Seeking Center: The Podcast

The Meditation Breakthrough for Non-Meditators - Episode 76

August 21, 2023 Robyn Miller Brecker, Karen Loenser, Ashley Wray Season 2 Episode 76
Seeking Center: The Podcast
The Meditation Breakthrough for Non-Meditators - Episode 76
Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

Get ready to be inspired on many levels -- and also in alignment with who you really are. Meet Ashley Wray. She is the founder and CEO of Mala Collective which works with artisans from Bali, India and Nepal to create beautiful and powerful products supporting a mindfulness and meditation practice. The inception of it is a story in and of itself that we'll be discussing...plus it is a mindfulness resource for all of us. Seriously, we had never used a Mala and now understand the power! It may be just what you need to make meditation work for you.

Ashley is also a sought after meditation and mindfulness coach for high performers. She helps C-suite incorporate mindfulness into their roles to reduce stress, prevent burnout, build confidence, and create clarity for decision-making and effective leadership. Ashley partners with companies including TED, Google, and VaynerX to bring wellness to corporate settings as well as universities, recently teaching at Oxford Saïd Business School in collaboration with the Institute for Real Growth.

Ashley will lead you through a simple and short, yet impactful meditation during this episode...and she's sharing easy practices that may make a huge difference in your everyday. 

There's a lot covered in this mindful conversation!

MORE FROM ASHLEY WRAY

Visit theseekingcenter.com for more from Robyn + Karen, plus mega inspo -- and the best wellness + spiritual practitioners, products and experiences on the planet!

You can also follow Seeking Center on Instagram @theseekingcenter

Robyn: [00:00:00] I'm Robyn Miller Brecker, 

Karen: and I'm Karen Loenser. Welcome to seeking center. The podcast,

Robyn: join us each week as we have the conversations and weed through the spiritual and holistic clutter for you, we'll boil it down to what you need to know. Now 

Karen: we're all about total wellness, which to us needs building a healthy life on a physical, mental, and spiritual level.

We'll talk to the trailblazers who will introduce you to the practices, products, and experiences. That may be just what you need to hear about to transform your life. 

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Robyn: Get ready to be inspired on many levels and also in alignment with who you really are. Meet Ashley Ray, she's the founder and CEO of Mala Collective, which works with artisans from Bali, India, and Nepal to create beautiful and powerful [00:01:00] products supporting a mindfulness and meditation practice. the inception of it is a story in and of itself that we'll be discussing. Plus it is a mindfulness resource for all of us. And Ashley is also a sought after meditation and mindfulness coach for high performers. Ashley works with TED Talks athletes and senior executives of major corporations like Lululemon and C using a grounded and realistic approach to mindfulness for performance. She is currently working with different organizations like the N F L and N B A, using mindfulness for players wellbeing, and improve performance during games.

Ashley can help all of us reduce stress, prevent burnout, build confidence, and create clarity in our lives. There is a lot to cover in this episode. Let's get talking. Hi, Ashley. 

Ashley: Ashley. Hello. Thank you for having me. Oh, 

Karen: we're so glad we can catch up with you. Yes, all over the 

Robyn: world. 

Ashley: I'm very happy to be here.

Thank 

Robyn: you. So let's start with how you came into the world of mindfulness and meditation. What led [00:02:00] you on that soul searching journey and on that serendipitous trip where you ended up in Bali? 

Ashley: When you tell a story, it doesn't even feel like it's your life anymore. It just feels like a completely different version of myself.

I used to be a journalist covering murder trials, which is maybe the most opposite thing you can do outside of meditation. And so I won a national award. I quit journalism, went on a soul seeking journey. I on the other side of the world and went to Bali.

At this point, I had never meditated. Most people think I started this business because I was so in love with a practice of mindfulness meditation. But the reality is I had never. Sat and done a meditation before, it actually scared the life outta me that I would be doing it wrong. So I went to Bali, fell in love with mala beads, these beautiful prayer beads.

It's a string of beads. That hold different intentions with the different qualities of crystals, which I thought was so beautiful. Bought a whole bunch of them was flying from Bali to Thailand, and this beautiful hippie came up to us and said, I love your aura. Can I sit and talk to you? And she ended up being the woman that made the mala beads [00:03:00] that we had bought while on the island.

So that moment of serendipity completely transformed my life and changed my life path. And I do appreciate and love that story, not just because it's exactly what happened, but in hindsight, the realization of. How much one meeting of two souls can change your life. And in that moment, I didn't realize as it was happening, but now when I do tell that story, a lot of people say, oh, I wish that would happen to me.

I wish something would fall into my lap. Like it fell into your lap. And I do believe that the universe aligns us with people and we can change their life and they can change ours. And it just takes a quick meeting and it's the trust and the surrendering and just the patience to let it unfold into what it's meant to be.

So that's how my life shifted from being a journalist into meditation and mindfulness. Wow. And I just wanna 

Robyn: say that it's that what Oprah always says, which is when preparation meets opportunity, and to me it was first of all, having the awareness that, wow, this is actually something [00:04:00] special.

 It is serendipity and it is that you were ready I feel like in your lifetime and on your path, it seems like that was a pivotal, Karen and I say, it's an unlocking, 

Ashley: it unlocked something for you. It's true. And I do love that Oprah quote around preparedness.

I would say it was almost naivety. We were in our twenties, , I didn't know what an entrepreneur was. I didn't know one person that owned a business. I didn't know anything about that. So there was a sense of play and naivety that was so innocent. And when I reflect on that moment, so true to the purpose of why we were excited about it versus this mindset of, wow, I bet this could become something.

'cause we didn't Totally, you're right. 

Robyn: It's so funny. I 

Karen: remember being in New York as a young kid, right outta college, same kind of idea where I was stopping to talk to people at the bus stop, and a business guy, very much older than I said, oh, you really shouldn't do that. It's not really safe for you to be talking to people here in New York.

And I always had an imprint of that in my life, and I couldn't understand why. But I just think, it just reminds me how we're [00:05:00] taught out of those opportunities really to meet people. And you going in as a seeker and being open in that way is exactly why that relationship really manifested, I think, in your life.

Robyn: In that playfulness and in that moment where you met that woman and knew she was the one who made these beads, you bought, what was it then that was For you, I need to share these with other people.

how did that happen? 

Ashley: That's a really great question. We were so taken with our experience with them and with our first time meditating and with the energy of Bali and with the energy of, we both left careers. I think there is also, this quarter life crisis that, so many people go through where we had reached the peak of the career that we both wanted and my partner and I at the time, and we were starting to reflect is this what we've been looking for our whole life?

Is this the career that we wanted? Is this our purpose? Is this who we're meant to be? And then to collide energetically with somebody who is sharing something that was so [00:06:00] purpose driven and so intuitive and so personal. It really touched us and the realization, oh, I bet other people are looking for this too, or this feeling.

And so this was 12 years ago. By no means was meditation and mindfulness a new thing in the west, but it wasn't talked about the way that it's talked about now. And so going home, I was a journalist for quite a few years. I was super curious and I always joke, I got paid to be nosy. And that curiosity led me down this path of.

