Peace Comes First

Your guide to creating inner peace through yoga therapy, practical spirituality and the gluten-free lifestyle.


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Foundations in Flow Yoga

This complete practice starts by warming the body, then progresses into a powerful flow, moving with the fluidity of your breath. The flow builds sequences from the earth up, while building core strength. This Power yoga class ends by cooling the body with a deep relaxation.

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Faith in Prayer: it only takes a minute to get connected

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copyright ©Lauralyn Kearney

I recently attended a comedy night at the local V.A. where my husband works. The V.A. staff were showcasing their comedic talents to a room packed with veterans of all ages. We sat in the back, and I sat crossed legged in my chair, ready to have a laugh. Being intuitive, I’m always feeling the energy around me. I felt thankful that the young veteran sitting a few inches to my left had a very soothing vibe.

About a half hour into the show, I saw a group of arms frantically shooing away something large and buzzing from their table. The buzzing became louder, and soon a gigantic wasp was headed straight toward me. The guys around me swatted it, and for a moment, it was silent.

“Where did it go?” Someone asked.

I turned to my husband and said, “That thing was huge, did you see it?” He shook his head no.

“There it is!” The guy next to me said. “It’s on her!”

I looked down at my jacket sleeve, and there was the enormous wasp. His wings were still, and he was staring right at me. My body immediately tensed up, anticipating the what ifs. The main one being: what if he stings me?! I turned my head away and then felt a strong, confident, protective sweep of my arm. I looked back and saw the young veteran next to me throw the wasp to the floor and gently try to smash it with his sneaker. He thought it was done, but when he lifted his foot, the huge wasp shot back up, furiously.

“It’s like a horror movie!” Another young veteran gasped.

Once again, the young vet next to me stomped on the determined wasp and this time kept it up until all that was left were crushed remains.

“Thank you,” I said, relieved.

At the end of the show, they announced a giveaway for the veterans. There were some really nice items up for grabs like a flat screen TV and designer watch. I really wanted the young veteran next to me to win something. He deserved it for his bravery saving me from getting stung!

So I prayed, “God, please, help this guy out. Please let him win something.”

The host of the show called out the winning numbers. The young veteran next to me checked his ticket, then looked away. The flat screen TV was soon in the hands of an older vet who smiled and said it was going in his bedroom.

“Okay, God, please, let him win something.” I said again.

More tickets were drawn from a bowl, and more veterans claimed their gifts. None of them was this guy. There was now only one gift left.

“Come on, come on, let him win something,” I pleaded. “He has such good energy, and he did a good deed. He deserves it. Please let him win something.”

The last ticket was drawn. Everyone in the room checked their tickets. The young veteran next to me jumped out of his seat. He raised his winning ticket in the air as he walked up to the stage to claim his prize. I noticed he had tattoos down his neck arms. He was wearing a white tee and shorts. He walked confidently, and like he was holding something heavy on his shoulders. He returned to his seat with a bag in hand, and a big smile.

I leaned over toward his ear and said, “That’s for killing that bee.”

He looked up at me, surprised, his brown eyes full of sadness, hope and gratitude. He didn’t expect anything in return for doing something nice for a stranger. It was natural for him. He was happily surprised to win anything at all. He chuckled and nodded at me, and showed the winning bag to his friends.

I’m sharing this story because it’s so like life. The suspense wondering if our prayers will be answered. The lack of faith when we don’t see evidence yet. And the massive boost in faith when our prayers are answered, validation we’ve been heard. This experience also exemplifies the cycle of life: what goes around, comes around. Good deeds being rewarded without expectation. Despite all the hardness in this life, all the challenging life lessons that test our faith, fairness does exist. Sometimes it takes a while to believe that reality. After all, we’re human. We want to see before we believe, right? The secret to feeling less stressed, though, is to believe before the proof arrives. Like trusting the sun will rise, even when it’s dark out the night before.

