When we experience severe pain for extended periods of time, its not uncommon for our suffering to dominate every part of our being. From this place, the journey back to a full and productive life can seem insurmountable.
I deeply understand how difficult and nearly impossible this journey seems based on my own experience with severe pain.
In 2009, while working in the internet technology industry of Silicon Valley, I began to develop pain. After many unsuccessful doctor visits, pain management medications, procedures and therapies, my pain spread into every joint in my body until I became bedridden and wheelchair-bound. I lost everything that I previously held dear: my career, self-worth, identity, husband, home, money and piles of collectables I had treasured so dearly. For years, I struggled to move or even breathe without pain and my quality of life deteriorated to the point where suicide seemed to be the only escape from pain. With my last hope, I turned to mindfulness as a last-ditch effort to save my life.
Unable to find teachers who have experienced severe chronic pain to guide me, my journey into mindfulness became one of forging a new path: I sought out monks to teach me traditional meditation techniques for a year at the Arizona International Buddhist Monastery; I accumulated over a year of intensive silent meditation retreats at Vipassana centers and Buddhist monasteries across North America; I became so intimate with my pain that it became my greatest teacher. Through trial and error over many years, I slowly developed the mindfulness techniques that work for severe physical pain.
My greatest passion is to help guide people who are suffering with tremendous chronic pain back to well-being. I am a Certified Mindfulness Teacher by the International Mindfulness Teachers Association, having completed training at the University of California Los Angeles’s Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior, a partner of the UCLA Mindful Awareness Research Center. I am also a level 2 coach of Unified Mindfulness, a system developed by Shinzen Young that is used by leading institutions like Harvard and Carnegie Mellon for their research on meditation.
I offer my expertise as a mindfulness teacher at the Bay Area Pain and Wellness Center, empowering individuals in severe chronic pain with mindfulness techniques that help transform their relationship to pain; as a consultant for Headspace, Inc., helping to develop insightful pain management tools; as a guest speaker for meditation groups; and in my private practice with individuals.
I am continuing to deepen my passion for empowering people in severe pain with mindfulness through apprenticing under Mark Coleman in guiding contemplative nature practices, training in Somatic Experiencing, and participating in Spirit Rock Buddhist Meditation Center’s Dedicated Practitioner Program.
Today, my mindfulness practice has transformed my own relationship with pain so dramatically that I no longer use a wheelchair, and more importantly, I don’t suffer nearly as much with the pain I do still experience. My greatest joy is helping other individuals in severe pain find their way to reduced suffering through teaching the techniques I have learned during my own journey.