Freedom! A Short Story About Finding Connections

Freedom. When I think about that word, I hear Free-Dom – a Kingdom of Free. I grew up in a United Kingdom, so maybe that’s why my mind goes there! I want to live in Freedom. One aspect for me, is the ability to travel. And so, the first week of October I spent with my Entrepreneur group in San Diego.

In SD, I treated myself to an Ayurvedic treatment. My therapist suggested I repeat a mantra to myself. I laid down and decided to let it – my mantra – emerge, and not to spend 10 minutes over-thinking about how to create the perfect mantra for my experience!

And what emerged was this – a riff and flow of E, F and G words. I am energetic, engaged, excited, exciting, empty (Buddhist context – a good thing), I’m free, fantastic, fabulous, fun, fertile (imagination, ideas), I am generous, grateful, gregarious, gorgeous, good. But, what kept coming up again, again and again was I AM FREE. As she massaged me and used detoxing herbs to release the ama (toxins), I am free came up again & again & again. Hugely powerful and emotional for me to see that my mind generated such positivity and joy towards myself.

The next day, I started my retreat. And we explored mindset and energy and connection and I fell in love with my fabulous coaching community again, shared a room with 3 coaches and talked in our PJs and drank wine & got excited about life. And on the last day my coach told us about her new program for next year – The Freedom Tribe. Ah, freedom again. So I committed.

Last Friday I finally got around to having my Jyotish Horoscope read – because I have been practicing, living, teaching, coaching and generally loving the Ayurvedic approach to living, I thought it was time to check out the horoscope aspect too. And it was fascinating – describing so much that makes sense to me about who I am and how I show up in the world, and then…

I asked him, now what should I do with this information? And he said, “Well, your chart points to Moksha, your life’s journey is about Freedom, different stages of your life will focus on different kinds of Freedom.”

So, there you have it. Freedom: a big part of my journey and as I learn to listen, the connections emerge & deepen. And if you read my last week’s post about the courage to speak, well, you might realize that Freedom is also defined as: “the power or right to act, speak, or think as one wants without hindrance or restraint.”

What does Freedom mean to you? Take out a piece of paper and some markers and get creative, let your juices flow – what does Freedom look like to you, in different areas of your life? 

Ps – I’d love to start a chat with you about this – here’s a link to my calendar!

Copyright Tamsin Astor, Yoga Brained LLC, 2016.

The Courage to Speak


I  just got back from an amazing trip where I got to hang out with a bunch of my favorite entrepreneurs. We did a lot of work on creating our biz ideas and goals, which was a combination of listening to our own deepest thoughts and feelings and then finding a way of articulating them – first through reflection, then the pen and then through our voices.

So, it seemed fitting to share today, my guest blog post for The Scare Your Soul website (deets below), which is called “The Courage to Speak.”

I grew up in a loving, talking family, where there were deep connected relationships and friendships and a lot of support. I married young and emigrated from London to the US. I had three children and during that period as my marriage imploded, I lost the courage to speak.

I was acting and living from a place of loyalty and what I felt were expectations for who I should be, how I should act, what I should be thinking and saying. I did not speak what I was truly feeling.

Courage is defined as: “the ability to do something that frightens one;” & “the strength in the face of pain or grief.” I did not have the ability to do something that frightened me – I did not want to open the door to the inevitable criticism and the fact that I would have to always take the blame – because I did not have the strength to face the pain.

How did I handle this? I kept clear boxes around my thoughts, feelings and actions. I am great at thinking – I have a PhD in cognitive neuroscience and a loads of trainings. I am great at acting – whether it’s child-related & home-related actions like painting & knitting, cooking, breastfeeding, after school activities, friends – seeing them, connecting with them, or personal – doing trainings, starting my own Coaching business, exercising my mind & body.

