Tag Archives: Ashley Turner

How to Start a Meditation Practice

meditationHave you always wanted to start meditating…but don’t know how? Or started a meditation practice and quickly fallen off the wagon? It takes a little instruction, but it’s simpler and easier than you may think.

As yogis have known for centuries and scientists more recently discovered, the benefits of meditation are profound!

Studies show, that MEDITATION can help you: lose weight, vastly improve communication and relationships, reduce anxiety and depression, overcome addiction, sharpen your thinking and master your emotions.

When you meditate, you access deeper brainwave states, helping to clear distracting thoughts, reduce stress and boost brainpower while cultivating a spiritual connection and reaching deeper states of awareness and wholeness.

Meditation trains us to use the inevitable challenges of life as opportunities to grow.


1.    Get comfortable. 
We tend to make meditation more complicated and challenging than necessary. Take it easy. Start by taking a comfortable seat. If you’re flexible, sit on the floor, on a meditation cushion, bolster or blanket (hips higher than your knees). If you’re not, sit in a chair with your feet on the floor.

2.    Same “Bat Time”. Same “Bat Place.”
One of the most lucrative ways to coax the mind into submission is to create a ritual. Set a clearly designated space for meditation. This can be as simple as a candle, picture or stone, thoughtfully placed.

Practice at the same time every day. Start with the same protocol for each meditation. Routine triggers the mind out of the left brain (logical, linear) and into the right hemisphere (intuitive, non-linear).

3.    Sit tall.
Posture 101: Sit tall. Straighten your spine. Sit in a chair or against the wall if you need to. Lengthen the spine to help increase circulation and keep you alert.

4.    Start small.
Start where you are. If 10 min. seems overwhelming, begin with 5. After a week, begin to add 1 min. to your practice each week until you build up to 30 min. (or more) at a time.

 5.    Be nice to yourself (really nice!).
As renowned meditation teacher Sally Kempton says, “Meditation is Relationship.” Ultimately, it is all about your relationship to yourself. The way you do anything is the way you do everything. Meditation teaches us radical acceptance, compassion and unconditional love. Be sweet to your byzantine mind. Surrender to exactly who you are and what is happening – Right here. Right now. Smile.

6.    Note your excuses.
Meditation is a practice of self-inquiry. Observe the excuses you tell yourself. “I’m too tired.” “I don’t have time.”  You can carve 5 – 10 min. out of your day. Notice how your mind rationalizes breaking your commitment. No judgment. Just observation and understanding. Then, recommit.

7.    Find a meditation buddy.
Accountability is the answer to your excuses. Find a buddy. We all have an overactive, unruly mind. It’s built that way! Find a friend who is also beginning to meditate, join a Facebook group or online course. Your struggle is normal…and it will get easier.

8.    Practice Makes Perfect.
Or at least perfectly imperfect. As the great Ashtanga guru, Patthabi Jois says…”Practice. Practice. Practice. All is coming.” Like anything, we get better with practice. Think of your meditation as bicep curls for the muscle of your mind. You are training your brain to focus, concentrate and let go. Over time, with consistency…you will become more skillful.

9.    Just Breathe.
The breath is a gateway beyond the mind. Our mind is addicted to analyzing the past or projecting into the future. The breath is only ever right here, right now. Focus on your breath to anchor the mind into the present moment.

10. Start a “Benefit book”.
End your practice by observing the benefits of your practice. How do you feel? What is your emotional state or mood? Make note any changes so they register in your body and conscious mind. Next time you resist meditation, remember the benefits to help you motivate and stay committed.

5 Tips to Deepen Intimacy in Your Relationships

innersexyDeep connections, quality relationships – the experience of feeling seen, heard and understood brings us the greatest joy in life. Here are 5 tips to deepen intimacy in any relationship – a friendship, family or love relationship.

1. Ask for Help (sooner than you want)

Our attachments and intimacy with others are bred through our vulnerabilities.

The meeting of our vulnerabilities is the sweet spot. This is where we have the ability to truly see one another. The experience of being seen and seeing is called mirroring. Psychologically, it is the bridge of intimacy and forges a strong bond (attachment) – knowing someone else will accept and be there for you, even (especially) in your weakest moments.

