Inseus Founder Ashley Nelson on Mindfulness

Inseus (@inseusmindfulness) Founder Ashley Nelson shares insight into her work and mindfulness practice in anticipation of her talk Mindfulness as the Unlock– your Super Power! at Strictly Business 2020. Her Q&A defines mindfulness, builds leadership skills, and looks at those who challenge us as sources from inspiration.

Learn more next Saturday, 1/18 at Strictly Business 2020! Thank you to Inseus for sponsoring this event. Register here.

For individuals unfamiliar with mindfulness and mindfulness practice, can you give us insight into mindfulness practice and some benefits of incorporating it into an individual’s day-to-day routine?

Mindfulness practice can be thought of in two ways: Integrated and Dedicated. When we refer to integrated practices, we are integrating mindfulness into every moment in life. We are bringing presence and awareness to the now, this moment, regardless of where we are and what we are doing. If you’d like, you can call these Micro Practices. They refer to our ability to shift from autopilot to aware, using a variety of methods. The awareness that arises from paying attention to the present moment, in a particular way– with a gentle curiosity, kindness and non judgment. We’ll talk more about this and practice during our session. The second way to practice mindfulness is through dedicated practices. Just as we go to the gym for a dedicated workout to change the shape and strength of our muscles, neuroscience now teaches us that we can change the shape, functioning and even the size of brain regions, parts, or “muscles”. Dedicated mindfulness practices are when we dedicate time– 10, 20, 40, 60 minutes to the actual practice of meditation or another mindfulness modality where we focus on the present moment, using a particular kind of attention. Both integrated and dedicated practices are effective and produce results. What are the results? Many… The physiological benefits of practicing mindfulness regularly, recognized in the medical and scientific communities are: reduced blood pressure, cortisol levels and stress. Additionally, improved immune and cardiovascular health, memory & executive functioning, attentional control and ability to focus, and improved sleep. Research also shows a decrease in anxiety level. Mindfulness is also used to treat depression. There is scientific evidence that mindfulness slows the aging process on a cellular level. Functionally, mindfulness increases self and situational awareness, regulates emotions, and leads to increased productivity and effectiveness. It is a profound practice that has changed my life.

Can you share how Inseus was started and the best part about working with individuals to help them grow and become more engaged?

Inseus grew organically out of my transformative experience integrating mindfulness into my work and home life. While we incorporated in 2017 as Green Light Mindfulness, we rebranded quickly and become Inseus. After experiencing the game-changing benefits that mindfulness had on my life, I began teaching mindfulness in various forms as a senior executive at Fossil, a large global corporate enterprise, and in various underserved communities across Chicago 8+ years ago. Frankly, I knew this was my calling and purpose, and it took me a while to gain the courage to leave the secure, financially stable leadership role I was in at Fossil. There is nothing more rewarding than deepening connection with myself, other human beings, and our world, in a way that increases well-being, insight and compassion. Mindfulness nourishes in a way that is empowering, healing and often, surprising.

Your talk Mindfulness as the Unlock– your Super Power! speaks to how mindfulness leads to growth in areas that make a great leader. Can you speak to those skills and ways mindfulness practices helps shape a great leader?

Mindfulness practice changes certain capacities by strengthening brain regions connected to executive function, pro social behavior, and our seat of higher order thinking. It also decreases cell volume in the area of our brain responsible for conditional, emotional and automatic response. Any discipline or practice that does this can lead to an increased capacity to think strategically, concentrate, make decisions, communicate effectively and relate / connect to others with empathy and kindness. By supporting our ability to regulate emotions and interrupt the cycle of reactivity and stress, mindfulness practice builds resilience and produces wise, composed, balanced, insightful, authentic, compassionate and more creative leaders. I can’t think of any practice or methodology that better shapes a great leader.

Who are you currently inspired by or who has impacted your work and practice the most?

I am inspired by real people who are walking this life in ordinary and spectacular ways, my husband and my two daughters, Marley and Thora. I am inspired by students and regular people I connect with, who challenge and engage me daily, reminding me what embodiment looks and feels like and what it doesn’t, particularly when I have stepped off the path of embodiment myself. I am inspired by thought leaders in the space like Eckhart Tolle, Pema Chodrin, Jon Kabat Zinn, Tara Brach and local teachers / mentors, Quinn Kearney, Claire Mark, Tom Quinn, Brandon Rennels and Allan Goldstein. I am inspired by Barack Obama, whose equanimity and ability to communicate make me feel safe, even if I may not agree with a specific policy. And, I am impacted by today’s political and world climate– to keep practicing, teaching and sharing the profoundness of this work, so that people can know deeply there is another way.  Another way that is more productive, more effective, more empathetic and yields far greater, worthwhile and rich results for each other and our world.  

Image courtesy Ashley Nelson

After disruptive challenges in her professional and personal life, Ashley Nelson discovered that mindfulness practice heightened her impact and effectiveness and gave her a clearer sense of purpose across all facets of her life. She is passionate about helping people unlock their full potential to lead authentic, more productive lives, and founded her business Inseus to equip individuals with the tools to cultivate awareness, gain perspective, and balance personal fulfillment with professional success. Through one-on-one training, group training, and consulting engagements, the mindfulness experts at Inseus create spaces for experiential learning to inspire people in profoundly personal ways, empowering them to discover more productive, peaceful, and authentic versions of themselves.

Ashley Nelson is passionate about helping people unlock their full potential to lead more authentic, resilient, productive lives. A former senior leader at a Fortune 500 company, Ashley helps individuals elevate their effectiveness and in so doing helps organizations create a culture where everyone can succeed and thrive.

She is widely recognized as a strategic thinker, team builder, and compassionate and proven change management leader with over 25 years of corporate experience. For more than a decade, Ashley has been teaching and sharing the power of mindfulness in corporate, community and non-profit settings. She completed rigorous training in neuroscience, mindfulness, and emotional intelligence from the Search Inside Yourself Leadership Institute and UC San Diego’s Mindfulness Based Professional Training Institute in the School of Medicine. An SIY Certified Teacher, executive coach, and Qualified Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) Teacher, Ashley is also a certified hatha yoga instructor. She serves on the board of directors for Fossil Foundation and volunteers extensively teaching mindfulness and yoga to individuals through schools, community groups, and recovery programs for incarcerated women.