Aug 7
  • Written By Scott Drochelman

  • #196 – David Procyshyn

    #196 - David Procyshyn

    How DoYogaWithMe Founder Used Yoga To Heal His Anxiety And Depression

    David Procyshyn grew up in the suburbs of Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. In his late teens he started feeling chronically tired. He experienced near constant pain in his gut and chronic tension around his head. He eventually came to realize they were all symptoms of significant depression and anxiety.  

    He’d tried to hide his feelings from everyone and the hiding caused him to dissociate and be plagued with social anxiety. He began to search for something different to help him heal and started dabbling with meditation and yoga.

    At 22 he desperately needed to get out of the spiraling feeling he was experiencing and took a trip to South Africa as a journey of self discovery. The experience found him seeking deep exploration far off the beaten path.

    When he came home, he felt changed and he wasn’t willing to live in the same way as before. He moved to Victoria and found his people. He got deep into Yoga, Pranayama, meditation and holotropic breathwork. He started doing yoga training and found even greater depth and healing with silent retreats. 

    In 2008, he created doyogawithme.com which aimed to provide online yoga that was accessible to all. Since then DoYogaWithMe has grown from a few thousand visitors a year to over a million people all over the planet.

    Tune in to Learn About:

    Overcoming Struggles: David Procyshyn’s journey battling chronic fatigue, gut pain, and tension, all of which were symptoms of depression and anxiety.

    Hidden Emotions and Disassociation: How David’s attempts to conceal his emotions led to disassociation and social anxiety.

    Exploration Through Meditation and Yoga: How David’s search for healing led him to meditation and yoga as unexpected but transformative tools.

    Journey of Self-Discovery: At 22, his life-changing trip to South Africa became a profound exploration of self-discovery and personal growth.

    Radical Transformation: Returning home, David’s refusal to accept his previous life led him to Victoria, where he immersed himself in Yoga, Pranayama, meditation, and holotropic breathwork.

    Yoga Training and Silent Retreats: Discover how David’s pursuit of yoga training and engagement in silent retreats led to deeper healing and transformation.

    Creating Accessible Healing: In 2008, David’s mission culminated in doyogawithme.com—an online platform that started small but has reached millions.

    Empowering Wellness: Learn how David’s experiences have shaped a platform that empowers individuals on their wellness journeys, making healing accessible to all.

    If you’re interested in personal growth, the transformative power of yoga, and how online platforms can revolutionize healing, this episode offers insightful takeaways from David Procyshyn’s journey of resilience and empowerment.

    To find other similar episodes by topic, click here.

    Connect with David

    Website | lionrock.life/couragetochangepodcast

    Instagram | @doyogawithme

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    Episode Transcript

    Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

    Coming up on this episode of The Courage to Change, sponsored by Line Rock.Life.

    David Procyshyn:

    As I started coming out of the depression that I was experiencing, I started to feel. And it was for the first time since I could remember being a little kid, I started feeling feelings. And when you’re doing that, it’s so important to not judge yourself, not kick yourself, to stop thinking that people are judging you for how you look and what you say, and to have that honesty with what you’re going through so that you can feel it and let it move through you. So when I think about radical honesty, there’s so many aspects of it. Its relation to your body, your mind, all of the relationships you have. Can you bring that radical honesty with you in every moment?

    Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

    Hello, beautiful people. Welcome to The Courage to Change: A Recovery Podcast. My name is Ashley Loeb Blassingame. I am your host and today we have David Procyshyn. David grew up in the suburbs of Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. In his late teens, he started feeling chronically tired. He experienced near constant pain in his gut and chronic tension around his head. He eventually came to realize they were all symptoms of significant depression and anxiety. He tried to hide his feelings from everyone and the hiding caused him to dissociate and be plagued with social anxiety. He began to search for something different to help him heal and started dabbling with meditation and yoga. At 22, he desperately needed to get out of the spiraling feeling he was experiencing and took a trip to South Africa as a journey of self-discovery. The experience found him seeking deep exploration far off the beaten path.

    When he came home, he felt changed and he wasn’t willing to live in the same way as before. He moved to Victoria and found his people. He got deep into yoga, pranayama, meditation, and holotropic breath work. He started doing yoga training and found even greater depth in healing with silent retreats. In 2008, he created doyogawithme.com, which aimed to provide online yoga that was accessible to all. Since then, doyogawithme.com has grown from a few thousand visitors a year to over a million people all over the planet. I had such a wonderful time with David. He is a deeply spiritual man who has this amazing, calm demeanor, and I know it was hard fought. His story of transformation and creating doyogawithme.com is beautiful and he also provided all of our listeners with a discount code that will be available for one month after the publishing date of this episode. Listen till the end to get your discount code. All right. Let’s get into it. Please enjoy David Procyshyn. Let’s do this.

    You’re listening to The Courage to Change: A Recovery podcast. We are a community of recovering people who have overcome the odds and found the courage to change. Each week, we share stories of recovery from substance abuse, eating disorders, grief and loss, childhood trauma, and other life-changing experiences. Come join us no matter where you are on your recovery journey.

    David, thank you so much for being here.

    David Procyshyn:

    Thank you for having me, Ashley. It’s an honor.

    Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

    This is very, very exciting. And we were talking earlier before the podcast started, about being authentic. I think it’s a good segue into a conversation about authenticity. I saw a article you wrote about Satya and that it’s like radical honesty, radical truth telling. We’re going to move backwards into your background and where you come from, but I’m wondering … Tell me a little bit about what it felt like to write an article about authenticity and radical truth telling. Is that a big part of your world?

