Episode 2: Too busy for wellness? Try this.

Do you ever feel too busy to make time for your health and wellness? You may have a planner, schedule, and a million appointments. You’ve organized your life around boxes of time, delegating tasks, and trying to “do it all.” But what would happen if you took a step back and looked at time management from a different perspective? How much better would you feel if you made simple shifts in your thinking and planning that prioritize wellness?

You deserve wellness and getting started today is easier than you think.

Our guest, Jessica Melville, proves that wellness is accessible for everyone.  Check out what she’s got going on; she is a single mom to five kids; is in nursing school; she teaches yoga to adults and to children with special needs; she also runs Heartbeat for Downs, an organization that delivers care packages to families of children with Down syndrome who are in the hospital. Her eldest daughter, beautiful brown-haired Jaylin, has Down syndrome. Jessica manages all of this with joy, grace, and lots of heart-laughter.

Here are Jessica’s simple tips to upgrade your wellness without busting a hole in your time management:

1. Keep it simple! Start with one deep breath. Step outside for a moment, take one deep breath, then return to your life. Boom, done.

2. Keep it short. Start with a simple daily practice like laying down on a yoga mat or making yourself comfy in a chair. Put on a piece of relaxing music and for five minutes give yourself permission to just listen and enjoy the music. If your mind wanders, just bring it back to listening to the relaxing music.  You’ll come back into your day refreshed and better able to handle stress and challenges. Mat + Music=ahhhhh

3. Practice positive thoughts. Remember that you are already enough! Give yourself practices to do that help you remember this; oh, like, maybe #1 and #2 from above! Or take a deep breath in and on the exhale think or say, “I am enough.” Repeat this just five times and let the positive message absorb. Reset your neural pathways with positive messages of health and wellness. The underlying messages that sit in your subconscious mind are the messages that dictate how you will respond to stress. Make your mind your best friend!

You’re never going to eliminate stress, but you absolutely can control your baseline level of relaxation and your response to stressful situations. You now have three easy things you can do right away, get practicing! 

Om shanthi, peace to you,


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Full transcript:

Gita: Hey everyone. Welcome to the Gita Brown Show, bringing harmony into everyday life. Get inspired with practical tips for your creativity and spirit. If you're a musician, an artist, a writer, or just a creative soul, you have found your source for guidance and inspiration. I'm Gita. I'm so happy that you're here with me today. I help creative people from all walks of life understand how to develop a holistic lifestyle, so that they can live peaceful, healthy and vibrant lives.

So welcome to today's show. Today we are going to keep it a little bit real. Have you ever said to yourself, or your friends, or your family, "I'm too busy to meditate"? "I'm too busy to do yoga." "I'm too busy to take a walk." "I'm too busy to cook." "I'm too busy to this, to that, to this, to that." Have you ever used that as an excuse for achieving your personal best? I say it. In fact I probably might have even said that last week. "I'm too busy to meditate today." And then I caught myself and I brought myself back to reality. So it's easy for me to sit here as a yoga teacher, and I've been doing yoga for 30 years, to kind of sound a little bit ... what's the word? Preachy, maybe? You should meditate every day. You should really take a walk. You should do this. You should do that. So I thought I would be bringing someone on today who is fantastic at keeping it real. Today's guest has said to me, "Yoga saved my life.”

But there's more to the story than that. She's also a single mom to five children. One of whom has special needs. And I have personally been blessed to watch her change her life over the years and integrate simple things into her everyday life that over the course of years, nine years now it's been, has changed her life for the better and that of her family for the better. So we're going to give you lots of like practical, actionable, accessible tips for how you can start to do those things that you know are going to fill you with vibrancy. It might be yoga. It might be meditation. It might be taking a walk. It might be going to your place of worship more. Whatever it is, I know you're going to find my guest is inspiring as I do and you know that we're going to give you lots of practical tips for how you can start improving your life today. So, you're going to meet her after a really quick break. Make sure to grab a notebook, a cup of tea. Cozy up because you're just going to fall in love with my next guest, Jessica Melville. 

