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How Breathwork Can Bring Healing and Connection – with Ashley Neese

Guest Interview

Hello beautiful souls! Our guest today is Ashley Neese (somatic practitioner, teacher and author of How to Breathe and Permission to Rest) as she shares her insights on the transformative power of breathwork. Ashley shares how taking a pause and practicing breath awareness can lead to mental, physical and spiritual healing. We also delve into the importance of establishing a breathwork practice, addressing common concerns and fears that might arise along the way.

This episode was recorded live with our Angel Members. If you’re interested in becoming an Angel Member and to hear Ashley leading the group in a breathwork meditation, visit TheAngelMedium.com

To learn more about Ashley Neese and her work:


@ashley_neese [Ig]
Her books How to Breathe and Permission to Rest are available at all major book retailers


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Julie Jancius  01:40

Hello, beautiful souls. Welcome back to the Angels and Awakening Podcast. I’m your host and author Julie Jancius. And friends today we have a very, very special guest for you. And actually, we are live with the Angel Membership. As we are doing this interview for you today. We’re with Ashley Neese. If you don’t know her from Instagram, you have to go follow her over there. She is the author of How to Breathe. She is also the author of Permission to Rest which you can purchase your copy of right now, which I believe is coming out this fall. So pre orders really help authors. Permission to Rest. I love that for this year 2023, which the angels are calling the year of ease. And so this fits in wonderfully. Thank you so much for being here. Ashley, welcome to the show.

Ashley Neese 02:39

Thank you so much for having me. I’m very happy to be here.

Julie Jancius  02:45

I want to start out with one of the reasons that I wanted to have you on the show is because a couple of different things we here on the Angels and Awakening podcast really talk about things in terms of energy, and shifting our energy and being able to just exist here in these physical bodies. I think that’s a lot of what this life is all about. But the practice you have created really inner waves, a lot of energy healing, a lot of just existing and practical tools that people can use in their everyday life, to come back into their physical bodies to really check in with themselves to be present with themselves. But I think it’s fascinating that you kind of see energy, the way that I see energy, you see energy through breath. And that, you know, I think of breathwork as just kind of being in a class maybe and we’re lifting our chests and inhale with the lungs and then exhale. But you talk about how important the breath work is for intimacy with yourself that you can use breath work to connect even more with your partner and just share that closeness and that bond with your partner that you can use your breath to shift when you need to be creative, or bring through ideas or write or whatever it might be in your work. You can shift into creativity. And also when we go through a lot in life, or we experience different things. We can use breath to heal. We can use breath when we as mamas sometimes snap. And we have those moments with our kids. And you really talk a lot about repair and how you can go back and say, hey, I need to repair this with you. Let’s do some breath work to repair, repair together and come closer together. So we’re going to talk about all this today. But first, welcome to the show. And thank you so much for being here.

Ashley Neese 04:56

Thank you again. Yeah, happy

Julie Jancius  04:59

yay. Okay, so talk about some of this. What do people need to know when it comes to– I want to start with repair? Because this is such a fascinating topic to me that, how does this even work? You have a situation, maybe you get a little frustrated with your partner or your child? How do you come back to that person and repair and heal what just happened?

Ashley Neese 05:27

That’s a great question. And repair is a big, big part of my practice, and breathwork makes that much more possible for me. And I often leave breathwork into my repair. So I’ll give the example of raising my voice over our four and a half year old son, which I have done before. And when I can feel myself in that moment, for one, my energy is going up. And in that moment, I am under resourced, probably very tired, very frustrated already, like, kind of things have been stacking for a particular amount of time throughout the day. And then it’s justpop the lids off that one. And I can feel that all happening. And sometimes what’s beautiful is I can tap into my practice before I the lid goes off and kind of organize myself and go, I just need to take a minute I need to take a breath, because I can feel myself getting to that place of kind of snapping. 