Wow. I wonder how you start meditating. I wonder if other people are curious about this. I couldn't find a lot of stuff online about it. There weren't a lot of blogs or websites about it at the time. And I had this idea in my head of why I thought meditation was, and I wanted to make it accessible to me.

And then that adage of, if you're curious about something, somebody else is probably curious about the same thing, but they're too afraid to ask. So I would say that curiosity led us down each step of that path. And then the beauty of the malas and the beauty of the practice and it's so easy to do.

[00:07:00] It's so easy not to do, to sit in meditation. I know we'll talk about it in, in our chat today, but it can be so intimidating. And I like to bring lightness and joyfulness and playfulness into things. And I was wondering why isn't there anything that's truly beautiful and joyful and playful and light out there for me to tap into?

And. By no means did I invent anything along those lines. I just mean I couldn't find it. And so that led us down the next path. And never with the goal or intention of we need this to be a business or make money off of it. It was, oh, I wonder if we could build our own website.

I wonder if someone could buy something from us that wasn't related to us. It wasn't, a family member that was doing it to make us feel good. I wonder, and that, Took us from next step to next step. it was a really beautiful beginning.

And in 12 years, I wish I could say all 12 years were like that. It was definitely not, there's a lot of ups and downs in my experience of running a business. And I would say that the realization, I am my own backup plan. I've always remembered that and I've always thought that I'm a smart cookie.

I can get another job if this doesn't work out. But I probably sat beside [00:08:00] that lady for a reason. How cool is that? And if it's nothing, then it's nothing. We can figure it out. And just that lightness and also like I didn't have kids and didn't have a mortgage. I didn't have all of this weight that would probably shift a decision for me later in life.

But there was a playfulness behind the energy and the decision making. So I think the curiosity, the trust, the realizing that we'll figure it out, there was just a lot of beautiful, magical things happening all at once. Oh, that's so 

Robyn: beautiful. 

Karen: So what are they, for people who are listening and wondering why you were so taken with them.

what are Mala beads, how do you work with them and what is the tradition 

Robyn: behind them? 

Ashley: Mala beads, there are a string of beads.

 Visualize a string of 108 beads. There's a tassel on one end and what you're meant to do. It's very similar to a rosary, the intention behind a mala it's rooted in Buddhism and in Hinduism that it's a physical, tactile tool that you use in meditation to hold your focus and your attention.

So when your mind starts to wander, because our minds always wander in meditation, we come back to [00:09:00] this thing in our fingers, in our hands. So we turn each bead, inhale, exhale, turn the bead, inhale, exhale, turn the bead. And when you go all the way around back to the tassel, that symbolizes a full meditation.

So doing 108 breaths. The number 108 is very auspicious and Buddhism and Hinduism. So there's a lot of beauty there. And what I really loved was the different gemstones and healing qualities behind them. So the one I'm holding in my hand, it's a gray stone. It's called labradorite. It's my favorite stone.

It's for serendipity and synchronicity, which you're probably understanding why? Because I so believe in serendipity and synchronicity. I also wear a lot of white howlite for patience or when I'm feeling I desire to connect to myself and have self-love. I go to Rose quartz so this idea that we can bring intention, intentionality into our practice was so beautiful to me.

And you don't need anything to meditate. But if there's this thing that you can hold that brings you back and roots you and grounds you and brings you back to present moment over and over again, that [00:10:00] reflects something really relevant to you that you wanna manifest and bring in and something that's beautiful that you can wear through the day.

I just thought that was such a special way to connect beauty and intentionality and practice. And do you have just 

Karen: one or do you have multiple for different 

Robyn: intentions? 

Ashley: So I think everybody expects that I have a hundred that I rotate between, but there's just a few that I go back to the serendipity and synchronicity for me is, It's such a beautiful intention when I zoom out and I try to force things or make things happen to realize actually there's something that's already happening for me, even if I don't see it in this moment, that synchronicity really reminds me of trust and to let go. So I really, I go back to that one a lot.

The patience I go to for the same reason, the trusting and letting go for someone that meditates so much I have, an inability to let go of control. So that to me is this huge practice. So coming back to that softness for me is those the malas I typically am drawn to. And then lava. This Blackstone, it's so beautiful for strength and for clarity.

[00:11:00] So I rotate maybe between three and four pieces and When something breaks, it's believed that you can let go of that intention and move on to the next intention. And I remember writing about that and thinking, oh, that's a nice concept. But I don't know if I totally believe that. And I remember being in yoga and my first this was years and years ago, the first time I had a mala of break and I used wept at this symbolism of, oh wow, what do I need to let go of in this moment?

What did this represent for me that I can let go of? And it's reading your horoscope or talking to a psychic. Do you put everything in that? Maybe not, but what does it spark and reflect within you? And I thought it was such a beautiful reflection. The letting go of a mala, the letting go of an intention and the choosing of an intention.

And I do believe it's cyclical that we set an intention. We start to repeat it to ourself, maybe trying to get used to it and believe it. And then we go from our head, the analytical of, okay, here's my intention down to our heart and the embodiment and the integration of it. And one of my meditation teachers said to me, the longest journey we take is from our head to our [00:12:00] heart.

So for that intention to click, for us to live it, I am love. I am love. I'm love. I'm worthy of love. I'm beautiful, I'm loving, I'm whatever we wanna cultivate around love. And then one day we start to believe it and live it and radiate it and attract it. And then this cycle goes and goes, okay, now I'm living it.

Now maybe I don't need to let go of it, but I can let go of that being my only focus. And so this cycle, it's such a beautiful representation of the cycles that we go through with our intention, and I find it to have. A physical reminder of that is, to me so special and very intentional of what am I feeling today?

What do I wanna call in today? What do I need today? How do I wanna feel? Who do I wanna be? So there's so much there that yes, it is a tool, but it is also a beautiful reflection of who we are and who we're becoming. 

Robyn: I love the way you explain that, and what Karen and I we strive to do is introduce these different ways for people to get to the core of who they are and set those intentions.

And for every single person, we know that they're gonna be attracted to [00:13:00] something different. So something is gonna spark that. And the mala beads may be just what. Somebody listening right now needs to hear about. And when you were in Bali, is that where you were introduced to this whole idea? And that's where you were saying you bought your first mala beads there, is that what happened?

Ashley: Yeah. So Bali is, I think we all have a place that we associate in the world where we've discovered a new part of ourself. And it doesn't have to be the other side of the world. It could be your living room, it can be your kitchen table. It could be 

Robyn: right now listening to this. It 

Ashley: could be right here in your car, driving, listening.

But Bali does represent a lot for me, but there's also, the mountains represent a lot for me. Bali was the first place that I discovered a practice, and I wouldn't say it's where I deepen my practice. There is a beauty in going in this escapist way to another part of the world and doing a retreat.

I'm a huge fan of doing that. I love it. I do it every year, but that continuity of how we integrate it in the in-between and practice it at home. So I'd say Bali opened my eyes to a [00:14:00] feeling and a part of myself I didn't know. But then when I came home and really committed to that practice, that's really where the transformation started to happen.

