Ashley uses meditation to reduce RA symptoms

Meditation For Rheumatoid Arthritis Relief

We discuss how:
– Ashley developed Rheumatoid Arthritis in mid 2016
– Ashley’s Meditation has helped her and she now teaches meditation to help others
– Studies show that meditation reduces the symptoms of RA
– The parallels of meditation practice and Yoga
– Steroid injection can make you feel better, but wear off very quickly
– Ashley’s journey on Plaquenil, then on Methotrexate before finding the Paddison Program
– The Paddison Program gave Ashley immediate improvements
– How Ashley balances her diet, meditation and Yoga practice for symptom elimination
– Her plans to work her way off medication in time


Clint: Today, I’d like to welcome Ashley to the Paddison podcast. And Ashley is going to talk today about a couple of things. One, she’s going to talk about meditation because she’s a meditation expert, she practices regularly, and also holds meditation retreats and does one-on-one coaching for people. So she’s gonna talk about that.

But she also has the unique combination of being able to share the benefits from a point of view of rheumatoid arthritis because she, personally, has been battling with rheumatoid for the past year and a half and has recently introduced the Paddison program to her life and has had tremendous results to share with us as well. So this is gonna be a lot of wonderful information that we’re gonna learn from you, Ashley.

Ashley: Hopefully.

Clint: So which do you wanna talk about first? Would you like to share your progress with your health on our program or would you like to talk about meditation and how it’s been important in your life? And what would you like to do?

Ashley: I think let’s start with meditation because, that you know, sort of takes us back to the beginning of, you know, when I was first diagnosed and go…then go along the story that way.

Basically, so a year and a half ago, it was the beginning of last year, and I developed pain…it started in my feet and I thought it was just because I was spending a lot of time on my feet. And then, one day, it spread to my hands and I realized that, obviously, that was…no longer could be the reason. And then, very quickly, it spread to my whole body. And I think it happened within about four months.

And I was actually a personal trainer at the time. I used to help people develop exercise programs and lead group classes. I particularly focused on gymnastic skills and my hobbies included aerial arts which means that I was hanging from all sorts of different apparatus and always practicing my handstands and things like. So it was a huge shift for me to then, you know, within four months, be able to…be really struggling to even walk and just do basic things like, you know, cut my food and tie my own shoelaces and even dress myself. So that was a big…a really big shift for me.

But I had always used meditation with my present training clients. And I’m a wellness coach as well, so I always incorporated it into my sessions. And it was when I developed RA that I realized how important my meditation practice was because it was one of the main things that got me through. It was…and it really kept me strong, kept me positive.

And I remember sitting in…I’m based in London at the moment. So I was sitting in a hospital over here waiting to see a rheumatologist. And they give us surveys to fill out over here to monitor our quality of life because a lot of people struggle with depression when they’re diagnosed, etc. And I remember reading through the questionnaire and the questions being asked were things like, you know, “Do you ever wish that you were dead?” “Do you ever think that you would be better off if you weren’t here anymore?”

Clint: Wow.

Ashley: And these questions were so confronting and heartbreaking. And not because I felt that way because I didn’t and, you know, overwhelmingly, could respond to those questions with a big no. But just that anybody might not feel that way, you know. And that just really broke my heart. And I realized that, you know, the tools that I had developed over the years through my meditation, they were really what kept me strong. And I knew at that moment that I needed to share it with people.

So although I was, you know, pretty devastated to have to give up my personal training, I realized, you know, it kind of all led me into this place of becoming a meditation teacher. And so I deepened my own practice, I got myself qualified, and I’ve been teaching meditation ever since, so that was about a year ago now, and it’s been incredibly rewarding. And one of the main reasons I do it is to be able to help people who are also suffering from chronic pain. And, yes, is to do with RA a lot of the time, but it’s also, you know, a whole bunch of other issues as well. Lots of women come to me with endometriosis and things like that. So it’s been a great tool for me and I’m so, so delighted that I’m able to share that with other people. And that’s really what I feel like my whole purpose is.

Clint: Yeah. Fantastic. Well, let me sort of add to that from my experience with meditation and that of my wife, Melissa. So I started meditating, first of all, when I was about 17 or 18, which is very young for certainly a guy, 17 or 18. It’s not common.

Ashley: Yeah. Yeah. Definitely.

Clint: You know, it’s not considered to be trendy or cool. You know, most people at that age, they’re trying to find ways of getting illegal alcohol and not trying to meditate, right? But for me, my dad had given me a book that he swore by. And he said, “This is the book for success. This is a book for life.” And it’s a powerful book. And in it had the concept of meditation and being able to clear our mind and listening to our subconscious mind. So the book was written more for achievement of things that you wanted in life. It wasn’t directed towards holistic healing and it wasn’t the same purpose that you and I are talking about today. However, we know meditation has so many other purposes.

Ashley: Absolutely.

Clint: So when I eventually met my wife, Melissa, she has been meditating since she was three years old. And she studies meditation under a meditation expert, a worldwide famous meditation man from India, and his name is Sant Rajinder Singh. And she has a meditation sort of “master”, for want of a better word. That’s the word that the Indians comfortably use about their meditation experts. And so, I’ve attended meditation retreats with her and her families are very passionate about it.

So it’s certainly a part of our life. And in terms of our program, besides medication, we teach that there’s only four other real major categories where we can reduce pain. One is through foods, another exercise, the third is stress reduction, and then to a smaller extent, supplementation.

And so the third category, stress reduction, one of the greatest ways is through meditation. And so we’re really tuning in to one of our categories of pain reduction for the rest of this call.

Ashley: Absolutely.

Clint: So I just wanted to show, you know, you, and also for our audience, that it’s also been a part of my recovery and it’s also a part of our life. The Paddisons are big into meditation and, you know, we, this year again, will attend another meditation conference in Chicago.

Ashley: That’s great.

Clint: So, yeah, it’s a wonderful practice to put into our life. So tell us more about specifics. Can you give us, without leading us through one, because people who listen to our call are often at the gym on tread mills or on a bike or on their way to work.

Ashley: Okay. Fair enough.

Clint: Just give us a little bit of an insight into some of the approaches that one might use to do some meditation if they were just starting out?

Ashley: Definitely. So, I mean, I definitely specialize in helping people discover meditation for the first time, especially anyone who’s ever been skeptical about it before. I, basically, I was introduced to meditation when I was about 15 years old. As a teenager, I really struggled with my sleep. And so I heard that it could help and so my parents, you know, put me through these courses, etc. And it didn’t at the time, actually. It didn’t help at all. And I was a rebellious teenager and I wanted nothing to do with it. And I really struggled to follow, you know, the rules and, you know, I had an overactive mind and the idea of, you know, sitting there and trying to empty my mind was just, you know, the last thing on my list of priorities.