So quick break and I'll see you on the other side for our segment with Jess.

Hey friends, this is the Gita Brown Show, bringing harmony into everyday life. Find me online at gitabrown.com, and YouTube at Gita Brown. Also on social, Twitter, Facebook and Instagram at GitaCBrown. See you there!

Hello my friends. Welcome back. So, I'm going to introduce you now to Jessica Melville. I actually have to read this woman's bio because she's so powerful, I can't even remember it all even though she's one of my dearest friends. So, Jessica Melville is a single mom to five amazing daughters, one of whom has Down syndrome, her oldest, Jaylin that we'll be talking about in a bit. She's also a nursing student. Pause for effect. Five kids and a nursing student. She is the founder of Heartbeats for Down syndrome, an organization that delivers care packages to families of children with Down syndrome who are in the hospital. If that wasn't enough she is also the South Shore Buddy Walk organizer which is a yearly event. Actually, that's where we met. That's a yearly event that's designed to raise awareness for Down syndrome, and I believe you do raise some money for Heartbeats for Down syndrome there as well.

Jessica: Yes

Gita: So, aren't you amazed already? And in the midst of all this, she finds time in her very, very busy, full, sometimes a little bit chaotic days to keep her peace, to keep her spiritual practices going, which I know for you is yoga. You also have a very strong faith in the Catholic tradition. And also to just exude joy and love wherever she goes. And what I love about Jess is that she keeps it real. There's no artifice here, and she's really good at breaking down how to make wellness more accessible. So, I just want to tell you a teeny bit about how I met this beautiful lady, and then hear a lot more from her.

So, I met you when I first moved here to Massachusetts and I began teaching her daughter, Jaylin, yoga for the special child ... oh, I forgot that too. You're also a licensed yoga for the Special Child practitioner, and she's also a registered yoga teacher. Okay. I told you I had to read her bio because it's so long. You do so much. So, when I met this lovely lady, I began teaching her daughter. And the very first class, we usually bring the parent in and sort of talk to them before we meet the kid. So you came into my home studio. She sat on the floor and we started talking. And so, I come from a lineage of yoga and now you do too that is very accessible and that is very, very much tied to the concept of yoga being a holistic lifestyle system.

Some of you folks listening right now might be thinking of yoga as something more just like a bunch of poses that you do or stretching or exercise. The tradition we come from emphasizes a lot of meditation, selfless service, concentration. The yoga poses are part of it, but we also chant. We read lots of books. So it's really like a comprehensive lifestyle system. So I looked at this beautiful, radiant mother and then I met her beautiful child and I thought, "How can I help her to uncover who she really is? How can I show her ways into yoga that's not just about sitting on a yoga mat and doing a bunch of poses, but really integrating it into her everyday life." So your very first homework that you got, I don't even know if you remember it, but it doesn't matter ...

It's not a test. But I looked at her, I said, "Hey, how about this? How about when your daughter gets off the bus and she comes to you, you give her a big hug and you just take one deep breath." Doesn't that sound easy everyone out there? Don't you think you could do that? Doesn't that maybe change the way you think about yoga a little bit if you think, "What if I just took one deep breath every day, I could call myself a yoga student"? They can, can't they?

Jessica: They sure can.

Gita: They sure can. And that's where you started, and I think from that one breath now I look at this beautiful yoga teacher in front of me who's so calm and composed. So, tell our people a little bit. What was it like for you when you first started doing yoga? Did you think you could do it? Did you think when you brought your daughter it was going to be something that was accessible for a busy, young mom like yourself?

Jessica: No. I didn't at first. I think bringing her in, it was going to be something just for her to help her be more comfortable in her own body. And along that path, it was really for me, because she is comfortable with who she is and I wasn't. So she is ... our children usually do teach us more about ourselves. And kids with special needs, when you go to anything to help them, there's a lot to it. There's props. Then there's appointments. And yoga's just like undoing all of that. So, it's amazing but it's really hard to break things down into something more simple.