Take a risk of to be vulnerable and open yourself up to share from the heart. What is happening under the surface of your life and the veneer of your persona? Tell your partner if you’re sad, afraid, hurt or emotional. Practice staying authentic and articulate about your emotional state and ask for understanding, tenderness or help.

2. Let Your Partner Take the Lead

In relationships we tend focus on ourselves and assume that our needs are more important than our partners.

Flip it. Just for this month, practice allowing your partner’s needs to take priority. What if their needs are just as (or more) important than your own?

Self-abandonment is not what I am suggesting. Assuming you have healthy boundaries, attune to what your partner wants or needs. Ask them. Let your partner take the lead. Where do they want to go to dinner? Where do they want to go on vacation? What do they want to do this weekend?

This is a Buddhist/yogic concept of expanding the definition of who you are to include the ‘other’. Widening our perception of Self to include another breeds understanding and union. Instead of using a relationship or looking at our partners as a means to meet our needs – we elevate into a selfless, giving, generous approach. Much like building a successful business or any join venture, ask:

  • “How can I help you?” 
  • “How can I give more?” 
  • “What do you need and how can I serve?”

3. Set a Daily Check in with Your Partner

Set aside 10-20 min. a day to tune in to each other in full presence (no cell phones or TV, please). A great time to do this is at night. Take 10 minutes each to reflect on the day. Listen athletically to each other and offer support or feedback. When you can manage, try to go to bed at the same time, cuddle and reflect out loud – What went well? What was disappointing or frustrating? What do you intend to create for the next day?

Practice gratitude together. Get in the habit of reflecting the positive and holding each other in positive regard so you mirror back to your partner their positive attributes. Encouragement and support changes our biochemistry. Consistency in authentic connection is the glue that keeps a relationship together. Commit to a daily check in.

4. Show Up with Fresh Eyes

See your partner anew. We evolve and change constantly. Our hopes, dreams and skills shift. When we’re in relationship, it’s tempting to view our partner through an old, outdated perspective – who they were, how they acted or what they wanted before. Give your man (or woman) the space, just like a child, to shape shift, change, learn and grow. Tune into them – ask them “Where are you at today?”  “What are you feeling/wanting/dreaming of?”

Try silently observing and allowing them to show you who they are. Open your eyes and your mind. This creates more spaciousness to feel held and supported in who we are authentically – today. Let yourself be surprised. Seek to learn something NEW about your partner everyday.

5. Breed Affection

Bring more affection into your relationship. After years of listening to couples in therapy, I can tell you – it’s often (if not, usually) the smallest things that end up fracturing and eroding a relationship. Know the little things that your partner needs, wants or delights in.

  • How can you show random acts of kindness?
  • How can you be more affectionate?
  • How can you sweetly surprise them and bring a smile to their face?

Gentle touches, thinking what they might want from the grocery store or reaching out sending them a text or a note at work in support go a long way in building a foundation and reservoir of love.

Leave a comment and share – how do you deepen intimacy in relationships with those around you?

How to Set Boundaries for Healthy Relationships

originalAre you depleted, irritable or overwhelmed? It may be time to reset your boundaries.

Setting healthy boundaries is the foundation for having positive, fulfilling and uplifting relationships.

Many years ago, I “broke-up” with my best friend. I was devastated, sad and depressed. Like any other gut-wrenching heartbreak – it took me months to garner the courage to break up and years to finally surrender and let go. She was a dynamic, charismatic, gorgeous, charming artist. We fell in love at first sight. Best friends. Soul sisters.

But…she was a flake. A huge flake. Inevitably, our dates were cancelled with lame excuses. I put up with this because she was such a delight. First, I felt slighted, then irritable, then downright angry. Finally, it just wasn’t ok anymore.

I needed new boundaries. I communicated my needs, but she simply wasn’t capable of following through on our commitments. I had to break up. Maybe, (hopefully) we’ll reconnect someday…but I needed to grow strong, respect my needs and find friends who could consistently show up.


Establishing and gracefully maintaining healthy boundaries is a direct result of having a “healthy ego” – nothing to prove and nothing to hide. This is a function of the 3rd Chakra (Manipura) – the core or “power center” of the body-mind. The 3rd Chakra governs our sense of Self. When we have a strong sense of Self, we feel positive, empowered and confident and naturally create boundaries that honor our needs as well as the needs of others.