And of course, I would go back and forth, and there's a beauty in who I am and how I feel in different cities in the world. I associate, I feel strong and sexy and powerful and entrepreneurial in New York. And I feel like this beautiful divine goddess in Bali. And I feel like this outdoorsy mountaineer in Vancouver, and I am all of those things all of the time.

It's just that part is gonna be highlighted depending where I am. So Bali brought apart out of me that I didn't realize I had. 

Karen: Ashley, can I just ask a question about the practice of using the beads themselves? How, in your experience have they helped you ground your meditation experience and what have you heard from other people who use them for their meditation 

Ashley: practice?

That's a beautiful question for me. I've been meditating now for 12 years, and I will almost always use a mala. Almost always. I find them comforting. I find them beautiful. The very first feeling I [00:15:00] had when I saw it was, wow, that's so pretty. And that's okay. It is beautiful.

Gemstones are beautiful and they're from the earth and they're natural. Like what a spectacular thing in its own. So I use them. I wear, whenever I fly, I wear, I often wear quite a few bracelets and I always sit beside anxious flyers. I always teach the person beside me to meditate and give them a bracelet or a mala.

What I have found, and this is such a curious evolution for me, that starting the business, not knowing any entrepreneurs, not calling myself an entrepreneur, I actually was really resistant. I called myself a journalist for years after. I never called myself an entrepreneur. 'cause I was clinging to this past version of myself that people would email and they still do, and say, this mala changed my life.

It helped me through transformation. It helped me through divorce, it helped me through becoming an empty nester, through abuse, through surgeries, through whatever this transition is in life that they've gone through. That this ma represents me getting through that and that realization of, oh, this isn't just about me anymore.

This isn't my curiosity journey of these malas [00:16:00] are pretty and they're beautiful and I really like them. It's. This Mala is helping someone on the other side of the world. I remember the first time someone ordered from Estonia, I had no idea where Estonia was on the map. And the excitement we felt of, wow, someone in Estonia gets to use these on their journey.

And not that everybody is looking for us in our mala beads, but the fact that they were seeking something and that our paths intervened was so special. And it still is so special to me that reminder and realization that these people are all going through their own unique journey was so inspiring to me, but also terrifying to me that I don't know what I'm doing and I'm not good enough to run this business.

And I got in my way, I would say. When I get asked about running a business, the biggest blocks have been me and my fear, and I'm not enough. And I'm not this, I'm not that. People are gonna realize I'm a phony. They're gonna realize, I dunno what I'm doing, that I'm eating Thai food at two in the morning trying to answer emails between my full-time job and talk to 'em about Buddhism and all of these fears and blocks of what I [00:17:00] thought people would think of me if they realized I was also seeking and also figuring it out at the same time.

So while those emails and those messages have always been such a guiding light and inspiration, they also at one point scared the life out of me of a level of responsibility that I didn't think I was strong enough or wise enough to hold. 

Robyn: thank you for being vulnerable and sharing that. I think Karen and I can relate I would say most entrepreneurs and even if you're not, whatever you're working on, whatever you find becomes a responsibility and you don't know you. If you have what it takes to accomplish it, it's scary. So thank you for sharing that. And the little nugget 

Karen: I heard you say I thought was such an aha, was.

Being a seeker and a finder at the same time. And I think that's the definition of life, right? Is that we always feel like we have to have all the answers or understand everything before we're willing to put ourselves out there, be it as a business or just a human. And that idea of seeking while you're finding [00:18:00] these, oh, 

Ashley: it's so beautiful, and now I realize that is still what's happening, but I'm okay with it.

Yeah, I wish I could just give that younger me a hug and say, Hey, I love that you got this. Yes, 

Robyn: And I would say that we live in a society where when you're looking at social media, especially the images that people put out there is like that. They've got this, you don't really feel.

The authenticity and that vulnerability of, I don't know if I have it, and so I feel like it's so important to be authentic and share the journey and look at what you have done and the transformations you've been a part of. And actually, a question that I have for you in terms of how you learned all of this is how did you become so educated on the different stones 

Ashley: and so forth?

Something I never thought would happen. And it's so funny, my team and I talk about this all the time of, did you ever in a million years think you'd be able to identify a stone that's a few feet away that you can see for 30 seconds and immediately know what it is? I think it's just something that I [00:19:00] wanna say partially through osmosis, just every day working with stones, I started to learn about them.

And I also, Feel like a little kid on Christmas. Every time I get to play with them and I'm in that part has never worn off. I'm in awe every time I get to see new crystals and play with them. 'cause it's so mind boggling that they come from Mother Nature and this is something natural that comes from our earth.

It is so special and so beautiful. Whether or not you believe in any of the healing qualities is irrelevant. We used to get asked all the time, is this gonna help me with this? And I always answer it as if you're wearing rose quartz for love and you look down at your wrist and it reminds you, Hey, I wanted to practice some self-love today.

Is that the gemstone or is that you? Is the stone just a reminder and it becomes this beautiful, self-fulfilling prophecy. Wonderful. The fact that these stones, these crystals are so beautiful and natural and represent so much. I just feel so. Magnetized by them. it was never this intention of I have to sit here and study these stones.

And I've worked with a lot of gemologists [00:20:00] and a lot of people who, that is their expert and gleaned a lot of their wisdom. But I'm not ever gonna pretend to try to, I'm not an expert in gemstones, but I feel very honored that for 12 years I've gotten to play with them daily. Yeah. It's one of the reasons 

Karen: we love bracelets for that same reason.

It is that reminder. As you're talking, I'm thinking about that person who has said a million times that they can't meditate. Yeah. But that having that as this tangible, it's like holding somebody's hand, They're anchoring you to the earth, but they're also your companion as you're doing the meditation, which just seems like another way to invite that as a practice into your life and not be so 

Robyn: overwhelmed by the practice.

Yeah. And I think I know it's come up a few times already in our conversation, but I will say so many people that we do talk to that are seekers, the first thing they say is I can't meditate. Yeah. I can't do that. And Karen and I are actually always saying, whatever you think meditation is, it most likely isn't in the sense of, some meditations can be a minute long, others can be 20 or 30 minutes long, as long as [00:21:00] you can find a way to center yourself.

And yet just quiet for a moment so that you can hear whatever whispers need to come in and just, ground yourself into wherever we are. And I know we're we're gonna do a short meditation together, but I just find that the mala beads may really be an answer for somebody. And to your point, it's.

Getting potentially into some sort of daily practice and then having that reminder to look down, whether it's a bracelet or a necklace, or however you want to wear it. 

Ashley: I wanted 

Robyn: to 

Karen: ask too, Ashley, how long the 108, going back to that, what is the typical timeframe 

Robyn: for 

Ashley: the 108? Or does it vary?

That's a really good question because I can tell I'm really anxious when it takes me like four minutes, because that means I'm flying through, I would say maybe between eight to 12 minutes. So it depends how deep your breathing. I like to repeat a mantra on each bead. So I really love affirmation based mantras and I am statement, so I'm love, I'm grounded, I'm supported.

So when I use the mala, I'll often sit and just reflect what intention do I [00:22:00] wanna call in, what do I wanna manifest today? And maybe it's, I really wanna feel supported today. So I'll repeat, I'm supported on every bea and maybe I need a bit more that day. So it's, I need to feel supported, loved, and grounded.

