Lauren Taub Cohen
M.S.Ed. in Childhood General Education from Bank Street
B.A. in English Literature from Boston University
Certified Mindfulness Meditation Teacher
by Tara Brach and Jack Kornfield
Certified Kane School Pilates Instructor
Certified Prajna Yoga Instructor
Certified YogaEd Instructor
Somatic Experiencing Practitioner in training
In addition to being an educator, I have practiced and studied meditation for twenty years and am certified to teach mindfulness meditation by Tara Brach and Jack Kornfield. I am currently completing Dr. Peter Levine's Somatic Experiencing Practitioner (SEP) training and have been working with SEPs for over ten years. Somatic Experiencing (SE) is a body-oriented approach to healing trauma and stress disorders.
The question of how to foster risk-taking and resilience was already on my mind when I left 60 Minutes to become an educator. I was serendipitously introduced to Carol Dweck’s work on mindsets at a time when I was immersed in my graduate school studies at Bank Street. I began to deepen my inquiry by wondering how one could develop a growth mindset, especially since the lingering affects of trauma can often harden and reinforce a fixed mindset.
Growing up, I always preferred to stay within the boundaries of my comfort zone and panicked if I was ever pushed to step beyond it. Anxiety was a constant companion as was unrelenting self-criticism. I felt that mistakes, let alone failures, were to be avoided at all costs. I excelled at sprints and drills on the tennis court but lacked the mental toughness in the midst of tight matches. The growth mindset was clearly a healthier alternative, but how could I get there? Was it too late?
Be careful what you wish for! An inexplicable injury in 2006 left me feeling frustrated and hopeless. I had been meditating in the Zen tradition since 2001, but by chance I stumbled across an ad for an insight meditation workshop. This course focused specifically on how to work with addictions and challenging emotional states. That piqued my attention and, during the workshop, I realized developing a mindfulness meditation practice could be my bridge from a fixed mindset to a growth mindset. When I began observing my mind, I was unnerved by the incessant stream of self-criticism, judgment and assumptions. I had mistakenly believed those thoughts were definitive truths. While mindfulness practices had helped to strengthen and expand my awareness, I found myself struggling to be with what was arising. The more I practiced, the more I saw and felt.
So often meditation teachers will say to "turn towards" and "be with" an experience, or "hold it with compassion" thereby assuming we intrinsically know how to do so. Somatic Experiencing (SE) combined with Inner Relationship Focusing (IRF) filled in the practical how-to steps in which I could make that pivot and relate to my experience without fearing it or feeling flooded by it. As a result of these body-based processes, my nervous system began to settle, regulate, discharge stuck energy, and loosen habitual patterns. I now live, work and play at the intersection of mindfulness, SE and IRF! I currently have a blog where I share my thoughts as an educator, meditator, poet and photographer.
In 2015, Friends Seminary awarded me the Art of Teaching Award. I feel my strength as an educator and mindfulness teacher is my ability to help individuals develop an awareness of how habits, thoughts, beliefs, and assumptions can interfere with our growth and cloud our perceptions. Layering SE and IRF into mindfulness practices provides the supportive next steps to help students and clients transform challenges into grit-growing opportunities in which self-awareness deepens, learning flourishes and a growth-mindset is exercised into being...at any age!