Healthy boundaries are permeable, yet firm.

When we have low self esteem (deficient 3rd Chakra), we tend to seek love and validation from others. We may overextend ourselves or allow someone to take advantage of us. If you consistently feel depleted, irritable or inundated – it may be an indication that it’s time to deepen and structure your boundaries more solidly.

An excessive 3rd Chakra (defended and “trying to prove something”) results in rigid boundaries and aggressively forcing, manipulating or pushing our agenda on someone else. These are defense tactics of a “High Ego”.

Seek middle ground.

One of my favorite definitions of intimacy in a relationship is from Harriet Lerner’s book The Dance of Intimacy.

An intimate relationship is one in which neither party silences, sacrifices or betrays the Self. Instead, each party expresses strength, vulnerability, weakness and competence in a balanced way.



Are you abandoning your truth?

At work:

In a relationship: 

  • Are you allowing someone to treat you in a way that is disrespectful?
  • Are they not honoring your needs, even though your needs are valid?

To begin setting boundaries, you first need to communicate in a healthy, positive way. Avoid the shame – blame game. Get clear and grounded in what you want and need. Consider writing out exactly what you want in bullet points.

Approach the conversation from your most empowered space. Do a quick meditation before you approach the other person. Sit quietly. Get centered with a few deep breaths. Feel the energy rising up and down your spine. Call in your Highest Good and the Highest Good or Spirit of the other person. Visualize the conversation going smoothly and peacefully. Pray for clear communication, understanding and that both of your deepest Truths be served. Ask Spirit to speak through you.

Then, approach the other person confidently and humbly. Ask specifically for what you need. Expect that your needs are going to be met and that the other person will hear and honor you.

Finally, ask them what they need. How can you show up with more integrity, generosity and thoughtfulness? Think WIN–WIN.

2. DO CORE WORK (aka Mirror Work)

A good way to build your inner strength is through mirror work. Sit in front of a mirror, preferably first thing in the morning when you’re at  your most human and humble. Look at yourself in the mirror and say to yourself:

  • I love you.
  • I want you. 
  • You are special to me. 
  • You don’t have to be afraid anymore.
  • I am here for you.

These are what we call the “Good Parent Messages”, which build self love from the inside out. We begin to mother or father ourselves and become the “inner parent” who provides love, support, understanding and resilience from inside. When you feel the source of love inside, you naturally stand up for yourself in the outer world, just as a parent would advocate for their child.


Sometimes we have to shift relationships because someone is not changing and we need to create safety for ourselves.  See the first paragraph above. This is especially true if you are dealing with a narcissist or an addict. If you ask repeatedly for what you need and do everything in your power to uphold your boundaries with little response – you may need to eliminate or minimize contact with someone.

Ask for help, get support, find a friend or mentor you can confide in or reach out for professional help if you need it. Hold yourself accountable and responsible for creating empowered relationships that enhance your life – in work, romance, family and friends. As soon as you strengthen your core, you will attract those people into your life who want to joyfully meet your needs.

What relationship is the most challenging for you to hold your boundaries? Leave a comment and share how you uphold your boundaries.

Cook Your Way to Total Self Love

Pink Summer Cherry LoveMost of our fears and inner conflicts arise from a lack of self love. The first thing I tackle with clients is identifying and eradicating the root causes of self-beat, shame, guilt and insecurity. I call it “radical acceptance”.

Ironically, one of the best ways to build self-esteem, confidence and a deep, inner sense of contentment and acceptance is incredibly simple and easy to overlook.

Cooking for yourself and practicing conscious eating are perhaps the most primal and important acts of self love. We build a deep sense of trust in ourselves and the world (and relieve stress) when we take time to nurture ourselves by making our own food, sitting down, practicing gratitude and enjoying it mindfully.

You can begin to improve your relationship with food and your physical body by enjoying healthy meals that have been prepared for you, but investing time and energy to plan and prepare your own meals allows for the opportunity to reap the benefits of the loving energy you put in.

A potent message of worth and value seeps into the unconscious mind when we nurture ourselves. Food and shelter are our most primitive, basic acts of survival. When you practice self-care by maintaining a clean (sattvic), safe, inviting home and cook for yourself, you send a powerful message to your psyche that you are worthy and important.

