5. SHADOWBANNED

It’s been a while since I’ve spilled my thoughts into this space. I’ve been journaling regularly, filling up pages and pages of my inner world. Traveling light makes it challenging to carry around notebooks, but there is something so cathartic about putting pen to paper.

A few days ago, I was, what’s called, ‘shadow banned,’ from Instagram.

I have been growing my audience, aka you beautiful souls that have found me, for the last, almost, 5 years, without partaking in the enticing lure of purchasing followers.

I am not interested in a number on a page, I am interested in connecting with real humans who are equally as interested in connecting with me.

A few days ago, a ‘likes agency’ was attempting to get me to buy into their services of ‘real likes and followers’ and to entice me, they went ahead and did a test run, applying a bunch of fake likes onto one of my recent photos.

The next day, upon opening the instagram app, I was alerted that my account was now shadow banned for the next 3 days.

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First of all, I didn’t realize how many photos I want to double-tap and give my love and support to now that I can’t and secondly I am receiving this as a gentle nudge from the universe that Instagram is NOT the end all, be all.

Instagram is a tool. It is a visual diary. A method to connect with people all over the world.

I have discovered new brands, hotels, cafes and even made new friends all over the world with Instagram.

Instead of taking this personally, playing the victim, and feeling sorry for myself, I realized how much I do have to offer, and how much I am giving away for free. I am not valuing myself or my worth by putting all of my time and energy into Instagram.

Recently, I have decided to take a leap, and make a (rather large) investment into myself - creating a platform outside of instagram where we can get very personal. A space not owned by any corporation where I can share full length yoga classes, guided meditations, podcasts, journal prompts and so much more. (THIS IS JUST THE BEGINNING OF SOMETHING SCARY AND EXCITING AND WHEN I THINK OF IT, I GET A WHOLE BODY YES!!)

What I am taking away from this experience is that Instagram is not life. It is one channel that has greatly helped me get to where I am, but it is now time to expand myself in new and great ways where I can impact people in a more personal and intimate way.

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I always appreciate your love and support, and it means the world to me that you have taken the time to dive into my mind.

Thank you for participating in this community and allowing me to share my thoughts with you all.

Remember - you are so much more than likes on a photo, or how many followers you have.

You ARE valuable and incredibly important.

& I love you!

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4. ME TOO | NEVER AGAIN

[OCTOBER, 2017]

It's been about a week since I first saw the #MeToo hashtag on Facebook. Once I saw it, I knew I had to write this out to you all, something I never imagined myself being able to share.

This is not a story of self-pity, and I don't want yours either. This is a story of perseverance. Of the power in forgiveness and letting go. This is a movement of solidarity. We are re-writing the ending of what feels like a never ending tale of female repression. We will not take it any more. We are standing up. We are speaking out. #NeverAgain.

I can remember being harassed as young as 11 years old, walking to town, avoiding cat calls from suspicious older men. Keeping my eyes down, and tugging at my shirt so as not to attract any extra attention. 

I had a boyfriend who would use my body at his disposal, regardless of if he had my consent or not. I was desperate for his approval and love. I thought I had to give myself away. 

I even had a boss, in a yoga studio no less, who would send me vile text messages late at night, and threaten me, reminding me that he was the one signing my checks, and if I didn't do as he said, that I would have no chance finding another job. That no one else in this town would hire me or ever take me seriously. 

But the story I'm about to share was the worst of all, and I swear to you, nothing like this will ever happen to me again. 

I was 20 years old, and I had just moved to Costa Rica. I had a few friends at this point, and we decided to go out one night to the local bar, Coco Loco. Ruby was from the Dominican Republic, she was about 10 years older than me, and spoke in broken english, but we forged a friendship. After a few drinks, and some dancing, two guys came up to us. Locals.  One of them said that he owned the bar next door, and invited us for a drink. Being young, and naive, we agreed. After all, I had Ruby with me, I had been there before, I was not drunk and knew how to get home and how to say no. What could go wrong?

The last thing I remember (thank God) is having that one drink at 'his' bar. 

The next morning, I regained consciousness by having a stranger, a disgusting stranger, forcing himself inside of me. I couldn't move my body. I was limp, desperately hoping I was stuck in a far too realistic nightmare. 

I had no idea where I was, or how I got there, but I was completely naked, and completely terrified. 

Once I regained some control over myself, and realized what was happening, I screamed, only to have him shove his hand over my mouth. He threw my clothes at me, as I rushed to get dressed. I tried to walk towards the front door, but he quickly redirected me out the back, where I had to crawl through the dirt under a fence to get away. I later learned that the bar was actually owned by his girlfriend, and he had brought me back to her house. 

