I’m an intuitive empath and clairvoyant, a certified reiki master, trained as a pilates/barre/yoga teacher and a daily meditator. I’ve been practicing yoga behind the scenes for 20 years and finally got certified to teach a few years ago. I’ve got almost 10 years of experience doing energy healing and intuitive readings (visit www.alisonlessard.com for Intuitive Development/Tarot Readings and Relationship Healing Tools or my YouTube channel), yet what I discovered was missing from my healing practice after working with thousands of people were mindfulness tools. So I decided to create my own here!
My own transformation definitely did not happen overnight. Back in the early 2000’s when I landed in New York City to start my career, I was in overdrive. I was working in luxury hospitality sales in a fast-paced, highly competitive environment and was my own toughest critic. As far as “wellness” was concerned, I treated working out like an obligation and a punishment that I “had to do”. I obsessed about food because I thought I had to in order to stay lean and fit (when really I was using it as a way to control my feelings). I never slowed down because I felt guilty about it. I had no concept of “receiving” or my feminine energy. By the evening, I’d end up on my couch completely exhausted and up at 5:30 am the next day to start all over again. I was on a hamster wheel with zero work/life balance. I had no spiritual practice. My “rise and grind” lifestyle and lack of self-awareness eventually made me sick.
After several years of climbing the corporate ladder, I ended up with an eating disorder, depressed and developed chronic digestive issues that turned into persistent acne that wouldn’t go away. I resented being in my own skin and my inflamed face was a reflection of it. I started feeling hopeless about my health and my self-esteem took a huge hit. No lotion, supplement or fitness routine was fixing it. The purging was a horrible secret I hid from everyone, including my then partner. I was totally unhappy with my life, insecure and felt out of control.
I hit rock bottom. I was tired of keeping secrets and feeling low and realized I needed support. I decided to enroll at Institute for Integrative Nutrition to become certified as a Holistic Health Coach (which was only the beginning of this wellness journey) and learned that my endless search for validation and joy outside of myself was futile. I discovered that my repressed feelings had finally manifested into physical dis-ease.
I’ve been practicing yoga since 1999, but it wasn’t until I decided to join a studio in New York City and practice consistently with support that I really began seeing tangible results in my mindset and how I felt in my body. I decided to commit to slowing down, so I joined a relaxed yoga studio (shout out to Tara Stiles and Mike Taylor from Strala); one where there were no rigid rules or any religious dogma, not even a specific “style” or lineage of yoga, which worked best for me. I also started practicing meditation at home in small increments (which, by the way, was almost impossible at first. I could hardly sit for 60 seconds without getting irritated and fidgety). Slowing down helped me feel more peaceful, my bad temper began to shift into less reactivity (yes, I started to actually CHILL OUT and not immediately open my mouth or fight back if confronted with a challenge) and the gentle, lower-impact workouts were finally allowing my body to lose the remaining stubborn weight naturally because my cortisol levels were no longer sky high. Little by little I started feeling better. My meditation practice brought up a lot of stuff I’d been ignoring, like no job satisfaction despite a title and healthy salary and the lack of passion in my life, which at first was confronting and then led me to make a huge lifestyle shift, including relocating.
Shortly before graduating from IIN, I decided to take a huge leap of faith to follow my heart. I quit my job in New York City, moved to Miami and started a career in the corporate wellness industry. I wanted to help people have similar realizations that their well-being isn’t just about food and exercise and that with a mindfulness practice, you actually rewire your brain to react in new, healthier ways and, in turn, make healthier choices without having to think about it so much. You form new habits through this self-awareness. By learning to trust and receive, I didn’t have to “hustle” like I used to do. My entire approach shifted. I started to understand the balance of giving and receiving more equally and that by allowing more flow in my life (which for this type A/former control freak took a ton of practice), things came to me much easier. Eventually I left the corporate world and my marriage to start my own online business and a new life on my own. My skin cleared up. My weight normalized. The health issues dissipated. As I released the burdens in my mind and in my heart, the body followed on its own.
My life is by no means perfect now, but it’s a massive improvement from how I felt in New York. Mindfulness is still a daily practice. Even now, when I experience conflict or occasionally have a flare up of fiery emotions and my skin or body reacts (and it does because I’m human), I have the self-awareness to ask myself the right questions and address the core issue. I also know to sit my ass down, close my eyes and BREATHE. The biggest lesson I’ve learned over the last decade since incorporating these techniques is to continue loving and accepting myself no matter how I look or what’s happening in my external world. Happiness isn’t outside of us; it’s something we have to acknowledge within.
My mission in creating The Sanctuary, a monthly mindfulness membership, is to provide an easy, relaxed and accessible way (in 30 minutes or less) to practice gentle techniques like guided meditation, breathwork and mindful movement from the comfort of your own home and in a no-judgment, dogma-free zone. No pressure – just you and an open heart and mind!
My desire is to have as many people as possible experience how incorporating meditation and mindful movement into your day, even in very small increments like a five minute practice, has the potential to dramatically shift your reality into one you actually enjoy and that allows you to thrive without all the stress and burnout.
A daily mindfulness practice changed my life and I hope it will do the same for you.
With gratitude and honored to be your guide,