Gita: Wow. I think you said a couple things there that really strike me. One is that kids already are who they are. They're already fine. And I would argue that you're already fine. Dan in the booth over there is fine. You out there listening, you are already fine and awesome as you are. There's no need to change anything. And I think that's what yoga does for a lot of us and why people sort of fall in love with it and start preaching about it because it's sort of, as you said, it undoes all of the conditioning and all of the stories we tell ourselves about why we can't have health and wellness for ourselves.

And again, today's episode is all about breaking down those excuses. I'm too busy. I don't have time. I'm too this. I'm too old. I'm too heavy. I'm too this. I'm too that. To be healthy, to be well. And so undoing all of that does take work.

Gita: It does take work. So, what did you start doing initially? Like before you ever went to your first yoga training and got all official with it? What are just like some little things you started noticing now you look back on you're like, "Wow. There were the seeds of it every day that I started making these little tiny shifts”?

Jessica: It was just learning how to acknowledge the breath. It was so important and such a big change. Being overwhelmed and stepping outside and just looking for something to feel grateful for. The sky, or flowers, or not hearing anybody crying at me. And really learning that those hugs, I forgot that was a homework. But I do it every day still. For all of them. And it has changed me, but you forget those things. Those starting moments. It becomes so much more than that.

Gita: Well, I think it becomes what is so difficult at first, taking those first steps towards health and wellness, it feels like overwhelming. But then you look back years later, you're like, "Oh, it's become so automatic, I don't even notice I do it anymore." And so I want to encourage anyone who's listening, we have all started there. We've all felt like either a failure or not good enough or it's not for me, or I'm going to do it and it's not going to work. But if you just do those small little things daily, step outside, look at the sky, be grateful, take a deep breath, and then go back into the chaos, how much things can shift for you.

Could you talk a little bit about ... So you had how many kids when I met you? Is it three then and then you were pregnant, and then you pregnant again? So I think it was three.

Jessica: Yes. It was three.

Gita: It was three. We started with three. And I kept looking at her, oh, there we go again. Oh, there we go again. And they are all beautiful and they're all very strong. That's a whole lot of estrogen in one house. Six ladies. So, what was it like then ... Okay, so then you go through. You've taken some deep breaths. You're like, "Wow, this yoga stuff is changing my child." You started taking a few classes, I think with me, right? We just started to do some one-on-one stuff?

Jessica: Yes. I did.

Gita: And things grew. Then you went and got all official and you took a yoga training in yoga for the Special Child. Which, for those of you who don't know, probably most of you, it's seven days at that point I believe. It was a seven day long program. Fully immersive. Eating together. Studying together. Doing the whole thing. You go to that. You come back. Now you're a teacher. And of course, like most of us who are starting off at the beginning of our wellness journey, we think we're all that. And we're going to come back and change the world. But then you came back into a household with all of those ladies. So what was that like in those first days when you said, "Okay, I'm going to set up something at home that I can do every day”?

Jessica: It was hard. Coming back from that training wasn't just the yoga practice. It was the fact that the place itself you couldn't have caffeine or meat and you couldn't just eat yogurt. You had to make your own yogurt. So coming home, I had all these aspirations of, okay I'm going to change everything. And I did change a lot of things. But it wasn't feasible to change everything. And the easiest things were the diet and going outside. But the hardest, hardest, hardest thing, even till this day is the meditation. Because it's okay to be doing asanas and you're moving and cooking in healthier ways. But to sit when there's so much you need to do? It can be painful.

Gita: It can be painful for everybody.

Jessica: But worth it.

Gita: I think it's so interesting that you say ... I want to back up to little one thing you said. This high aspiration thing we have. That's why I wanted you on because you keep it real, and I see you do this all the time. We build up this expectation in our mind that to either be healthier or to do yoga or someone listening or watching today might say, "I'd love to just start exercising more." Whatever it is, we build it up so big in our minds. Why do we do that?