I’ve always included prayer in my work because I believe in it. I believe it has a lot of power, and not just metaphysically. It has the power to send good energy to people, and to focus our minds on goodness and positivity. It only takes a minute to say a prayer for yourself or someone else, or the world, and in that minute, you’re connecting to Heaven. It’s a long-distance phone call you can make 24/7, free of charge.

Do you need clarity, validation or a boost in faith? Let’s connect! Email me to schedule your intuitive coaching session.


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Dr. Oz and the GMO Agenda: Get The Facts

dr-oz_vitaspelt1Dr. Oz is under quite the attack for his popular television show promoting health education, natural options and home remedies. He’s being attacked for featuring a weight loss product without sufficient evidence backing, and supporting GMO labeling. In fact, this group of 10 doctors has urged Columbia University to fire him. A dramatic measure considering how many FDA-approved medications cause serious injuries or even death, and are pulled from shelves, yet doctors aren’t fired for prescribing them.

The truth doesn’t lie, and thanks to the internet, no matter how hard people try to buy their version of the story, cyberspace will link us back to reality. Let’s look at some facts about this situation with Dr. Oz. Who wants to shut him down, and why?

His Accusers:

  • Henry Miller. A corporate-funded scientist, and outspoken GMO advocate, he was hired to defeat the GMO labeling bill in California. He co-founded the FDA Office of Biotechnology, protecting Monsanto’s profits. To clearly understand his agenda, learn more about his career.
  • Dr. Gilbert Ross. The executive director of The American Council on Science and Health. He was “convicted of racketeering, mail fraud and conspiracy,” and was “sentenced to 47 months in jail, $40,000 in forfeiture and restitution of $612,855” in a scheme to defraud the Medicaid system, reports the U.S. Right To Know campaign.
  • More than half the doctors who joined the effort to shut down Dr. Oz are affiliates of Dr. Ross’ led organization, a chemical-promoting industry group that once tried to protect the tobacco industry by claiming medical evidence claiming smoking was harmful was “pseudoscience.” This group receives funding to protect industries using toxic chemicals like asbestos, Agent Orange, chemical endocrine disruptors, pesticides, and herbicides. Here are the facts about the American Council on Science and Health.
  • Senator Claire McCaskill. This politician received over $146,000 in campaign contributions from one of the largest pharmaceutical retailers in North America. Sen. McCaskill also accepted over $37,000 from Monsanto, the leading GMO manufacturer.
  • Supreme Court judge Clarence Thomas, who has presided over Monsanto cases ruling in their favor, was formally a lawyer who worked for Monsanto for four years. He’s not one of Dr. Oz’s accusers, but I’m including him in this list of people whose opinion can’t be trusted, a conflict of interest affecting justice.

More Facts:

Dr. Oz receives no monetary compensation for educating the public about health, or alternative options like nutritional supplements he features on his show.

Independent studies, free of tampering or intimidation from industry agendas in America, have discovered evidence of GMO risks. Not surprisingly, the GMO manufacturers have worked hard to discredit any unflattering studies that reveal unwanted public concern about their product. Here are few studies consumers have a right to know about:

Study finds pigs fed GM grain have inflammation and other health problems

Study finds GM corn linked to liver and kidney damage and hormonal disruption

GMO’s linked to gluten disorders plaguing 18 million Americans

My Story

The first GMO to hit the market was in 1994, it was the delayed-ripening tomato. I was diagnosed with IBD the following year. I was cured of IBD ten years later, when I finally ignored the many doctors who insisted that food had no relation to my illness, and decided to take a new approach to my health care, which included changing my diet. I traded toxic foods for organic whole foods. This healthy change still hasn’t completely healed the damage done from nearly a decade taking powerful prescribed antibiotics, immunosuppressant and anti-inflammatory medications. My philosophy: look at diet first, before you do more harm. Autoimmunity disorders are on the rise, and some believe GMO’s are a contributing factor.