Love is an action verb. How do you love yourself? What do you do to show love? Actions speak louder than words. Affirmations are great…but how are you showing up for yourself on a daily, consistent basis.

Self love through food is connected to the root chakra, or first chakra, which governs the first stage of emotional and psychological development. The root chakra (mulhadhara) is connected to physical identity, physical body, grounding, our relationship to the mother and sense of feeling safe and secure in the world.

Eating disorders, food addictions or obsessive control over diet, the body and food often result from a child growing up in an unsafe environment (abuse, war zone, constant fighting, financial distress, physical illness) or having an insecure attachment to the mother (mother was depressed, alcoholic/addict, working all the time, emotionally unavailable or unsafe). Our unconscious tries to overcompensate, insulate or create an external sense of safety or control through our food choices and physical body.

Always eating out, rushing through or skipping meals, watching TV during meals or choosing unhealthy foods sends a message that you are not worth the time and effort to slow down, nourish, nurture and listen to your body and your deepest needs.

Focusing on your relationship with food builds a sense of safety, trust and connectedness. Your arms and hands are a horizontal extension of your heart center (chakra). When you prepare a meal for yourself, you literally infuse loving energy from your heart into the food you eat. Ayurvedic master Bri Maya Tiwari recommends massaging your food with your bare hands as much as possible and focusing on positive thoughts while you cook. Send loving thoughts, pray, chant or play pleasant music while you cook. These vibrations all end up on your plate, in your belly and healing your mind and heart.

Nourishing yourself by preparing your own food and eating consciously can lead to big shifts internally and externally. Start by making a couple of meals for yourself each week. Take time to eat each meal in a ritual space (clean environment, at a table, sitting down) and mindfully savor each bite. Celebrate quality time with family, friends or yourself.

Lovingly preparing food and cooking for yourself will increase feelings of self-worth, inner security, grounding and be a ritual to receive the love you give yourself – the most important love in the world.

* * *

Ashley will be leading a retreat to Galapagos Islands in July 2013 and works with clients worldwide via SKYPE. Ashley is a member of Young Living Essential Oils, so if you’d like to sign up using her as a sponsor or want more info on oils, click here.

Embrace the Beauty of Your Darkness

“The wound is the place where the light comes in” – Rumi

What to do when you’re not the happiest person you know? What about when you’re depressed, fearful, anxious, jealous, greedy or angry?

Yesterday, I was working with a client who appears to be a huge success in the outer world. She’s a coach and inspirational speaker. She jaunts around the country inspiring hundreds of people, has a strong, supportive, sexy relationship with a gorgeous man and frequently gets paid to travel to exotic locations to lead corporate retreats. Her family is loving and close. She has an enviable following on social media and garners lots of press and media coverage.

Inside…she’s shaken and feels like a fraud. She carries over $20,000 in credit card debt and has little savings or retirement fund. Her financial house is weak and therefore her confidence wavers. She’s constantly comparing herself to colleagues and can never live up to her own perfectionism.

This is her “Shadow”.

The shadow, a concept brought to light by famed Swiss psychologist Carl Jung – is the part of ourselves we don’t want to look at – qualities we deem unattractive, try to push away, overlook, sugarcoat or hide under the surface.

In the spiritual and yoga communities, the emphasis is often on positivity. Sometimes called spiritual bypassing – this is the tendency is to overlook or minimize our very real human flaws. We are encouraged to “meditate our way out of” difficult emotions or habits. The focus is on getting better, being happier, moving up and out of our current circumstance toward enlightenment, miracles, or bliss.

Moving forward is important, but we also need to honor the beauty of our darkness and not pathologize the troubling aspects of Self that may be holding us back. Taking the time to recognize the beauty of darkness allows for integration and reconciliation. We train our psyche to “own” those cut-off pieces of ourselves that we’d rather tuck away in a back closet. Instead of slapping a smile on and sitting in blissful (strained) silence – we learn to proudly integrate all the good, bad, and ugly parts of who we are.

Shadow Work: The ‘Fuck You’ Letter

“Everything that irritates us about others can lead us to an understanding of ourselves.” ~ Carl Jung

The quickest way to see your shadow is to notice what qualities you tend to criticize or gossip about in other people. Look carefully as these aren’t necessarily “bad” qualities, but often masquerade as traits that society applauds such as the tendency to overachieve, project positivity or be a “Supermom”.