So I'm supported. I'm love, I'm grounded. That meditation takes a bit longer, but it's, I'd say eight to 10 minutes. But that concept of what we think meditation is versus what it can be are often two different things. And I get that from every single person I tell. What I do is I know I should, but I can't.

Yes, I know I need to and need and should are both full of self-judgment and we're setting ourselves up for failure right out the gate with those comments. So I'm very grateful that in that curiosity, I took a lot of meditation trainings around the world and went to as many retreats and as many workshops and learnings as I could out of sheer curiosity, never with the intention to teach or speak or share it.

And my friend said to me one day, why are you not sharing this with people? I said, ah, this practice is for me. It's not really a thing that I'm learning so I can tell everyone how to do it. And he said, that's pretty selfish. You have meditated the most and taken the most learning and [00:23:00] education of anyone I've ever met, and you're not sharing with people.

And it, flipped on my head that thought of this is an internal practice for me. And if people want it, they'll find it realizing, why don't I share it? And if they want it, they'll find it. And so it's been also a curious learning for me of when I do share and when I do teach, which I absolutely love, and I'm so grateful I've started doing that.

I don't frame it that there is a right or a wrong that I believe we're all seeking self connection and there's so many entry points to self connection. So I'll often offer a few different variations and tools and practices and entry points and. Understanding the difference between if you don't wanna sit cross-legged, 'cause it hurts your legs, don't sit cross-legged.

There's a discomfort, but then there's a resistance. So there's a difference between the discomfort and the resistance. Resistance is, I just don't like this. Meditation can be really emotionally and physically uncomfortable, but if it's 'cause your leg is falling asleep, just sit a bit differently.

So there's some really beautiful ways to shift and reframe what meditation is to help people get there. A softer, [00:24:00] gentler, lighter way. And even what you were just 

Robyn: saying with affirmations and using the beads, that I would think for people who are maybe scared of it, for lack of a better word, That would even be helpful for them.

'cause it helps focus. And then if they got into that practice, then they may find, because they're seeing a change in their day-to-day, then they may wanna take it further and understand more of what you would have to teach. So how did creating Mala Collective then lead you to working with high performance people and professional athletes?

Ashley: I believe that when it comes to high performers and it comes to everybody I believe everybody has a level of potential within themselves that they feel they haven't achieved or they've left on the table. And maybe we're all a little bit embarrassed to admit it.

Oh no, I don't wanna go for that last bit of potential because I don't wanna fail and be judged. So I do think everyone is, In some way on their way to being a high performer. If they wanna be a high performer, they can. There's no difference between how I teach a high performer and someone that wouldn't consider themselves a high [00:25:00] performer.

And I never wanna use that title in a way that makes people feel like am I good enough to learn this? It's the same stuff for every single person which is beautiful to show that we're all seeking the same thing. So that really came through working with Ted Talks and working with the speakers before they went on stage and realizing, I think for me, what was the coolest realization is when we watch a TED talk, these people on a pedestal for us, they're so intelligent.

They're so refined, they're so strong. And actually before they go on stage, they're terrified. They're normal human being. Yeah, I would imagine. they're normal human beings. And to be able to experience that moment with someone rawness that vulnerability, it was such a privilege and it was so beautiful to see.

That childlike play as soon as they came off stage. Did you see me do it? Did you see me do it? but that fear beforehand and realizing, wow, what a practice in self-compassion that every single person at some point has to speak or stand in front of a room or, just that could be applied to anybody.

And going from TED Talks what I think also is really profound was [00:26:00] because of Covid, the conversation on mental health has shifted. And people have looked at it in a way where they realize, wow, depression, anxiety, feeling lonely, these are real things. These are not just things that we put off to the side and don't talk about anymore.

Normalize the conversation. And I would say, At the same time, mindfulness meditation in conversation has been normalized so much more. So one thing is I never say meditation and mindfulness is the answer. It is not the fix all. It is one tool in your tool belt to help you get where you're going.

And now when I'm working with C-Suite with high performers, any capacity with creatives, with athletes is a commonality in all of us with every human that we want to find inner our peace. And you can use whatever language you want there. There's insert, whatever word feels good for you. But the way I've been teaching has been standard across the board.

There's maybe just shifts in language. So maybe when I'm working with creatives, with CMOs, I talk about using mindfulness and meditation as a medium to get us into the creative headspace, to get to a place where we can be [00:27:00] creative and come up with these beautiful marketing campaigns. When we're talking about having all those thoughts, We start to judge ourself for thoughts, we start speaking negatively to ourself.

The stats are that we have 60,000 thoughts a day. 80% are negative, and 90% are from yesterday. That if we look at meditation as an opportunity to reframe how we speak to ourself, that's actually just a practice, self-compassion. But that can also be used as a communication tool. So depending on who I'm working with, who I'm talking to, it's the framing of the language.

Does this help me create psychological safety within teams? How does this help communication within teams? Realistically, how does it help with me communicating to my partner, to my family, to my barista, to a dormant, it's communication to myself, and I do believe how we communicate and speak to ourself reflects externally.

So working with, teaching a meditation retreat or working with high performers, it's the same concepts, but it's framing it in ways that allows people to apply it. In their daily life. Because I think the concept and the idea of meditation is, wow, it's so beautiful. But without understanding in a pragmatic, practical way where we can see ourselves [00:28:00] practicing it, maybe it's just a little bit out of reach.

So for me it's how do I ground people in it with real life examples? And when I'm working with C-Suite, I always get asked the r o i of meditation and the return on investment, or how do you know it's working? And just the real examples of when I go home at Thanksgiving, I'm a little bit kinder to my family.

And maybe the conversations that used to trigger me don't trigger me as much. That's how no meditation's working. The r o i talking about team communication and stress and reduction of anxiety. And so there's so much beauty there. And when it comes to teams, what I find so curious with athletes is you can see if you're watching sports, when people get in their head and they get in their own way.

So you can see it in real time. Whereas maybe in a boardroom you see it a quarter or two quarters later, that communication, that trust actually wasn't flowing. So there, quite beautiful examples and ways to understand when we slow down, we can make better decisions, we can be less stressed.

It improves mental health, it improves team communication, team trust. It's no different than an individual working from home. How we speak to ourselves, how we trust our decisions. So the path really [00:29:00] started from Ted, but I have to say the past year and a half has been the most beautiful. Surrendering to something I never thought would shift very much like being that woman on a plane that this was not on my vision board or a goal I had nor was having a business meditation 12 years ago.

And I think, I do believe that there is in. I wanna frame this lovingly and lightly, that I do believe I have a purpose and that we all have a purpose, and that if we're not living in alignment with it, it gets louder and keeps presenting itself to us. And I feel so grateful that I've leaned into it because a year and a half ago, I would call a few friends and say, is this a distraction or is this real?

I can't tell what's happening right now and it's scaring me and I don't want to do with it. And there's, in hindsight, yeah, that was a turning point, but in the moment I was like, oh, this is interesting. And maybe I have a bit more awareness now than I did 12 years ago. But I think we all have really cool turning points that we choose to pay attention to or lean into.