I had to walk through town to get home that morning. There was no way I could process what just happened. I threw away that memory, burned it, denied it, and held my head high until I got home and cried in the shower for what felt like hours. 

It took me 4 years until I could even face that memory, I had shoved it down so deeply. It took me another year to be able to tell one person, my best friend. And another year to begin the healing process I would need to go through to finally let this go, and be free. 

Its been almost 6 years since this happened, and only until a few months ago, I have allowed this shame to live inside of me. At this time, I have forgiven myself. I have forgiven him. I have truly let this go. 

Why am I sharing this? Not for your sorrow. Do not remember me for an event that took place 6 year ago. Remember me for the strength I have found to not only move on, but to prosper and thrive. 

I am sharing this to remind you that YOU are NOT alone. And you do NOT have to be ANYONES victim. You have support. We are here for each other. It IS possible to overcome tragedy, no matter how random, or how horrible. 

Find forgiveness, not to justify anyone else's behavior, but to find peace for yourself. 

Let go of the pain, the rage, the tragedy. Write a letter and burn it. Throw paint on a canvas. Run until your legs shake. Punch a pillow and scream into it!!! Do anything and everything you can to get it out of you. Holding on only makes the pain worse, it will fester and rot. Talk to people who love you. They will not judge you. I know, because saying it out loud was one of the hardest things I've ever done. 

I will not allow this to define me. I will not allow this to take away from who I am. 

I am allowing myself to be vulnerable now, to show you that no matter what happens, or who ever tries to stop you from being your beautiful, glorious self, nothing and no one ever can without your permission. You get to decide from here on out. 

I love you. I love you. I love you. 

If you or anyone you know has suffered from sexual assault, there is help. Start here. 



3. GET OVER YOURSELF, I SAID TO MYSELF

[NOVEMBER, 2017]

My favorite thing about mornings is how much potential there is for the rest of the day. What you do in the first few hours can set the tone for the entire rest of the day. Its exciting! And personally, I’m always much more motivated to do all the positive reinforcing things in the AM. 

I woke up at 7, and played in the warmth of the bed + Bodhi for about 30 minutes until I convinced myself to stop hitting ‘snooze’ and slipped out of bed. I headed into the kitchen to make some matcha, which I was extra excited about because instead of using the same unsweetened vanilla almond milk that I usually use, I used this cacao, cinnamon, mama superfood almond milk deliciousness. It was quite a magical potion. Pleased with my culinary abilities, I made my way into our office where I have a meditation area set up. I wrote in my gratitude journal. I even wrote out my affirmations 20 times over. You know, trying to reprogram my subconscious mind and all that. I opened 1 Giant Mind, the app I use to meditate, and indulged in a 20 minute long state of bliss. 

I was so proud of myself for getting out of bed and taking all of the wonderful steps to ensure I had an even more wonderful day. And then I opened my computer. My inbox to be exact. I received an email that just sent me off the rails. It wasn’t even that bad, but I had such a specific expectation that it felt like such a let down. 

Immediately, my inner critic started to speak up. Her harrowing voice started to point out all of the people who were achieving greater success at a faster rate than me. This grim little voice started to remind me of all the things that were going wrong. Judgement. Comparison. She feeds off of these emotions and reactions. 

It was like all of a sudden, I felt like my whole life was worth nothing. “What’s the point?” Thats all I could hear. That question repeating over and over in my mind. It was like I was being hypnotized. 

I started to attract ‘bad luck.’ I was expecting the day to turn against me, and it was! 

An appointment took much longer than it should have, causing me to be late for an event. My lyft driver passed me twice, and I couldn’t get a hold of him to actually stop and let me in the car, and I was just heated! 

Stupid, silly, overdramatic, negative, downward spiral. Ever had one? Even if nothing is seemingly ‘wrong’ on the outside, it can feel like a debilitating tornado. Even if you are aware that your reactions aren't helping, and you don’t even want to be feeling that way in the first place, it can be hard to S T O P. and reset. But hard doesn’t mean impossible. 

Gratitude is the most effective practice that helps me reset my frequency. 

I realize the word ‘frequency’ might freak some people out, but everything is energy. We are emitting a frequency and its either positive or negative. Our thoughts & beliefs are largely responsible for the experiences we have that shape our reality. When we are in a negative thought cycle, it is hard to see or experience positive things in life. The trick is to become aware of and responsible for the energy you are putting out there. Once you are aware, you have the ability to make conscious decisions, otherwise, you’re allowing yourself to be a victim of circumstance. 

