Tag Archives: yoga

Relaunching Therapy – Be Humble

Joanna 8.1.17

My daughter who is teaching me the art of humility daily.


A lot has happened in the three years since I last posted.  I got married, gave birth to an adorable baby girl, moved several times, and changed jobs.  In the spring of 2016 I completed yoga teacher training and started my own therapy practice.  Needless to say, it has been equal parts exciting and nerve wrecking, leading me to seek out therapy to process it all (yes therapists also see therapists)!  The purpose of THERAPY is to display how mental skills such as thought reconstruction or mindfulness on the yoga mat can be used in day to day life.  Life has not been short on stressors (like a crying baby all hours of the night); I’d like to share how I am using these skills to reduce my anxiety during life’s many transitions.  Walk with me on this journey to find ways to create peace in your own chaotic world.


There are levels to this life… and nothing makes me entitled to instantly be the best.  I talk about this in each therapy session and each yoga class I lead and continue to struggle with giving myself grace as I embrace this concept in my own life.  Having a baby really put this in perspective for me as my body changed in many ways.  Despite my awareness of the need to accept this new body while working towards certain goals, I’m frustrated with my body’s inability to be perfect immediately.  I expect myself to run, jump, flip, and bend in ways I used to and even in ways that I never have before just because it “should.” “Elise,” I say to myself, “It’s been two months.  Go make yourself a seat, sit down, be humble.  There’s levels to this and you are back at level one.”  This is hard for me to listen to because my expectations are not realistic nor fair.

In both therapy and yoga, your perspective impacts everything.  If you plan to move like a master but you are still a novice your plan of action will always fail.  For example, if I continue to approach my postpartum workout plans based on what my body was like when I was 16 years old, I will constantly be disappointed and injured.  However, if I can humble myself and start from where I actually am (creaky knees and all), I have the potential to achieve my goals without injury and in a sustainable fashion for years to come.  Embodying this requires a great deal of humility. Without humility, I can never grow because I am not watering my own plant but one that doesn’t exist.

So I’m pushing myself to start from the ground up.  Literally.  When I practice yoga I am doing mostly floor poses to honor my knees in their current state.  When I get frustrated with myself in my new role as a mom I am practicing self-talk in that very moment to promote acceptance while respecting my desire for change.


  • Have an honest conversation with yourself and those who know you well about what your goals are and where you are right now in relation to those goals.
  • Once you have identified your starting point make a clear plan to nurture that space FIRST to cultivate acceptance.  THEN create plans for change.
  • Have mental reminders for self-acceptance with awareness of the desire for growth, honoring both parts of you.  Your wants are just as real your current abilities; denying your desires doesn’t make them go away.   For example, practice self-talk such as “Today I am stretching to take care of my body.  Soon I will be running with strong knees.”
  • Deep breathing to stay connected to the moment.  Try to pair this with a simple yoga pose like child’s pose.  Humility, or self-restraint, can be cultivated with practice by narrowing your attention to the present moment only; this is the opposite of your mind wandering to unfair expectations for that moment.
  • Model this for the kids around you through saying out loud “I want to do ____ but right now I can do ____.”  Adjust your wording to be compatible with the age of the child.  Not only does modeling teach others, it also helps you practice skills with intention.


Sometimes we can “therapize” ourselves and other times we can not seem to figure out why things are so difficult.  If you would like to meet with me to explore ways to become your best self, feel free to contact me (http://www.elisedaviscounseling.com).  I offer individual therapy in private, comfortable spaces in Raleigh, NC and Durham, NC.  Information about cost of services, insurance options, and availability can be found on the website.   

If you are interested in integrating movement through yoga into your therapy process or personalized workshops please contact me via the same website.   

Elise 7.27.17

E.N.D. Pain. Let go. Live,

Elise Nicole Davis


Lessons from the honeymoon: Play in all things

ImageJust a little fun in the rain 🙂

Play.  Do you remember that word?  It was a magical time as a kid where you could be and do anything you wanted to.  In the words of Ms. Frizzle from the Magic School Bus, “Take chances, Make Mistakes, Get Messy.”  Play allowed all of this and so much more.  However, as we grew up play became separate from our life.  For example, school clothes were for most of your day while your play clothes were only used briefly.  Boy, did we put in work when the play clothes came out; digging in the dirt, hula hopping, or just building an imaginary Barbie world.  I have realized play time kept getting shorter and shorter and is at the point where I no longer have play clothes at all.  I have “work out clothes” or “yard work clothes”…. no play clothes because as an adult I don’t play.  That is for children.