Let’s look at facts again:

  • There is a product that has been genetically engineered and introduced into our food supply without us knowing.
  • There have been no long-term studies to confirm that this bio-engineered food is safe to consume, or what it’s side effects may be.
  • GMO companies forbid research on genetically modified seeds without their approval, and they block whatever is unflattering.
  • Any effort to label GMO foods are stopped by the company making the product (if they believe in their product so much, why do they want it concealed? Why not label it with pride?)
  • 26 countries have banned GMO’s; Russia’s President Putin was furious the Obama administration wouldn’t discuss biotech monopolies like Monsanto, and GMO’s.
  • Obama promised GMO labeling in 2008 during his election. Instead, Monsanto affiliates were hired in key positions in the FDA and USDA.
  • The FDA has a track record for approving drugs without testing them – and ignoring problems when they arise.

As a consumer do any of the above facts concern you? If so, make your voice heard and join the Right To Know campaign. Check out this Non-GMO shopping guide and look for Non-GMO Project labeling.

Protecting America’s Health and Safety

We need more studies documenting the before and after effects of GMO consumption. We now have a GMO timeline, we need independent consumer watchdogs and brave, protected scientists doing some real investigative work here without any interference from agenda-driven interest groups. Something that concerns me is how many people under 30 are being diagnosed with illnesses today and taking prescriptions, something that wasn’t as common forty years ago.

Considering the above facts, do you think Dr. Oz deserves reprimanding for his television show or do you think it’s just another way for the GMO industry leaders and investors to keep their product protected by keeping their consumers uneducated?


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Out On The Limb Interview: Stress, PTSD and Turning Obstacles Into Opportunity

IMG_5526Listen to Out On The Limb interview with Lauralyn Kearney

Dr. Nicola Bird: I’m thrilled to have you because your expertise are so important. Stress is a major problem for most people, and it’s always a hot topic. How do we deal with it? How do we manage it? And I know you’ve done some amazing work, establishing the first restorative yoga therapy program for the U.S. Army at Fort Bragg, and I really applaud you for that because that work is so needed and wow, just wow. And that’s really why I wanted to speak with you because what you’re doing is tremendous. So let’s start with the most basic. How do we deal with stress?

Lauralyn Kearney: Well the first thing is, it may seem simple, but it’s to recognize stress. Stress has become such a norm for us that we’re in traffic and we’re screaming at the driver, and we’re yelling at the TV and the newspaper and we don’t realize our cortisol levels – there’s an actual physiological response every time our mind triggers, “hey, we’re in survival mode.” That can even be a line at Starbucks stressing you out, traffic, work, or kids. There are a host of stressors today. The quicker the world is moving, the more important it is that we actually acknowledge stress, get to know our bodies, and learn how to use techniques to get out of that stress response that can lead to inflammation and really bad health problems down the road. So that’s something I help people understand. When they’re feeling symptoms of anxiety and stress, sometimes it’s gotten to that point that they think they’re losing their mind, and they don’t realize that is just the stress hormones wreaking havoc. And they’re not dying, thank God.

Dr. Nicola Bird: I love what you’re saying because it’s so true. In my work [psychotherapy], I see that all of the time. When we become so numbed out, and accustomed to a certain thing, it just becomes so normalized that we don’t even realize that this is what the problem is. We get accustomed to being a certain way and then it builds, and builds and builds to a point where it becomes problematic whether it’s our mental health, well-being, physical health. So I think that point is really important. You have to identify it, as simple as that is, it’s a key important part to be plugged in and connected to ourselves, so thank you for that. I am particularly fascinated with your working with wounded soldiers. I’d love to hear more about that because I think that’s powerful work that you’re doing, and it’s heroic work. Tell me more about that.

Lauralyn Kearney: I want to give just a short background of it, hoping it will inspire people. How I first got into it was: I was living in L.A. and teaching there, very content with my life, and all of a sudden there was an electrical fire that happened a week before Christmas, and I was left homeless. The Red Cross hooked me up in a hotel for a while but then I had to decide, oh my gosh, what am I going to do now? I was experiencing PTSD without realizing it. I completely shut down. I was trying to teach yoga with PTSD and realized, what is happening to me? I can’t connect to my students.