And I didn’t like the rigidness of it. I didn’t like the rules and I didn’t like that I had to sit, you know, in upright position with my back straight. So actually I wasn’t able to develop a meditation practice until a couple of years later when I just decided to do it, you know, on my own terms. So I started lying down when I meditated, which is a big no-no if you talk to any traditional teachers, but actually I encourage people to do it because I want you to be as comfortable as possible whatever that means to you, in whatever position it might be, wherever it is because when you’re first starting out, we just don’t want any distraction at all. You know, we want to be as focused as we can on the moment and we don’t wanna be thinking about how uncomfortable we are or how our back hurts, or, you know, how cold we are, etc.

So a big part of what I do is, especially when I work with people one-on-one, is I help them figure out what’s gonna work for them because at the end of the day, you need to look forward to your meditation practice if you’re gonna keep it up. When you start to think of it as, like, really tedious…you know, we all know like we’ve started that exercises program that was so grueling and we hated it and then within four weeks, you know, it was…we can play, like, kick it to the curb.

Clint: Totally.

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Ashley: So meditation is exactly the same. You know, we need to find a way of doing it that we like. There are loads of different styles out there. You know, give them all a go and see which one works for you.

My particular style is quite unique but it does focus heavily on mindfulness, which is basically, in a nutshell, present moment awareness. And this is why it’s something that’s so important for anyone struggling with any sort of chronic pain because when you’re focused on the present moment, you’re not thinking about the overwhelming, you know, like, “My life has changed because I’m in constant pain, I was in pain yesterday, I’m gonna be in pain tomorrow. I’m gonna be in pain for, you know, however long down the track.” All I’m thinking in this moment is the pain that I’m in right now…and that can sound really scary and confronting and it might be to start with, but it actually allows you to be, like, “Do you know what, yes, I can do this. Like, I can do this right now.” And then in the next moment, do the exact same thing as opposed to allowing the whole big picture of it to completely overwhelm you.

And so to start with, I focus on breath work. And it’s exactly as you were saying before, the purpose of the breath work that I do is to invoke the relaxation response, so the opposite to the stress response. And everything that we’re doing with meditation is allowing us to do that, putting us into that relaxed state, giving our body a break, because we put it through so much especially if we’ve got RA, especially if we’re on the medications that we’re taking. So it’s really a moment to reset, I like to say.

And when you’re doing that, they have done studies which show that it reduces inflammation, which is pretty amazing. And I never say to anybody, you know, “Oh, my meditation practice cured me of my arthritis.” Not at all. But it was absolutely monumental in helping me get through it. And I know that it makes a difference. I know how I feel when I haven’t meditated in a while. And it also, I think, stress, as you said, and sleep is also really linked to that. My meditation practice makes sure that I get a good sleep and makes sure that I’m not stressed out. And these are all the things that are helping my pain levels.

Clint: Yeah. With my science cap on, I have the studies that show that meditation has reduced the symptoms, clinically measured, people who have meditated each day versus those who do not meditate with specifically rheumatoid arthritis. But there’s one little additional piece of information that goes with that, which is that no results were seen until around about the three-month mark. So it’s one of these things that needs to be kept up and become a real practice. We need to develop a way of maintaining this over a period of time. And this is something, like you said before, it can’t be seen as a chore. And from a point of view of exercise, what I like to say to people is, “Look, if you don’t wanna exercise, the way to get motivated with exercise is to try and just beat what you did last time by 1%.” And so, start really easy, right? Start out…

Ashley: Yeah.

Clint: If you’re gonna do the exercise bike, do 30 seconds on it because no one can not go and do 30 seconds on an exercise bike. And then tomorrow, do 31 seconds, right? And it sounds so stupid and easy that anyone will say, “Okay. I’ll go and sit on my exercise bike for 30 seconds.” By the time you’ve started pedaling, you can stop, right? And then so on.

Now with meditation, the same thing can apply because we get motivated when we beat our record or whatever, right? Whatever tricks and tools we can apply to make our brain not object to doing it are very powerful. And so, you know, I used to do the same thing with meditation because I used to do, and still do, because, you know, the monkey brain, right, the conscious brain will sometimes come up with a thousand things that we should be doing the moment we say, “Okay, I’m gonna meditate.” It’s almost like our brain tries to cling on to its importance and it says, “No, because if you go and meditate, I won’t be needed for a little while and I don’t want that.” Because everything tries to have its own…you know?

Ashley: I like that. Yeah.

Clint: Everything tries to have its own place and legitimize its existence. And I think our conscious brain is just the same. “I do not wanna be shut off, I do not wanna be ignored while you meditate.” So, yeah, these are some good thoughts. And the gut bacteria, for another study point of view, also is improved through meditation. So I think that’s why they observe the improvements over three months for people who meditated. I think it’s actually just a cause and effect. I think the gut bacteria improved because of improved, you know, digestive strength and consequently, disease symptoms improved as well.

Ashley: Exactly. And that’s why they call…you know, they say that the stress response is like your “fight or flight” and then the relaxation response is “rest and digest.”

Clint: Rest and digest. Love it. Love it.

Ashley: Yeah. Exactly.

Clint: Okay. Hey, now, in our support forum, we’ve got a member called Hannah. Now, she has been getting…is off methotrexate now but she was getting off it forever, like, very, very slow taper. Not because she was having massive symptoms coming back but just because she followed my suggestions which was, “Go as slow as you can if you’re not having symptoms and your blood test is fine and everything. Just there’s no hurry, right? You’ve got the rest of your life to be drug-free. Take it real slow.” Anyway, she incorporated… Because of the challenges with finding the time and excuses we come up with meditation, she said that she just did three times a day for five minutes and it made a massive difference for her. So what would you suggest to people who find it…?

Ashley: Yeah. That’s a really big…there’s a lot of misconceptions surrounding meditation and it’s actually hugely intimidating for a lot of people when they first start. And I think one of them is that, you know, you need to sit in this lotus position for 20 minutes in the morning and 20 minutes in the evening. And actually that’s not realistic for most people. Majority of us, we are too busy. We’ve got too much going on in our lives, especially, you know, if you’ve got dependents, if you have a busy job, this seems completely intimidating.

Absolutely starting with five minutes a day is a perfect place to start, and even less than that. I would go, you know, how you were saying just do that and then keep increasing. I would suggest for anybody who’s not sure about it and is a little bit scared by the thought of meditating, start by when you wake up in the morning, take 10 conscious controlled breaths. That’s it. Do that, start your day like that, see how it affects the rest of your day. That’s it.

Then the next day or even the next week, if you want to, the next step would be to see how many times you can do that throughout your day. So start in the morning, take 10 breaths, and then see how many times you can stop and take, you know, five or ten breaths whether it’s while you’re waiting for the bus, whether it’s, you know, before a meeting, before you’re about to take an important phone call, any time that you can just stop and bring your attention to your breath, give your mind a rest because we’re always thinking about so many things, there’re a million things going on, for, you know, only 10 seconds, just allow yourself to focus solely on the sensation of breathing in and breathing out, and just start with that.