And so what’s great about breath work is that it offers so much awareness, right? So that’s to me, it’s an awareness practice. And so with practice, I can have that awareness to kind of potentially catch up beforehand and in moments when I can’t have the repair. And so the repair for me often looks like let’s say that in that example, I’ve snapped, right? I’ve yelled, I immediately, it’s like, it’s almost immediate, like, Oh, my I can feel my heart. I often will. As I’m doing right now I’ll just put my hand on my heart. And I’ll take an exhale. Okay, that just happened. All right, what do I need to do for myself in this moment? First, I got to take care of myself first. And then once I’m organized, then I can turn to my son and say, Ah, I’m sorry, that just happened. I’m sorry. I just yelled at you, or whatever, whatever it was. Can we take a moment together? And just sit here and breathe? Is there anything that you need from me? Right? And so it’s also really asking that question, like, it’s not just up to me to decide what the repair is like, we’re in this relationship. And even though he’s only four and a half, there’s different ways that he can communicate that to me, like this is what I need. Or he might say, I didn’t like that. Or I don’t want you to do that, or whatever it is, and then part of the repair is me hearing that. Right. Just really hearing that and going Yeah, yeah, that makes total sense. That makes total sense, not getting defensive, not trying to change his mind, it’s like the repair really requires me to be in a space where I can meet him and attune to him in a particular way. And if I’m not there, I don’t do the repair. So I don’t always do our repair in a moment, sometimes the lid will go off, and later in the day, I’ll make the repair. And that’s okay, too. It’s okay. We don’t always, I don’t always have the time to repair in the moment, either, because I’ve got a 16 month old as well. And you know, all the things are happening. So later, I can be like, You know what, earlier today, when that thing happened, and I yelled, that wasn’t okay with me. That’s not That’s not how I want to show up. I’m really sorry, that happened, what do you need from me. And it’s– as someone who never got repair growing up. It’s really, really powerful, not just for my relationship with my kids. But for my relationship with my younger parts, too. It’s healing forwards. It’s healing backwards. 

Julie Jancius  08:38

And as you were talking about that earlier in the Membership, I just got this vision of, you know, I think we’ve all seen how not repairing really causes this space to grow between you and another individual, whether that’s your child or your best friend or your partner, or a co worker, and that when we allow these little snaps to happen– I kept getting this visual of two people taking one step further apart, one step further apart, one step further apart. And it seems to me like what the repair does is just keep those two souls close together, bonded together, Good with one another. 

And it’s interesting because spirits had me on this journey the last couple of years and I’ve talked a little bit about this on the podcast of I think I was always searching for the perfect relationship, the perfect relationship with my child, the perfect relationship with my friends. And because I moved so frequently as a child and had to learn how to make new friends and new relationships constantly, it was very easy to just be like, Okay, peace out like this happened. And I didn’t know how to repair at all. And I’m still learning how to do that. And, it’s very eye opening because I have friends who are very good at repair, and they have not let me run away. They make it so they’re like no, like, this isn’t the end of our friendship. Like, we’re just gonna talk this out Julie. And it’s like, oh, really like that’s how friendships work. Okay? But you’re kind of learning that as you go and, and it’s, it’s amazing. It’s very healing– you’re right– to yourself as well.

Ashley Neese 10:41

I’m smiling, just laughing at the things you’ve shared too. It’s relatable both to me and in my younger years– what was the term around then– But what we call ghosting definitely was I ghosted people a lot. And in my life now, and looking back having done so much work on that. I mean, it was because it was always like, Oh, well, they did this thing, or this thing happened. And we got in this fight. And then it was just, I’m done. And it was just that was it. And now I got Oh, right. That was that disconnection because the disconnection was also so familiar to me, from my childhood, just feeling disconnected and you know, in relationship and, you know, having very little intimacy. And so that reconnection, I appreciate what you talked about those two, two souls coming back together. To me, that’s the reconnection that’s being back in connection. And with kids with friends with you know, loved ones, like that’s really, that’s really the beautiful kind of relational medicine that we all need is that connection. And so when we’re out of connection, it’s extremely painful. And I didn’t know it at the time that I was in pain, I didn’t know, I knew that I was angry, or frustrated, or something that happened and was just so focused on the other person that I couldn’t see, oh, I’m actually really hurting here. And I had to do so much work to get to a place where I could even speak up, because that’s part of my history, too. Just not like, don’t say the thing, never tell someone that you’re upset with them. Just never say anything, you know, that was too personal or too emotional, or whatever. And so doing all this work has led me to be in this place to go, oh, I can repair when I need to repair. And I can also say, hey, hey, that actually really hurt my feelings. When, when you said that? Do you have time to talk about that? Either now or later? Like, can we just have a conversation about it? And it’s like you said, oh, yeah, this is how relationships can function. And I had no idea that that was even possible that one kind of, and I still go through this with my partner, it’s like, something will come up and like, oh, the relationship is not over. Like you’re not leaving, like, No, I love you. I’m not leaving, we’re just we’re gonna talk this through, it’s like, and then kind of every little one of me can just take an exhale, but it’s taken time to get there, you know, to like, trust that because that’s also trust. It’s building that trust muscle within ourselves. Like, I trust that I can be myself and have a moment or say, Hey, you hurt my feelings. And we’re going to come through that. 