So what happened was my best friend was in the Army, down at Fort Bragg, and she said, hey why don’t you just come stay with me and rest for a while. Recharge, you know? So I go down there and as I’m living with her, and I’m meeting her soldier friends, I see how incredibly stressed out they are, the incredible pressure they have. I grew up with a Vietnam veteran. I understood veterans growing up with one. I had that from a child’s perspective growing up with a dad who served in the Army. But this is completely different, being younger and actually having my peers in the present moment experiencing this.

I rested for a while and then I realized, I’ve got PTSD and I have to heal this. So I started training in Yoga for PTSD and then I realized, I’m here for a purpose. God did not have me kicked out of my home to just torture me. I’m actually here to help serve these amazing people who do so much for us that we’re not even aware of, the real enormity of the stress and pressure they have. So I decided to knock on doors, and start a program to actually help them therapeutically. There had been regular yoga classes, but there wasn’t anything to actually help these soldiers have tools to understand the mind/body connection, and start to heal injuries, PTSD, even dealing with the daily stressors of military life.

I was completely humbled when I first started it. No one showed up at first. It’s a very male-dominated culture and they’re like, yoga? That’s for girls. There were many times I was sitting there, watching the clock, saying God, is this ever going to happen? Does anyone want this, want to heal? And then doctors at the Army hospital found out that I was sitting there, and they started sending me their patients that they didn’t know what else to do with. And that’s how it started. The soldiers realized that yoga, the way I was presenting it to them, was not about downdog and athletic exercise, it’s a lifestyle. It’s a way to think, it’s a way to eat, it’s a way to treat your body, it’s a different perspective of how to look at hardships in your life. I gave them this lesson about how to recognize stress and what to do about it when it comes on, and it just became this amazingly inspiring thing. The soldiers really changed my life, and I’m so grateful for the experience.

Dr. Nicola Bird: Lauralyn, let me tell you how moved I am by that story, and I’m sure the listeners are, too. There are so many things there that are just amazing. First, I know that PTSD is such a chronic condition for soldiers and military, and that it’s a huge issue that is really not dealt with, that is kind of ignored and swept under the table, especially in a male-dominated environment. I’ve read statistics that more military die from suicide as a result of PTSD than out in the field. Your work is very needed, very powerful, and bless you for the fact that you persevered and kept going, providing so much to an area so needed, for the ones who are serving us, and keeping us safe. Their lives are for our well-being. So bless you for that, it’s very moving and I certainly feel very touched. We need more of you.

Once again, we have this incredible story how you turned an obstacle into an opportunity, not just an opportunity, but a life mission. It becomes a way to live your truth, and live your best life possible and contribute to society and be amazing in this world. And I think what you’ve done out of a painful, life altering destruction, out of that destruction, you created amazing opportunity and amazing beauty in this world. Bless you for that. Ah, so much here. Tell us more about how you’re working. You talked about working holistically, and intuitively, and with yoga. I’m a huge yoga person, I do yoga nearly everyday. It’s my life. Tell us more about your work you’re exploring.

Lauralyn Kearney: I’ve had this intuitive gift since I was a kid, and I was using it without realizing it. People would say, how did you know that about me? When I went through my own healing journey, I had a disease that was another major obstacle, and near death experience – I’ve had a lot of dramatic experiences – but every dramatic experience I’ve had has been an opportunity for me to change something in my life that wasn’t working and to have even more to give back. And I really feel that’s why we struggle, and we suffer, it’s because there’s such a beautiful power that we have to transform that into something good, blessings for ourselves and others. So the way I work when people come to me is I tune into them. I don’t work as a traditional life coach, it’s more in that yoga philosophy, trying to see what’s beneath the surface of what they’re telling me. If someone comes to me and says, I have these chronic headaches and I just can’t figure it out, and medications aren’t working, what do you think it is? I’ll tune in and the information will come to me either in thought, or a vision of the actual physical body, organs, and I’ll look and say, can it be toxins built up in the body? What are the stressors? I’ve found that when we have an ache or pain, or a stress in our life, it’s not just one thing that’s contributing to it. There are several factors. And that’s why we need to look at it holistically – emotionally, spiritually, physically – what’s going on and then we can really create healing. That’s the way I work. There’s no judgement. I’m compassionate. I don’t believe in judging people and pushing them because I’ve experienced high levels of stress, and I’m a realist. I think you can work gently and it can still be powerful, because it’s all about intention and taking baby steps to creating the life you want: happiness, health, peace. We all want the same things.

