Transcript Interview Episode with Asha McLaughlin

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[00:00:00] Laurin: Welcome to the Curiously Wise Podcast. I'm your host Laurin Wittig This podcast is all about women supporting women, mind, body, and spirit. It's a place where we will honor celebrate and share women's natural and experiential wisdom through curiosity provoking conversations, shared stories, and tips

[00:00:26] we've all gathered along this journey. I invite you to join in the fun as we uncover the unique wisdom, we each carry within us. Ready? Let's get curious. Hello, friends and welcome to the Curiously Wise Podcast. I'm so happy to have you here today with us. And I am excited to bring one of my dear friends and this amazingly wise, creative, exceptional woman who came into my life a few years ago and was part of my Wise Women Circles, where I originally met her.

[00:01:06] And now I'm very glad to call her my friend. And I want to introduce you to Asha McLaughlin. Asha welcome. I'm so, so excited about with this conversation we're going to have, but first I would really love it if you would just introduce yourself, tell us what you want us to know about you.

[00:01:23] Asha: Well first, I just want to say thank you so much, Laurin. This is such a delight to be here with you and spend time with your community. And I just want to say to the listeners that Laurin is one of my favorite people when I moved to this neck of the woods, which I am not originally from this area. She really stood out to me.

[00:01:43] And so I feel blessed to call her friend. I am originally a New Englander. I grew up in a family with all boys, lots of brothers. I was the only girl and I really think that that has a lot to do with how I turned out as a female and being obsessed and empowered by female spirituality, and divinity and female empowerment.

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[00:02:11] I'm just realizing that, saying that about growing up in a house with the boys that it really did have an effect. I was a very creative, curious kid and they used to call me for going on 40. So I was kind of a big thinker and always trying to like move things along at a nice clip. And I think that came out of being curious and excited about the universe.

[00:02:33] I had some really interesting parents that were in some ways, a little bit conservative. I went to Catholic school and that kind of stuff, but they really did let me be me. And it wasn't always easy, but definitely I found my way and I'm very grateful for my nuclear family, even though I feel very different from them.

[00:02:55] It's hard. I can just ramble on and on, but I'm a very creative person. I'm a healer, I'm an intuitive, I'm a meditator, yoga teacher, health coach. I also run a business. For 35 years I've been a designer, art director, photographer. And I specialize in conscious intuitive branding.

[00:03:16] So helping people give rise to their dream with their voice, their vision and their forward-facing image to the world.

[00:03:28] Laurin: Yes, and you're really good at that. I did not realize Asha redesign my website a couple of years ago now. It was a process that I didn't really expect, but it was really empowering and really useful to me as I was looking to rebrand or bring a more professional way to my branding. Cause I had done it on a shoestring when I first set up my business and Asha took me through this whole series of questions and we played with words

[00:03:56] you wanted me to come up with these, you know, lists of things that were important to my clients or were important to me. And it was just, it was a really interesting process to go through because it was a way of looking at presenting myself in a very common way. I mean, I've had a website since websites were first a thing because I was in the book business at the time.

[00:04:15] And I did it myself because I'm a computer geek, but I had never had the branding or the art part of it, the design part of it behind it. it's really interesting. And I know that we're going to get to that later, talking about what you're doing now in terms of how you're bringing everything together.

[00:04:29] So let's start a little bit about there's some things that, you know, from your childhood, some aspects of you and you introduced us to your childhood. Those things that you can see the thread all the way through your life now. So that's kind of a nice way for us to go through the journey of your life how you came to be where you are now.

[00:04:47] Is there one or two things that you can tell us about that you remember from a child being a passion or a talent that you still see very present and important in your life these days?

[00:04:58] Asha: That's such a cool way to think about it. I can think of two things. Two things popped in my head right away. One is that I am a people person. I love people. I love talking to people. I love connecting with people. The other thing is that I'm a deeply spiritual person. And I knew this from the get go because I was

[00:05:19] very passionate at a young age about very bizarre things. Like I had mentioned to you earlier that I had this obsession with the country of Mongolia as a child. Growing up in a kind of conservative Catholic household, it was just weird. And I didn't quite understand that until years later when I recognized who Dalai Lama was and what Tibetan Buddhism was and the importance of Mongolia and that the Dalai Lama was from Mongolia.

[00:05:44] And you know, that I feel that I had a history in that tradition and I still do. It is not my specific spiritual path for this lifetime, but it is one that is so close to my heart and that I really resonate with. And I've lived a couple of times in Dharamsala, India and Somalia which is what I call the living Tibet of today.

