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YAF in the News: The tools of Yoga Being Used to Help with Anxiety this Election Cycle

YAF in the News: The tools of Yoga Being Used to Help with Anxiety this Election Cycle

Check out this article in Chicago Tribune by Kate Thayer on a way to know the tools of yoga are being used to ease our troubled thoughts and moods during this cycle of politics and elections. Laura Jane Mellencamp and Ann Walther contributed.


With political angst running high as midterms approach, voters on both sides worry: What if things don't go my way?

People on both sides of the political spectrum describe feelings of angst as the midterm elections approach. While Democrats are still reeling from Trump’s victory, those who are more conservative say they still recall a long eight years of feeling unrepresented under President Barack Obama.

Laura Jane Mellencamp said she often hears from her students about their reaction to the political divisiveness of the country. The political climate has people riled up, she said, and looking to her to help calm their nerves. Attendance is up at Mellencamp’s studio, Yoga Among Friends, in Downers Grove.

“They are coming in with great sadness or anxiety … to the point where I see people having more migraines or stomach disorders,” she said. “It’s definitely affecting people’s well-being.”

Read the full article>>

Our world needs all of us to join in loving kindness and to forgive ourselves for learning wrong.

Our world needs all of us to join in loving kindness and to forgive ourselves for learning wrong.

Our world needs all of us to join in loving kindness and to forgive ourselves for learning wrong.

This past week has been one of incredible sadness for the state of mind acting out in violence. As a teacher, mother, and friend of many, I make the effort to be living in a state of consciousness where I am fully awake to the witness of my thoughts. I am asking my little self, “Is that thought bringing you into a better place of ease or is that thought colluding with the worry and fear of what your eyes are seeing?”

My outer self is being bombarded with profound images and sounds of hatred, provoked by the extremes of radical thought. It is taking greater effort to come back and delink from my reactive habit of presenting anger and rage. I am hurting deeply. 

The pain I feel is immense, and yet I am also holding amazing love and compassion for all beings as I am experiencing their pain. We are all in this together! While I want to separate and judge, I need to be fully engaged in the world and take part in my daily roles. I cannot go live in a cave and isolate. 

I am living a path of Karma yoga in service to the life I have been given. I just have to make choices and it starts with my thoughts. From every thought I have, I move into sound and action. I ask myself, “Is this thought leading me in better direction or am I only feeding the small mind of ego wanting to be righteous and react with unkind tones?” 

Habits of behavior are learned. If I continue to feed the mind that is afraid, I only resist LIFE. I fall into life daily with my practice and yet the outcome in not mine. I want a place that feels alive with a radiant sense of belonging. We all want to be seen, feel valued, and be honored as human beings. In a world today where we separate and judge ourselves on the outcome, we rate our effort "not good enough" if it isn’t  seen. We value the product the winner, and the loser is the one without the stuff of material worth or without a personal relationship.  


I want a shirt that has a huge “L” imprinted on the front. I am claiming that letter as my true self; it stands for love, laughter, light, LIFE! Let's choose the word that arises from the right thought and be the action of that which moves the heart forward. 

Our world needs all of us to join in loving kindness and to forgive ourselves for learning wrong. I invite you to chant, sing, write poetry, breathe into the right brain, and activate the space that cultivates consciousness, the space of awareness and love. I invite you to practice being awkward to the intellect of the left brain and begin to live life in a mind balanced between intellect and your greater intelligence. This is the gift of being present.

In a time of turmoil and unrest, practice daily coming back to stillness. As winter's darkness approaches, make a commitment to light your inner candle and feel the grace of the illuminated Self expand and send that vibrational tone by chanting OM. As Gandhi would say, “Be the change, you want to see in the world”. 

Hope is not in the intellect, for it will judge and argue until I find myself spinning down the drain of despair. I will simply thank my mind for the thought and not engage to change it. Instead I invite my awareness of the thought (or emotion) into my practice by thanking it and then immediately choosing to feel the opposite as a somatic experience. 

When you place the mind into the body with the breath (or touch or sound or mantra), you begin to feel the sensory sensation of being present. Your heart expands and becomes fuller, and you experience your true self resting in the heart. Try it. From this place of aliveness, begin your day being truly SEEN. 


Laura Jane

The Language of the Soft Heart

The Language of the Soft Heart

The Language of the Soft Heart

Who are you? Never mind all your fears and insecurities, or all the things you have or would like to have. Forget that you want to be a better person. I don’t want to know your gender, nationality, age, family situation, ethnic background, and certainty not what you do for a living or your political views.

My question is this: what is your true nature? Do you ever ask yourself? Do you use the tools of yoga to ever practice exploring this question?

I’m not asking who you believe yourself to be or how you think other’s see you, but rather what you experience in those moments when you are not caught up in your wants and fears. What do you rely on to give meaning to your life?

These are hard yet essential questions for those who wish to consciously experience life’s fullness. I am always telling myself, Laura Jane, you are NOT your thoughts!

The veil of distraction is filled with wanting what I like and rejecting what I don’t like—the push and pull of life in my little mind. I struggle to remind myself that I am not my history. My habits do not define me as my true self. It is my heart that must find its true path.

Going inward is at times painful, and I do everything to distract myself with the outer world of my addiction to those “shiny objects” of attachment.

I must remind myself always that my practice is not to get anything, but to constantly be willing to let go, soften my heart, and breathe into that which has no form but offers a quality of spaciousness, expansion, lightness and ease. Only then, does the tension drop, and something is revealed in a way my intellect cannot conceive nor understand—the intelligence of “knowing” is felt.


Life is experienced as sensation as I sit in a stillness. I am more than my thoughts; there is a softness in my heart. The heaviness of worry and doubt are lifted, and I feel the flow of life—pure aliveness. I am this; this light of love! Yoga offers us the pathway back to our true nature. In sanskrit this is called the purusha. I call it, my soul. 

By coming to my yoga mat, I am telling my little mind that now we are beginning the journey inward, and I must practice reminding myself that the outer world can wait. It is desire to live in this consciousness of balance that inspires love. I am not here to win, to prove myself better than, or even judge myself as less than. I am only here to shine.

We are all given this beautiful life, and let’s remember to be kinder, gentler, and more forgiving to ourselves. Be willing to find who you truly are on this journey of living. Be courageous, be authentic, and be the language of a soft heart! 

This coming winter, I invite you to join me on the journey back to Prana Del Mar in Cabo, Mexico, my spiritual home, as a way of remembering and reconnecting to one’s true self. I will support you where you are, and I will offer you a safe place to be seen for who you truly are.


Laura Jane