    David Procyshyn:

    I actually went through a lot of really interesting parts of my life before I came to this podcast because I knew that I would end up talking about a lot of it. And one of the important pieces was as I started coming out of the depression that I was experiencing, I started to feel. And it was like for the first time since I could remember being a little kid, I started feeling feelings. And when you’re doing that, it’s so important to not judge yourself, not kick yourself, to stop thinking that people are judging you for how you look and what you say, and to have that honesty with what you’re going through so that you can feel it and let it move through you. So when I think about radical honesty, there’s so many aspects of it. Its relation to your body, your mind, all of the relationships you have. Can you bring that radical honesty with you in every moment? That’s basically the way that I look at it.

    Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

    Was radical honesty a part of your childhood? Was that something that you were taught when you were little?

    David Procyshyn:

    No. No. It was pretty much the opposite. My parents were … They grew up in small town Saskatchewan, which is where I grew up in Saskatoon. It’s a prairie town similar to Montana. They didn’t really encourage open emotional discussions about life. I felt like I was alone a lot and I felt like I wasn’t being heard a lot. And one of those experiences was wanting desperately to connect and talk about feelings, and it wasn’t really a part of that environment when I was a kid.

    Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

    Did that lead you to believe that feelings were unacceptable in the world or it sounds like you wanted to be heard and wanted to express these feelings, which sometimes in homes where feelings aren’t expressed, people, they get a desire to actually suppress them and get rid of them because they’re a liability. But it sounds like it didn’t make your feelings feel like a liability. It just made you want to find a place to let them go.

    David Procyshyn:

    Yeah. Keep in mind at that age, all of that is pretty unconscious.

    Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

    For sure.

    David Procyshyn:

    Those desires, I bottled them up. And I didn’t say to myself, I’m bottling these up. It just happened. It’s a survival technique. In order to survive, I needed to do it, so I would numb the feelings. And that resulted in me acting out a lot. I was a kid who threw a lot of tantrums, let’s put it that way. When I didn’t get what I want, I threw a tantrum. I have many, many memories of losing at a family game and just losing my mind. Throwing stuff. The classic picture of the kid lying on his back and slamming his fists and feet into the ground, that was me while I was screaming.

    Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

    And what would your parents say about … What was the message that you got about that behavior, about who you were as a result of that?

    David Procyshyn:

    It was a pretty hard line approach. There was no attempt to understand where that was coming from or why, and it was basically in their way they were saying, don’t do that. Don’t do that. Take some time to yourself and come back when you’re feeling better.

    Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

    When did the fatigue start?

    David Procyshyn:

    That was late teens.

    Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

    How did you know it was different than normal teenage moody tiredness? What would’ve marked it as different and more related to depression and anxiety?

    David Procyshyn:

    Yeah. At the time, I didn’t know what it was, but I was chronically tired. I had chronic pain in my gut. I had chronic tension around my head. By the time I was 20, I remember doing everything I could to stay awake during the day. I’d be sitting with friends or a friend just having a conversation, and all my body wanted to do was sleep. And so I fought against it and I fought to hide it from everyone because I didn’t really know how to look into that kind of thing, how to ask questions, how to be curious about what was happening. I also didn’t have the experience that made it possible for me to share this experience. I didn’t share it with anyone. I didn’t think it was possible. I thought I was the only one going through it and it was my cross to bear.

    I went to a doctor because I thought I had mononucleosis and it came up negative. And the doctor said, “You’re a healthy young lad just go out there and take on life.” And I didn’t feel that way. So the common experience is that you cannot get out of bed in the morning. It takes everything you’ve got to get out of bed. And your appetite gets suppressed and your willingness to participate in life gets dampened and gets numbed. I specifically had really intense experience in social situations. I had two that I remember being mysteries to me, even until today. I started experiencing disassociation. My mind would step back and it was because I was so hyper analytical about what I was saying. Every word that came out of my mouth felt like, oh, they’re paying attention to this. It’s stupid. Why did you say that? The dumbest thing you could have said. And then my mind started stepping back and looking at my body and judging it. It’s like, you’re terrible. And it was the weirdest experience. It was actually separation from my mind and body. And because of that, I would sit in social situations, I would be at a pub with my friends and I would be silent for an hour just because I could not get the will to say anything.

    Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

    Did people comment on that? What was the reaction from people around you who maybe knew you better?

    David Procyshyn:

    Yeah. I often think about that. There wasn’t the type of response that encouraged me to ask questions. During those times I’m guessing that my friends just thought I wasn’t feeling sociable that day.

    Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

    Right. Right. He’s just quiet.

    David Procyshyn:

    And I’m also an introvert. It takes a lot of effort for me to go to a pub or a bar. And back then that was the only thing we did. We just went out and had beers. I played sports and I went out and had beers, and then we did school. And we watched movies. That’s what we did. And if you didn’t, there was so much pressure to go out and join your troop on the weekends that if I stayed home with my family, with my parents on a Friday night, I would suffer so much because I would be the biggest loser in my head.

    Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

    It’s incredible when we think about how much of our experience is just in our head. How often we are creating an experience that might not be existing for people around us. And one of the most amazing techniques that I’ve heard about the critical voice, which is what you’re talking about, this critical voice that’s telling us we’re not worthy and how we talk to ourselves, is if you held up a mirror, you took that critical voice and you spoke to yourself that way, and then you took that same critical voice and spoke to a child that way, would that be okay? Would we ever take that critical voice of our own and speak to anyone else the way that we speak to ourselves? And most of the time the answer is no. Certainly not a child, a loved one, but we have made it acceptable to treat ourselves that way. And when we treat ourselves and we have that critical voice, it’s really hard to have a sense of wellbeing and kindness and that the world is a safe and happy place. Then you get the depression, the anxiety, and all of the things that cascade into a small existence.

    David Procyshyn:

    Yeah. One of the biggest realizations I had was that I exist in relationships. If I didn’t have any relationships … There’s no existence without relationships. And those relationships include yourself. The primary purpose of life is to nurture them and create positive ones. Create ones that make you feel stronger and brighter and happier and cared for, and that make you want to feel like getting up in the morning.

    Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

    When we talk about introverts and extroverts, I think that our society … I don’t know if you would agree with this, that our society puts a higher value on extroverts than introverts in terms of the way that we talk about extroversion versus introversion. I think one of the coolest things about introversion is that because you have less bandwidth for relationships, for other people, for this incoming stimuli, you are probably more careful with who you choose to have them with because there’s more exclusive energy giving opportunity. Whereas with extroverts, I think a lot of the time we find ourselves in relationships with people that we might not even really like, but we’re trying to have connection and it’s just part of that extroversion. And I see introverts as having these deeper, more meaningful relationships because they just don’t have the room for the nonsense. Is that something that you experience at all, at least today?

    David Procyshyn:

    Yeah. It’s taken a long time. I’m almost 50 now, and I’ve finally come to the place where I believe that I can make choices that are best for me, and the quality of the connection that I have with people really, really matters. And it’s a result of a lot of different things. It’s meeting the right people. Because if you don’t have those kind of connections, you don’t know they’re possible. And then of course, having a family. There’s nothing that challenges you more than raising kids. And they taught me a lot about what … I guess the kind of relationship that I want with people in my life. And I’m a great believer in putting a certain kind of energy out there and you’re going to get it back. If I put the energy out there that I want, like this is what I want the world to be, I’m going to discover those people. And so I do. I have a great circle of friends now.

    Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

    That’s awesome. You started to have this chronic fatigue and eventually you said, I got to get out of this town, and you took off and started traveling. Tell me about traveling and what traveling did for you. What was that experience like?

    David Procyshyn:

    Yeah. When I was in my early 20s, I just felt a deep need to be somewhere else, to do something different. And for some reason I just had this craving to go to Africa. There was no reason why I would. I have no connection there. There was just something about it that made me want to go. And then my mom happened to work with a South African doctor in Saskatoon. She connected me with him, and then I sat with him and his wife and we worked out a plan, a six-month plan for me to travel through Southern Africa. He happened to be going there, so he was my contact point and he had so many friends and family there that I could stay with or stay connected with. This was in 1996, so it was two years after apartheid ended. So it was an intense time.

    And I saw this as … It was a journey of self-discovery. I really needed to get to know why I felt the way I did and backpacking through Southern Africa for some reason seemed to be the right thing to do. And so what I did was I made three rules for myself. With transportation I either hitchhiked or I used black transport. In South Africa, everything was at least divided according to your skin color, clearly on signs everywhere. So I chose to either hitchhike or used black transportation. I only went on walking or canoe safaris. I didn’t do the Jeep safaris. I didn’t want to do the touristy thing. And I went off the beaten track as much as I could to places that weren’t necessarily destinations.

    I had a combination of naivete and courage. I really didn’t know what I was getting myself into, but at the same time, I thought, nothing’s going to go wrong. I have good intentions. This is going to work out. Well when I told people that I was hitchhiking, some of the locals thought I was crazy. They would say, “There’s so much violence in this country, so many carjackings.” And the friend that I was using as a guide, he just said, “You’ve got to know where to go and where not to go. And a lot of that is just gut feeling, right? You know what feels right and what doesn’t.” And I also … I know I put myself in danger. My poor mom.

    Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

    Yeah, seriously.

    David Procyshyn:

    She’s like, “You have to call me every two weeks.” And sometimes I would forget, and I’d probably have trouble sleeping those nights that I wasn’t calling. I remember looking at a map … And of course on a map you don’t see what’s between two points. And I would throw my backpack on and I would leave the hostel on foot and I would just go from one point to the highway where I could put my thumb up. And I’d be walking under bridges. I’d be walking through areas that only black people are setting up these counters where they’re selling their goods. I would walk past shanty towns. A full on city worth of shanty towns. These are structures that are built of whatever they had with the corrugated iron roofs. I had with me two books as my guide. One of them was called Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind by Shunryū Suzuki and the other one was the Bible, and I’m not Christian. It was just I would flip open a page and I’d say, “Okay, what do I need today?” And I would read it. Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind gave me the perspective that allowed me to live in the moment and trust that what my decisions were good and that things would turn out okay.

    Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

    A lot of people take traveling journeys. I certainly had a few of those. But I wasn’t on foot. I didn’t have rules for myself that way. I didn’t have a guiding book. It was just like, I’m going to go and do these things and see these things. And it had a transformative effect, but from the outside, it looked like young person traveling. When you describe your travel, it’s very intentionally transformative and very rooted in this idea that you are going to find what you’re looking for, even though you don’t know really what you’re looking for. With the books, with the rules. What did you discover through that journey?

    David Procyshyn:

    Yeah. It’s one of the things that I know now that I didn’t know then. A lot of the experience was painful because I was so lonely and I didn’t meet a lot of people that were like-minded. I really only traveled with people a few times. I was alone a lot. And because I had so much time, so much freedom, I would wake up in the morning and that’s when I would decide what I was going to do often that day. It was an amazing feeling of freedom. When I look back on it, that pain of loneliness and discomfort and tension and sadness and anxiety, that was part of the process. It was part of the un-numbing, I guess is the way you could put it.

    It’s interesting when you talk about letting go of anxiety or depression or something that is a deeply felt experience that has been a part of you for a long time, when you start to feel those feelings, it doesn’t feel good. Part of the reason why you’re going through depression is because you’re pushing them away. You’re rejecting them and you’re hating them. I was hating them. I hated being that way. So the reason why it’s so hard is because you are opening up and feeling that garbage. Everything that makes you feel like you’re an ugly person is there. So during those six months, I had a lot of time to sit with it and just feel it. And I genuinely came back home a different person. Completely different. I hadn’t totally healed, but I had finally cracked it open and started feeling those feelings. And I also couldn’t have said, this is what I did. This is why I feel this way. There was no conscious process to it all. Now I can see it, but I felt different and I knew when I got back, I’m on the right path now.

    Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

    What was that path that you were on when you came back?

    David Procyshyn:

    I think coming back to that brutal honesty, that’s what it’s about. So I was then on a path of learning, deep learning, and I understood what deep learning is. It’s one of the most difficult things to do, to look at yourself in a simple way without fear, without distortion, without judgment. And I realized that that is what I’m going to devote my life to now. Being curious with empathy and with the intention to understand, so I didn’t feel so much pain all the time.

    Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

    How do you know that you are looking at a correct … I’m trying to think of a better word than correct. But how do you know if you are looking at an accurate version of yourself in terms of that radical honesty? Because what I say is if the calls are coming from inside the house, how do you know what is real and what isn’t? How did you flesh those two things out?

    David Procyshyn:

    I think that you need to be careful not to label things intellectually when you’re experiencing them, because everything, every thought you have and every feeling you have has value, and it’s there for a reason. So the way that I approach it is that you want to be able to take in the totality of who you are and not treat anything different than anything else. And if you can do that … The goal for me is to let things move through rather than hold on. And the only way you can do that is by feeling it all. Understanding that the way I respond to this thought or this feeling defines whether it sticks around or not. So if I can bring a sense of complete awareness, complete humility … Humility is so key with this because you’ve got to be able to accept all of it. It’s all there. It’s in the present moment. It’s there for a reason. Can I feel it, bring empathy to it and let it move through me rather than holding on? Because all of the judgment and fear and the labeling, not only does it make it stick around, it empowers it.

    Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

    What would be an example of something that you were resisting that you let in and let move through you?

    David Procyshyn:

    That one’s easy because I’ve lived with, for some reason, just this crazy chronic tension in my body. And I’ve been on a number of silent meditation retreats that are 10 days long. You basically sit for 11 hours a day for 10 days. And there’s a technique, but you’re just with yourself that whole time. You’re feeling, you’re moving, you’re scanning your body over and over and over again. Scanning your body over and over again. And every time I passed my belly, I was like, why do I have this crazy gripping tension there? And I even asked the meditation leader and he’s like, “It doesn’t matter. Just feel it and move on.”

    Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

    Are you allowed to ask questions?

    David Procyshyn:

    Yeah. There are given times every evening, I think maybe half an hour, where you can ask the question from the teacher.

    Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

    Got it. Okay.

    David Procyshyn:

    And so I just started to realize that nothing inside of you is permanent. Nothing. If you open up to every feeling, every sensation, every experience that you have, all of it is always in flux, always moving. We’re living beings, and so we need to have the type of awareness that matches that. We need to have the type of awareness that is allowing things to move through us. No matter what it is, you want to have direct, mindful connection to your body and your mind, and I wanted to be able to let that stuff move through, and it’s the attachment that makes it stay.

    Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

    So on an intellectual level, I understand exactly what you’re saying. I am aware of the impermanence of our situation of being human. But on a day-to-day basis, a lot of how I respond to the world is as if this is the way it’s going to be. And a lot of the emotional responses that will come up automatically to any kind of change are ones that you would think I didn’t understand that there was impermanence, if that makes sense. How do you take this information and synthesize it into something that you can actually experience and add value to your daily life?

    David Procyshyn:

    The intellectual doesn’t really help here. It’s all about the direct experience, the feeling. And so the more you think about it, the more it takes you off track. And if you have an outcome, that also takes you off track. To me it’s always been about feeling what’s there and letting that be the teacher. That’s your guide. Your role is to bring utter humility and compassion into that experience of the moment. There’s no other way to learn about yourself that is outside of the presence.

    Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

    How did yoga play a part in this spiritual awareness?

    David Procyshyn:

    Oh, yoga was formative. The practice of yoga itself as a way of making me open up and feel my body and quiet the mind. The greatest impact for me was pranayama. It’s a breath training practice. Pranayama is about … The purpose is to move prana through your body. And so if you practice pranayama and you learn, you also learn what are called the bandhas. They’re like energy locks. And you use the bandhas in the breath. The breath is incredibly powerful. You can start to get this feeling of energy moving through your body and you can start to feel the body in subtle ways. You can actually start to feel the energetic blocks inside of you.

    Initially when I was trying to come out of my chronic anxiety and depression and I was starting to try to understand why my body felt so much tension inside of it, I would do pranayama daily, and I would sometimes do it for an hour straight. And I would just get these bursts of energy through me and then try to understand after finishing pranayama why I couldn’t continue to feel that way throughout the day because all of it would come right back. So yeah, pranayama formed … I guess in a simple way, it allowed me to see what’s possible. It allowed me to feel what’s possible.

    Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

    How did you manage when you’d have this amazing experience and then sometime later it would all come back? What have you done about that and working the depression and anxiety, either working with it or working it out of your life?

    David Procyshyn:

    It took me a long time to fully understand that separating your spiritual practice from the rest of your life doesn’t really do you much good. So I really tried hard to take the experience, the learnings, my approach in meditation or in pranayama into my daily life. I would start by … I’d be standing in the bank and I would still scan my body or I’d do a little breathing technique in the car. And over time I started to … As I said before, everything is relationship. And so my greatest intention was to keep learning and why not learn when I’m in conversation with someone or I’m making dinner. Those are all opportunities.

    Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

    Who brought you into yoga? Did you know about yoga when you were growing up in Saskatchewan?