Sure, it can feel scary to take responsibility of your self. Your thoughts, emotions, actions, reactions. Maybe you’ve convinced yourself that it’s ‘easier’ to blame others, or any outside source for the unfortunate things we go through. Actually, once you’ve learned the tools to truly & deliberately select your thoughts, it is much more freeing and nearly impossible to go back to that old and limited way of thinking. 

Like I alluded to earlier, the practice of gratitude is what makes this all happen for me. 

It feels forced and annoying at first. But I do it anyways. 

“I am grateful to have woken up today.” “I am grateful for my healthy body.” “I am grateful to feel the warmth of the sun.” 

After a few, these phrases begin to feel more natural. I start to feel my spirits lift. 

It is impossible to experience gratitude and judgement at the same time. It is possible to make a change in the direction of your experiences. 

My whole day turned around. I put myself in the mindset of love, gratitude and abundance, and that’s exactly what began to show up. 

So if you ever catch yourself feeling like its one of those days, take a moment to S T O P. Take a step back. Take a breath. Remind yourself of all of the good, wonderful, exciting, sparkly things that are in and around you. Express your gratitude. Write it down, say it out loud, or just think it in your mind. 

Don’t worry, you’re not alone, and you are so much more capable than you might give yourself credit for. 

Love, 

Miki Ash 

2. LETS GET REAL

[AUGUST, 2017]

I slipped into a dark place yesterday. It started with a small thought that quickly escalated into a full blown takeover by some evil force that we can refer to as the ego. 

I began my morning on what I thought was a great start, despite having not slept well and woken up too early. I kept my phone on airplane mode, put in my headphones and meditated. Sometimes my mediations are rocky. I feel like my mind is doing everything it can to take me out of the present moment. Trickery. 

And then I opened Instagram.

While I usually find great joy and inspiration as I scroll through my feed, all of a sudden I felt small. Unimportant. Invisible. 

I started comparing myself to others. Thoughts like, "why do they have more followers than me, when they're posting that?" or "Why do I even put so much time and effort into Instagram when no one cares (about me)" and so on,  started to rear their ugly heads into my headspace. 

And instead of shutting them down, and reminding myself that my worth does not depend on how many followers I have, I let myself drown in self-pity. (woe is me)

I'm not good enough. I'm not beautiful enough. I'm not skinny enough. I'm not worthy of success or fame. No one cares about me. I should just give up. 

Have you ever had thoughts like these?

They're miserable. They're all encompassing. And it can be really hard to let. them. go.

But really hard doesn't mean impossible. 

With the help of my (very kind, very grounding) boyfriend, Milo, I dissected each thought and addressed it with a question. 

IS THIS TRUE?

I'm so fortunate to receive such kind messages from you all reminding me that what I am doing/creating/sharing DOES have value. I do make a difference, even if it doesn't translate to having millions of followers on Instagram. (for now)

My goal is to create a shift - a paradigm shift - one that allows us ALL to deeply realize that we are all made up of such divinity that we can create anything in this life. We are connected, not separate. We are not lacking in anything. We are whole. We are the essence of God in physical form. We are here to play and connect and adventure and explore. Not to compare and criticize and judge. We are not here to live a life that is based in fear. We are here to love. Each other and ourselves. 

It can be challenging to remain unaffected by those sneaky negative thoughts. Those thoughts of comparison that rob our joy of all that we are. Those thoughts of judgement stealing away how perfect we already are. Those thoughts are not real. They might feel real, and they might feel powerful, but I promise you, they are not. And they only have the power we give them. 

So next time you become aware of these thoughts, (you can always check in by asking yourself how you FEEL), I challenge you to take a step back. Ask yourself if this thought is true. Ask yourself if this thought makes you feel heavy, or if it makes you feel lighter. If it makes you feel heavy, LET IT GO. Replace it with a thought that makes you feel good. Gratitude is an excellent place to start. Cant think of anything to be grateful for? How about for this day. For the fact that you woke up. That you can breathe and see and give love. Start small. Gratitude for the clothes on your back. We are all so blessed. And we have an opportunity to heal.

Lets use social media as a catalyst for love and for growth. Instead of creating competition, or being riddled with jealousy, look for love. Be kind for no reason. Give yourself a hug. Smile!

You are alive. Share love as much as you possibly can. With everyone you meet.

Especially yourself.