines. At first I declined. But recalling my vow to go to any lengths, I faced my fears once again and reluctantly agreed. 

The medicine experience was truly mind-opening. It showed me that we’re all connected, and that’s when everything just clicked. After 17 years of looking for answers all around the world, my search was over. The final piece of the puzzle had fallen into place, and my journey was just beginning.

I finally saw that the car accident was the biggest gift I had ever been given. Becoming disconnected from my body had actually allowed me to reconnect with it at a higher level, and to help others do the same. It wasn’t a tragedy. It was a blessing. All this time, I had been searching “out there” for the answer, but the answer had been with me all along. The message was clear.

Listen to your body. Let it guide you. It knows the way.

Once my mind was free, I was finally able to grasp the full vision of how our phones could be the key to helping us tap into the wisdom of our bodies, and things took off like a rocket. We were able to build an easy-to-use app called Sensie that uses sensors in your smartphone to measure muscular tension, which helps you identify blockages in the nervous system, and then gives you simple practices to clear them in less than 3 minutes.

This breakthrough allows us to personalize wellness to a level unheard of before. Being able to easily identify and eliminate our sources of stress helps us quickly return to a natural flow state. Building that resilience is the heart of mental and emotional health. When we really begin to get in touch with our feelings and tap into the wisdom of our bodies, we can start fully trusting ourselves. That’s when new possibilities for life emerge.

Sensie is designed to be your companion on your own journey to connecting with your body. Our vision is a world full of people connected to our feelings, to our bodies, and to each other. Sensie is the bridge that makes that vision possible.

Sensie gives each of us the key to unlocking the greatest adventure of our lives… discovering who we are while allowing ourselves to be our best.

I’d love to join you on your journey…

Mike Dannheim, Co-Founder of Sensie
Fall 2021

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