The Importance of Enjoying Yourself with Dr. Rachel Allyn
Rachel Allyn, PhD is a licensed clinical psychologist, certified yoga instructor, public speaker, and author.
She is the founder of YogaPsych, PLLC, a psychotherapy practice for adults that blends Western medicine with Eastern philosophy, and connects the mind with the body. She has been in private practice for fifteen years working with individuals and couples dealing with sexuality, intimacy, and relationship problems as well as trauma, depression, anxiety, and loss.
Dr. Allyn is a TEDx speaker and author of the forthcoming book “The Pleasure Is All Yours: Reclaim Your Body’s Bliss and Reignite Your Passion for Life” drawing on her method of bodyfulness, a more dynamic version of mindfulness that incorporates the body’s wisdom and capacity for healing. She’s been quoted in books and magazines including Yoga Journal, Women’s Health, Outside, Good Housekeeping, and Cosmopolitan.
Here’s a glimpse of what you’ll learn:
- The loneliness in pursuing and completing that doctoral degree
- Life is a trial and error of finding out what resonates best with you
- The physical body is an important resource for the mind
- Movement is medicine
- Debunking the whole idea of “guilty pleasures”
- Intentional living and finding your authentic self
- Nothing is too small to make a difference
In this episode…
Have you listened to your body today? What is on your body’s mind?
In this episode of the Unconventional Life, Dr. Rachel Allyn talks about her motivation in pursuing her doctoral degree with Dr. Russell Strickland. She also shares about her book The Pleasure Is All Yours in which she redefines pleasure and emphasizes the importance of mind-body integration to connect with others and find your purpose. She also briefly discusses her experience as a TEDx speaker.
“Movement is medicine,” highlights Dr. Allyn. So for those of you are burned out and losing focus, this episode is will get you moving in the right direction.
Resources Mentioned in this episode
- Dr. Rachel Allyn on LinkedIn
- Dr. Russell Strickland on LinkedIn
- Dr. Rachel Allyn on Facebook
- Dr. Rachel Allyn on Instagram
- Dr. Rachel Allyn on YouTube
- TEDx: Pleasure to the People!
- The Pleasure is All Yours by Dr. Rachel Allyn
- Dissertation Done
- Unconventional Lives: Books on Amazon
Sponsor for this episode…
This episode is brought to you by Dissertation Done, America’s #1 authority in dissertation completion for working professionals.
Founded by Dr. Russell Strickland, Dissertation Done serves people in two ways:
- If you’re struggling with your dissertation, getting ready to start your dissertation, or just plain wanting to get your dissertation done as soon as possible, go to www.dissertationdone.com/done and Let’s Get Your Dissertation Done
- If you’re busy living your Unconventional Life and have a message that you want to share, maybe you should join our Expand Your Authority Program to become a published author. Go to www.dissertationdone.com/book and let me know that you’d like to talk about Expanding Your Authority.
Disclaimer: This transcript is here for your reading convenience. It was created by machines and may (a-hem) contain some errors. If you email us about these errors, the machines will undoubtedly find out. I hope they won’t get angry.
Welcome to An Unconventional Life, a podcast where we share stories about the crazy one percent out there, who earned their doctoral degrees, and then went on to use them in crazy, cool, unique and unconventional ways. Here’s your host astrophysicist turned teacher, author, dissertation coach, and more, Dr. Russell Strickland.
Dr. Russell Strickland 00:28
Hello, and welcome to an unconventional life. I’m your host, Dr. Russell Strickland. I today I have with me Dr. Rachel Allen, who is a licensed clinical psychologist, certified yoga instructor, a public speaker and author. She’s the founder of yoga psych, which is a psychotherapy practice for adults that blends Western medicine and Eastern philosophy. She connects with the mind and the body, and has been in private practice for 15 years working with individuals and couples dealing sexuality, intimacy and relationship problems, as well as trauma, depression, anxiety and loss. Dr. Allen’s a TEDx speaker, and author of the forthcoming book, The pleasure is all yours. Reclaim Your body’s bliss and reignite your passion for life. This draws on her Miss method for body fullness, which I’m sure I’m gonna want to hear a little bit more about that. I’m Dr. Dr. Alec, thank you for joining us here today. And welcome.
Dr. Rachel Allyn 01:25
Thank you so much. Yeah, my pleasure to be here. I like to insert that word pleasure as much as possible.
