Three years ago in 2018, at the age of 60, chronic stress and life-long trauma took a very serious toll on Jeanine’s health outcomes. She was strongly urged, by her doctor, to find ways to decrease her chronic stress. She decided to enroll in an 8-week Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) program. Her initial mindset during the first three weeks was one of disbelief because I wasn’t noticing glaring changes. By the fourth week, her internal dialogue began shifting from one of consistent judging to one of more awareness and patience. She also began to gradually take steps back, pause and assess situations instead of jumping in and reacting. Participation in the MBSR program helped her become more aware and engaged with her personal goals and life objectives.
After completing the eight-week MBSR program, Jeanine began seeking opportunities to better understand the neuroscience and pedagogy behind mindfulness which led her to enroll in a Graduate Certificate program in Applied Mindfulness at West Chester University in Pennsylvania. Her coursework re-introduced her to the work of Jon Kabat-Zinn who popularized and secularized mindfulness from the East to the West. He defined mindfulness as
“awareness that arises through paying attention, on purpose, in the present moment, non-judgementally,” in the service of self-understanding and wisdom.”
“mindfulness opened up a world for me to be self-aware, self-regulate, and be compassionate not just to others but also to myself. Mindfulness allowed me the ability to take it all in so that I’m not suffering. I learned that with mindfulness life is impermanent and non-linear. I may take these wonderful steps forward and fall 4 steps behind. The beauty is I am aware I fell 4 steps behind.”
“Mindfulness helps with neuroplasticity. Our brains are pliable. When we can sit in awareness and apply the foundations of mindfulness, we can create new neurons. Then we can see the world and ourselves differently.”
Mindfulness has taught Jeanine to be aware of her behaviors and how they impact her body so she can then choose to make changes. Mindfulness provides the tools for people to sow the seeds of change if or when they are ready.
“Mindfulness has been such a trajectory in my life. I now look at the weather inside. My weather inside can be different. I need to see where I sit in my window of tolerance.”
During her coursework at West Chester University and now as a Certified Trauma Sensitive Mindfulness practitioner, Jeanine works with and sees the need to expand access to older adults and groups historically marginalized through racism; medically underserved communities and to all individuals and communities, most in need, seeking to create and nurture all facets of wellbeing through mindfulness-based interventions.
“Mindfulness is not a panacea. Mindfulness takes work. What mindfulness asks you to do is be in the present moment. Our bodies are always in the present moment, but where is your mind?”
Jeanine is leading a biweekly Interest Group: Mindfulness in a Complex World that is open to all those interested in learning more about mindfulness. Join a group focused on being in the present moment. Explore more about how you can use the tools of mindfulness to deal with challenging situations and gain more connections.
Jeanine seeks to support individuals and communities on their mindfulness journey, through a culturally responsive and trauma-sensitive lens. She knows that everyone’s journey is unique and believes that understanding individual uniqueness helps to create a space that is affirming, respectful and healing.
“A teacher never stops being a student. The only thing that makes me a little different from you is that I have a skill set but I’m also a pupil of this. I learn from the participants too.”
Join Jeanine and other like-minded people to be in the moments of this interest group discussing how best to stay mindful day-to-day.
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