Definitely. Yeah. And you're teaching 

Robyn: people through your 

Karen: own experience. How this can really work for everyone. I think that everyone is looking for new ways, new tools on how to [00:30:00] navigate and as we all know, many of the old ones they don't 

Robyn: work for us as well. Now, why do you think corporate is now 

Karen: open to mindfulness and meditation in the office space?

What's changed 

Ashley: about that? I think the biggest change in conversation was because of Covid and the mental health situation and conversation. But the reality, the first thing that comes to mind is everyone's still human and they're all seeking. we all want to feel connected to ourselves and to others and aligned with something.

And I almost look at it as, you know how people go to yoga or maybe they start going to yoga 'cause they think it's a really good workout and they're gonna burn a certain amount of calories and then later they realize, oh wow. I know myself better. This creates a space for internal reflection and exploration that I do think that there's a framing in corporate of seeking mindfulness and looking at meditation as a tactical, pragmatic tool to increase revenue and whatever the metrics are that they wanna use.

 And the reality is when we're more connected to ourselves, we can better connect to others. We can do better work, we can be kinder to ourselves, we can be kinder to others, we can do [00:31:00] better work. It's not just a work r o i, it's a life r o i of how we show up. And I think maybe some corporates know that, maybe.

But I do believe that's the honest truth, that if there's a framing of I'm doing this to increase revenue, the outcome is actually, I think gonna be so much more significant, but perhaps not as. Tangible in a metric. this moment just yet. I do think we're getting there. I think what's so cool is talking to these companies that are realizing our people really need something.

Our people need to feel something different. So it's quite beautiful. Such a hardship to go through for everyone to be able to open this conversation. Yes. But I do think this conversation's just starting. I don't think this is, I think this is very new. And I think people are tippy toeing in with curiosity.

And what I do find interesting is, I think, again, I'll reference, I was teaching at Oxford a bunch of CMOs and really hard hitting questions. What's the metric of this? When's it gonna kick in? How is this gonna increase my revenue? how is this gonna impact team deliverables? On the first day, I'll answer some questions.

That's great. And then by the third day, I lead them through visualization of me and their future [00:32:00] self. Everyone's in tears, they all pull me aside separately. I get it now. So it's almost the practice needs to be done and lived and embodied to understand the tangibles and the metrics and the r o I.

But if our analytical mind needs something to hook into so we can surrender to the practice, I'm happy to provide that. So if we need a couple stats and some social proof for you to feel good about it, beautiful. And now you can let go and you can just do the practice and surrender to it. So I do think there's still a lot of framing.

And maybe that'll ease out eventually. 

Robyn: I think it's also, to your point of it being at least new. In that corporate environment and or even in that professional team environment. Whereas 10 years ago it was to where you and I would say Karen and I were seeking it out. I happened to be working somewhere where it was much easier because we were actually seeking those who were in this field, but most people were, who were interested, really had to seek it out.

And now it is becoming a bit more, as you're saying, part of our [00:33:00] mainstream culture in general, even as for corporations and for professional teams to be seeking you out and others like you to help because they believe it. Coming from that r o I, it's super interesting 

I wanted to also say, is that this wasn't taught and to any of us in our western culture growing up.

 However, understanding how r o I, in general for business students, that's what was taught. And yet, this is really getting to that core Who we are and then how we can perform in all different areas. And so what a gift that you are giving to these organizations and that they're actually, however they get to you for whatever reason.

Thank goodness. Because this is the stuff that's not only gonna help the individual within the organization at the time. It's gonna help them in all areas of their life as they move forward. which is why we're having this conversation with you today because it's [00:34:00] so important. We all need to know how to get quiet for and grounded within our every day, no matter what you do.

Ashley: And you know what a point that you just made, that there's the practice of sitting eight minutes, 10 minutes, 20 minutes, but very quickly that starts, the meditation becomes all of the moments in between and it actually is the rest of your life. It's not just the meditation time. Definitely just just when you go to the gym, yes, that's the time to work out, but you can feel the effects.

You feel more alive, more awake, more aligned, more empowered through the day. So the in-between, it starts with the, okay, eight minutes, 10 minutes, 20 minutes. But really the mindfulness, when we start to live it daily, that's what I'm really curious about is how do we get people, In the living of it.

Robyn: Yes. And I know Karen and I talk about this every single day because we have our own practices. They're different than each other, but we know if we haven't done it for ourselves, which I'm sure you do too, Ashley. It's like and my family now knows I need 10 minutes in the [00:35:00] morning every day.

And I know when I don't take it. My day it's so rare that I don't, but when I don't my day was really out of sorts. And to your point of how do you know it's working, like with working out and everything else. ' cause you feel the effects. You really do.

Karen: Yeah. You see it, the cumulative effect. I wanted to ask you too, in terms of the corporate environment, do you find that many people come in to these experiences with you kicking and screaming or rolling their eyes 

Robyn: do. I'm thinking, 

Karen: I'm just thinking about, me sitting in that room with others that I work with.

and then have you seen really surprising transformations on the other side come from it? 

Ashley: Yeah, and I joke that those are my favorite. Those are my favorite people because of course you could be skeptical, I think. When I started meditating, I visualized an old wizard man with a beard sitting on a cushion levitating with incense, like just these old school images.

I'm like, I can't do that. And that wasn't what meditation was. I could have some crystals, I could have nice meditation space, and I reframed in my mind what it could be. And then as [00:36:00] I practice more, it started to shift and change. Now I do walking meditations. I can do a sample meditation, I can listen to an app, I can use my mala

there's so many beautiful ways now that I have the framework of I can play within. What I think is so curious is when I go into these corporate settings, because a lot of them are C-suite, they tend to maybe bit further in their careers. Maybe they didn't grow up with meditation. Maybe they did.

But I do find there is a skepticism and there's some really hard hitting analytical questions. And I'm okay with that. And I think that's for me. If you need to have that answered so you can let go and be present for meditation. Beautiful. We can do a few minutes of questions, but what I actually do almost across the board is I walk out on stage, I get them to do a meditation immediately, right away, out the gate.

 I used to be that analytical, skeptical person, so I know exactly who I'm teaching. I remember being in a training in India and I wanted to understand exactly what the teacher was saying. And I asked so many clarifying questions and the teacher stuck. I said, Ashley, just do the work. You're avoiding the [00:37:00] meditation by asking questions.

So we've been taught that by asking more questions that we should be rewarded ' cause we're getting clear and we're just, we just wanna make sure we're doing it right and that's rewarded in the west. But actually it's a huge form of avoidance for a lot of people. And so I just out the gate, we're gonna meditate.

After maybe a 92nd meditation, I say, how do you feel compared to two minutes ago? Could you imagine making a huge decision now versus two minutes ago? How much money has your organization or business lost from decisions made from that place that you were in two minutes ago? so I think that the experience and the doing is so powerful.

And then I'll go into some metrics and then if I still have more questions, of course I'll get in the conversation. But you said it already earlier, I teach a lot through the human experience and I will happily share my experiences and I'll share without naming anybody other people's experiences, because that's how we start, that's how we relate to each other.