Once you recognize the qualities you criticize in others, flip it to see how they show up in you.

While my client exuded an outer confidence and success, inwardly she was ashamed and confused by her finances. She was in denial. To bolster her wavering confidence, she criticized friends and colleagues for being materialistic and shallow. It took her years to acknowledge the sobering reality of her financial disillusionment and irresponsible spending.

A great way to start to own these qualities in yourself is to write a “Fuck You” letter. If you have someone you’re angry at or harboring resentment towards, write a letter addressed to this person and tell them what pisses you off and why.

“Dear ….., 
Fuck you for…..
Fuck you for….” 

Be as specific, graphic and thorough as possible. List out the exact qualities or incidents that irritate you.

[Caveat: This language is strong. I have found that it is useful to get this raw to access the primal, emotional core that is hurt or afraid. If you resist writing such a strong letter to someone you love (your lover, parent or child) – know that this is only 1 voice of your psyche – not the whole story, but one that needs to be heard.]

Once the letter is complete, go back to the beginning and replace their name with your name. As you read through your letter recognize where these qualities show up in yourself, even if to a lesser degree. For example, how have you abandoned, betrayed, or criticized yourself?

Practice Radical Self Forgiveness

Once you identify your shadow, you can move from judgment to understanding by practicing forgiving yourself. Allow yourself to be human and experience the full spectrum of emotions.

In yoga and Buddhism, this is known as karuna or compassion and is the foundation of self love and freedom. Soften your perception. Breathe deeply into the sides of your heart to expand. Consider how such unsavory traits were necessary in the past as a coping or defensive mechanism. Be kind and generous of Spirit.

Compassion for yourself blossoms, breeding compassion for others. Everyone wins.

Only when my client released her perfectionism and forgave herself could she turn her full attention to cleaning up her financial house. She was no longer at war within. She got honest with her boyfriend about her credit card debt and quit feeling like a fraud. The bridge between our inner and outer worlds leads to an unshakeable confidence. We actually like who we are when we know we can trust ourselves to keep it real.

Nurture Yourself 

Nurture yourself as you begin to uncover your shadow and open up. Give yourself permission to process emotions freely. You may notice that it gets harder before it gets easier. You are bringing up unprocessed, repressed material. As your shadow rises, cumulative feelings of shame, sadness, anger, and frustration may surface.

The irony (and beauty) is – you can turn this energy into fuel to fire for your passion and creativity. The energy you used to hold up a false self or hide out is now available to redirect.

Our vulnerability is the tender place where we have the most opportunity to crack open and experience deep unconditional love and authentic connection.

What are your shadow qualities? Please leave a comment below with a few of the shadow qualities you’ve identified.


  • being late
  • being competitive and jealous
  • perfectionism leading to procrastination that holds me (and those around me) prisoner
photo by: Hamed Saber

5 Steps to Surrender to the Unknown

Sky & IMy favorite definition of surrender comes from the website TinyBuddha:

“Surrender is complete acceptance of what is, knowing it will all be okay, even without my input.”

That last line seals the deal. “…without my input.” Deep sigh. You mean, I don’t have to figure it out, try to “fix”, understand or meddle? There is a larger hand at work guiding this? Hmmm…

Personally, I’m not very good at this. In fact, horrible. I like to think it’s my empathic nature – the my Cancerian nature that wants to “help”, gets her pincers stuck…clinging to what I want or thinks I know more than someone else so I should jump in. It probably has more to do with my perfectionist control freak – which I didn’t really notice until recently when I (finally) hired an assistant and learned (slowly) how to delegate. What a relief! Someone is actually much better at doing certain things than I am and doesn’t need my input!

Lately, I’ve come face-to-face with how much I try to will things to happen and manipulate circumstances to turn out like I think they should. Read: It’s all about me, my desires and what I want….with little consideration for what might be best for someone else, their life path or the larger scale of greater good.

Surrendering means to let go of control over a person, circumstance, or outcome. The need to control is rooted in fear. We’re afraid of what will happen in a situation if it turns out differently than how we think it should. Should being the key word here.