Dr. Russell Strickland 01:30
A little bit of a branding work. Yeah,
Dr. Rachel Allyn 01:33
yeah. But yeah, it’s great. It’s a great word I’d rather you know, than pain.
Dr. Russell Strickland 01:38
There are a lot worse words out there, that’s for sure. I’d like to just let everybody know very briefly here that today’s episode is brought to you by Dissertation Done. Here at Dissertation Done, we help adult doctoral students through the dissertation process. So if by any chance you’re feeling a little bit, stalled, slowed down, or just playing stuck, reach out to us at DissertationDone.com/done. And we’ll see if we can get you to graduation, a lot sooner than you thought possible. And if by any chance you’ve already graduated, and your first name is Doctor, then by all means, reach out to us at DissertationDone.com/book, and we can have a conversation about getting you to be the author of your own book, just like Dr. Allyn here. So again, Dr. Allyn, thank you so much.
Dr. Rachel Allyn 02:27
You’re welcome. I’m so happy to be here. Yeah, I’d love to chat about it, especially being on the other side, it’s a little easier to reflect on easier, right?
Dr. Russell Strickland 02:34
Right, so that you don’t have to worry about being on the wrong side of it, so to speak anymore. Um, let’s go back to where you started from the tell it tell everybody what, what motivated you to pursue your Doctoral Degree in the first place?
Dr. Rachel Allyn 02:49
Well, when I knew that I wanted to go into psychology, I looked at the different options, whether it be master’s level or doctoral level side to your PhD. And then at masters level, whether it be Master’s in psychology or in social work. And I just talked with a lot of different people that were already doing that. And I think that part of why I chose a PhD is also because it would allow me to do a variety of different things, and which really does suit me and I do that in my, in my practice. Now I do a variety of different things. And I didn’t want to later have limitations that I couldn’t do research, or I couldn’t teach, or I, you know, I couldn’t have my own practice. So it just seemed like, you know, what, now is the time get the education. And I chose PhD because even though I figured I really wanted to do more clinical work, I just still really wanted a comprehensive research opportunity. So, you know, course, looking at the loans later, maybe I had those moments where I thought maybe I should have gotten that Master’s. But But yeah, I know, I mean, I’m really glad that it does mean that I can do a variety of things.
Dr. Russell Strickland 04:00
Yeah, I know, for for me, I had, I had gone to graduate school for a while. And the folks that listen before know that my research advisor died while I was in school. And I decided at that point to try other things for a while. And I ended up getting more and more into business and decided I had no educational background that whatsoever. And so folks were like you should go get an MBA. It’s like, why are you having a master’s degree? Do I need another one. And I opted to get my PhD as well, for very much the same reasons just to have that flexibility. And you have two masters and a PhD, just one Master’s in a PhD because that’s what that was, the choice is do I want to get a Master’s now in an area that I didn’t have any education in? Or do I want to just go and take that to the next level? So when I decided I needed to get a little bit of education and things surrounding business, I decided I was gonna go back to school and people were saying, oh, the MBA, everybody was doing the MBA thing but I decided I already had kind of that background. So maybe I should should do the next The next thing and I get I got to tell you that the loans might be a little bit more expensive, but the payoff is well worth it on the on the other side. Well, congratulations to you on that and to you. So tell me what what was that process like was the experience like once you once you’ve made that decision and enrolled in the Ph.D. program?
Dr. Rachel Allyn 05:22
Well, I think that I was at that point in time. so used to being a student, I hadn’t gone that many years after college and, and even in the years between college and my doctoral program, I had taken some classes as prerequisites. So I think of student life is being a lot of what I knew anyway. And I went to graduate school in the San Francisco Bay Area, and had already been living and working out there and had community. But you know, I do look back on that time in my life, and quite honestly, it’s, it’s somewhat of a lonely time, because there is so much work. And sometimes you’re in study groups and classes with other people, but there’s just a lot of time with yourself, which is the case of writing, whether you’re writing a dissertation or writing a book, it’s really you with you and your own thoughts and your own frustration, tolerance and process, so is definitely a no nose to the grindstone sort of time. And then also, you’re you’re not earning a lot of money, if any. And so I look back and think of you know, the ramen dinners, or just the ways in which you’re really got to be diligent and focused. And, but that’s part of that paying your dues process. And what I mean, I loved that I could not only take classes, but I love the clinical practicum placements that we had each year, and especially in the bay, San Francisco area. I mean, I had really amazing one of a kind, experiential, clinical opportunities that you know, are so invaluable, and that was balanced out with time to, you know, work on my dissertation as well.