I think inherently, having been a journalist for so long, the storytelling is so beautiful to me and it's what I remember, people aren't gonna remember the statistics and the numbers. They're gonna remember the feeling and the stories. That's So [00:38:00] that's really where I lean and. What I do find so interesting and this still happens and I'm getting better at it because I understand for the most part the questions people will ask after this many years of teaching because I was teaching around North America before I really got into corporate.

So it's been quite a few years that I would say, is there any questions? Nobody would raise their hand, no questions. 'cause nobody wants to look silly in front of a colleague or a friend. And they'll all line up with almost the exact same question. And that is the most humanizing beautiful thing to remind myself that never to feel silly about asking a question.

' cause someone beside me is probably thinking the exact same thing, but they're too embarrassed. And so what I really realized in these corporate environments, that people wanna look right or maybe they don't wanna be the first one to look silly. And there is no silly, there is no right in this experience.

But if it's really outside your comfort zone and it's really new, I think that's just human nature. We don't wanna look silly or be the first one to whatever. Ask a stupid question. I say stupid in quotes, there's not a stupid question, but that's why I think it's so beautiful by the third day when people are in tears and someone says, wow, I [00:39:00] really get this now.

Or, can you send me something I can share with my wife or with my partner, with my son, with my daughter, with my family, that there's an ask now I get it. And I never thought I could get this or like what we referenced earlier, I never thought I could meditate. And so there's an ease where we ease in.

' cause if I'm gonna come out the gate and talk about intuition and the universe and the cosmos, maybe that doesn't work in the corporate setting it right away. Maybe it works on day three, but I think it's meeting everyone where they are and allowing them to feel safe in that moment has been the most fun experience for me.

should we try the 

Robyn: meditation now? Yes. I feel like that's the perfect time to do a short meditation together. 

Ashley: I really talked it up. Okay, let's,

so I think what we can do is just a really short body scan. And this is a really simple one that you can do just at your desk. Maybe if you're driving in this moment, you wanna pull over and take a moment. But it's just simply relaxing and getting into our body. ' cause we're so in our analytical, we're so in our brain that maybe the point of this meditation is to simply come back into our body.

So we'll start, we'll get comfortable. If you're sitting in a chair, you can put your [00:40:00] feet flat on the ground, have your spine straight, maybe roll your shoulders back a couple times.

If you're sitting on a cushion, just find a comfortable seat.

If you feel good, you can gently close your eyes

and just take a few breaths here.

There's no need to manipulate the breath. Just notice the breath,

and as you bring your attention to your breath, you may notice that it naturally begins to slow down. I

and your thoughts begin to naturally slow down,

and together we'll [00:41:00] soften from head to toe, starting by relaxing the space between our brows.

Clenching our jaw,

relaxing the face,

noticing that your spine is straight, but your body is softened and relaxed.

Taking a breath into your heart center,

maybe sending yourself a little bit of love for taking this moment to yourself,

taking a breath into your lower belly.[00:42:00] 

Just noticing your belly rise and fall with every breath.

Taking a breath into your hips,

into your knees, your ankles, down to your feet.

Just taking a few more breaths here. Letting yourself feel supported,

letting yourself feel relaxed,

letting yourself feel at ease.[00:43:00] 

These last few breaths, let's bring one hand to the heart, one hand to the belly.

Notice the connection of your hands on your body, how they gently rise and fall with the in and out breath.

When you feel ready, you can open your eyes,

look around the room, see if the colors look different for you, for something you've not noticed, and just check in and see how you feel.

Karen: The breath is so grounding I noticed I'm like, wow, you really calmed. I'm really at ease. I'm really peaceful. 

Ashley: That's what I got. 

Robyn: Yeah. And for me too, at the end when you [00:44:00] asked to put a hand on your heart and a hand on your belly, I personally could feel that connection too.

It was very palpable for me and it was a nice 

Ashley: checking in. Yeah. And that can be so short and it can be so simple. And I always find it so curious how much tension we hold in our eyebrows and our jaw and our face, and just noticing that feeling of having our hands in our body. Our minds can often wander in meditation and just to come back to our body, to physically I do get that question a lot.

If somebody's feeling really anxious. Or fidgety, just having your hands on your body can reground you. And you may or may not have noticed, but there's a lot of seagulls in the background here. Oh, maybe you didn't hear them. I'm on the West coast right now, and I live between here and New York and Deepak Chopra talks about Manhattan being one of the best places to meditate because it's so noisy.

And when I first started meditating, I thought I had to find a perfectly quiet place where there's no distractions. And actually the practice of distractions is such a gift because we keep coming back. We keep coming back, we keep coming back. So even when there's birds or construction [00:45:00] or somebody yelling or a baby crying, that there's maybe not your baby crying, out in the distance.

That is the practice, the practice is coming back. It's not a bad meditation or a good meditation, it's the practice. And I know that can sound really elusive and that didn't make a lot of sense to me when I started meditating. Come back. But this returning, even when our mind wanders, when our leg falls asleep, or we start to replay an argument from a week ago with a really good comeback, or if we're rewriting an email in our head or we're planning lunch, that's okay.

We just don't wanna get hooked and dragged away. We wanna just come back. So noticing, okay, I'm thinking about lunch. I'll get to that after. I'm gonna focus on my breath, or I'm gonna focus on my mala, or I'm gonna repeat my mantra. So just coming back that is the practice that doesn't make you a failure is make you bad at meditating.

There's days where I have tons and tons of thoughts because my mind is racing. Now during those meditations, I like to move or put my hands on my body or maybe do some physical movement before to release, that energy from my body so I can sit. So the [00:46:00] practice it's always gonna have thoughts.

It's always gonna have thoughts. I think that's what people are saying when they think they're bad. They're just human and it's completely normal. And when you picture those monks sitting under a tree in Bhutan, that's beautiful for them in Bhutan. But that's a really difficult thing to integrate in Manhattan and LA in any other city in the world.

So the ability to integrate, having those thoughts and being okay with it, and still finding some common between them coming back to our body, that's the integration when we're living a life in a city or countryside and not with nobody around. Those are two very different visions. It's not 

Robyn: practice That you take into your everyday life and being able to tune out the chaos sometimes, but because you've been practicing it through meditation, let's say if you're doing a morning practice, then throughout your day when you need to tune that out for a moment, you have that experience. cause of what you've been doing.

And Karen and I talk about this all the time as well, which is we both like to [00:47:00] run and we meditate while we run. And I know every person, again, is different. And so you figure out your practice. I may be actually listening to music but I'm also in my mind going through certain mantras or going through certain practices that I do while I run and it opens me up in a way.

That other practices don't, and so I know that's something that works for me. I like the movement, so yeah. Again, you find what works for you. Yeah. I talk 

Karen: all the time with people who say they can't meditate, and I use the workout analogy all the time because it's a training.

It's that coming back, like you said, bringing your mind back. The more you can train yourself to do that, like Rob it keeps you in that calm place versus participating in, the anxiety or whatever else is going on. It always brings you back and I always find, I can tell the people that meditate just because of that.

They have this resonance, they have this sort of energetic ability to keep that calm straight, even. Reaction to whatever's going on around them. So just like you can [00:48:00] see people who've worked out, I think you can really pinpoint those that are doing that daily meditation 

Ashley: practice. That's right.