    David Procyshyn:

    Yeah. I did not. I was a sporting kid. I played hockey, football. I really loved the rough sports. In fact, I was small, but I loved the contact sports. So yoga came as a result of me seeking how to heal a back injury. I had hurt my back multiple times by the time I was 16. Bad enough to be laid out for a week or two. And it was really concerning for me to be that young and have a lower back problem. So I pulled out the yellow pages and I looked up … I can’t remember what I looked up. Something health related. And there was a yoga studio that came up, and that was the studio that introduced me to yoga. It was pretty much the only studio in Saskatoon at the time. It was in an iyengar studio. If you know anything about a iyengar, they focus on alignments. They’re very particular about alignment, lineage. It’s really good. They use a lot of props to make sure that you’re doing it safely. And so my back instantly started to feel good, and so I was driven to do yoga more and more. And that started my path. I did yoga with a number of different teachers. Moved out to the West Coast, did a teacher training, and the rest is history.

    Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

    What does it all look like today? What’s the path that you’ve taken and the recovery that you share with regard to living a life today that’s very, very full with responsibilities and a business and all these things? How do you maintain that peace?

    David Procyshyn:

    Yeah. How do you live a normal everyday life?

    Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

    Yeah.

    David Procyshyn:

    I’m sure you’re experiencing the same thing. A lot of it is just being aware and kind with yourself. The way that I like to look at mindfulness and meditation is I consider it to be a reductive process. Mindfulness is what remains when you remove all distractions. It’s our natural way of being is just to be present. And our mind is putting all this stuff in the way all the time. I’m wondering if what triggers you towards wanting to drink is similar to what triggers me to be depressed. I absolutely have a deep, dark urge to curl up in my bed and stay there forever. It’s still there. I want to hide. It’s easy. It’s like I don’t want to face all the issues of life. And it can get triggered by a little bit of fear. Something that I didn’t like happens and that depression can be triggered. I’m wondering if the actual visceral feeling for you is similar. What is that trigger like and how does it try to draw you in?

    Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

    Well, I suffer from depression the way that you do. That crawling up, that chronic, chronic fatigue. I’ve described it as everything, even the stuff that you know is fun and that you know want to do, still feels like an enormous amount of effort. Just this absolutely heroic amount of effort to do normal things that you know that shouldn’t take this much effort.

    For me, at this stage, a trigger to drink is typically if I’ve been sitting in that. So it’s a mechanism for relief from the chronic depression, the chronic anxiety that just wears you down bit by bit by bit. If I start to drop into the depression initially, the drinking doesn’t occur to me right away. The drinking is the escape hatch from the depression and the anxiety. My brain knows and has always known if I take a drink, no one can rely on me, I cannot be responsible for anything, it is immediate relief, and my whole life now will only revolve around this one thing. Singleness of purpose. And so it’s this escape hatch from chronic depression because chronic depression is this battle to function normally. But if you stop battling, if you take yourself out and you take drugs and alcohol and you push yourself into this other thing, even though it doesn’t work, my brain still sees it as an escape hatch. It takes me out of all the things that are hard to do. Does that make sense?

    David Procyshyn:

    Yeah. It really does. I can feel that when you’re talking about it. Do you have a sense of what normal should be?

    Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

    Rarely.

    David Procyshyn:

    Does it matter? Does it matter? You talk about normalcy, why? Why does it matter what normal is for you?

    Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

    I’ll tell you why. Because when I went to treatment when I was a teenager and they started to describe what the experience of other people was like, just to give me an idea of where I was in the lineup, I had no idea that some of the things I was experiencing or some of what I grew up with or some of these, that they weren’t normal. I didn’t know what I didn’t know. And so an easy one that I’ll give you is that I did not know that normal people don’t black out all the time when they drink. I literally didn’t know that that wasn’t a part of drinking for other people. When I was given that information like, hey, most normal people are not blacking out when they drink, it gave me perspective on how far I had come.

    Now, some normal people black out when they drink. Happens sometimes. Oops, accident, whatever. But again, it gives me a range. And so knowing what the normal range is gives me an idea of how close I am and what I need to curtail in order to be in that lane. And then when I know where I stand, I can either change it or allow myself to just continue. Say you know what? My extreme nature works here and it doesn’t matter and I don’t need to be normal here. I find knowing what normal is to be extremely helpful as a barometer to guide me to the place I want to be, not necessarily to take me to normal.

    David Procyshyn:

    Right. That’s interesting. I relate to what is known. What you consider to be how you believe you work and the world works. And for me, that has done me so little service throughout my life. Do you relate to it that way? You’re talking about how realizing a new normal can provide you an epiphany or an awakening in that moment. It’s like, yeah, some other people experience it this other way .and I have felt like throughout my life, the more I can let go of my concept of normal, the more … When I was talking about that reductive process, it’s like stop putting labels on things. Stop creating judgments of everything. You start experiencing things for what they are label free, judgment free, fear free, then that direct connection with yourself, your relationship with yourself and with others, it has a quality about it that I guess to put it simply, it allows the learning process to happen.

    You see it and you feel it in a way that is new and fresh all the time. That beginner mind. That zen mind. You remove the intellectual piece and it all becomes about the moment and that experience. Of course, the past is still there and the future, the outcomes that you want and all of it’s still there except that the judgment isn’t there and you’re relating to life in a way, like I said earlier, it allows it to move through. Everything’s impermanent. Just be with it, but don’t get attached. I don’t know if that made sense to you.

    Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

    It makes huge sense. It is something that I can experience for 30 seconds max. The intellectualizing is my cross to bear. It’s very, very difficult for me to release the labels and the distractions that you’re talking about, which is of course the case with most people in their monkey mind. It just seems like other people are able to get there faster. But I also have benefited greatly from using labels in therapeutic processes in order to understand where I fit in the world, which I didn’t understand. What I was thinking about when you were talking about that was, I wonder if using labels, using the barometer, using all those things served me really well for a long time, which it did. And if that’s something that in this next chapter, in the next phase is now something you can let go of. There’s this saying that says, learn and follow the rules so that when you’re an expert, you can break them. And so maybe it was I had to learn and follow these guidelines and these labels so that once I’m sober a long time, once those things have served me, I can actually let go of them and see the world from a completely different perspective. Do you think that there’s ever a place for labels or categories, categorizing or any kind of measurement in the mind that fits in with mindfulness or is it incompatible?