LimbDr. Nicola Bird: I’d like to explore this issue of post traumatic stress disorder. A lot of people have it and don’t know they have it. Working with the military, people may think, oh that’s over there. But actually it’s people who have been traumatized, abused, many of them are suffering from PTSD and just not knowing it, and not even understanding what it is. Just tell us a little bit more about this for the listeners, and for people to be more educated. Everybody, you know at least one person who is struggling with this, and you could be, too.

Lauralyn Kearney: It may manifest a little bit differently from person to person but there are some common symptoms such as nightmares.

  • Often in your nightmares you’re reliving the situation, being brought back to the trauma.
  • Dissociation, you feel like you’re outside your body, like you’ve lost connection with your own place in the world.
  • You lose sense of present moment. All of a sudden you’re going back in time and something is triggering you, whether a smell or a sound, can instantly make you a time traveler going back to the scene of the trauma. And then you lose sense of the now, what’s happening now, that you’re safe.
  • The safety is the strongest one. Traumas that trigger PTSD change our brain chemistry. All of a sudden our belief of the world is that it’s not safe, and bad things can happen. And if this bad thing can happen, that I couldn’t control and didn’t see coming, why can’t another bad thing happen? And that is such a damaging belief, but it completely makes sense for when you go through that. The logical mind is trying to figure out, how can I protect myself again?

The problem is the only remedy for that is to be brave, and to have faith. And to try to understand how that trauma has served you in some way, which is so hard to do in the initial stages when you’re suffering. But for me, that’s been part of the process. With PTSD, in my experience healing from it, it took a lot of different things.

It’s categorized as an anxiety disorder, so your heart’s racing, your nervous system is very raw and agitated. You might feel shaky a lot. You might be driving and feel checked out of your body, and forget where you’re going. I just want everyone who is going through this to know that is normal, they’re okay. This is part of the experience, feeling like everything in your world that was safe, good and grounded has been ripped apart and now you’re trying to figure out how to exist in this world that is such a frightening place, and a painful place.

We approach it holistically, starting with the body, with restorative yoga in particular. Restorative yoga is great for nourishing the nervous system, feeling safe to be in your body again. That’s such a huge thing with PTSD, feeling safe to be present again. And the thoughts, focusing on the now, keep reminding yourself where you are. I used to do this when I was driving and would get disoriented. I’d say, my hands are on the wheel. I’m passing that store. This is where I’m going. This is when I was at Fort Bragg, I”d say I’m driving to Fort Bragg today. I’m on the road, my feet are touching the – and just that mindfulness sounds so simple but it really did help me be in the present. It’s all about taking control over the mind again, which brings us back to yoga.

Dr. Nicola Bird: Wow. Lauralyn Kearney, you have just been amazing. We all need more Lauralyns in this world, and we’re blessed that we have you offering all of your incredible work. The great news is that you can work with Lauralyn anywhere you are. Her website, www.LauralynKearney.com. She’s also on Facebook, find her at Yoga for Heroes, on Twitter @CoachLauralyn. She has her wellness albums on iTunes. There’s lots of ways you can connect with Lauralyn, we need her, and she works with everyone, everywhere.

Listen to Out On The Limb interview with Lauralyn Kearney


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6 Ways To Cut Your Yoga Therapy Costs

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Photo credit: Lauralyn Kearney

The International Association for Yoga Therapists is currently working on accrediting yoga therapy, and we all pray that will create acceptance by health insurance companies, making therapeutic yoga more affordable for those who are stressed, sick and injured. While we patiently wait for the day when we yoga therapists can bill insurance companies and have our clients feel less of a financial burden to stick with weekly sessions, here are options for you right now.