Dr. Russell Strickland 06:57
Yeah. So obviously, the clinical is going to help with this, but how did you deal with that thing you mentioned earlier about kind of the loneliness that the you know, it being just you with you, and that’s something a lot of our students talk about quite a lot or, or or acknowledge at least even if they don’t talk about it, but they have that sense of being alone a lot in this process.
Dr. Rachel Allyn 07:17
Right. And it’s an especially for somebody like me who on that introversion, extroversion spectrum, I fall more on the extraversion side of things. And so you know, I just made sure that I I’m good at connecting with people reaching out having I think there were, you know, few of us that had like a standing regular was like every Wednesday night at such such a time we’d meet for dinner, you know, I had I had a pet I made sure to also have some people that I exercise with because that is you know, so essential just to focus and stress relief so I people I would go trail running with so you can really have time with the outdoors and but it’s it’s like anything, whatever you give your energy to it can flourish and come back to you. So I just felt I prioritize that I also I didn’t have children, I didn’t have a family I was trying to support at the same time, too. So I really had the luxury of focusing completely on my my education and finding balance while I was working on that.
Dr. Russell Strickland 08:18
Yeah, it’s it’s tough you however you do it, but But yeah, being able to, to not have to deal with some of those external forces definitely helps. Besides the loneliness, and the solitude would, were there other issues that you thought made? Were challenges for years, you were going through graduate school and the dissertation in particular?
Dr. Rachel Allyn 08:42
Well, I think that in graduate school, you are asked to take a wide variety of topics and and just, you know, some are going to appeal more to you than others. And, you know, statistics really wasn’t my jam, that one didn’t really light me up. But you know, you have, you just have to do it and, and test taking you, for example, I preferred more projects and writing over test taking and so that, that those were some of the challenges, but But otherwise, I think that mean, it’s really a privilege to be able to have that much education and get to learn and I mean, it’s such a luxury and but but I definitely found that there were some theoretical orientations that really drives with me and some that did not. And so, but that’s part of what you know, all of life is sort of the trial and error figuring out what resonates with you and what doesn’t, and but, you know, I’m glad that I had that more eclectic and wide. Just variety of different things to learn about in order to really come into what is my viewpoint? What, what is my theoretical orientation, or how do I want to serve and be a clinician?
Dr. Russell Strickland 09:52
Yeah, yeah, we were talking about this with one of one of my recent podcast guests, the fact that you have all these different things that you get to pick can choose from. And without knowing it, or knowing why exactly, you will tend to gravitate and connect with certain things a little bit more so than others. And it seems like somehow that always makes sense later on. Like, you might not understand the picture as you’re painting it, but later on, you can step back and see that yes, it does make sense that this is who I am and what I’m doing in this world,
Dr. Rachel Allyn 10:21
huh? Yeah, yeah. And I mean, I really can tenured my studies far beyond getting my PhD and, and, you know, we are also required to have continuing education anyway. But, so that was really kind of the foundation. But I have gone in a lot of different directions as far as what I’ve learned, and when I incorporate that I didn’t even get in graduate school. But but it certainly was a really strong foundation for me to figure out what the direction I wanted to go. And
Dr. Russell Strickland 10:50
well, and that’s something I tell our students all the time is that there are things that you’re interested in, for these guys, focus on your dissertation, let’s get it done. But you can always do that stuff later. You don’t have to get anybody’s permission to continue on learning, I want you to continue learning every day throughout your life, because that’s just good for all sorts of things. Yeah, stay
Dr. Rachel Allyn 11:07
forever curious and intrigued, you kind of open mind,
Dr. Russell Strickland 11:12
your health in your brain is literally good for that. But also, it’s you’re you’re gonna end up helping people in a variety of ways that you can’t anticipate just as you keep learning, you will, you will learn things that’s going to be helpful to somebody later on. And so there’s, there’s just so many reasons to do it. And once you get your PhD, you don’t get to have permission from anybody else to do it anymore. A lot of folks would be like, well, I need to go to school and learn this. You know, you have a doctoral degree now, you you’ve been certified as a learner, you can learn things without permission from a school at this point. So that’s
Dr. Rachel Allyn 11:43
right, right. Yeah, I was gonna stay curious.