Jessica: I don't know. I don't know.

Gita: We build it up so big, right? And then it becomes this unreasonable thing that then we can't do because there's no way. Well, I can't fit in the hour long walk, so why should I do it at all?

Jessica: Right. Right.

Gita: So what do you do when you're with a room full of people and you've just taught them a yoga class, and then they're like, "Oh, I want to do some of this stuff at home"? What do you do then? Because it's not reasonable to expect someone to do an hour of yoga at home or to take an hour long walk if they're just starting out.

Jessica: When they're first starting out or when they ask me, that first step is actually making the decision to even think about doing yoga. So when people say that, I say, "Just get a mat and just lay down on it.”

Gita: Oh, beautiful.

Jessica: Just become your mat's friend and that's all you have to do right now. And then when you can restore yourself on that mat, and you go to that mat like it's your friend and it's your safe place and you feel at peace where you feel more peaceful than you did, then you can start moving your body and seeing how it feels. You don't have to do an entire practice. You don't have to watch a YouTube video of somebody doing a headstand. You can just say, "Hey, I'm going to check out my feet. I'm going to check out my hands." And just scan your body. And then the practice will come slowly. In five minutes. Like that's it. Not an hour. Five minutes.

Gita: I love that. I'm now stealing that for my teacher's tool bag. Roll out your mat and lay down on it.

Jessica: Right?

Gita: I mean, that's like so keeping it real. Don't you love her already? She keeps it real! But that's so real because that is truly how we start, right? We don't automatically turn into pantheons of health and wellness over night. It takes a long time. You've been at this slow shift now, I think it's been nine years?

Jessica: Nine years.

Gita: Yeah. And I've been at it for 30. It takes a long time to undo all of our conditioning about why health and wellness isn't for us. It takes a long time to shift, if you're in a disease state, to a healthier state. So I love that. You all now have homework. I usually give it at the end. I'm giving some in the middle. If you don't have a yoga mat, it's fine. Lay down on the couch. Just lay down. Take a few deep breaths. And just relax for a couple of minutes. That's it. That's enough, don't you think? Wouldn't the world be a better place if everyone did that?

Jessica: Definitely. And it seems so simple but it's really so hard. Because you lay on the couch and then you pick up your phone, or you turn on the TV. And then you're done.

Gita: Yeah.

Jessica: But to just not do anything. Very simple. Very hard.

Gita: Very simple. As our teacher Sonia Sumar says, she's the founder of Yoga for the Special Child, "It's simple, but not easy.”

Jessica: Right. And there are no shortcuts.

Gita: There are no shortcuts. Which yeah, we're on the multi decades plan with the way that we roll with yoga where it's just slow and steady and it's more about tuning into who you really are, than about doing a big complicated yoga practice. And just to back up a little bit, so people know our style of yoga comes from Swami Satchidananda and the Integral Yoga tradition. So Swami Satchidananda came here and opened Woodstock in the 60s and his hippie children fell in love with him. Encouraged him to stay. He stayed and founded Integral Yoga, which now has three ashrams. San Francisco, India and Virginia. Centers all over the world. He taught our teacher, Sonia Sumar. She went on to found Yoga for the Special Child.

So we come from a very strong lineage based tradition of yoga that is comprehensive, right? It develops, as you said, the cooking and the thinking. Being grateful. All of those aspects. You're doing yoga right now.

Jessica: Right.

Gita: Because she's just sitting there being fully present. Okay. So, let's get really real. I want to hear just like what is it like to try and do yoga when there's five young ladies in the house. And what are their ages now? So your oldest, Jaylin is …

Jessica: 15.

Gita: 15. And then we have …

Jessica: Georgie's 13.

Gita: 13. Oh my gosh.

Jessica: Frankie's 11. Charlotte's nine. And Lucy's seven.

Gita: Okay. Everyone send her a little good energy right now. Holy energy.

Jessica: I need it teenagers.