When we try to control something, we assume that we know what’s best and omnipotently see through the eyes of Spirit. When we control, we conclude that our agenda is best for everyone. The problem is that control stems from our personal projections, belief systems, and attachments – our attempt to prove our worth, feel good, and be right.

SURRENDER is the soul sister of TRUST.

To surrender is to trust something greater than ourselves, which allows us to deepen our trust in the Universe.

Albert Einstein said that our greatest skill is to decide whether we believe in an altruistic, supportive universe, or an antagonistic universe that is out to get us. Do you believe the Universe has your back, or do you believe that life is a tough battle with many forces fighting against you? Glass half full or half empty?

When we have a positive sense of safety and stability (initially rooted in loving, consistent parenting from our early childhood) – it is easier to trust in something greater than ourselves. We believe that the Universe will show up to do its part, is supporting us and help will arrive.

As we begin to trust, we move out of the thinking, logical mind and into the realm of Spirit. A spiritual perspective invites us to see beyond form. We trust the unknown and unseen. We allow the heart and our intuition or third eye perspective to guide us and let go of our need to assume, control, manipulate, and define.

There are certain issues that reveal my wavering doubt and occasional lack of trust in Spirit’s timing. Will I find my perfectly compatible life partner? Will I get married? Will I have children? Will I make the kind of money I desire and touch the number of people I wish with my work?

Because these doubts commonly take residence in my mind, I’ve started to “try on” the coat of Trust. Literally, in my morning meditation, I sit in silence and cloak myself in a field of absolute knowing and deep trust that all I desire desires me. It is coming my way. I practice feeling spacious and at ease, eradicating the constriction and tightness of breath which accompany fear.


1. Pinpoint your fear.

  • What are you afraid of?
  • What’s the worst that can happen if you don’t control the outcome?
  • Is it true? (Check out Byron Katie’s The Work for more on this crucial question.)
  • Is it absolutely true that your situation will be worse if it doesn’t work out the way you think it “should”?

2. Plug into the field of all possibilities. Attempting to control means we limit possibilities. As we surrender we begin to open up to all options – especially those beyond what we can see or even imagine. Deepak Chopra talks about plugging into the field of infinite possibilites and remembering our true nature and Source energy is beyond our wildest imagination. For a moment, ponder with wonderment and awe the nature of life and who you really are. You are not forgotten. You are special.

3. Use meditation and breathwork to relax body and mind. My favorite is to repeat the mantra “let go” as I inhale and exhale. On the INHALE focus on the word “Let”. EXHALE, silently repeat the word “Go”. While this is simplistic, it works.

4. Use yoga and exercise to identify and release tension in your physical body. As you consciously begin to let go through your material body, you will also begin to let go through your psychological body.

5. Ask for help, pray, create a ritual to connect with your intuition and something greater than yourself. Practice developing your own, deeply personal relationship with Spirit. Build an altar to what it is you are struggling with releasing. Use Essential Oils (I highly recommend the blend Release for this.) and call on your Higher Mind (Buddhi) to help you surrender.

In the comments below, let me know what helps you surrender! What are the tools that help you let go? What have been the most difficult things for you to let go of?

4 Ways to Know When A Relationship Is Over

Yellow Bow-Broken Heart...The Break UpHow do you know when a relationship is over?

A reader/friend of mine recently asked for my advice, as she has been struggling in her long-term marriage for several years. She and her husband have two small children, a flourishing life together, but have grown apart. Neither feel their core needs are being met. They both harbor resentment and wonder if their marriage is beyond repair.

This is one of the most common dilemmas I see in modern marriages and relationships. It takes an enormous amount of work, patience, skillful communication, acceptance, and commitment to sustain a long-term, thriving partnership. Ending a significant relationship or marriage is a huge, painful topic that often requires the help of an objective third party to truly understand what is happening at the core.

The following are 4 tools you can use to help determine whether your relationship is over or if you are still committed to working on it.

1. Look at your sex life (or lack thereof).

Is your sex life off, misaligned or non-existent?

If you are bored, resentful, or avoiding sex it is generally a good indicator that other things in your relationship are askew. I often hear from couples who have gone months or even years without having sex. Avoiding sex is incredibly detrimental to the physical, emotional, and spiritual bond of a relationship. If you avoid sex with your partner…ask yourself why?