You know, your first two weeks is just bringing your awareness back to your breath as many times as you do this. And you’re gonna start to notice a difference in the way that you’re then reacting and, you know, even your communication skills and the way that you’re thinking about what’s going on around you. And that’s gonna encourage you to want to find out more. And then if you think that this is already making a difference just by stopping and breathing, okay, then, what will actually sitting for five minutes and meditating do?

And it’s quite exciting, you know, because you’re starting to notice these big changes, you’re starting to notice, you know, maybe your pain is not as bad or you’re not allowing it to affect you the way that it used to because I know for me, one of the biggest challenges was always being in pain and then becoming frustrated because of it, you know.

Clint: Totally.

Ashley: And because you’re not able to do things or, you know, you’re just sick of it. You know, you’re just fed up, you know, exhausted from being in pain all the time. And it puts you in a bad mood. And to be honest, you know, it can make us, not bad people, but it can definitely make us short. We can, you know, be aggravated very easily. So this is a huge tool to use to just stop, take a moment, and learn to respond to things instead of reacting to them.

Clint: Love it. So the great thing about that, too, is that it’s totally in-sync with the whole concept of yoga practice which we encourage everyone to do. In Bikram Yoga, you know, the whole emphasis is on just concentrate on the breath and so you get that mindfulness as you spoke about. I think that’s one of the great benefits of doing yoga, is that you are really trying to just concentrate on the breath. And so we’re getting it in our yoga class and we can get it at home.

And it’s amazing that, at least so far, with the different varieties of meditation that I have paid attention to, it’s all about the breath. Ultimately, it’s about stillness, not always, I guess, in yoga where, in Bikram, it talks about trying to find a moving meditation. But putting that aside, putting the yoga aside, now in the meditations, if you can apply all of your consciousness towards your breath, then that single point, that connection with your inner self is powerful at shutting out the other thoughts, isn’t it?

Ashley: Absolutely. I mean, that’s the whole reason that we meditate. And also, by the way, it’s the whole reason why it’s so confronting and scary for a lot of people because it’s just time to yourself, you know. It’s time where there’s no Instagram, there’s no Facebook there, there’s no friends to distract you. You have to stop and just be alone. And for a lot of us, that’s really hard. A lot of us, it’s really difficult to, you know, even consider switching off like that because, you know, we never even have our phones away from us.

So that is, you know, it’s the ultimate starting point for meditation, is just learning to be on your own. And once you do that, you start to listen, you start to pay attention, you start to get to know yourself and it becomes more about who you are, what you think and how you feel as opposed to what other people are telling you that you should feel. And this is another reason why I’ve always found it so important in any sort of recovery no matter what you’re going through. We’re always being told what to do and how we should feel and, you know, even by doctors. We forget that we actually have a lot of knowledge within us that we are ignoring.

Clint: Yes. Absolutely.

Ashley: And that we often put to the side.

Clint: Yeah. This totally taps into the whole reason my dad wanted me to get into it in the first place, and I’ve written this in my book. But as in the side benefit from the pain reduction, the improvement of your gut bacteria, and these sort of physical things, it’s like divine wisdom tends to take over when you get rid of the clutter thoughts and the noisy radio that’s going on in your head, the monkey mind, right? And some of my greatest ideas what we call our “eureka moments” happen through meditation. And I know that that’s not the purpose, right? I’m talking about, like, the things that go wrong when you try and meditate, but you happen to have unbelievable ideas, you know?

Ashley: Yes. Absolutely. I mean, it’s where you’re fundamentally, you know, you’re most creative. And I think for a lot of people who are, you know, particularly, you know, a person like A personality types or who are really creative, they struggle with meditation because, you know, I’m telling them to not do anything. And they’re like, “No, I just got a million things I wanna do.” But it’s actually great because, as you were saying, when you strip everything away, you know, that is when you are your most creative, that’s when you are really listening, and that’s when the magic happens, that’s…amazing things happen during meditation practice.

Clint: Yeah. Totally. And I used to even have to put next to me a piece of paper when I was trying to meditate.

Ashley: Yes, I do the same.

Clint: Because my ideas were just, “Wow, that’s how you do that” or “That’s what I should be doing.” Or, “Oh, now, I know how to fix that problem.”

Ashley: It all starts to make sense, right?

Clint: Yeah. It’s such a weird thing, you know.

Ashley: Yeah. Absolutely.

Clint: So, my wife’s like, “That’s not the purpose.” And I’m like, “Honey, I can’t help it. Like, I’m trying to get silent but then this ‘Eureka’ comes to me.”

Ashley: Yeah. And, you know, that’s completely fine. I think meditation looks different for a lot of people, and I have to say, you know, going back to, I always like to get back to basics. And meditation is not for that purpose, as you were saying. And for people who are first starting out, you know, sometimes they expect, you know, this enlightenment to come from, you know, five sessions of meditation and it doesn’t always work like that. And we just go on our own meditation journey and it means, to me, you know, something different than what it would mean to somebody else. And to start with, it really is just about learning to be alone. And don’t expect, you know, to have your next best business idea or anything like that when you start. It really is just being okay with just breathing.

Clint: Yes, yes. That’s it, isn’t it. And what I like, too, is that it can take up such as short period of time because one might argue when observing this information that, hey, but in one sense you’re saying, you know, “gotta exercise and move your body because if you don’t move it, you lose it” and all these issues with sitting and not doing a whole bunch.

But we’re only talking about, as a first step, very short periods of time, a minute or two, two or three minutes, that can build to, what, a big 20 minutes? I mean, we sit and have our lunch for 40 minutes sometimes. So we’re not talking about adding a sedimentary or a stationary lifestyle habit, we’re talking about really just a small amount of time to get a really effective reduction of stress and pain and, therefore, a better quality of life.

Ashley: Absolutely. And it really does…you know, even just the smallest little bit makes a big difference. And also, you know, I hate for people to think of me as, like, as a meditation teacher, being like this head mistress who’s, you know, gonna get upset with you if your back is not straight or, you know, tell you off when your mind wanders and it’s so not like that at all. It really…you know, every day is different as well. You know, sometimes I even go to sit and meditate and it’s just there’s too much going on. I just can’t, you know, get into that space, and it’s fine. Sometimes, I’ll stop and I’ll try again later. Sometimes I’ll stop, I’ll try again the next day. It’s one of those things where we can’t expect it to just, you know, come to us straight away, you know, from day one.

And some days are gonna be better than others. And you’ve got to be really patient with yourself and remember that the reason that you’re doing this is to relax and don’t let it stress you. You know, we already have to exercise. We already have to, you know, if you’re, honestly, doing the Paddison program, you already have to be really careful about what you’re eating. You know, let’s not add another thing, you know, that you know you have to do and create these rules around it.

Clint: Totally.