And, you know, the other piece that I just wanted to mention, briefly is like, building trust. And then also, especially with our kids is building resilience, right? When we’re repairing with them, they’re learning that humans make mistakes a lot. And that this is what I should expect, right? This is what I should expect. And this is like, to me, it also is very much tied into self worth. Like I didn’t know growing up, that was mainly that happened And I should expect that, like I should, that that was even possible, right. And so for our son, that he’s now knows that he also will initiate repair, you will initiate repair, we’re not harping on him go apologize to so and so. That’s not how we pair it, it will come from him. Eventually, he will go, You know what I’m sorry about earlier, like, Thanks, babe. I get it, you know, I get it, like you’ve got space to, you know, be a fully, fully fledged being as well. So there’s, there’s so many elements to that, and I’m really glad that we’re in this conversation.

Julie Jancius  15:52

One of the things that I’ve heard you talk about before to is that when it comes to having a breath practice, well, first, it’s so simple that we can enter weave into our every day. But one of the things that almost makes me nervous about a breath practice is how much people talk about what can come up. And you led us through a couple of exercises in the membership to really figure out and see kind of what’s underneath our breath and what’s there. But for other people who might feel that way too who are thinking like, Oh, my like, there’s probably more trauma layers that I haven’t worked through that are underneath that might come up. What does the process look like? When you are in a breath? Practice your breathing, your eyes are closed, something comes up for you? What is the process that people take to kind of work with that energy, be with that energy? Or maybe are there some days where you just don’t have capacity to be with it at all?

Ashley Neese 17:00

This is a really great question, as well are great questions. And there’s a lot of there’s a couple of different things I can say a lot of different pathways into practice. And there’s also just like with yoga, or meditation or kind of different healing arts modalities, there are lots of different ways to practice. 

I encourage people in the beginning of the work, especially if you’re practicing by yourself, to set an intention for yourself and kind of create a container to just say, You know what, I’m not going to set an intention to work on a big piece of trauma today by myself. And if something comes up, that is too much for my system, I’m going to take a pause and get some additional support for myself, I think those things are really, really important. Just to know, like you don’t have if something big comes up in your practice, and something is unearthed, which often happens. That often happens, especially in the beginning, a lot can show up anything that is in our subconscious, anything that is repressed. And when we start accessing the breath, we start accessing different states of consciousness. Our bodies open up in different ways. I’ve had a lot of clients who start a practice, and then they have memories that just appear. They’re like, Oh, well, this really traumatic thing happened to me at age three and I had no idea. That’s how intense I’ve been blocking it out. And first we want to just honor really honor our systems like Wow, you’ve been carrying this and your system has been doing everything it can to keep you safe, like, wow, like our systems are brilliant, they are so brilliant and so intelligent. And so we always want to honor those parts of ourselves that have been working and working and working to keep us safe and protected. 

And then the second piece is getting some support. So if you’re practicing by yourself, often I encourage a lot of laying of hands. And I know you mentioned earlier that a lot of my practice feels very akin to energy work and I have studied energy work a lot, especially in my early days. And so it’s a lot of laying of hands, it’s placing your hands on your heart. It’s giving yourself and your system, some support and some containment and just some touch, like hey, I’m here. I’m here, like, I’ve got you, I’ve got you if this is too much, we can stop. We can take a break. Like always, I always encourage a pause. Always take as many pauses as you need to and be really, live spacious and gentle with yourself in that process. If something comes up that is clearly like you’ll feel it too much for your system or you start to feel depressed or really disassociated, you know, for multiple kind of days after practice, seek some support to get some outside support for yourself. Lean on your other tool, your friends or you know trusted people that can support you through this work. 

But yeah, things will come up and I often have clients especially in the beginning, they’re like I’ve been avoiding breathwork because my friends do it and they say they just cry all the time. Yep, you might cry a lot, or you know, another thing that can happen, you might get in there and go, Wow, I’ve got a lot of angry parts that have not been given any space to be angry, right. And I’m a big, big proponent of getting in touch with our anger, of using anger as a creative energy. I think that there’s so much potency and anger that we can channel and use for all kinds of things in creative projects. But the whole thing about all this work is that it’s about coming back home to ourselves, calling our parts home, just being so gentle, being so gentle, and to your point earlier, if there’s something that’s too much, or we need to take a break from our practice to just honor that, you know, there’s so much in our culture that is like, if you take a break, you’re not gonna get the thing that you want, or you’re not doing it right. Or you just need to keep going keep pushing, keep pushing, and I am the total opposite of that. Like, yes, know when you’re avoiding something. And name it if you can’t, like when you can, right sometimes we don’t even know we’re avoiding things. And it’s okay. And we honor Oh, I didn’t know that. That about myself. I didn’t know that I was avoiding. So we send love to that part. That was avoiding unconsciously. And then we bring it into consciousness. Okay, we bring it into our breath. Okay, breath. I’m here with you. I’m here with my body. Yeah, let’s be with this. And if we can’t we acknowledge that too. 