  • Are you no longer attracted to them?
  • Do you resent them?
  • Are you not voicing your true sexual needs, desires, or personality?
  • Have you split off and only fantasize about or flirt with other people?

Our capacity to give and receive love is directly reflected in our sexual bond. It is extremely difficult, if not impossible to heal a relationship without healing the sexual union.

If you’re avoiding sex, it is a good indication that your heart is closed, and there is something deeper going on – a psychological, emotional resistance or resentment being held. If this is the case, it is important to open up a dialogue with your partner and communicate about why your sex life is off and what this symbolizes for your relationship.

The good news: Making love has a direct and often unconscious byproduct of mending old hurts, releasing tension, pent up emotions, and fostering affection and reconnection between a couple. Agree on a reasonable number of times per week to have sex – whether you feel like it or not (2-3 is a good starting point).

2. Are you picking fights?

Picking fights with each other is a passive-aggressive way of avoiding true conflict in a relationship.

What are you not saying? What TRUTH are you not yet ready to acknowledge?

Nagging and picking fights is an unfortunately common shadow of the feminine. We try to avoid doing the “dirty work” of a relationship ourselves. We may not feel ready for the courage, emotional strength, and stability it takes to face and work through difficult issues, and instead pick fights with our partner to avoid tackling real issues head-on.

We may unconsciously sabotage a relationship, try to get our partners to make the first move and break up with us, so that we don’t have to.

If you’re picking fights or the atmosphere when you’re together is frustrating, irritable, and confrontational, recognize this as a symbol – the tip of the iceberg. Begin to get honest about the underlying, root causes of your frustration.

Breathe deeply. Take a step back. Be patient and compassionate with yourself and your partner. The heart is tender. We are vulnerable in love. Dig underneath the surface of what is setting you off and begin to work more consciously with your partner in a healthy, direct pattern of communication to address what is really going on.

3. Listen to your body.

Your body never lies!

  • How do you feel around your partner?
  • Does your body feel open and expanded?
  • Are you flourishing, breathing easily around your partner?
  • Or do you feel constricted or restricted?
  • Is there a tension or a tightness building up inside of you?
  • Is it difficult for you to sleep at night?
  • Do you wake up throughout the night or early in the morning tossing and turning?
  • Are you experiencing anxiety?
  • If so, what are the thoughts that come up when you struggle to fall or stay asleep?

When I’ve been in a relationship that I feel is coming to an end, I notice I get really short of breath and start to wake up in the middle of the night or really early in the morning – panicked that this might be over.

The body starts talking to us before our head or heart is ready to hear the message of truth. Observe and take in this information as it arises. Listen to your body, pay attention, take notes or journal a few pages – stream-of-consciousness style. Notice your thoughts when you exercise or do yoga.

Begin a simple meditation practice to simply sit with your thoughts as they arise in your body. You will hear the voice of intuition much more clearly and save yourself time and additional hurt by dragging out a break up unnecessarily.

4. Seek help from a professional.

Therapy is an incredibly empowering tool to help decipher the true nature of a relationship.

Relationships most often break down from deeply held, unconscious patterns that we inadvertently trigger in each other. Our defense and coping mechanisms carry over from old traumas, wounds from childhood and our family of origin. We learn how to relate with others, particularly in romantic relationships, based on our parental role models, how they interacted with each other and with us. All of those tendencies and expectations are brought up in our romantic relationships.

If you have a partner who is willing to look at and work with what they bring to the relationship and own their part, there is room for healing. If one or both of you is not willing to look at what is happening or “clean up your side of the street”, it may be an indication that it is time to transition out of the relationship and move on. If you are both committed to deep, inner work, a relationship can heal and flourish.

Romantic relationships are the most direct path to heal our wounds. As my teacher Ram Dass says, Romantic relationship are (by far) the most difficult yoga and our greatest curriculum.”

Notice your body, sleep patterns, what’s happening in your sex life and what it symbolizes. Notice if you are picking fights with your partner and seek help.

Couples’ therapy expedited my two biggest breakups and saved us months (or years) of suffering and further emotional hurt. We parted ways peacefully as friends who deeply love and respect each other. Even with the best intentions, we most likely would have dragged out the relationship had we not committed to digging in, facing the truth and getting the support and education we needed.