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Ashley: You know, what it is, at the end of the day…and this is why I want people to look forward to meditation because I see it as, “This is my time and nothing else matters in this time except me and my breath.” And it’s just when you start to think of it like that, it’s almost like every breath is a sigh of relief because of all the things that I worry about all day, every day, all the work that I have to do, all the people and, you know, the people that you have to please. And it’s just the time where none of that matters. All of that can melt away and it’s just a moment to breathe.

And when you start to see it like that, you know, I crave those moments. I wake up and the first thing I wanna do is meditate. And it might take a while to get to that point but, you know, if you do it and allow yourself to find a way of doing it that you can enjoy, find a way to make it work for you, then, you know, I hope that everybody can get to a point where they can, you know, really start to look forward to their meditation practice.

And that’s when it becomes a non-negotiable. Me and my partner always say, like, we can tell when the other person hasn’t meditated. It totally changes the rest of your day. And we would say to each other, “Go and take five-minutes.” You know, because it’s one of those things that now that we know this quality of life that we’ve developed through our meditation practice, you can’t go back after that. It becomes, you know, one of those things and it just always becomes a priority.

Clint: Yeah. Exactly. I’m the same. I can sense it when I’m just really, really…I feel too mind-strong. I feel like my brain is just really…like, all the cogs are in motion. Everything’s really cranking and I feel sort of almost like a heaviness that things are… And that’s when I feel like, “Oh, boy, I gotta empty this. I’ve just gotta…I gotta let that go.” And…

Ashley: Like taking a shower.

Clint: Yeah, like taking a shower. And, as you say, it’s only a five-minute thing and you can…I reckon you can halve that or get rid of 75% of that in five minutes. So it doesn’t require…

Ashley: Definitely.

Clint: It doesn’t require a lot of…

Ashley: And it could be, you know, while walking, you know, while on the bus, while waiting for an appointment, any of these things. It doesn’t have to…you don’t have to schedule it in your diary or set your alarm any earlier. You could do it while you’re in the shower, for example. And in fact, a really good place to start is…because you shower every day, well, most of us shower every day. And it becomes such an automatic thing, you know, that sometimes you’re in the shower and you’re just going about it, this is what you do every day.

Actually forcing yourself to think about what you’re doing is a way of meditating because you’re bringing your attention to the present moment and thinking, “Hang on. Okay. Here I am in the shower, take a deep breath.” And, you know, that, in itself, your shower meditation, you don’t lose any time by doing that.

Clint: Nice. Shower meditation. We like that. Some of our listeners do Wim Hof breathing in the shower. So now, they can do Wim Hof breathing and then meditate.

Ashley: Oh, that’s interesting, the Wim Hof breathing. I’ve tried that method before. It’s definitely powerful.

Clint: It is powerful. And, again, it takes some discipline and it’s very uncomfortable if you really dive in to deep too quickly. But anyway.

Ashley: I think you can be really uncomfortable. Yeah.

Clint: Yeah. You have to ramp into that one.

Ashley: Yeah. It’s actually the very opposite of what I teach with my breathing exercises.

Clint: Right. Yeah, it has different physiological responses. But I think, you know, there’s a place for both, so that’s what’s nice. Let’s talk about your health and what you’ve been through with rheumatoid. Well, first of all, let me just say that your onset and progression sounded exactly the same as mine. My rheumatoid started in my feet and I, too, thought it had something to do with them getting cold or overusing them or something. And then it moved into my fingers, precisely as it did with you, and then it shifted to, like, 80% of the joints in my body. It felt like, yeah, chest, jaw, elbows, wrists and ankles. I mean, you name it, right?

You know, in that sense, very similar. And also, very quickly, four months, and I was, in a very shocking way, exacerbated by three weeks of non-steroidal anti-inflammatories which tripled my condition within those three weeks. So I was, like, say, a 5 out of 10, and then I tried taking these pain killers for three weeks every day and then I stopped them, cold turkey, thinking, “I wonder how I am after that.” And then I was at a nine. And I just stayed at a nine and I could never go back because of those pain killers.

But my rheumatologist said that it’s interesting, he said, “When you’ve actually got a really good immune system that’s very powerful at eliminating problems in the blood, you get the disease more aggressively.” And so I would sort of suggest that you had a similar experience and that your immune system was otherwise in fantastic shape and it suddenly got confused because of stuff around in your blood, and it applied all of its maximum strength to try to fix that. But then, you know, did all of the collateral damage to your joints. So there’s a nice parallelism between your situation and mine. What did you do next after you were in this situation because we haven’t heard the process that you went through?

Ashley: So, as I said, as I’m based in London, I do travel a lot. I go between Australia and New Zealand and London. So I was in London at the time and it was winter over here. I’d just gotten back from the southern hemisphere. So I’d gone from summer to winter, like middle of summer to middle of winter, and, yeah. And so I thought it had something to do with the cold, which a lot of people still say that it does. But as soon as…I was in denial for a long time. I was, like, “This is not happening to me.” You know, I was a personal trainer. I was a holistic health coach. I was one of the healthiest people that I knew. I thought, you know, “How is this possible?”

When I started to realize…you know, they started testing me for rheumatoid arthritis, and I didn’t realize, you know, I have other autoimmune conditions. I’ve got Celiac disease and I’ve got Berger’s disease which is a kidney disease, both autoimmune. And as they say, you know, once you’ve got one, you’re more likely to develop another. So, you know, it all started to make sense to me.

And so I got my referral to a rheumatologist. It’s quite a good system over here actually. They really fast-track you, so it only took me 12 full weeks to see somebody actually which was great. And, you know, by the time that I was in the doctor’s office, I was really struggling. And they were very understanding. You know, as soon as they found out my age and what I did for a living, you know, nobody likes to hear that because, you know, I had to really change my career. And they really wanted to help me get out of it as quickly as possible, which was great, and they offered me a steroid injection and I…

Clint: So they wanted you to get out of your career straight away?

Ashley: No, out of pain.

Clint: Oh, out of pain.

Ashley: Yeah.

Clint: Got you.

Ashley: So they were really giving me, you know, all the options, and I found it was really helpful. And so they offered me a steroid injection and they listed, you know, the plethora of symptoms that could come from that. And I just, straightaway, was like, “Yes, yes. I want that. Give that to me. Anything.” You know. “Just get me out of what I’m feeling.”

Clint: Interesting. Yeah. Okay.

Ashley: And I think that, you know it would have been really nice to have the story of how I was, like, “No, I don’t wanna go on the drugs and I wanna heal myself naturally.” I was, like, “I can’t…I don’t know if I can do this anymore. I can’t,” you know, “have another day like this.” So I took that. And that was great. I felt a lot better after that steroid injection. And then, it wore off very quickly though, unfortunately, within a couple of days. And they told me it would last about three weeks.

Clint: Oh, gosh.