I’ve had a lot of time to think while on my honeymoon and have been reflecting on this loss of play in my life.  Things are so serious.  Everything is directed towards achievements and maintenance.  As you can imagine this makes for a grumpy, stressed out Elise.  Not what I want or, frankly, what I was designed to be.  I decided while in Miami that play needs to be reintroduced, not just for recess time, but in all things.  As stated in previous posts, we are told to “be as a child,” and in that innocence is truly living.

This notion came upon me while my husband and I were at the zoo.  It was a lot of work, and money, to get there.  I was worried about our schedule and budget.  Then…. it started to rain, like torrential down pour rain.  We hid under our tiny umbrella and then under a gazebo with other families.  I, like I do, was listening to other peoples observations of the storm.  People were frustrated, complaining, and fussing about how long it would take for it to stop raining.  Somehow my mind silenced and drifted to a childhood memory of playing in the rain.  It was such a carefree and effortless moment in my life; it was magic.  Greg and I made the decision to leave the safety and security of the gazebo; we took a private tour of the zoo, playing in the rain.  It is ironic how adults can take the gift of rain or time and make it work.  Life is not work, it can be effortless if you just get out and play in the rain.

I did all other kinds of playful things in Miami but was worried about how I could bring this feeling back with me to my real life.  I decided to be intentional in creating playfulness in my every day life.  I am allowing myself to smile and giggle when my husband kisses me.  I was inspired by my niece to paint without direction and have no qualms about expressing my emotions during the process.  This morning in my yoga practice I focused on how I felt and redirected my patronizing thoughts to playing with my body.  As a kid we fell all the time, and God forbid, laughed about it.  I am aiming to reclaim the place were I allowed myself to play and experience humor in both success and failure.

Now go out and play.  Get messy, make mistakes, and authentically embrace every moment of it.


Unmet Expectations

I have heard before, and have been a strong proponent, of how important it is to make a goal.  By having something you’re striving for you can find the underlying motivation to keep going.  However, in addition to having a goal it is important to remember two things: is your goal your REAL goal and to consider the stress that comes with unmet expectations.

Most of the time we make goals that are arbitrary like I’m going to weigh this weight or I’m going to make more money.  We do this without actually identifying the core goal: to feel more confident or to have more freedom to do things.  By not having the insight for our REAL goals, we either eventually lose stem because we get distracted or if we meet our goal it doesn’t fulfill our expectations because it wasn’t the thing we were REALLY looking for.

The idea of unmet expectations was something I’ve never thought about before.  This is what can lead us to feeling unsuccessful, worthless, helpless, and generally crappy about ourselves.  We develop the feeling of learned helplessness because nothing we do ever fills the void, our expectations continually don’t get met.  I believe this is because we focus too much on the “what” or “how” and not the real “why” we make a decision to move.  The “what” may evolve into a million different possibilities, but the “why” can be fulfilled by any of them; the key is we have to be flexible.

I don’t DO flexible, at least not anymore.  I have settled into a state of rigidity and patterns that make me feel safe.  The funny things is that I don’t feel safe, I just feel scared of never reaching where I want to be.  What this has actually  done is limit my potential and fill me with that continual feeling of unmet expectations.  My expectations are unmet because my routine does not allow for the “what” or even the “how” to change to reach my “why.” Through a variety of self-healing activities I am constantly pushing myself to let go of the reins and trust I will get to wherever I’m suppose to if I, you guessed it, listen to myself and breathe.  My expectations may not be what is actually going to fulfill me.  I have to let that go and remember my “why” and just keep putting one step in front of the other.

What’s my “why”?  My “why” is to be an example of the healing found with self-expression and encourage others to do the same in whatever way they want to honor their voice.  It does not have to be through art, be flexible on the medium and it will be the right fit for you.  What is your “why” and how can you give yourself permission to loosen up on the “what” or “how”?


-> I’ve been allowing this to translate into my art recently.  Adding to projects I’ve started based on feeling.  I’m liking where it’s going but have no concrete expectation on what it will become.  It is so much less pressure and enjoyable.  I also am finding the more I let go, the better the product is.  Maybe I’m not always right after all.


Introverting is OK… Listening is key

All my life I’ve thought being an introvert was a bad thing.  I thought it was selfish; something must be wrong with me to want some space.  Through the practice of meditation and turning off distractions (TV, bad radio) I’ve really started to listen to my true voice. I need space to refuel.  I need to create.  I need to read.  I need to breath without feeling like someone else has already claimed that breath for themselves.  It is completely ok to need “me” time.  My voice is loud and clear. I realize more and more when I don’t listen, I scream and throw tantrums like a child (usually with food).