What I lost during my unhappy marriage, was the ability to feel – to see whether my actions and thoughts were giving me joy and were in alignment. The self-work I have actively pursued through during the last 8 years – as a result of my child’s cancer, my son’s diagnoses which required OT, PT, therapy, my marriage imploding, my beloved cousin’s death of leukemia at the young age of 37 – had a catalytic effect on how I engage. I definitely & defiantly increased my strength in the face of pain & grief.

I was always able to ask questions – in fact my ex-husband always used to get annoyed with what he called my toddler-like need to constantly ask questions. What I have had to relearn was how to connect my questions to my own feelings.

For that, I had to learn how to listen to myself. To listen deeply. And then when I heard myself, to have the courage to speak. In yogic texts we work on aligning and unblocking our chakras – my work was in my solar plexus (self-worth, self-esteem) and my throat chakra (communication, self-expression), which, ironically are below and above the heart chakra – which was, of course, deeply wounded, following the end of a 16 year relationship.

Here are my personal tips for cultivating the Courage to Speak:

1)     Meditate daily – meditation cultivates self-awareness and a friendliness with your own mind. If you can’t take the time to slow down and look at your mind, you won’t cultivate the ability to listen to yourself

2)      Talk about the things that upset, confuse you – therapists, friends, coaches. Getting things out in the open, having someone reflect them back to you, is a vital part of perspective, healing and listening to yourself

3)      Create free mental space – running, journaling, folding laundry – allow your mind the space to wonder and see what comes up & if it’s sadness, feel into the grief process, but watch that you don’t get stuck there

Now, my friends, family & clients know that I am, in the most part, integrated and aligned around the courage to speak. I embody the lack of fear which means I am not afraid to ask the questions that need to be asked because I have the strength to face what comes at me. This self-growth never stops, and is a huge part of how I live my life & how I encourage those around me to live.
Hope to see you on the other side of fear & courage – join the movement!

Scare Your Soul is a collective effort to “claim our courage back” – started by Scott Simon & Sara Luering – sign up & receive the book, if you’re in CLE, sign up for the kick-off event Monday Oct 24th, connect on Social Media (#ScareYourSoul, Facebook) select 1-3 things that Scare Your Soul & then do them Weekend Oct 28-30.

Copyright Tamsin Astor, 2016.

Traveling & Deadlines: Keeping Yourself Together When Life’s Crazy

Hola from sunny San Diego where I am hanging with my Entrepreneur Mastermind group.

If you’ve been on my list for a while, you probably know that I coach people around habits – I help you organize yourself so you have time for what you want & need and time for fun, your passions, your priorities!

Having healthy habit practices in place is wicked hard to do in your own life, if you haven’t *shameless plug * worked with me! But, it’s a whole different ballgame to keep yourself on track when you’re traveling or you suddenly have a slew of extra meetings or longer hours due to a deadline.

Here are my tips.

1) Identify your main self-care habit. Common examples & the follow-on effects:
a. Exercise in morning eat better have more energy sleep better
b. Meditate in the morning longer reaction time to the irritations/stressors of life you’re happier and nicer to be around
c. Gratitude practice and/or a chapter of a book inspires you to show up as your best self
d. A long shower & a massage of your body & head mind and body are grounded and present
e. Eating a light plant-based supper early bed time wake up with pep & vigor ready to conquer the world

2) Become your own Habit Scientist. This requires you to pay attention to yourself, which I know is bloody scary: nothing like the fear of facing yourself!
a. Notice! What happens when: you travel and you can’t exercise/are served crap food/live in a wired-tired state of caffeinated sleep deprivation?
b. Experiment with taking control: if you’re system shuts down with white, processed food at that business retreat, find a local grocery stores, bring bouillon cubes with you to make a soup, if a lack of sleep makes you crazy, take a bath, go to bed at 930pm and get up at 5am to start the day.

The point is, that it is all solvable if you’ll just do yourself the favor of paying as much attention to your body and mind as you do to your insta feed or your kids soccer schedules.

