Friday, March 28, 2014

Before Sunlight

"Before sunlight can shine through a window, the blinds must be raised." -American Proverb

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Put the Timer On It

The other day I was talking with someone whose sleep schedule has been shifting; they said that in order to adjust to it, they'd like to start taking naps. I suggested one of my fav pastimes, Restorative Yoga. I said, "It could work too if you promise yourself you'll lay still with your legs up the wall for 30 minutes. Just put the timer on it."

When I teach Intro to Meditation classes, one of the main things I talk about is how important it is to have a timer. I honestly have no idea how I would meditate without one. By starting the timer, I give myself the time not think about time and other worldly concerns (although sometimes ALL I think about is worldly concerns) and focus on my breath--which reminds me of my connection to God and helps me to feel all sorts of other magic stuff.

I've started to use my timer other times too; it's my subtle little way of being "in meditation" even when I'm not at my altar. Today for example, I had the morning off, no appointments until one o'clock, and SO much that I wanted to do. I had a gazillion emails to return, I wanted to take a big bite out of spring cleaning, I had a few phone calls to make, tipsandtricks to write and I wanted to meditate and do yoga too.

I set the timer for three hours to clean, one hour to return emails, one hour to return phone calls, an hour and a half for yoga and meditation and a half hour for tipsandtricks. I didn't finish everything, but I got a lot done in a lot of areas.

At Restorative Yoga Teacher Training, we spent a lot of time talking about how important it is to be comfortable with our emotions, whatever they are, so that we can be comfortable with our students emotions, whatever they are. Judith talked about how sometimes when she's in a really sad mood she also "puts the timer on it," and gives herself a good 15 or 30 minutes to feel real low; and just like in front of the altar, when the timer dings, something has changed.

Friday, March 21, 2014

"Leisurely Pursuits"

Have you guys ever read You Can Heal Your Life by Louise Hay? It's so good; it has lots of valuable information and one tiny little sentence that changed my life.

Ms. Hay spends the first 200 pages of the book sharing what she has learned about how you can improve or "heal" your life by looking at your belief systems about what you deserve and then changing them.

The last chapter of the book is called "My Story;" it's the story of her life up until the point she wrote the book. At one point, she closes her very successful business in New York because she wants to move to California. When she gets to California, "For the first six months, I went to the beach a lot, knowing that when I became busy, there would be less time for such leisurely pursuits."

Before reading Ms. Hay's book, it would have never occurred to me to be laid-back and at the beach when business is slow. I would be freaking out and doing everything I could to start generating work and income pronto, (read: mostly just freaking out) but there's a time and a place for everything.

My business has been slow for the past few weeks and thanks to that little sentence near the end of the book, I'm not losing my mind. There are certain periods of time when my schedule is so busy with work I barely have any time for myself and this is not one of those times. I am embracing this time with gratitude: going on lots of walks, spending time with friends and taking good care. I know by now this slow period won't last forever, nothing ever does.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014


"If you understand, things are just as they are; if you do not understand, things are just as they are." 

-Zen Saying

Friday, March 14, 2014


Many years ago, after being "sick" to my stomach for almost a month, I decided to give up gluten. At first, it was very challenging. I remember seeing a burrito someone had dropped on the sidewalk and wanting to pick it up and eat it; I wanted that dirty flour tortilla in my mouth. About 2 weeks in, feeling good about myself, I decided I deserved a treat. I bought myself a nice big bottle of organic beer, forgetting that one of the main ingredients of beer is in fact, gluten. The next day, I felt so so so sick. After just two weeks, gluten (or a least that much of it) had become poison to me.

Since then, it has not been difficult at all to avoid foods containing gluten. Sometimes, I'm not even tempted by gluten-free foods. One year for Christmas, my dear roommate baked me a beautiful batch of gluten-free brownies and they sat in the fridge for almost a week untouched. I realized I was scared to eat them, afraid I would feel sick to my stomach again. When did I turn into such a weirdo? These were gluten-free brownies. What happened to the old me? The one who, without thinking, drank a big old bottle of beer? I told my teacher Jen about the brownies, just sitting there, going stale in the fridge.

Jen told me to treat the brownies as though they were prasad and to eat them pronto. For those of you that don't know, prasad is an offering: food offered by worshippers to whatever it is they are worshiping. Lots of times in yoga studios, there will be cookies, tea or chocolates. It's nice to have a snack to help ground you after a big practice, but also, it's believed that the good energy generated by the practice or ritual blesses the food, which makes the food more nourishing. With love and gratitude, I ate the brownies; they were absolutely delicious and even weeks later, perfect and moist.

Last night I went to a sound bath with my cherished friend Virginia. After the sound bath was over, the moderators encouraged us to eat prasad to help us ground before going back out in the world an operating machinery (read: driving our cars). I glanced at the prasad on my way out and saw that is was milk chocolate, so I skipped it. As I was putting my shoes on, a gentleman came up to me, and reminded me to eat some prasad. As I was considering the potential meaning in being offered prasad a second time, someone else came up to me and encouraged me to have some before I left. Third time. A charm. Graciously, I ate one piece of the milk chocolate and headed back out into the night.

As I walked to my car, the taste of chocolate in my mouth, I thought of my little bio on the home page of It says, "Ashleigh is vegan except for African Fair Trade Baskets, darn those things." And I realized, for the first time, how really, that's quite important for me. As a recovering perfectionist, it's good for me to not be 100% at anything, but rather to just, steady on, do my best. Eat the prasad and relax a little.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Days Just Like Today

"I'm more likely to get what I want when I ask for it." --Judith Hanson Lasater

Friday, March 7, 2014

My Altar #3

"Spiritual growth involves giving up the stories of the past so the universe can write you a new one." --Marianne Williamson

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Not to Rubberneck

A few months ago on my way to Santa Fe, I got stuck in a gigantic traffic jam. There was an accident at a major intersection and although a few lanes were impassable, the traffic was clearly due to rubbernecking.

When I got up to the intersection where the two cars had collided, I chose not to turn and look but to just keep my eyes on the road ahead. It was hard! There was glass strewn all over the road, many service vehicles with flashing red lights and it seemed as though every other driver was giving into the temptation to gawk.

It has been proven time and again how attracted the human mind is to negativity. Rubbernecking is a perfect example of how potentially destruction our drive towards negativity can be.

That morning, when I managed to stave off the urge to rubberneck, I felt powerful. Just like I feel powerful every time I convince myself not to obsess on hard or sad things that have happened. This is not an easy practice, but if I can do it, so can you.