My journey to learn about mindfulness began in1983 on a dare from a friend, "I'll bet you could never keep your mouth shut long enough to sit in meditation for 12 days in noble silence" and the rest is history. It's my default mode for handling stress, pain, illness and caring for loved ones at end-of-life. It especially helped me early in life to handle the grief from my mother's early death from cancer and 50 years later it's been an invaluable tool to navigate raising a family, caring for aging parents, and coping with personal health issues. Jon Kabat-Zinn's 1998 research study on the effect of listening to mindfulness tapes and guided imagery during UV light treatment for psoriasis resulted in psoriatic clearing approximately four times faster than the control group. In my limited experience the mindfulness and yoga has played a major role in healing maladies such as chronic eczema, migraines, a ruptured cervical disc, and torn meniscus - and if you ask my husband and family I believe they would tell you that the mindfulness practice has helped me to calm down, tune in, focus on one task at a time rather than being the queen of multi-tasking, and listen without so much judgement allowing others to be themselves rather than assuming who I think they are or who I want them to be. It has allowed me to sit with a greater range of emotion rather than be stuck in endless cycles of past or future catastrophizing, and to allow everyday stress and pain that is part and parcel to the life cycle to waft through me more like a screen door, rather than hitting the wall. I think Viktor E. Frankle, Austrian Physician and holocaust survivor, says it so well:
Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.
The beauty of mindfulness is that it's a simple to learn on-the-spot practice that you can use wherever you are so you don't necessarily need to go to Tahiti, or the gym, or be listening to your favorite music to experience more peace of mind. Mindfulness is not something that we have to go out and get - the trick is to begin to harness and get to know our innate capacity for being mindful. When we lean in and begin to notice how our attention is being focused this is the first step to calling ourselves back - to freeing our awareness up and allowing for a more full and enlivening presence. Mindfulness training teaches us to utilize our attention and intention in the present moment in a manner that supports our innate relaxation response to thrive, rather than being in constant high rev mode that tends to lead to exhaustion and numbing out. Sports coaches utilize mindfulness to teach athletes to be in the zone - George Mumford, was mindfulness coach for the Chicago Bulls and L.A. Lakers. Like working out, the more you practice the more it becomes a default mode that imparts resilience to our everyday life.
Mindfulness helps us to find ease amidst the Covid lockdown of our digital era. Over the past 40 years mindfulness has become mainstream. Research shows that it may aid in reversing chronic stress-related symptoms such as headaches, eczema, back pain, Inflammatory bowel disease and fybromyalgia, improve job performance, reduce burnout and compassion fatigue, aid in pain management and treatment of addiction, PTSD, anxiety, depression, increase emotional intelligence and mental clarity, enhance self-care and self-regulation, decrease cortisol, calms inflammation, improve sleep quality, lower blood pressure; enhance the immune system, improve communication skills and increase what Rick Hanson, PhD refers to as the "hormones of happiness" - dopamine, oxytocin, serotonin, and melatonin. Mindfulness is not a cure-all yet has the potential to change the bottomline of how we respond to stress and can help to optimize our health and happiness along with other healthy lifestyle components of our daily routine such as diet, exercise, sleep hygiene, positive social support network, and routine medical and behavioral healthcare.
I love sharing the transformational mindfulness modalities with both individuals and groups. I've worked with a wide variety of conditions from sports massage with the San Francisco 49ers and restorative yoga for pregnant moms and kids with cognitive disabilities to restorative retreats and classes for hospital staff. I design sessions for individuals and groups according to your unique needs - each session is aimed to work with exactly where you are. I keep a lending library and can provide additional resources to aid in integration of the mindfulness into your daily life.
Mindfulness is simply an awareness practice that bring us closer to our contemplative nature - it's not a religion or cult but can dovetail nicely with whatever spiritual practice you may or may not already have. Sessions are held at the Prairie House with lovely views of the prairie and Lake Sinissippi conveniently located 50 minutes equidistant between Milwaukee and Madison.
For questions about specific wellness services or to discuss designing a wellness session for staff retreats please contact:
Laurie Sullivan RYT, LMT, MD