And just give ourselves like, keep coming back to this, but just give ourselves grace. Yeah, right. We’ve been through so much. And not only have we been through so much, but there’s so much happening all the time. So how do we give ourselves grace, right, to just be like– to your point that we talked about in the membership– to exist, to just be, and if that means that we can breathe today in a way that is conscious and loving and, or that we want to tap into her creativity and kind of change things around? Awesome, do it. And then the days when we’re like, you know what, I just can’t? I just can’t. Okay, yeah,

Julie Jancius  21:58

I want to take some questions, because I know that some of our members have questions. And so I’m going to start with Robin, one of the things is– Robin, I’m gonna have you unmute so that you can come on. But one of the things that was coming up for me, Ashley, when you were talking is taking things to my therapist, like if they come in, in breathwork, I feel like if you know you have that support, or maybe if you wanted to bring it into your counselor or therapist, I think that’s a great resource to that you might have, if something comes up,

Ashley Neese 22:31

Yeah, it’s so important, it’s so important to acknowledge when we need more support. And for me, coming from a background of like, I got it, like, I don’t need help. I don’t need help, I’m gonna do this on myself, I’ll do this on myself. But we’re humans, and we’re relational beings and relationship is healthy, connected, you know, kind of reciprocal relationship is medicine for us, and therapeutic relationship has definitely been a cornerstone of my, of my growth, you know, for many decades. Yeah, it’s really, really important. And I think the other piece there is just to note, it doesn’t have to be a therapist, right? It can be a trusted friend, or just, hey, I did this practice, and this is what came up, do you have a few minutes or just listen to me, and just, you know, kind of support me in this work that I’m doing this piece that I uncovered about myself, right? So there’s a lot of different ways we can access that or we can go out in nature, and I talk to our trees a lot. I’m out with a land a lot, and I’m just sitting with the land. And sometimes I’ll lay down and I’m like, Hold me, you know, hold me. And so there’s lots of different access points for that. Getting that support that we need. And acknowledging that support that we need. And also just taking a minute to just acknowledge that needing support doesn’t mean that there’s something wrong with us. It doesn’t mean that we’re not doing it right. Or that we just have so many problems. I think that’s a big thing in American culture anyway, as well. If you need help, like there’s something wrong with you, you should be able to just kind of do it on your own, like, No, we’re not actually even designed that way. So that’s completely antithetical to human beings. But we need connection. And so where do we find that safe connection with other humans and with plants with animals and the nature.

Julie Jancius  24:10

Amazing, amazing, Robin. Welcome.

Angel Member 24:15

Hi. How are you?

Julie Jancius  24:19

Good. What’s your question today?

Angel Member 24:21

I have heard that when you inhale, it affects your sympathetic nervous system. And when you exhale, it affects your parasympathetic nervous system, or do I have that backwards? I don’t know. But, um, how does that deal with breath work? Because sometimes when I’m breathing, I wonder which should I be inhaling only or inhaling and exhaling through the mouth? I mean, exhaling for the mouth is for parasympathetic. That’s what I’ve heard.

Ashley Neese 24:44

Yeah. So that’s a great question. And so oftentimes, I remember a few years ago, speaking on a panel, this big conference, and you know, that interviewer was like, Okay, you have one, one tip that you can give, you know, the 500 people that are here, like, what’s your one tip and I’m like, oh, gosh, there’s one tip, but it was actually a whole panel of other breathwork experts as well. And we all it was conclusive, we were like, the biggest tip we can give is a long exhale. So a long exhale through the nose, is going to be the most regulating for the parasympathetic nervous system. And so that can look like inhaling through the nose. And then sorry, to turn that off, it can look like inhaling through the nose, and then exhaling through the nose. And if you exhale and make your exhale a little bit longer than your inhale, then that is automatically going to start to shift your system into a parasympathetic, it’s not going to happen instantaneously, it’s going to take practice, but that is essentially the practice. So it could look something like inhale for four, exhale for six. And this is all happening through your nose, inhaling through your nose, for four, exhaling through your nose for six. And so that that’s a kind of general consensus in kind of all across breathwork communities, that that is the proven way to sort of work with nervous system regulation, specifically getting into parasympathetic

As far as sympathetic nervous system and doing it practices more energized, than I would often encourage and inhale through the nose, and exhale through the mouth, or inhaling and exhaling through the mouth. So those are all different kinds of practices that you can do an inhale and exhale through the mouth is going to be more activating. And it is going to bring our systems up into sympathetic. So if we’re looking for a practice to kind of wake up to get some energy, that I would encourage that and inhale through the mouth, and exhale through the mouth. Most of the practices I teach are going to be in and out through the nose, or into the nose and out through the mouth. I don’t teach a ton of practices that bring folks into sympathetic state because as someone who works in the field of trauma, that’s not typically what folks are needing the most of. And that’s just been my practice. But I know there are a lot of teachers out there who will instruct otherwise in those other to kind of achieve different states. So that’s a great

Julie Jancius  26:54

Perfect. Yay. We have a question from Carly.