Dr. Russell Strickland 11:47
So now you went on from from when you earned your doctoral degree, you create, you have a company now called yoga psych. So there’s got to be a story there for how did those things come together?
Dr. Rachel Allyn 12:01
For you? Right, exactly, we got those two words yoga and psychology, I mean, for I see them as so complimentary. But also, there’s some really vast differences. When we look at the history of each, the history of modern psychology in the US has been very much about more of the mind and not the body. And certainly with boundaries where you don’t touch people, understandably so. Whereas when we think of yoga, there might be hands on adjustments, it is very much of the body, we don’t even think maybe of how it does impact the mind, although we’re realizing that now. And in fact, even my liability insurance when they saw that was my my business name, I had to write a whole separate agenda on that promise that I would not be injuring people or touching them because psychology and psychotherapy has been so much about you know, you don’t engage the body, you certainly don’t touch people. And and it’s and I don’t, but I, I do, I did make that my business name. And it because it really comes from the fact that a lot of my work is about integrating mind and body. Because we can be such over thinkers. And while our mind is certainly, you know, a place of brilliance, it can also be a place that can sabotage us that can overthink that can get stuck in limiting beliefs and storylines. And the thing is, we’ve forgotten what a valuable resource our physical body can be for our mind, body health, how our body has a language all of its own, that’s always rooting for our survival and trying to keep us in balance. And so my practice, it does always it really invites the language of the body as well into the session. And so sometimes we’ll check in with breath, we’ll check in with kind of where areas of tension are being held in the body. As we’re talking. I start on my sessions also with a guided meditation, sometimes it’s it’s just more breathing, but also sometimes with some movement. So I wouldn’t say that I do a traditional yoga. In my therapy session, I do teach separate yoga workshops that are yoga therapy. I also do retreats every year, that are yoga retreats, but they’re very much kind of psychotherapy of sorts as well. But in the session, it’s really about how can we incorporate the body as well as the mind to have that as a resource because of its just innate healing capacity that we have within?
Dr. Russell Strickland 14:21
So for our students, who are our audience members, who are still students in Japan and working through struggling through their dissertation, there’s a lot of stress there, their focus issues, their their motivational issues there. Are there any techniques that you might think of that would incorporate sort of mind body to help a student to focus better to stay motivated to do anything that might be beneficial to them on this journey? Well,
Dr. Rachel Allyn 14:48
I love the phrase movement is medicine. And so when you think of how as human beings we’ve been wired, for what we really built for more movement and being out in the field and hunting and whatnot, we’re not necessarily meant to be the sedentary preachers in front of a screen. And so what we can do to help ourselves to come, you know, when we might be getting tired or losing focus is simply just get up, move, go outside, you know, walking, discharging out the stress with movement that is accumulating within. So in a way, we need to get out of our head in order to come back into our head. So I would certainly encourage people have a lot of like movement breaks, stretch, breaks, going outside breaks, anything that connects to your body, whether it be with your senses, maybe listening to a song, smelling essential oils, but really, you know, checking in with those elements to sort of revitalize you, in order to come back and then and then have that focus again. You know, I also I think that when, when we’re when we’re problem solving, and so focus, we actually tend to kind of breathe less fully. And that doesn’t do us any favors in the long term either. So part of like, getting the blood flow going and doing different stretches and movements is just to help kind of reconnect us to breath and the present moment, and having, you know, our diaphragm more expansive, which just regulates our nervous system with a regulated nervous system, we’re balanced, we’re able to focus,
Dr. Russell Strickland 16:17
right? Awesome. Now, I know when, for a long time, I when I was focused on something and I was having trouble with the work, I would try to switch gears. And somehow, that would generally be mentally, like, I might pick up my iPad and play like a little game for two or three minutes and put it back down. And I’m, you know, okay, I’ve switched gears. Since the pandemic, one of the things we did when the gyms closed down is I got some gym equipment went out into the garage. And so now sometimes I will go out there and just work out maybe workout, not necessarily the right word, but just for a few minutes, do dual fuel things, and I feel more connected to that work then, than just sort of switching gears mentally and like playing a little game for a few minutes. But actually, by moving around a little bit, I’ve noticed that seems to be a little more helpful.
