Lori Kury, longtime speech pathologist and owner of BrainStorm Cognitive Wellness & Speech Therapy, has recently been exploring her passion for health wellness and yoga mindfulness to help those dealing with anxiety and attention deficit disorder. She was recently asked to lead a workshop on meditation and said she learned as much as she taught. Read on for her experience, in her own words!
Meditation is weird. Let’s face it. Weirdos do it, right? Granola-type free spirits who aren’t stressed and have time to sit, stare, observe, hum, and spread joy aren’t on my radar in my busy stressed life. But I eventually decided this concept could help my patients at work who had experienced brain injury, attention deficit disorder, stroke, anxiety, and a multitude of other cognitive deficits. Meditation and mindfulness seemed like the perfect answer to help heal these wounded brains. So I began learning. That’s when I was hit over the head with the wake up call: “Hey Lori, you need this.”
I am a long time sufferer of anxiety and undiagnosed attentional problems. I chose the path of anxiety meds, therapy and hard core exercise to manage my issues. Issues that brought about poor decisions, a wounded marriage, relationships, and a lifetime of insecurity and “beating myself up.” My dear friend recently told me I was great at being hard on myself. So I have decided to embrace meditation in hopes to heal myself and dump all the judgment of myself and others.
Meditation is really just mindfulness. It is slowing the mind down, observing what is happening right now, in the moment. The sounds, the smells, basically all the things. It’s about observing our thoughts, and not giving them power to control us or rob us of precious moments and joy that God wants us to experience. Life is hard enough without self sabotage, and meditation can halt that in it’s tracks. Most people think you need to carve time out to meditate (who has time for that when you have real life problems, right? ) It is so much more than that. Meditation/mindfulness is about drawing in your focus and appreciating all that we have, right here, right now.
My workshop was great. I wasn’t nervous. I was excited. I felt like I was sharing a passion and really doing something I loved. I learned from each and everyone present. Alexander (a newbie to mediation), who came to support a friend, gave such a great description of his experience focusing on a battery operated candle. It was a view I would have NEVER seen. My experience with the candle was agitating. I hated it. The light was fake and flickered repetitively, hurt my eyes and really annoyed me. I vocalized that to the group. But when it was Alexander’s turn, he let the group see a whole different side of this small flickering light. It was the coolest thing I’d heard in awhile. (Another student) gave an awesome view of how being present and focusing on taste, texture and smell of food while sharing a meal with others is such an act of friendship in a way I had never thought of. It’s too much to write – all I learned from the others. I will carry it close to my heart and I feel privileged to be part of such a special experience. But, my biggest surprise was this:
We do have all we need… right in front of us. Author Pema Chodron, who wrote “Start Where you Are,” is right. The workshop closed with a body scan meditation in Savasana where you lay flat and start at your toes and work your way up to relax and release stress in the body. It was an amazing experience. And then it hit me.. This is not a new concept to me.
My sweet daughter, as long as I can remember, was never a good sleeper. Bedtime was a challenge. Allie was an anxious kid, and needed lots of closeness in many different ways. I confess I was not always patient with her. But my sweet mother was, ALWAYS. To get Allie to sleep, my mom would lie with her and play “Toes.” Toes was a game they made up and played together to get her to sleep.
My mom would get Allie to lie in bed. She’d have her think about her toes. And they would say “Toes, toes, go to sleep toes,” then “ankles, ankles, go to sleep ankles.” They would go all the way up to the head, and somehow Allie would always drift off to sleep.
As I performed the body scan meditation in my workshop, it was clear that if I just pay attention and trust my instincts, I already have everything I need. Thank you mom and Allie!
The mind is a beautiful thing…. It never stops working…it never stops thinking. And you know what…that’s OK because it means we are alive and living!!!!