I feel way less reactive when I sit. Yeah. Doesn't need to be 20 minutes. Doesn't need to be even 10 minutes. You can do two minutes or three minutes and build it from there. But I think that what you're both talking about with that flow state of movement I often talk about, Deepak Chopra talks a lot about the space between the thoughts.

And again, when I first started meditating, I was like, that's a beautiful concept, but I don't know what that means. This is a beautiful visual, but it's so elusive and I'll never get there. And the realization when we're doing something repetitive that we know very well, like running, maybe sitting and washing dishes or when we're in the shower, when we're driving a route, we know really well that we'll have those aha moments and that.

When our busyness starts to slow down, we're allowing, we're creating space for those aha moments to come in. And so I often get asked is it bad that I'm having thoughts and meditation? Why would I have an aha moment? I thought the whole point is having no thoughts. No, the point maybe is to not get hooked by those thoughts and pulled and [00:49:00] to spiral into them for 20 minutes, eight minutes.

So having thoughts isn't a problem. It's not getting carried away with them. And we've all felt those aha moments. But when I'm teaching meditation, I talk about that spaciousness, like I said earlier, with C-Suite, to get to the creative state that we're more creative when we have space. We are not creative under pressure.

We can be, but that's not super sustainable. We're more creative when there's spaciousness. And so as a leader, as a high performer, as a creator, as anybody, that we're all creative human beings, to have that spaciousness allows for those aha moments. And what I think is curious about that is, Then cultivating the trust to follow that aha moment, that realization.

So when we get those downloads, when we get those aha moments, we've all had them I knew I shouldn't have trusted that person, or I should have gone left, or I have to do this, or don't forget this. But those should haves are us realizing we do have intuitive hits, we do have downloads in meditation.

When we pull those cobwebs away by sitting with ourself, that really the next part is how do we learn to trust that voice? And I do believe in meditation. The more [00:50:00] that we start to see our thoughts and witness them and hear them, we get to understand the difference between fear and intuition and judgment.

Usually fear is, you should do this, you have to do this. You're the worst. It's mean, it's judgey, but our intuition is a lot softer and kinder and loving to us. So how do we start to listen to. All those beautiful aha moments we get in meditation. So we're getting to tap into our potter ourself, but we don't often get to hear 'cause we're too busy.

So meditation could be such a gift. Just not from the feeling after of wow, I feel way less stress. This is so cool. But it's, wow, I had a pretty profound realization. Oh wow, I had a profound realization and I'm gonna follow it and it could change my life. Oh, I'm a lot kinder to myself and to everybody around me.

There's so many really beautiful outcomes. But I do find when I first started teaching about the aha moments, it really clicked for me of we what do we do with them if we don't trust them? And if we don't trust ourselves, we actually don't really trust ourselves that often it's, we're pretty skeptical with that's too good to be true.

That could never work for me. So that's why when going back to how I started the business, there was a bit of naivety there because I had I sat [00:51:00] overthought it. I probably wouldn't have done it. But there's a beauty in the surrendering to trusting what comes through. So that's another reason I love meditation for our own relationship to ourself.

yeah, 

Robyn: and I actually think one of the things that we were going to ask, and you're really answering that is if someone listening right now is at a real crossroads in their lives, what should they do? What would you suggest they do? And I feel like what we're talking about right now can help 

Ashley: to a path.

Yeah. I think meditation, I do wanna say it's not comfortable all the time. It can be deeply uncomfortable because let's say you have, 35, 45 years of thoughts built up that you haven't sat with, it can be pretty overwhelming at first. So there's a beautiful quote of, all of man's problems come from his inability to sit alone with his thoughts, that it is uncomfortable in the beginning.

It's like cleaning out all these cobwebs and then we reduce, and it gets a bit easier. It gets a bit easier, I used to do a lot of coaching. I still do this sometimes, but I feel what makes a great coach is reflecting back to someone what they already know within [00:52:00] themselves to be true, but maybe they're too scared or they don't believe it, or they don't trust themselves yet.

So I believe we already know deep down everything that we need to know. We already know our purpose. We know what we need to do. We know how we wanna feel, who we wanna be, how we wanna show up, how we wanna be seen, what we believe we're worthy of. I think meditation creates that space for us to listen to that.

A good coach reflects it back to you. So while sitting with ourselves might be uncomfortable in the beginning, because a lot of that other excess fear and stuff comes up, the more we sit, the more we can deepen into that intuition. And I'm a huge fan of journaling and gratitude practice. So many pivots and crossroads even, starting going into corporate and C-suite. That reflection I shared of is this a distraction or is this my purpose? I believe it's my purpose. I knew it deep down. I was too scared to say it because I didn't wanna get judged or made fun of, or whatever. All my fears that I had and being able to journal it for me anyway, gets it out of my head, it releases it and I get it out.

I don't have to carry that anymore. And so what I do in my practice is I do 10 minutes of gratitude journaling and 10 minutes of reflective [00:53:00] journaling. And usually I'll do that after meditating, my left page is gratitude.

My right page is reflection. And so with the gratitude, It can be point, form, I'm grateful. Or it can just be free flowing, run on sentences or bullet points, just naming things. And I notice if I'm particularly grumpy or not in the mood to be doing gratitude, that my gratitude starts with physical objects around me.

I'm grateful for this coffee. I'm grateful for this chair. And then it starts to maybe get, okay, I'm grateful for my home. Oh, I'm grateful for this city, I'm grateful for my friends. And then it expands out into like people, experiences, reflections. Oh, I'm so grateful that I went through that really hard breakup or that, huge thing that I thought that I wanted that didn't come true for me.

'cause it's so much better. And whatever that gratitude turns into, I notice it gets bigger and bigger by the end of a full page. And then with my reflection is I'll pull one thing outta the gratitude, just write about it for 10 minutes. And then I'll do a 10 minute meditation. But I do think the beautiful thing about gratitude is it shifts us into a mindset of possibility and opportunity and abundance.

And when I'm feeling particularly stumped or in a place of uncertainty, as much as I wanna trust the [00:54:00] universe and surrender and let go and believe in serendipity, I still wanna know. I still have control. I'm still a little bit type A, I'm still a little bit analytical. So being able to be in a place of abundance and in gratitude reminds me.

I don't have to search and chase I actually already have a lot of really beautiful things and things being anything in my life. I have so much beauty in my life that helps ground me and not spiral when I'm really in an in-between. So I would say that, that life changing path, we're so lucky to be going through them, even though in the moment maybe it really sucks and it feels heavy and sticky and gnarly, that there's something so beautiful.

In the hindsight of wow, I was so lucky that I trusted myself, or I listened to myself and I do believe I'm don't wanna overstep with this comment, but I've been in so many business groups with the majority of them being men. I think it's a very feminine trait for us to give our power away to others.

And what do you think I should do? What should I do next? I feel so lost. What do I do? I've asked all those questions to people. People that were older than me, people that were, had more money than me, people that had positions of [00:55:00] some level of celebrity or authority or men, anything that I just thought they were better than me for whatever they had.

And I realized actually, I know what's best for me and I'll get there. And they don't know enough about me to give me proper advice. And so I think that there is beauty in asking questions, but we hold so much power and wisdom within ourself. 