Angel Member 26:58

Thank you so much, Ashley, for their practice earlier, that was really incredible. And actually, to illustrate your own point, like I was throwing away my exhale, I noticed when we first started getting into it, and extending it to all sorts of emotions. So just to sort of Yes/And exactly what you were saying. And this also dives into my question I’m thinking about you mentioned earlier that you check in with yourself. And this is something I think our community does regularly is, you know, talk to yourself and ask your angels what you need to know. When it comes to the thought of what you need for your practice today, what does my body need, do you have a process where you scan? Do you sort of pick the first thing that comes to mind? I find myself– I’ve got so much, right? And sometimes spirit comes through with like, all of this stuff at once. And I’m like, Ah, which one do I do first? And this one’s better than this one? And oh, but I like that one, too. How do you just pick one and know that– I mean, I guess faith is knowing that it’s the right one. But do you have a process for that? Based on the work that you do?

Ashley Neese 28:11

I love your question, Carly. It’s really great. And super relatable, especially in those moments where you’re like, and like the floodgates are open, like the downloads are here. There’s, like, the angels are talking. It’s all happening. The communication channel is open. Right? Anything, right? I totally relate to that, too. 

And as someone who also tends to be, in some instances, like I can be more cerebral in some places, and so it’s like, okay, well, I’ve got all these ideas. And this can happen in a moment. And I love your question, like, in terms of just doing a practice for the day, this also shows up for me a lot in my creative work. It’s like, well, I’ve got all these ideas, I’ve got all these downloads, which project do I pick? Right? And like, how do I know that I should pick that one? Should I pick that one? Because they all seem awesome. But then you know, it can leave me a little bit just confused. And then like, I don’t even know where to start. And so, in some ways, you answered the question already so beautifully. It’s like trusting, right? And just that faith of just pick one. Should I just go with the first one. And oftentimes, that’s a great just– that’s a great way to go for me sometimes when the things are coming in so fast. And then I have trouble distinguishing which one was first. So I’ll do a lot of hands on work. In my practice with myself, sometimes even just both hands on my heart. If I’m feeling like I’m in a little bit of a state of confusion in the beginning of practice, or trying to choose what practice I want to do. This is a really great one anyone can do. It’s a hand on the forehead, and a hand at the nape of the neck. And so this is actually a trauma practice to which I love and this is a really wonderful regulating practice. And so when you do one hand here, and then one hand on your neck, you want to just give gentle pressure, right? So you want to think about maybe like five or like no more than 10% kind of pressure here, then breathe. And this is so organizing. So organizing. So when I hear there’s a lot of stuff coming in and like what do I pick? Immediately, I go to organization, it’s like, how do we get organized? How do we prioritize? And so this practice right here, this really simple handhold go. And it will come. As soon as your system drops down, you will know like, then you go right into first hit. Does that make sense?

Angel Member 30:32

Totally. Yes. Yep, totally. That’s also– in speaking of therapists, my therapist will say, like, you know, doing this also will help with like, I’m safe kind of a thing. But that totally makes sense to me, in terms of light pressure, and just like, whatever I choose, nothing’s gonna be wrong. I think that’s the other. Like, you get excited about this work, especially when it works for you. And I feel like–

Julie Jancius  30:58

You muted yourself, Carly. 

Angel Member 31:03

Either that or spirit muted me, Jules, that’s typically when I’m done with my question. But that’s, that’s where I struggle when it becomes push energy is what I was saying. And I really, really, as a former actor, and singer loved your comment. And maybe you can talk more about this about the notion of how much tension it causes. If you’re doing like– I did Alexander techniques of sort of holding your diaphragm open and sitting on that to project and then for me, I was throwing away my exhales, I was, it’s all about the inhale, it was all about holding it. Now it’s sitting on my shoulders. And I was like, This can’t be healthy. But this is the way that I’m being taught to do it, maybe I just need to push harder. And it really was an aha moment for me. So maybe you can talk more about that, too. When it comes to these breath apps that people have, you have to hold four, you have to hold six, you have to like 4447, or whatever it is. It can get stressful. And I love the notion that you have the freedom that you gave us in terms of just inhale, exhale. And extend that a little bit. It was really awesome. Thank you. I really appreciate it.