Gita: Teenagers. Oh my gosh. And they're all strong and independent and all of that. So what is it actually like? Or actually, let's back up. What was it like when you first started to do something more formal in the house? Because that's what I hear from people all the time. There's no way. I have cats. I have dogs. I have this. I have that. I can't possibly roll out a yoga mat and lay down because everyone will find me and everyone will bother me.

Jessica: Right.

Gita: So keep it real. What do you do?

Jessica: Well the second you get on the floor, if anybody else in the house is awake, they're going to join you without a doubt. So to know that and to anticipate that happening, is easier than to think that you can have peace because you're not going. If you make that expectation that it's going to be peaceful, it's not

Gita: Let that expectation go.

Jessica: Right. But being on the floor and being at their level, especially when they're younger, it can be more play. Think of like one pose that you're going to do or two poses. You know if you go into down dog, they're going to go under you or maybe over you. But having them be comfortable with it as you're becoming comfortable with it, then one day you'll realize they stop bothering you because it just becomes background to them. And even still people ask me where I practice and thinking of studios or something organized. I'm like, "Well, usually my kitchen or my bathroom.”

Gita: My bathroom.

Jessica: That's where I can get peace. And if I have only five minutes and I have the space, then I'm going to move my body in ways that make me feel good so that I can go out and serve them better.

Gita: We have a new class. Bathroom yoga.

Jessica: It's totally a thing.

Gita: My mind is just spinning now. It's totally a ... Yeah. Bathroom yoga, hashtag it's totally a thing. You heard it here first.

Jessica: Well, for some people too, the kitchen's the biggest room in the house. So if you're making lunches-

Gita: Yes. It's usually pretty clean.

Jessica: ... or you're waiting for steps in between dinner, do three sun salutations. Boom. You're good.

Gita: Yeah. Sun salutations is 12 flowing poses. One connect to the other. If you don't know sun salutations, you can take a deep breath, right?

Jessica: Yes.

Gita: Yeah. No, I love that like yoga in the kitchen because it's right there. One friend I have, she said she takes her yoga mat and it's like right next to her bed. This was pre-kids with her. But she would put it right next to the bed because then when she would step out of the bed in the morning, her feet would hit the mat and it was like do something even for a minute. And even having that yoga mat sitting somewhere is a little visual cue. Like, oh yeah, I could do something right now instead of grabbing the phone and twittering away or whatever you're going to do. Take a moment and connect.

And what effect do you think it's had on your girls to see you doing that and changing and it becoming part of the lifestyle that you're taking such obvious care of yourself?

Jessica: It's had a big effect on them. And to be real, going through a horrible divorce and having the house be in such chaos and then being able to refocus and recenter and come back to each other in a loving way and to ourselves, and they all appreciate yoga so much more because they realize how much it helped me to come back to them so much quicker during those difficult times. So they don't fight it anymore. They used to fight it because it took time from them.

Gita: I remember that. Yeah. I remember they'd come over and some of them would even kind of look at me like, "I don't know what I think about this lady. I don't know how we feel about this." Like they kind of reject it. But the point is not for them to accept it, or for it even to become a thing for them, right?

Jessica: Right.

Gita: It's just for you to feel more peaceful and when you're more peaceful, it creates that harmony in the household even if you have a bunch of teenagers and hormones and all of that. Wow. That's so powerful. Are any of them into it for themselves? Do you catch them doing yoga? Like I see you.

Jessica: They do. But they'll call it more gymnastics or something else, and then I'll say, "Well yoga's been around for thousands of years. So no.”

Gita: We predate gymnastics.

Jessica: Even in nursing school, they're like, "This is nursing." No. It's yoga. Sorry.

Gita: We have a little bit of bias here for sure.

Jessica: Yes. But Lucy, my youngest, since she's had it her whole life because I started before I even had her.

Gita: Right.

Jessica: Then she's really become like a little yogi and she practices on her own a lot.

Gita: Wow. That's beautiful.

Jessica: Yeah.

