Ahwatukee yoga therapist and certified personal trainer Leslie Harrington has added “author” to her already impressive list of accomplishments.
And her first book, as befits the former corporate marketing professional, brings with it a unique twist that has yoga teachers and enthusiasts excited.
The self-guided meditation book entitled “Unplugging Your Mind” is a small tome of 58 pages, with each of the 14 chapters providing an innovative method of meditation.
There are self-guided meditations titled “Floating Balloons,” “Stilling Pond,” “Butterfly” and “Your Favorite Place to Be” – each meant to help the reader or listener move into a peaceful zone that stills anxiety and troubled minds.
And inside each book or Kindle edition purchased via Amazon is a code that the reader can use for the free downloadable guided meditations, with Harrington’s voice-over and an accompaniment of soothing music augmenting each.
Because the book is not a cover-to-cover read, readers or listeners are able to select whatever guided meditation “resonates with them” at the time, Harrington said.
“The book is educative because readers will discover many reasons they should be doing guided meditations on a daily basis, and how they can thrive from the proven benefits of meditation,” said Harrington, an ASU alum and Ahwatukee resident of 22 years.
She said she’s often asked to define meditation, and in her years of study she’s been able to succinctly do so.
“Meditation is a way to calm the mind and reconnect to who we really are. Oftentimes, we get caught up in thinking we are the things we’re doing. But we are human beings, not human doings,” she laughed.
“There’s a University of Wisconsin study that says if we meditate for 20 minutes a day, after 13 weeks we’ll see changes in our mind to create a happier self. I say just start to meditate and you’ll see a difference,” said Harrington. “It’s like your everyday life goes from feeling burlap to feeling of silk. Everything goes smoother.”
She illustrates with a recent experience of when she came out of Costco to see her parked car had been hit.
“A gentleman was standing there with his wife leaving me a note, which was very nice. And frankly, on days I don’t meditate, it might have bothered me. But I had my meditation that day, so I was calm and at ease and all went well.”
In addition, what has proven to be popular with yoga instructors is the book’s scripts that can be used in yoga or mindfulness classes.
One reader, Tony Le Cara, told Harrington he’d used the book to help him remove anxiety.
“I was fortunate to receive my copy the night before teaching my first yoga course. Feeling butterflies in my stomach and tossing and turning while trying to sleep, I opened ‘Unplugging Your Mind’ and focused on the butterfly meditation. I watched my butterflies fly away, metaphorically.”
Even though “Unplugging Your Mind” is a small book, it wasn’t written without Harrington’s investment of time and thought.
“It took quite a few years to write it,” she admitted. “I took what I used with my clients and fine-tuned it. I want the guided meditations to assist the readers to unplug their mind; relax, rest and renew.”
The meditations are especially helpful for anyone with an overactive mind.
“One of the first things I hear in my meditation workshops and in my health coaching is ‘How do I stop my mind from thinking all the time?’ or ‘I can’t seem to turn my mind off at night,” She said, adding:
“Often not finding peace of mind means a recipe for worry and anxiety. Meditation is a great tool to help.”
Harrington – whose full name, Leslie Lyn Hi’ialo Harrington, is on the book’s cover – first learned guided meditation techniques while at a leadership course at age 12.
Born and raised in Hilo, Hawaii, Harrington spent one year at the University of Hawaii before transferring to Arizona State University.
“I thought that would be better for me because I ended up at the beach so much,” she confessed.
After earning her degree in human communications, Harrington entered the fast-paced world of advertising and marketing.
It was during this period that she reverted to her roots and found meditation a quieting necessity amidst the chaos of the corporate world.
“I started wanting to reduce stress,” she said.
During that period, she also began entering and winning fitness competitions.
“I took third runner-up nationally for fitness modeling and placed 17 (out of 72) internationally,” she said.
It was the confluence of overcoming corporate stress and immersing herself in physical health programs that brought her to realizing her life goal.
“My passion is helping people to find their way to fitness, and there’s no cookie-cutter template. It is very individualized,” she said.
In 2006, Harrington launched Iron Belle Fitness. She is a registered yoga teacher (RYT) with Yoga Alliance and a senior master yoga teacher/trainer with YogaFit, the largest yoga fitness educational school in the world.
Harrington is also a certified holistic health & nutrition coach, master yoga trainer, fitness trainer and yoga therapist. She is a registered international yoga teacher and a certified personal trainer with clients throughout the East Valley.
“I’m a complete wellness junkie on a mission to change the world by helping people create healthier, happier and more balanced lives every single day,” she said.
Her tenure in the corporate world also led her into health coaching and teaching multi-week yoga training at the corporation level.
“I think more and more corporations are seeing how important and beneficial mindfulness and yoga is to their employees. It definitely helps reduce stress,” she said.
Local resident Debbie Nitkowski, who’s been a private fitness client of Harrington for nine years, has purchased the book and downloaded the audio and said she has already purchased copies for her grown daughters, too.
“One daughter is in a high stress job and the other has a teenager and two toddlers, so I knew they could use these meditations,” said Nitkowski, who moved to Ahwatukee in 1982.
She admits to having panic attacks and anxiety especially when flying.
“I’ve downloaded all her meditations and listen to them,” she said. “And when the panic starts, boom! I turn to ‘Body Relaxation Meditation’. I also like ‘Peaceful Evening’ and ‘Favorite Place to Be.’”
“Unplugging Your Mind: Guided Meditations to Relax, Rest and Renew” is available on Amazon in paperback ($14.99) or Kindle ($7.92).