Robyn: So true. 

Ashley: So powerful. 

Karen: I just wanna hit on something that you said too.

I love what you said about knowing the difference between purpose 

Ashley: and distraction. Resistance and distraction. That's right. Resistance 

Karen: and distraction. So can you just talk about, there was one question we wanted to ask earlier. Around burnout and how many of us who are doers and just feel like we almost don't have any other choice but 

doing what we're doing.

And so for those who are just so overwhelmed and just even can't get to the meditation place, what would you suggest that they do, if they can't get themselves to that place and yet are still just trying to cope within that 

Ashley: kind of environment? we do a lot of free meditation challenges with Mala [00:56:00] Collective and I find that people fall off like day five or seven and they never come back ' cause they judge themselves so much for having missed a day.

Therefore, they're the worst meditator and I just can't go back. So we're much kinder to our friends than we are to ourself. ' cause if one of my friends fell off, it's fine, just go back the next day. But we would never give ourself that same permission. I think part of it is finding the thing that works for you and it doesn't have to be meditation and if you miss a couple days, that's okay.

But meditation is one tool, it's one medium. And I think why people do end up falling off is it's not immediately gratifying. It's usually pretty darn uncomfortable in the beginning. And there's a lot of stuff that we gotta sort through and sift through till we get to those beautiful moments.

And then when we have those breakthroughs, then we start chasing those breakthroughs. And then we don't have them like, oh man, I'm the worst meditator again. And we're like seeking this sweetness of this connection with divinity or the universe with cosmos herself. And that doesn't always happen.

And that's makes it maybe a little less rewarding. So I do understand why it's a hard thing to stick to. I think there's other ways that we can get there. And just like both of you mentioned running, I think if we reframe it as we're seeking self [00:57:00] connection or a moment to ground, ' cause burnout for me is when I'm not connected to myself anymore at all.

I'm not in my body. I'm pretty much just living in my head and I'm only living up here and I'm disrespecting the rest of me that maybe that is a 20 minute walk. Maybe it's a 10 minute walk. Maybe it's having a 30 second cold shower in the morning. Maybe it's having a ritual around your coffee in the morning.

Maybe it's journaling for two minutes. And I have people say, what about having three kids? Yeah. I don't have three kids, so I'm not gonna argue that you have to do it.

If you don't wanna do it. Absolutely. Don't do it. It's so simple to do. It's so easy not to do that. One of my teachers had a few kids and he put his meditation cushion beside his bed, roll out of his bed directly onto the cushion. He's that's the only way I'll get it in, and maybe I'll get in 90 seconds.

Maybe I'll get in 12 minutes, maybe I'll get an hour. you just never know. But I do think we can set ourselves up for success to. frame how we can get it in. And actually, one of the ways I always, end when I'm teaching is how do I start meditation practice? And I do think part of it is habit building.

That probably the hardest thing to do here is introduce a new habit. Especially when we're busy, [00:58:00] especially when we're in burnout. We're probably overloaded already in our calendars and in our day. So it's making time. And if it can be, just be a sliver of time. So for me, in Vancouver, I have a French press that triggers, I'm gonna sit down on my meditation cushion with my French press and I'm gonna do a meditation.

Okay. So that's my habit trigger. So what is a thing that can just allow a small injection into my day?

And then if you have a better night routine, like I know personally, I won't do it. Unless I do it in the morning, maybe I'll get it in at night as an added bonus, but usually by then I'm pretty tired. So make it really bite size, make it really small. The mornings where I'm too overwhelmed to journal, I'll open my notes app and I'll write three things I'm grateful for.

It can be super tiny. You can do what we just did with that body scan. You can do that in 30 seconds. You can also do box breathing where you inhale for four, hold for four, exhale for four, hold for four, that's 16 seconds. So there's really start with the micro shifts, the really small things and we make meditation cushions as well at Mala and they're beautiful.

They're handmade. India, they're, I'm a huge fan, of course I love them. And I spent a lot of time in India working [00:59:00] with artisans to create them You don't need them. You can pull a cushion off your couch. You don't need a meditation cushion from us to meditate. But I've had people say, I bought this cushion to put out in my living room to guilt me into meditating each morning because I spent so much money on it.

So I better sit down and do it. And then there's , one day where it's wow, I get to go and sit on my cushion and give this time to myself. So there is a moment where it goes from guilt into this gift. And I think that only you will know that timeline and only you will wake up one day like, oh, I don't have to force it in.

I'm going to make it happen because I need it and I want it, and I desire it and I crave it. So I noticed. That took me a while to get there. And now it's a sweetness, it's a gift. And not every day it's a sweet gift, but most days I feel very grateful to sit and do it. So I think start small, set yourself up for success.

That means putting out a pillow or a cushion so that you can roll off your bed or have the notepad ready beside your bed whatever it is for you to help you succeed. The next day 

Robyn: Those are so good. And I'll share my trigger is to drink water in the morning.

And in my ritual of drinking [01:00:00] water in the morning that I begin my meditation. And so to your point, that's so smart, and I love that you just gave that inspiration to people because it's easy. And to those who are at that burnout stage and are feeling like they don't have time, It can be as short as 16 seconds as you said, while you're brushing your teeth whatever you do have to do to start.

Yeah. It could be 

Ashley: walking your 

Robyn: dog. Yeah, Or, 

Ashley: Listening to, Yeah. 

Robyn: what is the best way for organizations 

Ashley: and companies to work with you? I can share my email. It's ashley@malacollective.com, and we actually started a business for this, it's called Atia Group.

Aware that you're aware. Atia Group, we're now starting to work with different companies, sports teams big organizations, really focused on leadership, making sure that, I don't wanna say it's top down, but I do believe when the leaders in the business embody something and believe in something, it's much easier for everyone else to embody it and believe in it.

 I'm very happy to chat with anyone and anyone that has questions about gemstones or meditation techniques. [01:01:00] we're a small team. We love talking to people. our team has been together for years and we all feel very purpose and value aligned. So it's an honor when people reach out to share stories with us.

Robyn: And people can find Mala Collective and several free meditations on there@malacollective.com. And then they can find out more about you@ashleyray.co. And that's Ray w r a y. I just wanna make sure for those listening. Yeah. Ashley, this has been such an illuminating. Hour with you. 

And I'm sure those who may have heard the term meditation when they saw that this was the episode and may have thought I can't do that. Hopefully now they know that there's a way for them to start. And the meditation that we did together is such a good way to get going. So thank you. 

Ashley: Thank you. I'm so grateful.

Those are beautiful questions. 

Robyn: myself, amala. I think 

Karen: a lot of people are gonna are gonna be thinking about that now because it does, it gives you a way to really focus and I think that's what a lot of us, 

Ashley: me [01:02:00] included need.

Robyn: And they are beautiful when you go to ma 

Ashley: I think we'll have to make your listeners a special code and you can share that in the show notes super secret v IP code for you.

Oh, 

Robyn: wonderful. Thank you. 

Ashley: Thank you, Ashley. Of course. Thank you. 

Introduction
The Meditation Breakthrough for Non-Meditators