Ashley: So that was very disappointing. And that time, they started me on the other medication. So I’m on hydroxychloroquine, which I think has a different name in Australia.

Clint: Sulfasalazine? Or Plaquenil?

Ashley: Or like planquil or something?

Clint: No, it’s Plaquenil.

Ashley: Yeah, Plaquenil. Yeah. So I’m on that. And then they gave me four weeks to think about whether or not I wanted to go on the methotrexate because, you know, they figured that it was quite a serious decision and they encouraged me to talk to my partner and my family about it. And ultimately, I did make the decision to do it. You know, at that time, I just didn’t really see any other options.

So I started on that and continued and progressively got better. My pain became less and less over time, which was excellent. But again, this was at the end of last year and I was working quite a stressful job and it started to get colder in London. And I think the combination of the two resulted in, you know, my pain just coming back in full force. And I decided to leave London and I moved to New Zealand temporarily for the summer and I thought, “I’m gonna see how that goes. I’m gonna see what effects that has.” And it did have a positive effect because I was no longer, you know, doing the job that was really stressing me out. I decided to take the time and just focus on my health. And I think my pain probably dropped, you know, from about an eight to a six, sometimes a five.

Clint: Okay. It gave a little bit. Yeah.

Ashley: Which is good. Yeah. But I still, in New Zealand, was at a point where I was just, like, “I can’t live like this,” you know. And I really didn’t wanna go up. I didn’t wanna increase my dose of methotrexate. But I thought, you know, “I have to. I’ve got no other choice.”

So I was trying to see a doctor. And because I was new to New Zealand, I couldn’t…you know, I needed to get a referral and go through that whole system. And it was gonna take 12 weeks. And I just remembered just, you know, looking at my boyfriend and being, like, “I can’t do 12 weeks.” You know, “I just can’t do this anymore. I can’t keep living like this.” And very fortuitously, on that day where I was literally, you know, felt I was at rock bottom. I was just like, you know, “What am I gonna do?” You know. And my boyfriend was so tired of seeing me like this and seeing me in pain and being helpless. you know. He’s so supportive and tried so hard but there’s only so much he can do.

And on my Facebook feed, this ad came up with your face on it. And I thought, you know, I’d been so skeptical of this whole route, you know, for a long time and I just thought, “Well, I’ve got nothing to lose.” I watched your video, my boyfriend watched it with me, and it was really his encouragement, you know. He was the one who was, like, “Let’s do it.” You know, “Let’s give this a go.” He bought the program for me. He did the whole thing with me, went out and bought a juicer and was with me from day one and we really went through it together.

I felt the effect in the first couple of days, like, when you’re on that, you know, the very beginning when you’re really cleansing and my pain dropped. So that’s, you know, your automatic, “Okay, link to the stomach. I get it. It’s there.”

Clint: Good.

Ashley: Then it took me a little while, actually to then see any further effect. And by this stage…you know, because I’m a big foodie. I love eating.

Clint: Of course, you do because, I mean, we haven’t done your back story yet but, see, someone who’s into meditation and lives a healthy lifestyle who’s young doesn’t get this condition unless they’re a foodie.

Ashley: Yeah, yeah. Well, I can tell you why actually, I think, that that did happen.

Clint: Well, let’s explore that at the end. Let’s explore that. Let’s complete the story and then we’ll explore how it all come about. Yeah?

Ashley: Yeah. So I struggled a lot, you know, for the first month, especially on the program, which would have been in February or March maybe. Yeah, March of this year. And because I couldn’t eat the foods that I wanted to eat, you know, I was really…it was getting me down a lot. And then my pain wasn’t any better so I was like, “Well, why am I doing this? What is the point?” But it was about a month, pretty much at the one-month mark that I woke up one day and I was just like, “Oh, my god, I feel completely different,” and my pain levels had dropped so much. And, you know, they weren’t gone, you know, not even close, but a significant difference.

And by that stage, I had sort of started to work out the diet in a way that worked for me and I was being really careful about what I ate but I was still finding ways to enjoy it. You know, I guess all my friends as well knew that, you know, this is what I was doing and everyone was really supportive. So I got to a point where I was quite comfortable with it.

And, you know, again, I also upped my meditation practice. I went back to my yoga practice and all of these things. You know, even things like making sleep a priority and making sure that I got a really good night’s sleep every single night. And then, yeah. And then I realized that it had all started to make a big difference and it was all paying off. And that was just, you know, such a feeling of elation and just relief. And just that empowering moment that you have when you think, “I can get control of this.”

And I went and got blood tests done. So I got my blood tests done the day that I started the program and I got my blood test done a month later. And my CRP had gone from…it was above five. It was, like, between five and six, and it went to below one within a month.

Clint: Yeah. Fantastic.

Ashley: So that was huge, you know. That was the real evidence, you know, to be able to go to the doctor and be like, “Wow, this is what I’ve done.” And I actually found the doctors that I did end up seeing in New Zealand, they were very supportive of the fact that I’ve made all these lifestyle changes and super keen to help me get off the…you know, wean myself off the medication.

Clint: Awesome. That’s rare and awesome.

Ashley: Yeah. I wasn’t expecting that because from what I’ve, you know, read on your site and in your emails, I feel like it’s not a very common thing.

Clint: Well, it’s not a very common thing because they do have our best interests in mind. They are wanting to make sure that there is no joint degradation over the long term. So that is the ultimate priority over side effects of medications, right? So their number one concern is no joint damage long-term. And with that, also reduces the risk of things like rheumatic fever and other things that are very bad. But they kind of place much less emphasis on the potential side effects of the drugs because they’re so focused on damage minimization.

So where it gets a little bit case-to-case with rheumatologists is whether or not…you know, because there’s so many variables, if the client or patient wants to get off the drugs, well…but is it just because they’re headstrong or is it because they’ve adopted something that’s gonna enable them to keep those pain levels very low long-term.

And they have to decide based on their interview or their consultation with you as to whether it’s a good idea or not. So I like to make it really black and white. And I like to say, “Look, if your physical symptoms are excellent, you have very little pain day to day, you’re hitting all of your blood test mark as perfectly, meaning that ESR and CRP are within normal range, and you’ve been able to maintain this consistently for several months on end, then you have a conversation with the rheumatologist and see what they think, right?

So, it’s not even, at that point, a given that you deserve to get off your drugs. It depends on a big picture and a consultation with the rheumatologist. But it’s a good conversation and a strong argument to have if you are doing all of those things that I just bullet pointed, then there’s a very, very powerful argument to say, “Look, I got this. I can lower a little bit on one of these drugs. And I think I’m in a good shape here.” So, okay, what happened after that with yourself?

Ashley: That’s pretty much…so then I left…so I’ve since left New Zealand and I’m back in London for the summer. And I’m still at the point where I’m feeling really good. I think my pain levels is, you know, maybe a one at the moment and maybe some days even 0.5. I think I’ve got inflammation in one joint right now, which is amazing.