It is incredibly difficult for most people to navigate the tender terrain of the heart without an objective view of what is really going on. Seek help from a counselor or psychotherapist to understand what dynamics you are playing out and how to communicate and evolve your relationship consciously.

How have you known that a relationship is over? What was the trigger point?

photo by: goingslo

Send Smiling Energy—As Easy As 1, 2, 3, and 4

“A smile is a curve that sets everything straight.”
Phyllis Diller

In the heat of a Hong Kong summer, between bites of lotus root, sticky tofu, and congee, I met Taoist master Daniel Li Ox. Expecting a slight Chinese man with a long, gray beard, mustache, black sweatpants, and black shoes of the Toms® variety, I was surprised to stumble upon a well-built, broad-shouldered, blonde Australian bloke who lives most of his time in Bali. We were both in Hong Kong instructing at a yoga conference when he taught me one of the most potent, simple tools to cultivate immediate joy and stress-relief.

What to do when you’re annoyed, irritated, disappointed, or frustrated with what’s happening in your life? Send “smiling energy.”

This short, sweet practice helps train your mind to immediately switch gears—not only moving into acceptance, but sending Smiling Energy to everyone and everything in your path.

4 Quick Steps to Send Smiling Energy and Lighten Up

The anatomy of our breath is a perfect harmony of YIN and YANG. Slowing down the breath stretches our brainwaves and the space between thoughts to create a more alpha state.

Inhale symbolizes the feminine, receptive current, and the exhale equals the masculine, active energy.

1. Deepen Your Breath

(Try it now: three deep breaths in and out through your nose.)

A mental shape-shift is as easy as focusing on your breath. Deepen your breath, and it naturally calms the nervous system, moving you out of the habitual fight or flight stress response of the sympathetic nervous system and into the relaxation response of the para-sympathetic nervous system.

2. Inhale = Unconditional Acceptance

Now as you inhale, focus on unconditional acceptance.

Breathing in, literally receive the molecules of the present moment. Allow your body to soften and take in this very moment—as it is, right here, right now. Literally receive all of the circumstances, sensations, fragrances, and people of the present moment. Notice how you feel without needing anything to change.

With unconditional acceptance of exactly what is, we surrender our desire to control, understand, or change anything that is happening. Simply, it just is what it is. Imagine a warm, ocean breeze washing through you.

3. Exhale = Unconditional Love

As you exhale, focus on unconditional love.

When we exhale, we send our molecules back out to the moment.

Unconditional means that no matter who or what it is or how they are acting, you send love. Imagine sending a wave of love rippling out in every direction. You not only allow things to be as they are, you practice loving it. Not pretending to love it, but sincerely appreciating and wishing the best for (even if you don’t understand) everything. Flex the muscle of the heart! Silently radiate love to everything and everyone around you.

4. Send Smiling Energy

While radiating unconditional love, send smiling energy. Literally put a smile on you face (you probably feel better already) and send the energy it creates out into the universe.

Every moment of the day, wherever you are, practice permeating smiling energy. Through your bones, your organs, the expression on your face, tone of your voice, and quality of your movement, send a smile.

Added Bonus: this will light you up just as much as (and probably more than) the people and things you are smiling at!

Imagine your breath like liquid light. Envision the warmth and gentle, affirming uplift of a sincere smile. Let your whole body, mind, and heart smile. Then, share it.

Enjoy! And please leave a comment below to let us know what shifts you see in your life from sending smiling energy.

Love (and smiles),


Elevating personal growth as a lifestyle, Ashley Turner, M.A., brings a fresh approach to yoga as a modern-day psychotherapist with a soulful bent on celebrating the body’s wisdom and inner spirit. Ashley is the co-author of Aroma Yoga®: Using Essential Oils in Yoga + Life and creator of four best-selling yoga DVDs. She leads monthly, weekend retreats at Montage in Laguna Beach, CA, as well as retreats and workshops around the globe. For more on her and her events, visit her website and follow her on Facebook and Twitter.

Join Ashley: YOGA TANGO RETREAT in Buenos Aires, Argentina, Oct 28 – Nov. 2 and URBAN PRIESTESS – Empowering the Feminine at Kripalu in the Berkshires of Massachusetts, Nov 23 25.

*Photo by entrelec.

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