Ashley Neese 32:16

You’re so welcome. Thank you, Carly. And I appreciate what you brought up to around the acting and singing. I have never acted. But I took voice lessons, worked with a very, very prominent voice teacher in Los Angeles when I lived there. And it was a lot who was first singing in for this for vocal stuff in general. But it was a lot of the, you know, the end, we did a little bit of that in our class with the hands on the ribs, but it wasn’t about like, push out, hold, hold, hold. Okay, inhale more now and then push out even more now. And then inhale. I mean, it’s just like, you’re just like, okay, okay, now what, and even as I’m saying that my whole back, I’m like, oh, that doesn’t feel good. My back is really tense. Even my fingers are getting really tense in my face. And those are various kinds of standardized techniques that have been used for a very long time. And they just didn’t work for me. And I can see it, for sure. And singing like there’s, there’s a certain amount of air that you have to have in in order to hold a note. I mean, all those things make sense. But in terms of the work that I do, and now there’s just, there’s not, there’s other layers. And I know y’all get that’s because of the work that you’re doing in the community. There’s other layers. So there’s other pieces that come into play. And I’ve actually worked with quite a few singers and well known musicians and you know, all kinds of people in that space– actors as well. And there’s always some kind of implantation that’s showing up in that work. That is about like when we’re pushing and pushing and pushing that much. There’s an imprint there, there’s some kind of imprint in the system. And so how do we create that capacity, through our own potency, right through our own breath, wrote on aliveness and I know from, I don’t think, and I sing to my kids and stuff, I don’t obviously do that professionally or anywhere in public, but from speaking and from doing so many speaking gigs over the years, like there’s a way that we can access our depth and our presence through our breath through these really gentle techniques that are going to help us kind of unwind our imprints, get to know what those things are, so that we are coming out and projecting from a place of worth, right from a place of our value from a place of our power. That’s the missing piece, when we’ve got that we don’t need all these fancy techniques, because it comes out. Right, it comes out because it’s also what you all know so well in your community. It’s the energetics behind it. It’s like am I projecting that I deserve to be here? Am I projecting that I can I’m allowed to take up space right now. Right? And so when those things aren’t in place, the breath is going to be shallow. There’s no amount of forcing that can kind of get us there.

Julie Jancius  34:45

Ashley, explain what you mean to everybody by imprint and I want to just kind of explain to the audience what Carly was talking a little bit about because as I’ve dealt with a vocal disorder, the last couple of years I’ve gone to Some of the basketball go therapists too. And when you work with them, they work with you on your breath. And it’s very, very uncomfortable at times. And it can actually hurt too, the way that they teach you to work. So what exactly do you mean by that imprint? And I’d love to talk to you offline a little bit about this too, because I’d love to know some of the simpler tools that don’t hurt.

Ashley Neese 35:26

Yeah, so what I mean, so imprint is a word I borrow from one of my teachers who passed away several years ago. And the way he describes thi kind of just who we are, as humans that we have, we all come in with a blueprint, right? And so we can think of our blueprint as our authenticity, right? It’s our kind of who we are as humans. And people always say, Oh, it’s from the time you’re born until, you know, this time, but some of us have birth trauma, right? We have ancestral trauma, like there’s all these other things, but our Blueprint is our core essence, it’s kind of what’s underneath that. It’s what’s underneath that. And so a lot of my work is working with the nervous system. And, and kind of getting the nervous system organized. So we can do the things that we need to do. But then there’s other layers, there’s actually stuff underneath the nervous system. And that’s not taught a lot. That’s not talked about a lot. But it’s, it’s real, it’s true. It’s definitely proven, you know, all the things and we just know it right. As humans, we know that we can just feel that in our own bodies for a second, like, if my nervous system is going, I’ve got, you know, I get up in the morning, I do things I have, you know, moments when I rest. And then there’s also something happening underneath all that there’s something happening in our fluid system, there’s something happening in our energetic system. And so what happens with the imprints, or the imprints, or any places where we have trauma, where we have shame, or we were kind of, you know, born into or forced into situations that didn’t work for us, right. And so that’s what we’re looking at. So a lot of that kind of unworthiness shows up in our breath, it shows up in how we breathe, it shows up in the kind of space that we will take up or won’t take up. It shows up in the places in our body that carry pain and tension, it shows up in a lot of different places. And so a lot of breathwork is getting in touch with those imprints or getting in touch with those places where we feel unworthy that we feel like we don’t deserve or we feel like or we’ve had or experienced a lot of trauma. And that doesn’t mean just trauma right now or in our childhoods, even trauma from our ancestors, right? Or from the things that we’re as humans doing to our planet, right. So it’s really complex, it’s really nuanced. 