Gita: Beautiful. Okay. So I'm just picturing right now someone's driving their car and listening to this, or they're at home and they're getting dinner ready and we're sort of playing off in the background. Smells good. What are you making? We'll be over. What would you tell them if they're sitting there and they're going, "Yeah, yeah. It's okay. She did it because she's clearly awesome." Right? She runs this nonprofit. She does this. She does that. She's a nursing student. Clearly, Jess is just amazing. What would you say to that woman or man right now who's going, "Yeah, yeah. That's for her. It still isn't for me." What would you say to them?

Jessica: I would first laugh because I don't feel that way. But I appreciate it. And they can even by turning down the radio, like right then and there, if they decide to take a breath, then they're already doing it. When they do something nice for somebody, it's already yoga. Like they already have that within them, so it doesn't take becoming somebody who does yoga. It's just recognizing that you're doing yoga.

Gita: Oh, I just got a little ... heart thing right there because that's it, right? That's exactly it is that. That we all think that we have to become something. We're sort of led with this. We have to become something. We have to be different. We have to be better. We have to be healthier. Be this. And we're always pushing and striving, when actually it is as simple as unroll the mat, lay down, and just tell yourself, "I'm already enough.”

Jessica: Right?

Gita: I already am that.

Jessica: It's true. And for those that are starting out doing yoga or decide they want to, please don't make it another exercise where you're pushing yourself to be better. Because if you show up and you're already enough, and you fake that until you understand it. And there's days that I don't do that either.

Gita: Oh yeah. All of us. Yeah.

Jessica: And to always even to recognize that when you're not being kind to yourself. Have yoga be something where you're always being kind and you're not hurting yourself because we do hurt ourselves a lot in so many other ways, or hurt others. Life is hard. Yoga doesn't have to be hard.

Gita: I love that. That's another quotable from today. Life is hard. Yoga does not have to be hard. I love your simple tips. One what I hear you said again and again is stop for a moment and take a breath. Stop for a moment and be grateful for what you have. And stop for a moment and remember that you're already enough. That you're already perfect. I think, that people, is your homework. That, and don't forget the earlier one, get a yoga mat. Roll it on out. Lay down. And rest for five minutes. But remember that you are enough. You already are perfect. And every time you take that little deep breath or that moment of gratitude, you're just remembering that you're already whole and perfect.

Gita: And the more you do that, the more you embody that like you do so beautifully, all the time. Even if you get pulled off that center, you can come back to it a lot more quickly. That's beautiful. You guys all have homework. Just be love and then you're doing yoga, and that's it.

Jessica: That's it.

Gita: Should we give them a little peace chant?

Jessica: Yes.

Gita: We're going to do a chant for peace now. I love to close every show with this. It's in Sanskrit, which is sort of the ancient language of yoga. Not sort of. It actually is the ancient language of yoga. Of course, I'm going to give you the English translation afterwards. And I just want to end with a little quote before the peace chant from a quote from my teacher, Sri Swami Satchidananda, that's a mouthful, but he says, "Do little things daily and you will be amazed at your progress over the years." Do little things daily. So pick one little thing to do today and do it. And let us know how it goes. So let's do a lokah for them three times and we'll give the English translation after.

Gita: Lokah samastah sukhino bhavantu 

Jessica:  Lokah samastah sukhino bhavantu

Gita: Which means may all of you and you, and you, and you, and you be filled with peace and joy, love and light. Om shanti my friends. If you liked this, please share it with someone you love. Spread the love. You can sign up over at my website for updates and lots of videos and more inspiration for you. Or you can follow me on social media at GitaCBrown, Instagram. What else is there? Twitter. Facebook. Let me know how it's going. Tell me what you did for your homework today. Send a little picture of your yoga mat. And maybe your kids crawling around on you while you're doing some yoga poses. Thank you all and a big thanks to my beautiful guest, Jessica Melville. Thank you for your inspiration.

Jessica: Thank you.

Gita: And your light. Om shanti everybody. Have a very peaceful day.

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