[00:06:06] So those are just a couple things.

[00:06:08] Laurin: So I know that you went to, was it the Parsons School of Design?

[00:06:12] Asha: I have a degree in Communication Design, which I think is pretty cool because one thing that's interesting to know about design is that it's a very intellectual art form. It's a marrying of message and image. One is not more important than the other. It's a way that they come together.

[00:06:32] And this effect, when design is good, when it's done well, can really exponentially attract people, places, things, situations to your business, or to whatever you're trying to create. And so when you mentioned earlier that you were pleasantly surprised by the process when we started to work on your site, I smiled because it's true that I cannot recommend enough partnering someone to do this.

[00:07:02] Everybody who has a computer can now whip out a logo or a website. It doesn't mean you can't do it. Of course you can do it. But when you partner with an expert or someone who's trained in this field, you are going to go way deeper

[00:07:19] Laurin: Yeah.

[00:07:20] Asha: into the core of what your mission is about, which this will not happen on your own.

[00:07:26] there's just this beautiful synergy that happens in partnership and it goes back and forth. And this morning I have to just read this quote because it just came down into my head, like a suture in my morning meditation. And what I wrote was when your heart and your mind are aligned,

[00:07:43] clarity is paramount and your path unfolds with ease. And so one of the things that I think can happen to people as they're building a business, and as they're starting to get clear about things is, they're not clear because there's so many choices and there's so much to do, and then it gets stressful.

[00:08:01] And what does stress do? It distracts us from the pure essence of what we're trying to do. I just wanted to say that because that came up this morning,

[00:08:11] Laurin: It really was fascinating. And you gave me so many tools to work with in terms of brand, I don't remember what you call it, but I go back and look at, it's got all the colors and all the words we came up with and all these kinds of things and this, and I go back and now you reminded me not too long ago to go back and look at it, but

[00:08:28] Asha: Your brand essence deck.

[00:08:30] Laurin: There you go, your brand essence deck.

[00:08:33] And it it's really helpful because it is hard. I get bombarded by so many different things and I am a bit ADD and I can chase the pretty butterfly and then there’s another, and then there's another one. So for me, it's really, really been useful in the last, maybe it was only six months ago or so you said, you remember that thing I gave you, it's like, oh, well, we can find that.

[00:08:56] It's been really, really helpful as I, really am sort once more I'm constantly, but once more seriously re-imagining what I want my business to be what I want my clientele to get from me. And so many of those words are true to both where I have been for the last couple of years, but also where I see myself leaving into, not leaving behind anything, but just growing into.

[00:09:21] And it's really helpful. I don't know if I'm just particularly out of sight out of mind. So.

[00:09:27]Asha: No, no, no. This is really common. And the thing is, is that it's not meant to box us in, in any way. It actually gives us a foundation and a framework to grow, to evolve. But when we have these guidelines of professionalism, it's not just about the image, it's about intention and clarity. So your intention, that was the root intention for the business,

[00:09:54] it's going to evolve, but there's a lot, I'm going to use a Sanskrit word. There's a lot of Shakti. There's a lot of good energy in that original, rich, fertile ground of your intention that we pulled together and we built upon. And so, yeah, it's really, really important to use what you were given from there.

[00:10:13] Laurin: Yeah. Well, and even just in looking for a better URL for the website, cause I had, which was a mouthful. And I guess, was taken whatever we went back and forth and we finally started bouncing words back and forth.

[00:10:32] Heartlight what, Heartlight what doesn't have, you know, and we came up with what I just love now because it's so expresses the core of what I'm hoping for, for everybody I work with. And we came up with Heartlightjoy.

[00:10:45] Asha: Yes.

[00:10:46] Laurin: And it gives me joy every time I look at it because I go, oh yeah, that's it joy.

[00:10:51] That's what I want to bring to people. It still remains very powerful to me, the work that we did together on that. Partly because it's in my face every day, I'm in and out of my website and, and doing things all the time. I would be a voice of, say, yeah, what's you're talking about is very powerful.

[00:11:06] And I had the technical chops, even with the beautiful design that you did on a platform I wasn't familiar with. I could have figured, at least the mechanics of a website out because I have the computer background and I'm a techie nerd. But I wouldn't have been able to put it together the way you did.

[00:11:23] It's a real gift that you have to bring together that whole, not just the design side and the communication side, but also the heart of things.