And so when we talk about imprints, that’s essentially what we’re talking about are these places in our system, where we had to kind of break off from ourselves and do something to survive. And so a lot of breathwork is, like I’ve said before, it’s about calling our parts home. And it’s about integrating our imprints so that we can be more in touch with our blueprint so that we can be more in touch with our inherent worth and our inherent value. Just for existing, that’s it just for existing, you know, period. I love it not because of what we do, or, you know, whatever. It’s just literally for existing.

Julie Jancius  37:59

Alright, I’ve got one more question for you. And it’s for women who are going through something or even men, where you know that you’re going through a traumatic experience, that’s going to last a period of time, six months a year, whatnot, people who are going through divorce, people who maybe are working through alcoholism at home, people who like have a child who’s going through a medical need, there are times in life– even grief, you know, you have someone close to you who passes away. And you know, this isn’t going to resolve itself in a one hour, you know, 60 minute session with my therapist. I am going to be swimming in this heavier energy for a period of time in my life. And I think that that can be anxiety driven for people just in and of itself, like, Oh, my God, I’m going to be in this heavier state of energy. And I don’t know when this is going to end for me. I don’t feel like myself. How do you work with the breath? How do you work with life and your anxiety in a way that you’re like, Okay, I might not be baseline for a while, but I can do X, Y, and Z.

Ashley Neese 39:27

Let’s take a moment to sit with what you just brought up and those questions because they’re really, really, really important and really important. And one of the big things that came up for me as you’re talking, there’s actually two things, but the big thing that came up is pleasure. And I know this is really like well, what does that even mean? And we have a lot of associations with what that might mean for us. But what I mean by that is something that feels good, right? And so at least in the American culture is like, it’s very anti pleasure, very, like anti what feels good, right in ways that like actually feel good. It’s more about like, what’s external. And it’s like, all these external things, like, that’s the thing that’s gonna, like, make you feel good, right or valuable or worthy or all these things, but it’s about pleasure. And so in those moments, and in those seasons and those years, right, those periods of time when we just like you said, we’ve got a sick child, we’ve got an AI, our, um, our youngest son, who he adopted, and I’ll share this candidly here, but our youngest son, who we adopted last month, came to us through foster care. And he arrived at our house when he was seven days old, after being in the NICU for seven days, and heavily detoxing from methamphetamine. And we supported him to detox those first six months of his life. And it was an incredibly, incredibly painful, and just heart wrenching and sleep deprived and just really, really hard, really hard time, really, really hard time. And that was just last year. And we are on the other side of all that now, which is so amazing. But that was one of my biggest practices, is just how can I in just one moment, just one micro moment, find one tiny thing that is bringing me pleasure. And that could be a hand on my heart, feeling my breath. That could be like having just a sip of just like really good herbal tea, right, that could be looking out the window when it’s raining and watching the rain hit a leaf, I mean, it can just literally be anything. And I think the important thing here is that it’s something that is just so small, because what happens in those moments in those seasons, where you said, there’s like this massive amount of anxiety or there’s so much grief and, and grief can register in the body really heavy, and if left kind of unsupported, it can lead folks into, you know, really depressed state. So for long periods of time, you know, and so there’s there’s that piece, there’s finding like one, one micro moment of pleasure. I mean, it can literally be like this way the sweater feels on my skin. You know, there’s just and how do we look for that? And how do we orient ourselves towards that, and that is something that we’re not taught, we’re just not taught to even look for that. And that it’s, again, this goes back to am I deserving of that, like, I’m in this really hard moment and my kid is suffering, or I’ve lost somebody like do I deserve to just find one sliver of pleasure for myself? The answer is yes. And that can be hard, right? There’s guilt, there’s all these things that we have to contend with in that moment. And in those seasons. 

