Late this winter, I learned that I was approved for certification as an MBSR teacher by the University of Massachusetts Medical School’s Center for Mindfulness–the culmination, in one sense, of a journey that began in 2003. At that time, with a chronically ill son, a family member who had just been diagnosed with MS, and a re-activated sense of overwhelm that had plagued me for much of my life, I pulled my copy of Jon Kabat-Zinn’s Full Catastrophe Living off my bookshelf and began to read. I ordered Jon’s (then) tapes, and, following along with the book, started to practice mindfulness for the first time. This self-study was so impactful, so hopeful and empowering, and struck such a chord of freedom deep within me that I signed up for Jon and Saki Santorelli’s next 7-day “Mind-Body in Medicine” training at Mt. Madonna in California–in 2004. And then for the next one in 2005.
This March marked the close of the 26th MBSR class cycle that I have taught over a period of nine years. And this most welcome news of certification is an opportunity to pause, and reflect, and allow myself to be filled with the gratitude that is just bubbling up in me. What a journey! And a blessing, and a privilege to be engaged in this work, to meet people in and through these practices and see how they, too, expand and grow in possibilities for their lives as I have grown in mine.
I am so grateful to and for Jon Kabat-Zinn. Grateful from the very depths of me. Jon, your clarity, passion and poetic expression of the healing possible through mindfulness have shaped me as an MBSR teacher, and continue to inspire me to practice and study and learn and grow so that I might offer this work as skillfully and artfully as possible.
Even more, though, my experience of your teaching, your generosity and fierce compassion have shaped me as a human being. I came into practice in 2002 still deeply at odds with myself–the on-going legacy of childhood trauma. I had, for sure, already come a long way. I’d fallen in love with yoga and been practicing for years. I’d been in therapy, gone to massage school, married a devoted partner and with him had welcomed 2 exquisite children into the world. I was, I thought, well along the tumultuous path of “rapprochement” with the body, with the heart.
And then I experienced MBSR, and it both shook me to my core and at the same time gave me an experience of profound relief. It offered me the doorway through which to truly come home–over and over and over again. The model for healing that I had lived up to that point was that I could “survive” the trauma of my past. MBSR taught me that I am already more than that trauma–that in the vastness of this being, fully human, I am already whole.
Florence Meleo-Meyer, Melissa Blacker, Elana Rosenbaum–all senior teachers during my training at the Center for Mindfulness–what a gift to have spent hours and days learning from you, absorbing your humility, humor, keen insights and patient guidance into the depths of my being. I have done my best to live what you have taught me–in the classroom and outside of it. I hear your wise and steadying voices as I face the challenges, delights and, at times, heartbreak of meeting people (including myself) where we actually are. My gratitude knows no bounds.
Graduates of the MBSR in Durango classes–since my first class here of 6 brave souls you have accepted me–with all my raw love for the practice, deep appreciation for it’s many gifts in my life, and pure desire to share them with others for their benefit–and transformed me into an MBSR teacher. Your honesty, courage and sheer determination to move toward experiencing greater degrees of freedom and ease have inspired me, humbled me, sent me back to the beginning of “not knowing” again and again. You have taught me much more than I could ever hope to offer you. It is the privilege of my lifetime to be in community with you and support one another as we face our next challenges and adventures.
I am filled to overflowing with gratitude.