Dr. Rachel Allyn 17:04
Right? Right. We need balance. I mean, we can’t, but just be kind of crushing it every moment and go, go go. And plus, you know, part of why I also suggest weaving in the body to give us breaks is that, you know, we asked so much of our mind, I mean, it’s kind of a lot to put on it that it can you know, you can study can deal with feelings, it can it can write the dissertation, I mean, all of it right here. It’s like, well, let’s kind of let’s enlist our whole being in order to be able to rise to the occasion of these challenges.
Dr. Russell Strickland 17:32
No, it’s cool. It’s, uh, yeah, it’s a good way of thinking about it. Because a lot of other things, we try to make sure we’re not too focused on one part of the body. But here with our brains, our minds, we do that a lot. We try to focus on that one part, instead of doing, you know, what they would call in Kinesiology and compound movements, you know, if you’re, if you’re, if you’re moving multiple joints at the same time, generally speaking, that’s a more effective way of exercising. And I think if you can incorporate that in with your thinking, it’s got got to help provide some benefits as well. Yeah,
Dr. Rachel Allyn 18:04
variety is the spice of life. Just like we’re supposed to have a variety of food groups, a variety of exercises, yeah, variety of ways to sort of engage ourselves and for optimal living.
Dr. Russell Strickland 18:15
Make sense? Well, um, I know that you have a book that’s coming up soon. And that talks a lot. It seems like it talks a lot to the type of work that you do now. So tell folks a little bit about about the book and when it’s coming out, and all that?
Dr. Rachel Allyn 18:30
Yeah, the book is coming out July 27. Although I have been encouraging people to certainly preorder it if they think they might like it, because I have some pre order bonuses, which includes some different meditation, guided meditations and playlists that are included.
Dr. Russell Strickland 18:49
But you buried the headline a little bit. Rachel, what is the name of the book because this is like, this is what’s been the everybody interested because I’m really captivated by this title.
Dr. Rachel Allyn 19:00
It’s called The pleasure is all yours, which is about it’s and then it’s the subtitle is Reclaim Your body’s bliss and reignite your passion for life. Who doesn’t want that? Right?
Dr. Russell Strickland 19:14
I’m sure this is totally antithetical to the book, but put that in a bottle for me, right? Yeah,
Dr. Rachel Allyn 19:20
yeah, exactly. Right. Just like we just want that quick fix that potion. Yeah. But the premise of the book is that there are two things that have been kind of harmful to us and more of our American history. One is this separation of the mind and the body. And also this denigration of sort of pleasure and rest and joy as as indulgent or guilt ridden or only reduced down to sex. And really, my my whole point is that, with our body being so wise, it’s actually connection to our body that can help us really receive healthy pleasures in life of different kinds, and that those moments of pleasure add up to Longer states of joy and happiness, which is ultimately very restorative, it gives us resilience. So this whole idea of kind of pleasure as an indulgence to that’s guilty, that pulls us away from productivity is really just the opposite. And where do we even learn that and where can we even receive that it’s, it’s through also connecting to our body and the wisdom of our body. So I talk a lot about body fullness. Now everybody has heard of mindfulness, it’s so ubiquitous. And it’s really helpful, helpful to be mindful to just bring in awareness. But then there’s a sort of only goes so far, because we now know that we store trauma and stress in our body. So it’d be mindful of our body without taking that next step into body fullness of actually releasing and discharging the stress through movement through sound release, through, you know, different sorts of postures and exercises and foam rolling. And you know, what crying, tears, sweat, all sorts of things that we need to release, are really powerful to help us let go of the trauma that can get stuck in our body. And so that’s where mindfulness is the first part of body fullness, we do need to first have embodied mindfulness. But then we need to have methods to release the stress or find containment of intense emotions. In order to go to that kind of third tier, which is of embracing our right to different pleasures in life. sensual pleasures, playful and creative pleasures, liveliness, and livelihood, and flow states all truism as a source of pleasure, which we all know when we’re feeling balanced within we can give more to others. Then, of course, there is erotic pleasure to which I talked about in the book, but that’s a small part of it. And I talked about how that is been what we tend to just reduce the word pleasure to even though it’s about so many other things. And I think it’s right now it’s it’s really needed now more than ever, because people have really been languishing through the pandemic time, our feel other people feeling blocked, feeling unmotivated, or disconnected to themselves and community. So my book is really trying to revive that. How can we have body fullness that kind of allow us to feel more vibrant, which opens us up to feel more community and connection with others?