Want to talk to delve into this a little bit deeper with me? Schedule a free strategy session with me here:

Habit Shift: 3 Tips for Accountability


You know what it’s like when you’re trying to add a new habit or remove an old habit, that no longer serves you?

Well, here are some tips for accountability:

If you prefer notes:
1) Create a Checklist (digital or paper) so you can document your progress
2) Share on Social Media – create a buzz and support around your habit shift
3) Find an Accountabilty Partner – either a friend or a coach like me!

If You’re ‘App-y & You Know it Clap Your Hands! Best Apps For Meditation, Exercise, Food Journaling

I have been trying out apps for a while, to see which ones help me/are fun, and which ones are just irritating!

For Meditation there are two apps that I recommend: Insight Timer & Headspace. I use Insight Timer because a) it tells me who & how many people in the world are meditating – LOVE that collective energy; b) it has funky sounds/gongs & c) it has free guided meditations.

For beginner meditators, I recommend Headspace because it is a guided practice, which leads you through establishing a basic practice, 10 minutes a day. After 10 days, you’re asked to commit to a payment plan ($6-15/month). The visuals and the audio are great & well worth the commitment.

For Exercise I am a fan of the 7 Minute Work Out app, which was based on the NY Times article. Twelve 30-second exercises, which only require floor space, wall space and a chair! Do it with your kids, after a run (or rebounder session) or repeat it multiple times! For running I like Map My Run because it interrupts my music/podcast to tell me how far I have run and my average speed, which keeps me going! It also allows you to store your workouts, create challenges, or create a training plan (paid version required) & post to FB so you can be accountable to a friend or just brag, like me. Exercising with an accountability buddy increases your output!

For tracking food intake, I like My Fitness Pal. It reminds you to input your food. Sometimes it can be hard to find the exact version of what you ate – but it’s a rough estimate which is helpful to get a sense of how much you are eating/how often. Journaling your food intake has the highest success rate for weight loss. As with everything in life – it all starts with awareness.

I am not paid to endorse any of these – this is just a personal review – what I have tried and enjoyed. Alright now, get on your bum & meditate or get off your bum & cook, eat & exercise!

Reply & tell me which ones you like & why!

Copyright Tamsin Astor, Yoga Brained LLC, 2016.

Broken Bones & Damaged Soft Tissue: A Metaphor for a Broken Heart

I fractured my right thumb’s distal phalanx 3 months ago. 

The follow up x-ray showed that the bone had healed thicker & stronger than before, along the fracture lines. My thumb still hurts when I use it, has only just started getting sensation back and has pins & needles: I still have soft tissue damage.

Soft tissue does not heal stronger or better – the nerves are damaged, the tissue scars and the muscles at the base of my thumb have atrophied. Do I continue to keep it in a brace or do I start using it?

Answer: use it and work on de-sensitizing it by actively re-training the nerves to stop over-firing, like that itchy wool sweater that you eventually stop feeling.

This is the perfect metaphor for psychological trauma: I’ve had two big traumas so I am learning how I heal.

Both of these were deep breaks in my emotional/psychological body. Last week my son made it to 8-years cancer free. I have healed from that trauma, in that I don’t think about it multiple times a day & it doesn’t re-visit me every time he has a stomach ache or nausea/vomiting (how the cancer presented itself) and have learned the value of life.

I have not yet healed from my marriage ending. It has only been 26 months and there were abusive, unhappy years before that.

How will I continue to de-sensitize myself to marriage/divorce? I refuse to keep the brace on my heart. I will keep dating and trying to keep myself open to the idea of being loved again, of being wanted and wanting someone else in my life, to help me, to support me, to love my children.