1. Some insurance companies, like Aetna, may cover or reimburse yoga therapy provided by a licensed medical professional such as a nurse, physical therapist or psychotherapist. And yoga classes provided at a gym.

2. Workers compensation and Auto Insurance providers may cover yoga therapy payments.

3. Medicare has covered yoga classes at hospitals and clinics.

4. Yoga Basics did some research and discovered : “If you’re self-employed and you have a Health Savings Account (HSA), it can be used to pay for yoga therapy visits. So can an employer-funded Health Reimbursement Arrangement (HRA). If you contribute part of your salary toward a Flexible Spending Arrangement (FSA), check with your employer’s FSA administrator to see if yoga therapy qualifies as a medical expense. In all cases, keep good records and document your expenses.”

5. If you love your yoga therapist and want to know if one of the above options will apply to you, don’t hesitate to make calls and get the facts. You may also want to check with your accountant to see if your yoga therapy visits can be applied to your medical expenses at the end of the year.

6. If you’re a veteran and you found a yoga therapist you like, ask your local V.A. if they will hire that person. Yoga therapy is limited at V.A.’s because many only hire on a volunteer basis. Most professional yoga therapists can’t afford to volunteer enough hours to really make a difference. If you believe in yoga therapy, write to your Congressperson, heck write to the President, and ask that more funding goes into yoga therapy for veterans. I personally would love an opportunity to help as many veterans as possible with my yoga therapy program, but my local V.A. turned me away due to lack of funding. I’d love to see a yoga therapy program set up at every V.A. in the nation, and I’d be happy to do it myself and train people like I did at Fort Bragg, if the V.A. could fund my time. Veterans deserve this healing option, and the peace it brings.

Don’t be afraid to speak out. It never hurts to ask for what you want and need.


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It’s Not About Me, It’s About You: The Wisdom of St. Francis

St_Francis_of_Assisi_CNA_US_Catholic_News_3_22_13Grant that I may not so much seek to be understood, as to understand.

This line didn’t used to resonate with me. I used to think it was more of the martyrdom belief, sacrificing your own needs to put others first. Like a co-dependent.

Then the connection clicked. I could see what St. Francis was saying. If we’re always wanting to be understood by everyone, we’re going to feel frustrated and disappointed. How many times have you tried to explain yourself and someone simply refused to listen, or thought you were coming from Mars, or tried to debate you, or lacked any effort at all in wanting to understand you? How many times have well-intended “clarifying” conversations turned into an episode of right fighting, anger or tears?

It’s not that we don’t want to be understood, or that we’re not worthy of being understood. Of course we do, and are. But we get a lot farther in healing relationships when we try to understand where other people are coming from. This helps us stop personalizing and internalizing things people say or do. Understanding creates empathy. When we start asking how we can better understand why people do the things they do, we can heal our perspective, heal our heart, relationships, and our lives.

St. Francis was saying, I know people can be tough, and relationships can be hard. If you spend your life trying to win the approval of someone, or control what people think of you, or worry what they think of you and whether they respect you, you will never be happy.

Stop caring what people think. Stop assuming you know what they think. Be a graciously direct communicator and let the rest go because it’s crazy making. There’s only so much time in the day. You can spend it trying to force people to understand you, or you can say, “Hey, my time is valuable. I don’t want to volunteer time and energy to fruitless nonsense. So today, I’m going to focus on making peace with myself because the more I love and accept myself, the less I need validation from others.”

BK

Image credit: Byron Katie

As the saying goes, “What you think of me is none of my business.”

The Prayer of St. Francis

Lord, make me an instrument of Thy peace;
Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
Where there is injury, pardon;
Where there is doubt, the faith;
Where there is despair, hope;
Where there is darkness, light;
And where there is sadness, joy.

O Divine Master, Grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled, as to console;
To be understood, as to understand;
To be loved as to love.

For it is in giving that we receive;
It is in pardoning that we are pardoned;
And it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.