By allowing myself to turn inward I’ve gotten a TON of art ideas and have a growing list of songs to learn on the guitar and piano.  It’s nice to have a non-pressured to-do list just for me.  It is important to take the time that you have and turn that wisdom into fruition.  Time blocking is important sure, but I’m realizing more and more that there are pockets of time throughout the day to get a tune up.  I’ve even started sketching and/or meditating at work between clients.  Sure I get less paperwork done, but guess what, it’ll get done and I actually will have the positive attitude to do it.  When you listen to yourself and breathe into your needs, as I’ve mentioned in previous posts, things happen effortlessly.  Who would have thought? It is really THAT simple.

In addition to trying to listen, I’ve been thinking a lot about boundaries.  Often I hold my breath, tell myself to be quiet, and uphold other people’s boundaries to be a good little girl.  I’m quickly learning not only is this a horrible way to live life, it is suffocating.  In the pursuit of strengthening my voice I’ve become attuned to boundaries for myself.  Alone time is needed.  I need to be heard and respected.  I need to take care of myself through a variety of things.  The biggest gem I’ve gotten in the past week is visualizing boundaries like a house.  Some things are solid and unchanging like a wall and the statements made above, however, some are flexible like a door opening and closing into your home.  For me, that may be HOW I take care of myself: today it may be yoga, tomorrow it may be a piece of cake. The solid wall boundary for this is to listen to my body and honor it’s requests (sometimes cake is not ok because I need more nourishment; my body will tell me what kind of moment it is).  Other flexible doors are how much time I want to spend with people.  Things aren’t black and white.  There is grey and I am learning where to draw lines and where to shade.  It is calming and it is effortless at times.

Our minds are so powerful to identify our true needs, desires, and boundaries.  We should honor that ancient voice inside us.  A good tip to stay aligned with out inner voice is to journal.  It keeps you aware of your inner most thoughts and gives you a place to put your great ideas until you are ready to act on them.  A vital part of a relationship is listening, do you have a healthy relationship with yourself?

Doodles May 2014

Doodles May 2014


Yield to Yourself, It’s Awesome.

It’s been about 3 weeks since I’ve posted.  WAY TO LONG.  I took some time to get things straight for the upcoming wedding and also pushing myself to make some art/create great music.  Several things have happened during this hiatus.  I was able to start meditating again and have really worked to reframe my state of mind.  I spend so much time judging myself and expecting myself to do things a certain way that I don’t actually do them.  I need to have distractions taken care of (cleaning, to do lists, wedding checklists, friends I’ve neglected…. you get the point) before I let myself yield to myself.  I’m beginning to recognize how backwards this is.  If I breath into myself and listen to the voice that I try so hard to shut off, all the pieces will fall.  Sure it won’t be smooth all the time, but it will all happen without my trying.  I’ll be living it.  There comes a time where you just have to get out of your own way.  So when my mind races, obviously I have a great idea and I need to at least put it down somewhere.  When I’m stressed about nothing, I need to focus on right now to put my fears in check.  I’ve watched my fiancé and I grow over the past month and truly be fulfilled because we are making music, singing, writing, and yielding to our true nature.  All the things I’ve kept discovering about myself over the past few weeks and through writing all lead me to the same conclusion. I am fine. I am creative.  I am talented.  I will be ok as long as I’m myself.  God created me beautifully and the more I push against that, the less productive and at peace I am.  Thanks for your patience while I continue to increase the volume on what I already know.  Remember, to take the time to listen to yourself and do things the way you do them.  It’s ok.  If you’re really listening to yourself you’ll hear all the infinite answers you’ve ever wondered.

April 20, 2014. Colored Pencils

April 20, 2014. Colored Pencils


Quotables and Intentional Focus


Today I am on vacation. Yes a real one. Great people are around, I am in the middle of nowhere, and I am feeling peaceful.  The best part about right now… is that everyone is still sleeping and I get a getaway within a getaway.  I get my morning.  I get my coffee. I get to reflect on what is.

This past week I have used two of my favorite quotes in therapy.  “It is not things that upset man, but the view which they take of them,” by Epictetus and “When I let go of what I am, I become who I might be.”  I’m unsure who wrote the last one, but I do know I loved the quote so much I got it tattooed on my side in college.  I wanted to always remember that my authentic self was a constant part of me; I wanted to push myself to let go of all the labels I’ve put upon myself and just be.  I have revisited these quotes many times over the past few years to remind myself I have control over my thoughts and choices.

We have the ability to redirect our thoughts to a place that is beneficial for us.  Yes there will be times where our thoughts are scary or brutally honest, but those are safeguards built inside humans to keep us safe. Those thoughts are beneficial. However, a lot of the time (at least for me) my thoughts put up an alarm when there is no threat or overestimate the possibility of threat.  Those thoughts are not founded on any proof but fueled by doubt and crippling fear. Thoughts like these can completely change your experience with anything and keep you in a “what” state of being, burdened by labels and an inability to live like a free human. Your life then becomes under the control of something else; you in fact become an object.