My 2 Lessons:

  1. The break resulted in this: I am stronger, I rise faster, I worry less, I apologize faster, I value our internal worlds more than our external appearances. I am less scared to face the difficult conversations.
  2. The soft tissue heals more slowly and scars: these may flare up so be mindful. This damage provides an ever present reminder to be aware, to de-sensitize and it requires me to consider the possibility of re-injury with each action

“Life breaks your heart open again and again until it stays open”

Copyright Tamsin Astor Yoga Brained LLC

My Road Trip Epiphany: 3 Tips For Growth & Evolution

I am a traveler. Maybe as a result of my parents getting me on planes, trains, camels, boats & funiculars in my childhood or my innate love of exploring people & places. I thrive on change, energy, differences, new.  As an entrepreneur & divorced mother of three, I now have more time to travel.

This weekend I headed out of town – a 7 ½-hr road trip out East.  It occurred to me that my ambivalence about getting on the road was due to my concern that I was running away – from the small things (chores) & from the big things – people, decisions, a deep sadness that my children would only spend 60% of the rest of their childhood with me.

What I realize as I navigate life is the importance of giving yourself the time and space to think & reflect. To follow through potential logical steps of an action. To think about how I feel when I do or don’t do certain things. To reflect on my behavior and how it sits with me. To really allow myself the time to consider my role and deep feelings around an issue and in Brené Brown’s frame to disentangle and make sure that my thoughts, feelings & behaviors are aligned.

I was always struck by the story that Laurence Olivier used to vomit every night before he went on stage. But he still went on stage every night. There was someone who allowed the fear to be ritually expunged every night & who recognized that once he was on the stage, the thinking, feeling and behaving united.

3 Tips to Reflect & Grow:

  1. Create the Space:
    • Journal: James Pennebaker’s research confirms that writing for 15 mins/day for 4 consecutive days boosts immune function and reduces anxiety and depressive symptoms following a stressful event.
    • Physical exercise: walking, running, allows the mind to be free and to problem-solve.
  2. Brutal Honesty: don’t hide from the uncomfortable stuff, the stuff that makes you feel angry, embarrassed, sad. Look it in the eye. That’s the only way you’ll learn & evolve.
  3. Cultivate Self-Compassion: give yourself permission to grieve and feel, to cry to scream, to withdraw & heal.

Copyright Tamsin Astor, Yoga Brained LLC, 2016.

The Fear of Imperfection Has a Name, But Not a Place in My Life

When I was 16, I told my mother I was not going to do my Physics GSCE (British State exams), because I knew that I did not have a good enough grasp on the subject to get an A. She persuaded me by saying – people will want to know how many you got, not the individual grades. I got 9 – 6As, 2Bs and a goddam C in Physics.

This fear of not being perfect and somehow being a failure if I did not get As hung on to me, through my degree and throughout my PhD.

Emigrating, motherhood, a child with cancer, another with problems requiring therapeutic interventions, a failed marriage and building my own business has forced me to face my battles with imperfection.

Hi, my name is Tamsin and I am a (recovering) Atelophobic.

Yes – there is a word for it – fear of imperfection!

How do I handle it now?

1. Inspiring quotations

“Perfect is the enemy of the done” anon

“You regret what you didn’t do, not what you did do” anon

“To banish imperfection is to destroy expression, to check exertion, to paralyze vitality.” John Ruskin

“I can accept failure, everyone fails at something. But I can’t accept not trying,” Michael Jordan

“Mistakes are the portals of discovery,” James Joyce

2. Accountability – I partner with people to get my shit done – in business to keep my goals on track, with my friends for exercise/gym/cooking commitments, with my kids to keep our shared space together & organized.

3. I start by setting the bar low. I get successful with something and then I increase my expectations and I push myself more each time. Start with a 5-minute meditation. EVERYONE has 5 minutes. After a week, make it 7 minutes. And so on…

Email me back and share with me your struggles or successes with moving out of fear and into action!

