Lauren Taub Cohen,
M.S. Ed., SEP
Founder of MetaMinds® &
Creator of Mindfulness Aloud®
Certified Inner Relationship Focusing (IRF) Professional & Trainer
Somatic Experiencing® Practitioner
Certified Mindfulness Meditation Teacher by Tara Brach and Jack Kornfield
M.S. Ed. from Bank Street College of Education
B.A. in English Literature from Boston University
MetaMinds® is a company committed to helping children, teens and adults transform challenges and stuck states into opportunities for growth, healing and well-being.
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. I began wondering how one could develop a growth mindset, especially since the lingering affects of have a way of hardening and reinforcing 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.
However, when I began observing my mind, I was unnerved (and often triggered!) by the incessant stream of self-criticism, judgment and what-if worries. 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. Now what?
Meditation teachers will often say to "turn towards" and "be with" an experience, or "hold it with compassion" thereby assuming we intrinsically know how to do so. I didn't and needed help, so I began working with a Somatic Experiencing® Practitioner (SEP). Somatic Experiencing® (SE) is a body-oriented approach to healing trauma and stress disorders developed by Peter A. Levine, PhD. I spent over ten years as a client in the Somatic Experiencing® model before becoming an SEP myself.
Somatic Experiencing® 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. Inner Relationship Focusing is an experiential, body-oriented process of self-awareness and emotional healing developed by Ann Weiser Cornell and Barbara McGavin.
As a result of these body-based processes, I developed a greater capacity and ability to meet the full range of experiences that came my way and...continue to come my way! Stuck states began shifting, tension eased, agency increased and resiliency thrived. These empowering neuro-physiological shifts, combined with my training in SE and IRF, inspired me to create Mindfulness Aloud®.
In 2015, Friends Seminary awarded me the Art of Teaching Award. I feel my strength as an educator and Mindfulness Aloud® facilitator is my ability to help students and clients transform challenges into grit-growing experiences so that tension eases, wounds heal, vitality returns and a connection to oneself deepens and expands.