So I’m still on the medication though. So my next step is gonna be to start reducing that. And I’m not in a hurry. You know, I think, as you were saying before, this is a real long-term thing for me. I’m not about, you know, not being on any meds tomorrow but I’m that in the future, I want to see my life, two years, five years, ten years from now, I want to not be on those medications. So it’s gonna be a long process but, you know, one that I’m definitely very prepared to go on.

Clint: I like your combination of meds. I like Plaquenil and methotrexate. I don’t believe that they have any obtrusive impacts on our ability to heal our gut. I was on just the methotrexate, many…it’s a well-trodden path to do the Paddison program, be able to reduce methotrexate when working with the rheumatologist. It’s really common actually partly because that drug doesn’t have those massive impacts on the gut like other drugs can and partly because methotrexate is so freely administered that we have lots of case studies of methotrexate, you see.

Ashley: Yeah, right.

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Clint: Plaquenil, we’ve got previous podcast guests who’ve gotten off Plaquenil using the Paddison program. So, you know, you may have seen them. They’re easy to find on our website, the whole history of the podcast. They’re under the list over there, easily found. Christine is one that comes to mind who was on Plaquenil and has been a guest on our show. So, with time, I think that if you made that your goal, life mission and applied all of the common sensical strategies and worked with your rheumatologist, then, yeah, it’s totally within the realms of possibility.

Ashley: Yeah, I think so. I feel like, it’s, you know, just I can see it happening and I know that it’s just around corner. My rheumatologist did say to me that they would probably take me off one first and then, you know, potentially the Plaquenil, and then keep me on the methotrexate and then that’s how we would start reducing things.

Clint: Let me put on my little coaching hat for a minute and imagine you’re part of our support group. What I would do, and I always say this in terms of what I would do if I were you, not medical advice, but what I would do in your situation, I would avoid complacency. Complacency is like owning a woof as a pet. As soon as you get complacent, it can turn on you, okay? That’s what’s having rheumatoid arthritis is like once you’re in a controlled state, all right?

So, you’re in a place right now where your gut is healing because if you’ve got very little pain levels, as you said, 0.5 to a 1, at that level, there’s no feedback loop happening between an inflammation state in the joints causing an inflammation state in the gut. So, right now, if you’re close to the baseline foods of our program and you haven’t gone and re-introduced too many other things, you’re in a really powerful healing state and that is going to serve you.

So keep this up as long as you feel that it meets your, I don’t know, taste buds/expectations/social life and all of those things, right? Right now, you’re doing, you’re investing into the whole rest of your life. This process right now is re-building you from the inside out to set you up for the next 50, 60 years of your life. So don’t rush it. Right now, you’re in the best possible position, right?

Ashley: Yeah.

Clint: And then when it does come a time to re-introduce foods, test them carefully. Watch your pain levels very closely, monitor it and do it slow and steady. And then when you continually hit really good blood test results, speak to the rheumatologist. And I like the idea of tapering one drug at a time, keeping one fixed and then tapering the other one away slowly and monitoring with them each month and making sure that everything’s on track. Yeah. So, and if it were me, you know, I’d talk about trying to eliminate the Plaquenil first, projecting down into the future. So that’s just what I would do. Again, just…nothing to do with medical advice. Just my view.

Ashley: Yeah, I’m excited. I think that it’s definitely something that I’m very focused on and I’m gonna make it happen.

Clint: Yeah. And what’s your exercise routine look like? You said you picked up yoga again. It seems because you have such low symptoms right now, that you could pretty much do any yoga you want.

Ashley: Yeah. So I do, because I’m a qualified personal trainer so I pretty much do my own practice. And it’s definitely yoga-based but it also incorporates a few different elements as well. I think it…basically, because I was in such good physical shape before I got arthritis, it was very disheartening for me, you know, to lose that control of my body and I really struggled to get back into it, you know, because I felt like a beginner again, you know. I was somebody who could go, you know, up to do some bars and do some pull-ups, you know. For someone, a female my size, that was quite a feat.

But, and to then, you know, not be able to do that anymore, to be looking at these rings and think, “Well, I used to be able to hang off those and I can’t anymore.” And to then go back to going things like, you know, really basic…and I’d also done yoga for years and years. You had to then go back and do like a beginner’s yoga class, that was…I put it off for a long time, and that was just, you know…it wasn’t the right thing to do and it was just what I was going through at the time. So I have since sort of, you know, swallowed my pride a little bit and, you know, been able to go back and start from the beginning and try to work my strength up again. And I’m nowhere near to where I used to be and I probably…I don’t know if I ever will be but it doesn’t matter anymore.

And I exercise now because it makes me feel good. I do some form of exercise every morning. I do it at home just because, for me, getting somewhere doesn’t work. I will always put that off. I’ll always cancel it and, you know, say that I’m gonna go tomorrow. I wake up, first thing, and I do, you know, some sort of stretch exercise movement. I focus on mobility. For me, it’s more about mobility, focusing on building strengths, working through my joints. And then I finish with my meditation. So that’s what my practice looks like.

Clint: How nice. Yeah. Great. Yeah. Well, that’s what yoga was intended for originally back in the ages, right? It was a path…

Ashley: The practice of yoga is to…yeah, is to allow you to be able to meditate. Yeah.

Clint: Correct. Right. So you’re doing it actually in the sequence that was originally created. So you’re doing yoga and then you’re meditating because, you know, I think there’s a couple of components to that. One was developing the flexibility and the core strength to be able to sit still for long periods. And then the other is that during the yoga practice, we’re tuning right in to all of our body parts and our experiences of our body so that we’re already in a semi-meditative by the time we sit down. So, yeah, it all ties in nicely.

Ashley: Definitely is something.

Clint: Let’s explore quickly, before we wrap up, why you think you might have brought this on. The word “foodie” always, always, for me, sets off alarm bells. When people say, “I’m such a foodie,” in my mind, as a physician, an equal sign pops in, right? So “foodie”, and I have, “equals danger.” Right?

Ashley: Yeah. No, I can say that for sure. No, I actually think, yeah, I’ve always been a big eater and I’ve always enjoyed food. Yeah. I guess…I always thought that I was really healthy. I think, I guess, that could be…you know, most people think that, don’t they?

But I think that what has happened…because when I read a lot about, you know, your views on why it develops and, you know, people’s gut flora and certain things like, you know, taking a lot of medications, especially anti-inflammatory things like ibuprofen, I’ve never done that. That was not me at all.

And I remember reading all of this going, “That’s not me.” Like, “That’s not…I never did that, and that wasn’t…you know, why?” So I kept thinking, “Why did this happen to me?” And then I realized one day, if we’re talking about gut flora, I have Celiac disease, which means that my body doesn’t tolerate any gluten at all, but I didn’t find out until I was 16.