Copyright Tamsin Astor, YogaBrained LLC, 2016

Mindset & Change – Success Requires Facing the Obstacles

When you start to commit to a new path: a new way of interacting with your time, with your food, with your body, it’s hard. Willpower is a muscle that fatigues – which is why dieting is usually such a disaster, because it gets boring and tough and restrictive and difficult. I recently watched the documentary, Food Choices in which someone said “The best diet is the one you don’t know you’re on,” which I completely agree with!

One of the best ways to help yourself commit to your new path is to consider the obstacles that are going to prevent your success. There are two main angles to consider here, the first is about YOU. The “you” is really you mindset & how you show up.

Mindset is a huge issue – we have to be willing to look at how we think about things if we want to change how we think and act. That requires a critical look at what we think, what we say & what we do. Self-sabotage is a real issue with this kind of work!

The second is OTHERS. Mindset is a part of this too, because you have to learn how to interact with people who may not like, understand or respect the change you are making. You also have to learn to work around the constraints in your life – places you have to be at certain times and so on. There are some people who don’t support you, or who necessarily require your attention, that you can learn to manage – delaying, postponing, delegating.

Problem-solve before it arises – create your own tools, words, time-frames & you’ll be much more successful! My biggest tip, is to make commitments to yourself – put them in your calendar & stick with them, as if you were making plans with other people.

I raise a glass of home-made kombucha to your success!

Copyright Tamsin Astor, YogaBrained LLC 2016

Back to School Special – How to Prioritize & Free up Time Like a CEO!

I have been heavily steeped in the back-to-school energy all my life, going from school, to college, to graduate school, to a post-doctoral fellowship, to motherhood. There is something very cleansing and energizing as the weather starts to shift, the back to school signs appear in the local stores and you know the march to the end of the year has begun.

In Ayurveda (the sister science of Yoga, literally translated as The Science of Life), fall is the time of change. The wind picks up, the leaves fall, the apples become ripe and the energy of transition is in the air. How can you channel it, rather than let it bowl you over?

Successful people – I’m talking about the Warren Buffet’s, Richard Branson’s & Oprah’s of the world – don’t try and do everything, they select & create healthy routines. First, you streamline your life to include: exercise, meditation, sleep, time for learning something new (reading, classes, hobbies) & healthy food. Second, you review & select tasks that will allow you to achieve your goals & avoid things that may be fascinating, but do not contribute to your goals.

Now, maybe you looked at that list and freaked out because it feels like it’s all a bit much. So, take a look at this and get concrete: you create a schedule. Don’t resist, even if it feels anathema to your free-flowing or overwhelmed time-crunched spirit!

Get out your calendar. Go on – DO IT – pull it out now! The advantage of digital diaries is you can put things on repeat – like meet Amy for yoga every Thursday, or meditate every morning after alarm at 6am & get it to beep at you. If you’re going analog, get funky with colored markers!

And then Schedule:

1)    Bedtime & Wake time

10-5am is a good slot, regularity helps your body-mind establish good sleep. 9-6.30am if you’re still in grade school.

2)    Meditation

Every morning (need an app? Headspace and Insight Timer are my favorite). Kids can meditate too – give them a focus – breathe like a hibernating bear making your inhale & exhale the same length.

3)    Exercise

Every day (don’t have enough time? Download the 7-minute work-out app. Everyone has 7 mins).

4)    Learning time

Every day (read a book, learn/practice a new hobby, take an online course.

5)    Food Prep times

Twice a week bulk cook healthy dishes, e.g. soups, chilis, baked veg, marinated salads, chop fruit & veg, hummus, granola/granola bars, a batch of wholegrain pancakes that can be toasted and served with fruit on a busy morning.

6)    Review Time

Once a week do your schedule, around kids/work etc and schedule a couple of hours once a month to look at what you’re doing towards achieving your goals and what is no longer serving you and needs to go.

Email me/tweet/FB msg me and let me know what works for you!

Want to join me and learn how to do this? Come next Tuesday, 630pm! Details & RSVP here.

Copyright Tamsin Astor, YogaBrained LLC, 2016.