In the spirit of lessons I learn from my clients and the message I received in church this week, I tried very hard to put my fear aside and to really redirect my thoughts yesterday. The trip up the mountain was scary and thank GOD it was dark and I couldn’t see how high we were. Despite all that, in the passenger seat I wanted to have a panic attack.  I said to myself, “Not today. You don’t have fear.  There is no evidence I can fall off this mountain. Bri (my neighbor) has driven up here before.  The great state of North Carolina would have shut off the road if it wasn’t safe to drive on. God is protecting you.” It was not easy at first but I just kept singing Mumford and Sons, took deep breaths, and let myself have a life experience.  Is it necessary something I want to do every day, hell no, but it did prove Epictetus’ point.  I changed my view and I got up the mountain.

I kept thinking about other areas I can be intentional in reducing areas fear keeps me trapped instead of accepting each breath as my own, fueling who I am.  I remembered how I hold my shoulders up tight alllllllll the time, which is a sign that an animal is in defense mood (if I were a dog my hair would always be standing up), and how I constantly hold my stomach in to not feel fat.  “What is the point Elise? You are with good friends and in pretty good health. Let those shoulders down, there is nothing to worry about in this very moment, and if there were then be uptight then. No one cares if your stomach sticks out some.  If it bothers you that much go do some sit ups and put down your vacation beer.”  I had this conversation, well monologue, with myself this morning in the shower.  So today, I will breathe. I will let it all hang out. I will work on my view of things so the thing itself does not become bigger than it is.  Most of all, I refuse to be an object, a what, and embrace each breath as my own because this is my life… I am connecting to who I have always been. 

This week, take time to really connect with the moment.  Be intentional about your thoughts as that is the blessing and the curse of being human. Remember what you might be is really who you are right now under all that junk, breathe and let him/her exhale. Holding your breath sucks.


Silence, Sunrise, and Stillness


Date Unknown.


Mornings are my favorite time of day.  The light playfully peeking through my curtains, the fullness of breath that my body allows me to inhale after a restoring rest, and the unthreatening stillness that fills my thoughts are magical experiences.  That silence is the illustrious peace I’ve been on the hunt for throughout my adult life.  Mornings are full of freedom seen in the steam rising form my tea, the pinks and purples in the sky that will later settle to blue, and freeing breath without weight of anxiety.  Mornings are my favorite time of day. 

You would think with that said, I woke up every morning to see the sunrise.  That I made it my “it” to experience that stillness of breath that occurs when the sunlight kisses my soul and fully step into peaceful silence.  Nope.  I wake up in just enough time to shower, eat a healthy (ish) breakfast, and run out the door.  My lists begin the moment I hear my alarm and press snooze … every…. 5 …. minutes.  No wonder silence appears camouflaged; I fly right past it each morning and miss my favorite blessing, all the while wondering why I panic.  If it were a snake…. 

Finding silence, sunrise, and stillness is part active, part passive, part other focused, and part self-focused.  I was reminded of the balance between activity versus passivity and other focus versus self focus this week at work.  Neither pole is right or wrong.  What is vital is to choose how far on the continuum you want to lean based on each situation and if it is the most beneficial.   You recognize that you have to actively chose to be in the present, be passive enough to let the present envelop you, recognize how this may or may not impact others/how others may benefit from a similar practice, but mostly take the time to reset yourself and accept what you feel in that very moment.  It’s a balance.  A balance that can only be heard in the stillness of a sunrise and the silent moment you allow yourself to have.  

Although Saturday mornings, like today, allow you to fully embrace all that a sunrise has to offer, there are ways to incorporate this feeling into your every day.  It is important to accept the blessings of silence, sunrise, and stillness to reset yourself to achieve whatever purpose that may be for you.  Recall your “it” is something that happens each moment, each day, and each project; “It” is revolving and you must reset yourself to be fully present and go.

 Ways to breathe in some silence, sunrise, and stillness daily:

  • Focused breathing allows you to calm your body and redirect your focus.  Try breathing in and out deeply until you feel more settled.
  • Meditation is one of my favorites.  For beginners, focus on your breath and how various parts of your body are tense.  As you notice this tension mentally agree to let the tension seep out of you into the ground with each breath out. Start with as little as a 5 minutes.
  • Wake up and have you time each morning; have you time at night before bed.  Anything that helps you imagine a new beginning to reset.
  • Lastly, stretching daily can incorporate all the benefits gained during this time of day.  It allows you to breathe, still your mind, and focus on the new possibilities your body is preparing for, just like a sunrise.  


I’m off to experience my sunrise, embrace this stillness in my soul, and be at peace with silence.  Some good art may come out of this. Stay tuned. 


Date Unknown.