So that means that I spent 16 years feeding my body gluten that it did not like in any way, shape, or form, that destroyed my stomach basically. And it took me a long time to…because I was a teenager when I found out, to actually take my gluten-free diet seriously and it probably wasn’t until I was about 21 that I really got hold of that and was able to, yeah, take control of, you know, that side of my health. And that’s when I started to, you know, eat a lot healthier.

Clint: I think that makes sense. And it’s something that I might not have actually been able to extract on just this brief call. I think that that does makes sense here because if you’ve got an autoimmune condition centered around a particular plant protein but then you continue for years and years and years to consume that particular problematic macronutrient, that can’t help.

Ashley: Exactly. And it’s just putting…like, my stomach would have just been in the worst state and, like, slowly trying to recover. But, you know, I also have realized that even though I thought that I was healthy, I would have yoghurt every morning and I would eat meat. And not a whole lot of meat but I definitely did eat meat. And these are things that I now realized, because this whole process to me, this whole healing process, has been about, you know, what’s working for me, listening to my body. And now, I think about things like dairy and meat and I think, “Why did I ever eat that?” You know.

It was a habit. It wasn’t anything else because I can so see, you know, the way that I react when I look at it, you know, when I think about it, I was never supposed to eat those foods. You know, I think everybody’s body is different and I think that what works for you doesn’t necessarily work for somebody else. For me, I was never supposed to eat those foods. And I did for, you know, many, many years.

Clint: Yes. That’s right. So, with a combination of that, I think that anyone who’s on a Western diet has already made a pre-requisite to set themselves up for an autoimmune disease. Simple as that, right?

Ashley: Absolutely.

Clint: Because we’re just putting the wrong gasoline into the diesel car, right? So it’s…

Ashley: And we have that separation, you know. We switch off, you know, these things, like we eat something and then we don’t feel very well and we just assume, “Ah, yeah, it’s fine.” Or we take something to help us digest the food or whatever it is. There’s that separation, you know. We’re not paying attention to what we’re eating and how it’s making us feel.

Clint: Yeah. Leading up to when I got sick, I had years and years…you know, I say that I was otherwise healthy because, just to support what you’re saying, I thought it was normal to have lots of gassiness, lots of wind, lots of indigestion an acid refluxy type of thing that I had for many years, just a general inability to digest dairy products and wheat and yet ate them like they were normal and that was just what we did. So I used to eat either of those two things and I wouldn’t be able to breathe through my nose. I wouldn’t be able to take a breath in within minutes of eating ice cream or bread, my whole nasal passage would close up. And it wasn’t a mucus-y, snotty thing, it was, “I can’t get air.” And this went on for eight years. And I saw some naturopaths towards the end of that. But it was too late, you know. And then a trip to Iraq and a whole bunch of three months more of antibiotics and immunization injections, and a few months later, I was a full blown rheumatoid. So…

Ashley: Me, too.

Clint: Yeah. So we can trace it back. And if we’re willing to accept responsibility for our decisions and say, “Look, this is a cause and effect.” In every case, it’s a cause and effect. And sometimes, it’s less obvious to see the cause and other times it’s blindingly obvious. And sometimes, we need to just dig a little deeper and acknowledge that eating gluten after you’ve got an autoimmune disease centered around that particular protein, and you’ve also, you know, mentioned the Berger’s disease, and you’ve got two auto immunes. You’re highly susceptible to have developed another one. And, you know, I think we can acknowledge, okay, look, fair enough. This has come about through lifestyle behaviors, but you’re young, you’re…got a very switched on mind, you’re determined and very physically fit. This is something that you can totally blow out of the park. So, it’s just gonna require your complete focus.

The fact that you have centered your income around what you’re aiming to achieve personally is very powerful. So, by being in the meditation space and being in a yoga space, a physical trainer space, these areas all come together to create a highly probable, awesome outcome for your, you know, future. Yeah.

Ashley: I think that was the best part about the whole program, was the realization and having to actually say to myself because I was in denial for a long time, for about year. And having to say to myself, you know, “I did this. Like this happened because of choices that I made.” And that was awful. Like, that was really scary but it was actually also the most empowering thing ever because, you know, if I did this, it means that I can…if I got myself here, I can get myself out of it. So that was, I think, the most prolific part of the past, what’s been five months now. That’s really being able to get me into a right place, both physically and mentally as well.

Clint: Yeah. Well, right now, you’re the quintessential yogic meditation vegan girl, you know. You’re like the poster for that particular category, right?

Ashley: Ah, yeah, but too, I actually really struggle with that because I used to really, you know, present, like, I’m like, “Oh, I’m all about balance.” And, “No, I’m not vegan and, no, I don’t eat plant-based and I just,” you know. And I liked that about myself because, you know, it meant that it was sort of like a point of difference in the industry with all these people who would, you know, just be there with drinking tea.

Clint: Sure.

Ashley: But, yeah, I had to sort of change my views and I was interviewed recently on my eating habits by somebody who has known me for a long time, was like, “Oh, you know, we know that you preach balance and, you know, you don’t have these strict guidelines,” and I was like, “Well, actually, things have changed a little bit on that front.”

Clint: Yeah, because…let me just add. Like, balance gets us nowhere if we’re talking about an imbalance to our healthy. If we’ve got a tremendous imbalance on our health and we’re trying to say, “Oh, I can fix it with balance.” If it’s out of balance, you need an extreme counter punch to fix it. If your wheels of your car are out of alignment, you don’t sort of wiggle a bit to the left, a little bit to the right, it needs to come all the way back to the right to get it back on the road again.

And there is so much balance if you just want to re-define your word balance so that you actually feel self-aligned once more. Balance is…a plant-based diet is the ultimate balance. It’s balanced between the environment and human beings and animals, it’s balanced between our interaction with other animals by not having a lifestyle where we cause them to be killed and slaughtered and eaten, and it’s a balance for our gut bacteria and our health. So it is the ultimate balance. And an imbalance is to eat something that isn’t synchronous with our digestive system.

Ashley: Yeah. Absolutely.

Clint: Yeah. I think you re-frame your definition of it and when people ask you that and the way you think about balance, it’d be very powerful for you now to say, “Now, you know, I’m actually more balanced now than I’ve ever been before.”

Ashley: It’s interesting. And it’s even hard, it’s hard not to be preachy as much as I would always try not to be. But just knowing the things that you now know about food and way that it affects your body, it’s hard to watch people eat the way that they do and now it’s completely changed everything. When I look at somebody eat ice cream, you know, which is, obviously, full of dairy and full of sugar, for example, and then just the thought of it is just like, “What are you doing?” And to think that, you know, that was just normal for us at some stage, it really does change things.

Clint: It does. It does. It’s funny how we think. I can’t even watch, like, yeah. I find it very hard not to say something. Like, I’m, like…really really fighting the words back.

