Michele LymanJoin Your SuperPowered Mind host Kristin Maxwell in her interview of Michele Lyman, as they explore methods for finding balance and overcoming anxiety.  As the owner of Serenity Yoga and The Path to Serenity, Michele guides professional women to find relief from anxiety, both through yoga and by teaching them how to separate their true selves from anxious thoughts.  Professional women and community members alike will benefit from Michele’s explanation of simple tools anyone can use to gain distance and control over their anxious thoughts and even panic attacks. Listen in to hear this fantastic conversation full of techniques you can apply today.

Hi everybody, welcome to Your SuperPowered Mind. This is Kristin Maxwell, and in this show we explore the process of transformation and give you tools and strategies that you can use to transform your own life. Our guest today is Michele Lyman. Michele is this really cool combination of yoga studio owner and teacher and also the founder of a business called The Path to Serenity where she helps professional women find relief from anxiety. And we’re going to go a little bit into some of Michele’s background as I ask her questions because it definitely relates. Michele was in a corporate position and also balancing yoga and decided to quit her corporate position to go really into her love of yoga and also into helping others with depression and anxiety which is something that she herself had struggled with. So Michele, welcome to Your SuperPowered Mind.

Oh, thanks Kristin. I’m glad to be here. Thanks for having me.

No, I’m happy to. I can’t wait to ask you some questions because I think depression and anxiety are rampant. And really having lived with anxiety myself, the difference between being anxious and not being anxious well obviously it changes the color of your whole life.

Correct. Absolutely. And in the world we live in right now, a lot of folks are struggling with anxiety. There’s a lot of things pulling us away from our own true selves I think, and we’re really focused externally right now. And so, it’s really important to be mindful of that, that the external sources can definitely pull us away from our internal growth.

Yes. I am definitely can’t wait to go into all of that.

Yeah, let’s do.

My first question always is, what super power did you uncover as a result of mastering your mind?

My super power is being able to kind of separate my true self from my thoughts

My super power is being able to kind of separate my true self from my thoughts.

That’s a great question. I would have to say that my superpower is having the ability to pull back and be that non-judging witness and being able to kind of separate my true self from my thoughts. And so being able to recognize that my thoughts are just that, they’re just thoughts and they don’t actually represent who I am as a person, as my true self. A lot of people have a hard time with that, so that might take a second to digest a minute.

Yes, it is such an interesting idea that we have our thoughts and then we’re also the observer of our thoughts and so yet we’re not our thoughts. So maybe you can tell us a little bit about how you came to discover, to begin to see your thoughts as being separate from your true self.

Sure. I started practicing yoga probably in 2000. So a good 18, 19 years ago. And at the time it was really all about just the movement. It was about getting into the postures, feeling good in my body. I was treating it like a fitness program. I had just come from doing lots of step aerobics and things. So it was more about the body. And then at some point it kind of shifted into, okay, what am I learning on the mat that I can then take off the mat? So things that would.. I had noticed.

So if I got into a difficult yoga posture and the teacher suggested that we take a deep breath and settle into the posture instead of getting anxious about the posture, I recognize like, “Okay, this is pretty cool. I can actually feel I can stay in this pose a little longer.” And then recognized when I got to work and there was a meeting going on that I was very uncomfortable with, I could actually take that breath there too and go, “Oh, wait a minute. Oh, I can apply these tools outside of the yoga studio and I can actually remain calm and balanced during a stressful work situation.”

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So that’s kind of how it started. And then I started getting really intrigued and became a yoga teacher. I did my training and taught for many, many years. But I think when it really started to connect for me was when I read Michael Singer’s books, so he has two books out right now and of course the names of them are escaping me at the moment, but I can definitely get the titles for you in a second. And he talks specifically about this concept of kind of being able to separate your true self from your thoughts and how, if you don’t have any idea what I’m talking about, I think he says in his book then what your Voice, the voice you’re hearing in your head that’s saying, I don’t know what she’s saying, that’s actually what I’m talking about. So it’s the witness who’s able to hear that thought, if you will.

And so, when I read his books and I started to continue down my yoga journey and my yoga training journey, it was kind of like; it all kind of came together like “Whoa, okay. So I have control over my thoughts? This is crazy. I don’t have control over them per se, but I have over whether or not I engage with them.” And that’s really the interesting part is to really take that seat of the witness, that non-judging awareness because it’s really important not only to just see the thoughts but also not to judge them. Because our thoughts are going to come up and they’re going to be wild and they’re going to be crazy. They’re going to be really out there.

And so instead of beating myself up for having the thoughts, it’s like, “Oh, okay. I just have a thought on that. That’s okay.” And then doing something else to maybe bring myself to the present moment so that I don’t get caught up in that thought. And those are some of the tips and tricks that I teach. You can do breathing, you can do meditation, those kinds of things. Yeah, go ahead.

Well, it’s really interesting and as you talk about this and I really want to go into sort of how this played into how you learn to deal with your own anxiety and what you do to help other women to handle their own anxiety. I was just going say that I myself had anxiety for decades and one of the things I had to really learn is I have these thoughts and just because I’m having the thought doesn’t mean it’s true.

We spend a lot of time thinking about the past and worrying about what we could have done

We spend a lot of time thinking about the past and worrying about what we could have done.

Bingo. That’s absolutely it. We spend a lot of time thinking about the past and worrying about what we could have done. What we didn’t do right and beating ourselves up for that. And then worrying about the future, the what ifs. Well, if I make this phone call, what will that do? Or if I don’t make dinner the way it’s supposed to be made, what will happen or if I go to this meeting and this, this and that happens. A lot of past and a lot of future issues. But none of those things are actually real.

So the past is already happened and the future hasn’t even occurred yet. And so if you can really step back and go, “Oh, wait a minute.” Like the things that I’m thinking about, they aren’t happening right now. What’s happening right now is the present moment. And in the present moment, I am currently doing this. So I could be washing the dishes. I could be brushing my teeth, I could be blow drying my hair or getting dressed or driving the car. So it’s really about recognizing, “I’m caught in thought. I’m caught thinking about something that isn’t actually happening. Right now what I’m doing is what’s happening.”

And usually the tools that I teach my professional women who come to the program: I tell them that the only thing you have in the present moment is the breath. And so it’s a deep breath in and a deep breath out to bring you right back. Bring your awareness right back to that present moment. So that you can kind of go, “Okay. What I’m thinking about isn’t really true. Not really happening right now. What’s happening right now is I’m breathing.”

Right! Well this is great. And I have about a trillion questions for you because I’m wondering about what you do and we can’t go to it now because we have to take a break about what you do if you were you’re panicking because you’re on a plane and say you hate being on plane, but hold that question. Can you tell everybody where they can learn more about you and your work?

Sure, absolutely. So my program right now is online, so it’s specifically for professional women who struggle with anxiety. And the website there is thepathtoserenity.com and on there they can find a free webinar that they can watch to learn more tips and tricks. There’s a blog and there’s also a couple of other resources on that website.

Great! Thank you. We are going to take a break, but when we come back we’re going to talk some more about find your balance, overcoming anxiety with yoga.

To listen to the entire show click on the player above or go to the SuperPower Up! podcast on iTunes.

Music Credit: Words and Music written and performed by David Delmar. Engineered and produced by John Keenan.