“My Sabbatical Turned into a Life:” Introducing Jerrol Kimmel, Mentor in College of MBM
I used to joke that “my sabbatical turned into a life.” In the mid 90‘s, during a difficult passage in my life, I moved to the east coast on a journey to reclaim myself. I was looking for “my people” and “my work.” Someone told me to connect with the Center for Mind-Body Medicine (CMBM). Little did I know that this chance meeting would completely change the direction of my life. The Center gave me a language for what I was already doing and a structure that brought out my greatest gifts as a teacher/healer.
I had spent a decade in the healing arts, was certified in hypnotherapy, and had gone to nursing school. I knew that I wanted to bridge allopathic medicine with the healing arts but could not have anticipated how it would all come together. The CMBM welcomed me into a community of dedicated health professionals committed to changing the way medicine was delivered in this country – making self-care the heart of health care as opposed to drugs and surgery at the center of the old paradigm. Leading mind-body skills groups gave me a way to facilitate change by helping people to become more self-aware, to listen to themselves, and ultimately come to know what needed to heal in them. I became part of the Center’s faculty and eventually joined the Global Trauma Relief Team.
Being on the International Global Trauma Relief Team is fulfilling on so many levels. Consider our final check-in with the international faculty in Haiti where we are currently training a group of health care professionals, teachers and religious leaders in the Center’s model (See photo above). It left all of us with a feeling of deep satisfaction and contentment, that what we do matters and has great purpose. The work brings us together in extraordinary ways. The members of our team are great human beings doing their own work on themselves and in their own communities. Many of us have traveled a lot together and our shared history has deepened our friendships and the way we work. We are often mirrors for one another as we all recognize this work allows us to work on ourselves as well, while we engage in teaching others. I feel truly lucky to be a part of this team. Jim Gordon, the founder and director of the CMBM, through his consistent passion, vision and effort, has opened so many doors for us, for me.
The CMBM model is a contemplative one. It teaches us to go inside and to listen to our hearts. Through this stillness, I feel I have learned to respond to what is happening in my life rather than reacting out of old habit patterns and stress. I developed a 10 week mind-body skills group called Filling Up On Wholeness that came out of my own personal struggles with emotional eating and unwanted weight, that helps people awaken a new relationship with food and themselves. Through the group, which utilizes mind-body techniques such as drawings, meditation and guided imagery, I have learned to become more aware of the “why” of my choices, to become mindful of when and how I eat and have developed a way to share this with others. Change is by its very nature one of disruption and uncertainty, no matter how positive the intention or perceived benefits are. The support, encouragement, and guidance that is found in the mind-body skills groups can greatly facilitate this period of transition. This is my work; by drawing on the natural ability of the body to heal itself and mind-body therapies, I offer people living with stress and illness an opportunity to transform the physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual dimensions of their lives.