    David Procyshyn:

    You can look around in the room and you see someone and that person’s labeled person. In your mind, that’s a human being, so that’s a label. You see a wall that’s a wall.

    Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

    Yeah, yeah. That’s a label.

    David Procyshyn:

    The wall’s a label, the floor is a label, the mat’s a label. All of these things serve purposes for you so that you don’t wake up someday and you’re like, what is all this stuff around me? I don’t even know what to call it. So there’s a functional purpose. Let’s look at what labels do. If you see a tree and then you label it maple tree, what maple tree does for me at least, is it defines what a maple tree is. And that in a way kills curiosity. It kills creativity. Because if you create an endpoint for yourself … Labels can do that. If you create an endpoint for yourself, then that’s where the learning stops. You just need to be careful of that. Labels serve a purpose for you. We talked about that. There’s a functional purpose to them. But labels … This might be a bit of a strong word, but they’re dangerous in the way that if you label yourself as someone who’s depressed, that can in itself stop you from learning why. Because someone has told you what depression is, you know what depression is, but there’s a visceral, deep experience of depression that could be completely different than what other people write on paper.

    That’s the danger the way that I see it. I think the greater context is asking yourself, is this label getting in the way of me learning? Because there are so many … I struggle with this all the time. I’ve labeled my son. He is a terrible loser. He does not like to lose. I hope he never listens to this podcast, but he already knows. When he loses a game that he’s playing with me, he just freaks out. So in my head, we’re playing a game together, he’s already labeled that and I’m waiting for the outcome. And to me, that’s going to be the outcome. And this is in relation to thousands of moments throughout my life. You have these labels based on memory that when the label’s applied doesn’t allow you to consider alternatives. And I think that’s a crucial opportunity for us to learn why the label is there and how to let go of it and learn what other possibilities there are. With my son, maybe I’m not learning how to talk to him in a way that leads him down a different path. Maybe I have a role to play that I haven’t learned yet.

    Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

    You’re jogging my memory. There was this child psychologist who teaches a parenting class and she talks about …I wish I could remember her name. She talks about for every … Kind of what you’re talking about. For every label, you would turn it into a question. So my child is a sore loser. Why is my child a sore loser? Or why do I think this? Or what do you think created that? I have found that to be extremely helpful with my kids and the labels that I might otherwise give them, which has helped me in all sorts of ways from thinking that they had some sort of permanent mental state and finding out that they were overtired and that the nap times were wrong. Things like asking that question instead of the label. Becoming curious as opposed to deciding has created those opportunities to learn and to continue to learn. And I think that is something I very much hold onto and can grasp is turn it all into a question. Like that’s a maple tree. Is it a maple tree? What makes a maple tree? Are there different types of maple trees?

    Having just a deep curiosity allows me to feel a spiritual connection because I’m always curious about how the maple tree works. I have a deep curiosity, and so I think that that curiosity … That piece I can relate to so much and it helping me to learn and to be better and to find a deeper sense of who I am and more importantly, who I want or need to be today or tomorrow or that I don’t need to be the exact same person I was yesterday. I can be whoever I need to be. How often are you using yoga in your life today? Do you do yoga every single day, and what are you learning today on the topic of that?

    David Procyshyn:

    Yeah. I have a regular yoga practice. I practice two to three times a week right now. With family, sometimes it’s hard to fit it in. Especially with our family. Really, really busy. And I’ve also shifted my relationship to yoga over the years. Yoga practice to me doesn’t have to be doing a pose on a yoga mat. I think of how I’m breathing, how I’m standing, how I’m aware, what my relationships are like with friends and family. That’s all yoga to me.

    I built a sauna in my backyard with some friends. I regularly sauna now and I drive that heat up. I love to push my extremes. It’s like I think it’s the residue of me desperately needing to feel feelings when I was numbing myself for so long. It’s very similar to sitting for 11 hours and feeling those same sensations because your faced to feel it or you step out of the sauna and you take a cold shower.

    One of my other philosophies in life has been to take on things that are hard. When hard opportunities come … And you need to know what’s hard for yourself. One example is I joined Toastmasters being a social anxiety introvert. Public speaking, I preferred death. So I forced myself to do it. And for me, it was a spiritual practice. Every time I went to a meeting, it was a spiritual step forward. To me that’s what yoga is. It’s having that state of mind and making decisions that lead to learning about yourself and how you exist in the world in a way that feels right.

    Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

    How do you teach your kids these principles?

    David Procyshyn:

    When I think of being a kid, it’s action. It’s through action. My parents would sometimes try to say something to me that was instructional or trying to teach me something about life and my greatest memories are their behavior.

    Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

    Modeling.

    David Procyshyn:

    Modeling. Yes. So that’s really what I try to do. Sometimes I don’t do it well at all, but I try to do that. That brings up a memory for me. When my son was younger, he had trouble sleeping. I was like, I’m a meditation teacher. I guide all these adults through it. I help them sleep. I was doing that. At one point I was teaching 10 classes a week, and a lot of it was around teaching adults to relax. If we have one goal in this class, it’s for you to feel more relaxed when you leave. And so my son having sleep troubles, like, why can’t I do this with him? So one night we just finished reading a book and he was lying there with his eyes closed, and I started taking him through a guided meditation and I changed my voice a little bit. I go a little bit deeper and smoother and softer and slower. And I swear he was relaxing more. He was breathing deeper. His eyes were closed. He was listening. And after two minutes of doing this, he says, “Dad, what’s with the weird voice?”

    Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

    I thought you were going to say he passed out.

    David Procyshyn:

    I wish that I had that effect on him. Yeah. I just think it’s how you live your life that other people see and take in, especially our children, and I just try to do my best with that.

    Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

    Yeah. Yeah. Me too. Where can people find you, more information about you, if they want to do yoga with me? I was going to say do yoga with you. If they want to doyogawithme.com. Tell us about where you are in the world and on the internet.

    David Procyshyn:

    We are based in Victoria, British Columbia, Canada. The website, as you said is called doyogawithme.com. We’ve existed, I think I said earlier, about 14 years. So we were one of the first. And our purpose is to make yoga accessible to as many people as we can. So about half of our content is completely free. You just have to create an account. We want it to be that way. People choose to subscribe. We have access to what we call premium content. It’s an expression of paying it forward, I guess is what you could say. So they, the subscribers, support those who aren’t as comfortable financial position to continue doing yoga for free. And we also operate as a social purpose business. All of the choices we make are made based on our impact on the planet, on people, and then on profit as well.

    So if you go to our website, we have over a thousand on on-demand classes. We have over a hundred on-demand guided meditations. As you said, we have a blog section. Or no, you read that somewhere else. We have a blog section where we write all about yoga. We have challenges that you can do anywhere from seven to 30 days. We have programs that are also longer that address certain issues like carpal tunnel syndrome, lower back problems, chronic anxiety. We have a lot of classes on mental health. And then about three or four years ago, we branched out to create a separate product, which is our yoga teacher training program. And this learning platform, it’s really good for creating a community feel and an interactive experience. So I’ve used that to create a program called Let Go of Anxiety. It’s a 21-day program. You just have to click … If you go to DoYogaWithMe, you click on YTT or yoga teacher training, and you’ll find it there. It’s courses.doyogawithme.com.

    Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

    Okay. Okay. Awesome. Awesome. And you should have heard that there’s a discount code coming up and the discount code expires one month from the release date of this episode.

    David Procyshyn:

    Exactly.

    Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

    Well, thank you so, so much for being here, and we are going to link everything. Doyogawithme.com and your yoga teacher training. So we’re going to link all of that in the show notes and really, really lovely to chat with you and meet you. Thank you so much.

    David Procyshyn:

    Thank you, Ashley. I really thoroughly enjoyed this conversation, so thank you for having me on.

    Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

    Me too. Me too. Thank you.

    I went to Disneyland recently and I believe that Disneyland should have a crew of chiropractors to all who are struggling with their lack of [inaudible 00:48:44].

    Scott Drochelman:

    Yeah. I think that’s fair. There’s no test of your muscular endurance, your posture, standing in line for hours and hours and hours.

    Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

    And there is a test. We had the Fast Pass, which is now called the Genie Plus, and you have to book the rides and my husband-

    Scott Drochelman:

    Does the magic powers make you feel better about cutting the line?

    Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

    Nope.

    Scott Drochelman:

    The Genie did it. I just rubbed the lamp.

    Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

    Nope. Just my ability to withstand my family in a waiting situation makes me feel better about cutting the line. No, it was good. I love, love, love, love roller coasters and was very disappointed in my body’s ability to withstand G-Force, if you will.

    Scott Drochelman:

    Oh, shit yourself?

    Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

    No. I got a crick in my neck. No. I love roller coasters and my kids loved them too, so that was good because we thought they were little bitches in the making, but they’re not. They used to not want to go on roller coasters and Dak and I love roller coasters, and we were really … Had these private conversations. Of course, we were very loving and encouraging to their face, but behind their back, let me just tell you. I’m going to just tell you, it was some eighth grade shit. We were like, “These little bitches. Pansy ass. Are they just going to be this way forever? What are we going to do?”

    Scott Drochelman:

    They were three, Ashley.

    Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

    Of course they were three. Of course they were three. They’re only six now.

    Scott Drochelman:

    They were only legally allowed to go on the ride because you put lifts in their shoes.

    Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

    They were not even … So anyway, I went to the chiropractor the next day and the report’s in. I’m aging. That was Father’s Day.

    Scott Drochelman:

    Love that.

    Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

    I think I could tell you this because my husband won’t listen to this episode.

    Scott Drochelman:

    Oh, boy. Oh, boy.

    Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

    So the reason I planned Disneyland as the Father’s Day thing was really an act of violence because I bitch about his idea of Mother’s Day and how he plans it. This was my act of this is how it’s done, but I’ve never said that. I didn’t say that to him. And everyone’s like, “Good job. Wife of the year.” Blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. It was everything in me not to be like, “Are you recognizing? Do you see the difference between what you do on Mother’s Day and what I did on Father’s Day? Do you see anything? You notice picking anything out?” I don’t think he noticed, and I am too prideful to tell him, but maybe I should.

    Scott Drochelman:

    Let me just define this too.

    Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

    Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. It wasn’t kindness that made me do it.

    Scott Drochelman:

    Right. I get that part. That’s clear. But is it because you wanted to show how much better what you planned was or it was because going to an amusement park with kids is the worst torture that exists?

    Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

    No. Because that’s the kind of thing he would want to do. And so I forked out some money and planning and whatever to do something very, very specific and thoughtful that represented him being a father, which is, he got my kids into Star Wars, and so I bought everybody … I took him to dinner the night before because it was his birthday, and we gave him lightsaber chopsticks at sushi and then a card that sang a Star Wars … It was a theme. Are you following? And then a card to sing … You open it … Whatever. And then a little note that says, we’re going to Disneyland tomorrow for Father’s Day. And then because you introduced us as our father to Star Wars, we want to do Star Wars with you. So it’s like a lot of thought. It actually took me like 45 minutes. But a lot of thought into putting this together. Which my point was it was an act of violence against the Mother’s Day plans that have come out of my husband. And unfortunately all that’s happened is that he thinks I’m very nice. I had to get it out. I’m not.

    Scott Drochelman:

    I’m going to go ahead and just give you a blanket statement. Just when you’re trying to get at somebody, doing everything they want is not usually getting at them. You know what I mean?

    Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

    Because you’re not thinking-

    Scott Drochelman:

    If I was like, I need to take revenge out against you, Ashley, right now, I would love to treat you to a great dinner wherever you want to go, and then we’re going to go to a Rage Against Machine concert after that.

    Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

    I’d be so happy.

    Scott Drochelman:

    And then Fred Durst is going to be in a one-on-one greeting session. Got you, Ashley.

    Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

    No. But here’s the thing, here’s the thing. It is a got you. It’s the long game, my friend. It’s the long game. Because every year I’ve been like, what kind of bullshit is this literally? And the last two years I’ve left town because I was so … My listeners are no longer going to like me. I left and I went and hung out with my mom. I was like, I got to hang out with my mom for Mother’s Day. His idea of Mother’s Day is us doing a normal day with the kids. It’s like, “Well, don’t you want to be with your kids on Mother’s Day?” No. So I gave him the version of Father’s Day knowing … And so when this shit comes around and I book myself a cruise to Jamaica alone … Listen, it was an act of war. Okay.

    Scott Drochelman:

    Yeah. I get all that, and I’m just saying, you might want to revisit.

    Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

    You don’t see the tactic. You don’t see the tactic.

    Scott Drochelman:

    Unless you can MacGyver this later on to say-

    Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

    Oh, I will.

    Scott Drochelman:

    We got a card for you, mommy. You introduced us to the music of Bob Marley and so we bought you this cruise to Jamaica by yourself so you could enjoy … You could go to his childhood home.

    Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

    Or you told us about diamonds, and so we got you one.

    Scott Drochelman:

    Right. We got your own diamond mind. Mommy, it’s for you.

    Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

    That’s [inaudible 00:55:01].

    Scott Drochelman:

    It’s a question of the labor.

    Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

    Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. That’s a pickle I think I’d like to stay out of. But I don’t know any.

    Scott Drochelman:

    I’m just saying, revisit vengeance.

    Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

    Yeah. My vengeance is strange. But listen, I’m telling you, I think it’s an underrated tactic. Kill them with kindness and also guilt and shame.

    Scott Drochelman:

    I don’t know if they’re feeling the guilt.

    Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

    It feels like a really nice thing I did, but I just want to be clear that it didn’t come from a place of love. She says-

    Scott Drochelman:

    What a strange distinction. I just want to make it very clear that these nice, thoughtful things I did for you were not out of love. Make that perfectly clear they were not.

    Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

    I am not the foundation of mental health. That’s not what I said. This is a journey of self-discovery and authenticity and authentically that was a move of anger.

    Scott Drochelman:

    Well, you know what was a journey of trying to discover authenticity was David’s journey and the episode we just heard.

    Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

    Yeah. It’s really the wrong episode to talk about my hateful behavior.

    Scott Drochelman:

    No, I think it’s the perfect episode. To me, what I was thinking was okay, let’s go back to you as-

    Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

    During the episode or-

    Scott Drochelman:

    During the episode. During the episode.

    Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

    Okay.

    Scott Drochelman:

    I was thinking to myself, were you at 18 having the level of thought and intention to be able to create this journey of discovery? I did not have that capacity, I don’t believe at that moment in my life.

    Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

    I was hitchhiking and I saw me a few bus stops. Several months after my 18th birthday was the first time I had been discharged from treatment after two and a half years of relapsing in and out of treatment, and I was on my own with no fucking life skills. At 18 is when I dated myself and bought myself that ring.

    Scott Drochelman:

    I mean, that’s a big self discovery.

    Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

    I thought so. So I don’t think my brain has ever worked like David, and I don’t think my brain will ever work David’s. I relate to the depression. I relate to some of the self-seeking things, but I think what I can hear from him is a person who has always been extraordinarily introspective, even if he … I don’t even know if he knows he was introspective, but I can just sense that from him, and he continues to be. That’s his state of being. He’s curious about the inner workings of self. He goes on this Africa trip to find himself with these rules. There are things that are similar in my 18-year-old life of going and doing things, but the mental state was worlds away from where his was.

    Scott Drochelman:

    David was kind enough to give us a promo code for you to do some work with him. Which Ashley, it’s a real shocker. What is the promo code that people would use to take advantage of this special offer?

    Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

    It is courage to change. So the word courage spelled normally the word to, T O. Change as in-

    Scott Drochelman:

    Change your clothes. They stink.

    Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

    Exactly. Thank you. I will do that.

    Scott Drochelman:

    We’ll have what the links that you need to use in the show notes, but if you’d like to take advantage of that, you’d like to explore DoYogaWithMe … I like the model a lot. I think it’s really cool that the idea is there’s a lot free, but then there’s hopefully folks who can help support that, who have the financial means to do that and give the opportunity to people who maybe aren’t in a position where that could be the case.

    Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

    Yes. Doyogawithme.com.

    Scott Drochelman:

    Now, we’re rooting for you this week as we always, always, always are. Ashley, anything that want to leave the people with this week?

    Ashley Loeb Blassingame:

    Friends, I would be extraordinarily grateful if you would leave us a rating or review if you get a chance. Takes two minutes. We so, so appreciate it. It’s podcast currency. Also, if you have any specific questions that you’d love for us to do in our Q&A please feel free to send them to podcast@lionrock.life. You can also send us messages on Instagram or Facebook. Anywhere you can find our social or email. Please send us notes. We are happy to do Q&A’s as that address your specific questions. Again, thank you for being a listener and we’ll see you next time.

    This podcast is sponsored by LionRock.Life LionRock.Life is a diverse and supportive recovery community offering weekly over 70 online peer support meetings, useful recovery information and entertaining content. Whether you’re newly sober, have many years in recovery or you’re recovering from something other than drugs and alcohol, we have space for you. Visit www.lionrock.life today and enter promo code courage for one month of unlimited peer support meetings free. Find the joy in recovery at LionRock.Life.

    Scott Drochelman

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