[00:11:32] Asha: I think that's the part that you know, there's a lot of talented people out there and there's someone for everybody. But the thing that I think I can claim now after 35 years, lots of different clients and lots of different successes is that that marrying of my maturation of my process, which, included a stint of monastic living. There was a bit of a sabbatical where I pulled out of the big design firms I worked for in New York and started meditating and moved into a monastery and spent hours and hours a day doing spiritual practices. And this process really brought in the clarity in my intuition and that's why I call it conscious branding because I'm bringing skills from all different aspects of my life into this.

[00:12:25] There's the design skills and then there's the people skills, but then there's also looking deeper into helping people figure out the real nuggets in there, the things that sets them apart and will make them really attract who's meant to work with them and how.

[00:12:45] Laurin: Yeah. you do have a real gift for that. I'm in awe because it is a bringing together of technical things, and communication things, and heart things, and you just bring it all together and make it into this beautiful package.

[00:13:01] Asha: Thank you.

[00:13:01] Laurin: Let's talk a little bit about the natural health coaching that you do. I know about it, but tell the listeners what it is you mean by that…

[00:13:10] Asha: Okay.

[00:13:11] Laurin: because we all bring our own thing to this kind of work.

[00:13:13] Asha: I know, first I want to say, I know it might sound very different that I also am a natural health coach, but the truth is that, I'm 55. And so I've been around the globe, you know, many circles, many times, and there are chapters, there are seasons in our lives and there are different things that strike us in our life that are…

[00:13:33] Passions. And for me, natural health, when I first moved to Vermont in 1990, so it's been over 30 years, I started studying in-depth natural forms of medicine because I was raised in a very conservative medical house and always on penicillin and always, you know, weak immune system and all that. And I thought, no, there's a whole another world out there.

[00:13:56]And so I've studied Ayurveda when I lived in India and I've studied acupressure and Chinese medicine and I've studied naturepathic medicine, and I'm being mentored by naturepathic physicians. And so I love to work with natural solutions. I'm very passionate about plants as medicine. In all different aspects, whether they be supplementation, different things to boost us, or really pure potent essential oils I like to work with also. I believe plants can speak to us and heal us…

[00:14:29] …just as they did couple hundred years ago, this was the original medicine, right. We've gotten away from it. But the truth is I have a friend right now who is a chemist. He got his Masters in Chemistry and he just got his first job. And he's working in a bio medical firm outside of Boston and guess what, they're studying remedies for cancer and one of them being frankincense.

[00:14:55] And so here, you know, it's so cool that it is happening. It is happening where Western and old-timey sort of plant medicine is coming together and you're going to be hearing more and more and more about this in the next five or 10 years, but there's so much we can do.

[00:15:11] And so one of the things that I'm really excited to help people with is to understand themselves, understand what their body is trying to tell them and what the needs are, and then empowering that person to have the tools to take care of things themselves. Now, if you break your arm, yes, we're going to the hospital.

[00:15:34] I'm not saying I love my doctors. I am not a totally crunchy granola. I don't use doctors at all person. They are absolutely part of our team. But the truth is there are many, many things that we can take care of at home. Or I like to call it, nip it in the bud. You know, for example, like if you have a sore throat, there's something you can gargle with.

[00:15:54] That'll take that away so you don't end up getting strep, things like that. And so I love to empower people with these little techniques because they do work and they're non-habit forming and they’re non-toxic.

[00:16:30] so things to help mom be calm and to help her move through that transition with greater ease. But also for those of us who are taking care of her. And I found that actually to be the more powerful part, and I was able to share it with my aunts who were in and out all the time and my mom's sisters and we all benefited from that.

[00:16:49] And it was amazing to me because I could see how it affected my aunts. I could see how it affected my mother. I could feel how it affected me, cause I was just a nervous wreck at the time, for all kinds of reasons, including menopause.

[00:17:02] Asha: Yeah.

[00:17:04] Laurin: But so it's not just illness. But there was support for emotional support.

[00:17:10] There was nervous system support that was outside of illness. And that's frankly the pieces of it I use even today when I'm having a day where I can't focus, that I pull out my motivation and when I need to calm down, I have calm or have bliss, or I have all of these oils or oil mixes, combos that are just beautiful and easy on the system.

[00:17:32] I'm not taking pills, I'm not worrying about interactions with other things. And so I wanted to just bring that other piece into this because it’s great for illnesses. But for me, that was an even more profound use of them.