Ashley: But I think that we do, you know, the most help by leading by example. And I think, you know, I’m sure everybody who’s going through the program and who’s seen success, everybody in their entire network is looking at them going, “Oh,” you know. “Wow.” You know, this had such a profound effect on them. And I think it’s the reason that people are starting to pay attention.

Clint: Most definitely. And something else that’s a little bit less for our viewers but I feel like is opportunity to also…because I want you to thrive not just with your health but also as an advocate of plant-based living. You’ve got all of the sort of ducks lined up in a row to be, you know, really successful and popular in this space, and we need as many of you as we can. So I would say that your point of difference that you mentioned earlier in that phrase with regards to having that former definition of balance, I would say, is that your story is what’s going to connect with our audience and the autoimmune space.

You’ve got a unique story in the same way that Dr. Monica Aggarwal who’s a cardiologist and a very esteemed and successful cardiologist. Her story, too, is that she’s overcome rheumatoid arthritis using a low-fat plant-based diet and she teaches people. And people specifically seek her out not just for cardiology reasons but just in the autoimmune space because of her story. And you have that as well because it’s a life experience and it’s why I’m able to connect with you and everyone who pays attention to my work is because I have been through the trenches. I ate dirt in the trenches and I was shot at and took bullets in the trenches. And I know what it’s like and we’ve lived it.

And so, as you continue to, you know, explore your career path, I think that you really connect with people. Not because of the fact that your opinions on this food or that, it’s because you’ve lived it and you now actually have the ultimate way of creating a long-lasting contribution to the world, which is you’ve had a life experience and this life experience has led to being able to help others through empathy and compassion and guidance.

Ashley: Thank you. That’s great. That’s really nice to hear. I think that if, yeah, I was never sure about, when I started teaching meditation, I was never sure if I was gonna talk about my arthritis or if it was gonna be. I didn’t want it to define me and I wasn’t sure how open about it I wanted to be.

But I made a decision to put it out there. And once I did, people started coming to my classes who were dealing with their own issues of, you know, either autoimmune conditions or pain. And I realized this is the right thing to do. It is okay to talk about it. And also, I can’t expect people to open up to me unless I’m gonna open up to them as well.

Clint: Yeah. That’s right. That’s right.

Ashley: So nobody’s gonna share their story with me if I’m not gonna share mine, too. So, I have found in the end, as skeptical as I was, because, you know, I never wanted it to be about me. I wanna help people with what they’re going through but I have realized actually in the end that, you know, I need to be open and I need to be honest. And the people can learn a lot from my story, as they’ve learned from yours.

Clint: I think what happened is in the era of social media and getting away from traditional advertising where everyone on billboards looks perfect and everyone has been through makeup, the makeup room, for half an hour before they go onto television, the era of social…

Ashley: I think it’s a bit more like four hours.

Clint: Right. Yeah, yeah, yeah. As a guy, I only ever went through a half hour. So, what’s happened with social media is that we’ve seen celebrities and we’ve seen our friends and family and people who we’ve normally only seen in sort of prepared states. We’ve seen everyone in the most raw and unfiltered way because through Instagram, pictures of celebrities without their makeups or in mirrors at hotel rooms, on beds, whatever it might be, we’re seeing, you know what, these…these a vulnerability. That’s the word I’m searching for. Vulnerability is interesting. I, myself, you, everyone with a health condition is vulnerable because we have had things happen and we’re real people and this is the way the world is right now. We don’t want, “Hey, here’s a doctor. Let’s listen to our doctor and be basically completely following exactly what’s necessary because we don’t have opinions and…” Right?

These days, we like to know the doctor’s experiences. Like, if the doctor says, “Hey, I’ve fallen pregnant.” A female doctor, she’s pregnant, we like to learn about their lives. It’s much less…it’s much less compartmentalized. It’s an exchange. Everyone has a life. Everyone has baggage, has had experiences, and we’re vulnerable and we be as real and as truthful as possible. And I think that’s most helpful.

Ashley: Yeah. Absolutely. I think that you’re right. I agree.

Clint: So, well, we had a fun chat.

Ashley: Yeah.

Clint: I hope everyone enjoyed it.

Ashley: It’s always nice to talk to somebody who, you know, totally understands what you’ve been through. And that’s why I love the whole community aspect of the program because, I mean, it can be really isolating and people…you know, your friends and your family may try their best but they don’t get it, you know, on the same level.

Clint: No, no. And a lot of it is the subtleties. It’s the subtleties, like always checking your joints to see if they’re okay and wondering whether or not the medication is making you tired or whether or not you’re just tired for other reasons and second guessing whether or not, you know, should you be on the drugs or do you wanna start a family? And that’s just three small examples of probably a hundred different things that we have to confront, decisions and concerns that we have, and then all of the others about, you know, “Am I worsening? Are my joints going backwards? Am I able to pay for all of these, you know, supplements that I think are helping? ” You know, it’s just endless. So, yeah, it helps to have people who are in exactly the same boat.

Ashley: Definitely.

Clint: Well, thanks so much for your time. You’ve been very generous with it. We’ve done a well over an hour now, so I hope that everyone’s gained a lot. I think in this episode, I think, you know, we’ve covered not just some of the mechanics around meditation and your journey but I’ve also enjoyed talking with you about, you know, the space that you and I both exist in, which is kinda earning some kind of revenue surrounding helping people with their health and doing it in a very, very compassionate way and in a way that is centered around getting results. You know, and we just want people to get better because that feels good. It feels really good.

Ashley: Absolutely. Absolutely. I think there’s, like, specific personality types that really get something out of seeing somebody improve and having something to do with that. That’s definitely, you know, exactly on point for me.

Clint: Yes. Wonderful.

Ashley: There’s nothing more fulfilling in my life than, you know, when one of my clients has been really able to overcome a challenge because of their newfound meditation practice, so I live for those moments.

Clint: Awesome. Well, let’s hope we can get these and more. We’ve got some people who might be looking out for some meditation advice and need a little bit of assistance. Where do they go to learn more about yourself and what you offer?

Ashley: Yeah, I would love that. I really want people to know that, you know, there’s not a specific kind of person that meditates. It’s for absolutely everybody. Anyone can do it. There are so many different ways. So if you are interested in finding out more, you can find me at www.ashleyhuntwellness.com.

Clint: Okay. So that’s www.ashleyhuntwellness.com. Do you do Skype calls just like the one we’re on now?

Ashley: I do. Exactly. Yes.

Clint: Okay. Awesome. All right. Well, wonderful. I hope that if people are interested and they’ll reach out to you, and you and I can stay in touch online.

Ashley: Definitely.

Clint: And we thank you for your time.

Ashley: Great. Thanks so much, Clint. it was really lovely talking to you.

Clint Paddison

Clint Paddison has recovered from crippling Rheumatoid Arthitis and now assists others with this disease via the Paddison Program for Rheumatoid Arthritis, the Paddison Podcast and the blogs on www.paddisonprogram.com