And the other piece that is coming up for me around that and what you shared. So it’s finding that, you know, it’s really finding those slivers of pleasure. And then it is, um, oh, yeah, here we go. Support. So what support do we need, we can, like I said, before, we can support ourselves, with our hands on our bodies, with a hug, with breath. So breath can be really nourishing, really supportive. We can call a friend, there’s this new study that’s out now, I think it’s, it’s like the eight minute phone call study. Like talk to a doctor or a friend for eight minutes and talk to a loved one for eight minutes and eight minutes, or just eight minutes, pick up that phone like not, don’t send a text, don’t send a DM don’t send an email, pick up the phone, like get your phone call, Hey, do you have eight minutes to talk to me because I am really hurting right now. And I just want to hurt. I don’t want to hurt alone. Right? And I want to share that. And, you know, when we’re in community with each other, I think that there’s there’s so much now, especially with social media and all these things, it’s like, it’s yes, it’s it’s not really community, right? Our community are the people that we can call them are hurting, that will show up and like bring us a pot of soup. Or that will be like, Hey, let me just hang out with your kid for an hour. So you can go cry in the bathroom, right? So you can just go take a shower, go do what you need to do for yourself. It’s like that’s what we need. We need to call in our community in those moments. And in those seasons, and let people support us. Let people support us, let people and receive the support. And as someone who has struggled and has done so much work around feeling worthy enough to receive support. And now I’m at a place where I can call my friends and go hey, I’m not okay today. I’m just not okay, do you have five minutes or eight minutes to just hear me out. And that’s all I need. I just need to be heard and just feel like someone’s sharing this load with me. And that can be such a huge thing. And so often when we’re in these experiences, and even like the one I just shared about detoxing our son, it can feel extremely isolating. It’s so isolating. I don’t have any other friends that have detoxed an infant from methamphetamine. I mean it was so just so hard. It was so hard and I was calling people in reaching out and be like can you bring us some food we I mean we just literally can’t even cook today. We’re just been up with this kid for 18 hours like I don’t even know what’s happening. Hey, can you come hang out with our older son because he really needs support right now and I am tapped. I have nothing in this moment, like literally nothing. I’m not showering, I’m not even doing any self care. I’m barely breathing, right, I’m barely hanging on. And so people would come over and take him for a walk for an hour. And just to give me enough of a reprieve, so that I could get back in there. Right. And so that I could be present. Because for me that’s really like, this question is like, how do I stay present with myself through these seasons? And through these experiences that are so so hard, that are so hard, right? Because more will come? That’s just inevitable, but like, how do I stay present in pleasure and support? Those are the two pieces.

Julie Jancius  45:42

One, one tiny follow up question here. Because I, you know, there’s a difference, there’s a difference between when we were young, and we had no clue the trauma that we were going through, and it just kind of compounded because we weren’t working through it at the time. And that’s different from us being an adult and recognizing, okay, I’m gonna go through this season of my life, this is going to get hard, but I am going to come to the other side of this and everything’s going to be okay. Do you think that as an adult, when we look at it from that perspective, and we’re doing these little things that you just talked about, that it is minimizing the amount of trauma that might be compounding or wounds that are compounding within us, so that we’re actually kind of going through the process of healing as we’re going through the thing, instead of it all compounding and us dealing with it all after the thing? Does that make sense?

Ashley Neese 46:40

That makes total sense. And yes, because what you just said is, so that’s, that’s my experience. And that’s what I’ve seen with clients and friends over the years to we’re actually experiencing it. And that goes back to what I was just saying at the end, like we’re present, or presencing in that hard moment and that hard season, we’re not avoiding or not checking, you know, we’re not like doing all the things and, and that’s not to say that we will do that in that season, too. Right? We might be like, You know what, I’m going to just go binge Bridgerton Right now, because that’s all I can manage. And like, we’re going to just go do that thing on Netflix or whatever. And I’m, I’m one for just welcoming it all, in not shaming ourselves or beating ourselves up for doing things that maybe culture our societies like, oh, well, that means you’re like– No, we’re not even designed to be feeling grief, at Full Tilt all the time. Like, that’s just literally not even possible. And so how do we kind of circumvent, like, how do we come in there with those moments of support, those moments of joy, and also make space for the moments when we’re like, you know what, I’m just gonna go do this other thing over here, because that’s me. And then I’m gonna get back to that, but I’m gonna acknowledge it while I’m doing it. Right? I’m gonna be like, you’re not this is what I’m doing. I just did that. Can weeks ago, like, finished a show? And I my kids were asleep. I was so tired. I was like, You know what, I’m just gonna do this. Because I need like a reset. My brain just needs to like, take a moment. And that’s what works for me. I didn’t, I don’t need to, like, feel bad about myself for all these things, because I’m already doing so much in my life. And I know that and I trust that too. So it’s, it’s giving ourselves a lot of grace. But back to your question. Yes, it is. We are doing the work and we’re processing it in real time. We’re not getting a backlog. Because it’s not stacking, stacking, stacking, stacking. And we’re not avoiding. We’re in it. We’re in it and also allowed to take breaks from being in it. Right.

Julie Jancius  48:27

Amazing. Ashley, nice, everyone. She is the author of How to Breathe and Permission to Rest which is coming out this fall. Pre order it now Permission to Rest. This is a book that humanity needs right now. Ashley, where can everybody find you? They should be following you over on Instagram. I love your Instagram page. So much great info over there. And then your website. Where do you want people to come find you at?

Ashley Neese 48:53

Yes, you can find me over on Instagram. Ashley underscore Neese. You can also find my website AshleNeese.com.

Julie Jancius  49:01

Wonderful. Thank you so much for your time today. Thank you for being here.

Ashley Neese 49:05

Thank you so much. This was wonderful.

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