[00:17:47] Asha: I'm so glad you mentioned that because it's so true. And I do work with hospice a lot. I give back a lot in the death and dying community because these are transitions that we all have to deal with. That brings me great joy helping, not only the person find either a deeper breath or a release of pain or tension or calming them down.

[00:18:11] But like you said, the people in the room…

[00:18:14] Laurin: Yeah.

[00:18:14] Asha: …everyone else, everybody matters and everybody counts.

[00:18:16] Laurin: Yeah.

[00:18:17]Asha: And there's so much we can do with essential oils for emotional wellbeing in grounded-ness and also brain health. I've been working on in a class. It's kind of a joke because I've been working on it since before COVID.

[00:18:33] So it's been like three years now because before COVID, I thought this was the topic that everybody needed the most help with. And that is neuroprotective practices and protocols. So many people are stressed, are overstimulated or overwhelmed. And I find a lot of the practices that I use, including breath work.

[00:18:53]I'm also a certified breath coach. Breath, plus the oils is a profound calming, focusing grounding bunch of tools and they go beautifully together. And the reason aromatics of essential oils are so powerful is when we breathe them in, there are these little old factory nerve endings that come down and pull the chemical constituents, the aromatics right into the limbic system in the brain.

[00:19:22] And that is the seat of our emotions and our motivations. And so it's a really quick way to shift a mood is to pick up an uplifting, essential oil. That's pure let's hope fingers crossed because there's a lot of adulteration out there. So you have to make sure that you find a brand that's a hundred percent pure, but then go ahead, have at it topically internally, aromatically.

[00:19:48] Laurin: Yeah. It's fascinating to me. I love learning about all the different modalities that people use in this kind of work. In this alternative medicine work. And it's one that I really had no contact with until I met you. I was just remembering, I hadn't thought about that in a while, but I was remembering how grateful I was first of all, that you spent so much time with me saying these, you need to get, this is what they're for. This is how you use them.

[00:20:11] Asha: Oh, great.

[00:20:12] Laurin: And then being able to see, you know the effect was really lovely.

[00:20:17] Asha: It's important to me. The unboxing is what I call it because ­­­­a lot of times people will hear something and they're like, oh, that's great. And then they get it home. And they're like, what is this for? Like, I need help.

[00:20:26] Laurin: yeah. Yeah.

[00:20:28] Asha: I love to offer my clients a free wellness consultation where we really talk about how to use these products and where to place them. So since that time, you know, another layer that I've added into my repertoire is this last year I studied Aroma Point Applications. So how to pair the essential plant medicine with a particular Chinese medicine point with the lightest, its not even pressure.

[00:20:55] It's a presence is what I like to call it. It's a very light touch, but the combination of plant essence and point is really powerful.

[00:21:07] Laurin: Yeah, I bet. Wow. Yeah. I'm going to have to have you have to try that out.

[00:21:12] Asha: Yeah. That's another whole call.

[00:21:15] Laurin: So you mentioned that you had done the monastery work for a while. And I know that you bring your spirituality into everything that you do. And we've talking about how you're bringing all of this together, but is there anything else that you, well, we haven't talked about your Yogi.

[00:21:31] Asha: Yes. Yes. I'm a Yogi. For over 30 years, I've been practicing yoga. Honestly it sounds so corny, but I say it all the time knowing my students. Cause I teach yoga as well. Yoga is magic. There's no other word for it. I mean, it sounds corny to say that, but the reason I say it is because it is very transforming on all levels on the physical level, the emotional level, the spiritual level.

[00:22:00] It's just incredible. and I do want to say. That there's lots of different types of yoga, particularly in America, we've taken it into lots of different directions that may look very different to how it was originally conceived of in India. And there's nothing wrong with anything, but things can be very different.

[00:22:20] So, when I describe how transforming it is, I'm not talking about going and doing an aerobic class in a hot room. You know, there's different kinds of yoga that go deeper longer. And the effect on the nervous system in the mind can be very calming and grounding and releasing.

[00:22:39] I mean, you can lower your blood pressure. There's so much that can happen.

[00:22:43] Laurin: Yeah,

[00:22:43] Asha: So I always recommend that people really ask around and find a good teacher. Because there are lots and lot of mediocre or baby teachers as I call them people with a very, very little, 200 hour training.

[00:23:02] And these there's nothing wrong with these people. There's no, I'm not putting anybody down. It's just that if you want a big experience, go for somebody who's very seasoned. Who's been practicing for a long time. Who's really integrated it into their lives too. So it's not just on the mat, but it's how you feel in their presence if you bump into them. Yoga is amazing. Absolutely amazing and meditation as well. Right? Because they go hand in hand often.

[00:23:28] Laurin: I took a yoga class. Gosh, my son was in high school. So, you know, a long time ago it was a perfect class for me, cause it was at the rec center a couple of mornings a week. And it was really a super beginner’s class. The teacher was great. She was 40, 42, something like that. But she taught at workshop style, which was perfect for me.

[00:23:50] I could not bend over and touch my toes at that time. I could not sit down, you know, in, was it, I can't remember what it's But I can kneel down on the floor and sit back on my heels and it's not a problem. And I sit like that all the time without even thinking about it.

[00:24:03] I could not do that without a block, like…

[00:24:05] Asha: wow.

[00:24:06] Laurin: …hover over. And I took this class for about two years before she had to leave for health reasons, but my flexibility became so much better through that process. There was a community that built in that class, cause it wasn't like an 8 0 5 class on and Thursday mornings.

[00:24:23] And it was the same 12 people that showed up all the time. And so there was that community. The teacher was very well-versed in anatomy and physiology, in yoga, in meditation, all of that. So, there was a really beautiful collection of skills that she brought to it. She had the knack of telling stories.

[00:24:45] She was like, okay, we're going to do this. You're going to get into this position. You got that block there. You've got this here. Okay. Let me tell you what my son did today. And for like five minutes, she would tell us a story and it would totally distract us from what we were doing.

[00:24:58] Asha: yes

[00:25:01] Laurin: And it was perfect. Cause you know, she'd say, okay, we're done. It was like, oh yeah, we were doing something.

[00:25:06] Asha: And so great. Yes. Just breathe while I'm talking,

[00:25:08] Laurin: Exactly. Let me tell you this funny story, but at the end of class and she would leave a long time for Shavasana. And if the listener has never taken a yoga class, Shavasana is like usually everybody's favorite part because at the end of class, you get to lie down just be on the mat, breathe and I started to meditate there. I didn't know that's what I was doing…

[00:25:33] Asha: right.

[00:25:34] Laurin: …until so much later, but that's where I started meditating. And when I took my first meditation class, I went, wait, I already do this at the end of yoga class.

[00:25:43] Asha: Oh my gosh, Laurin. I'm so happy. You just told this story because hundreds of years ago, this is why yoga was created. This is why the postures were created by the sages in the ratios, in the caves and the Hemali is, was so that they could sit for meditation.

[00:26:02] Laurin: Yeah.

[00:26:03] Asha: And not have pain in their hips and their back and their thighs. And so the combination of moving the body with intention and breath in specific alignments does, you want to going back to the magic word, quiets your mind.

[00:26:23] And so when you quiet the mind meditation just happens.

[00:26:29] Laurin: Yeah.

[00:26:30] Asha: You don't have to meditate. You don't make yourself meditate. I like to say this all the time. My husband and I mentioned this a lot. We're creating the conditions for meditation to happen.

[00:26:45] Laurin: Oh, I love that.

[00:26:46] Asha: So that's one of the juicy gems and the fruit of a good yoga class is that, that final surrender pose that she was talking about. She called it by its Sanskrit named Shavasana, but it's, it's final surrender. And it's often very difficult for people if they haven't had a strong enough awesome practice, but when you really show up and you're using your muscles and you're using your full effort and you're using your breath, that final surrender pose, you will drop, you will go.

[00:27:22] Laurin: just the best.

[00:27:23] Asha: Yeah, totally. And then just to bring in, I will say, you know, this is not necessary, but one time I was teaching a class in Amherst, Massachusetts, and at the end of the class, I just happened to have one of those essential oil blends that's really calming for the nervous system. And I just said, Hey, I'm going to, I have this.

[00:27:42] If anybody would like a drop, please raise your hand and I'll come around and I'll give it to you whatever. We had Shavasana at the end, this woman came up to me and she said, Asha, I just want you to know I've been practicing yoga for 25 years and I've never had a Shavasana like that. And, and I looked at her and I said, I don't think it's me just so you know, I think it was that drop I gave you because you have, you've been having final surrender for a long time.

[00:28:09] But so this is another point is that, you know, these are more tools,

[00:28:13] Laurin: Yeah.