Before you read this, stop and take a deep breath. And another. Now, on your next inhale, think “I am grateful for…” and name something on the exhale. You’ve just practiced a simple meditation. According to Victor Towle, MS, Craig Clinical Care Manager, meditation helps us set aside our fears, judgments and worries, and lets us accept ourselves, focus on what’s good in our lives and take positive action. In these trying times, meditation is just what we need.
“Meditation helps us deal with the small stuff. If we can deal with small stuff, we can learn to deal with all stuff,” says Victor.
Victor, a longtime rehabilitation counselor at Craig, has been interested in meditation, relaxation, yoga and the power of music as a way to help people with traumatic brain injury cope since his college days over 30 years ago. He has been leading ongoing meditation classes for Craig graduates for over three years. Concurrently, he and his colleague Ina Schakaraschwili, OT, added a guided meditation class for staff three times a week.
“The work we do can be heavy, so finding that loving, giving heart and compassion inside ourselves, for ourselves, allows us to have it for others,” Victor says.
In recent years, Victor has added mindfulness to his work life. Mindfulness focuses on the present moment while acknowledging and accepting your thoughts, feelings and bodily sensations. He learned mindfulness techniques from the best. Thanks to a Busch Scholarship, funded by a Foundation donor, he was able to formalize his education by participating in a two-year mindfulness meditation teacher certification program with the biggest names in the field: Jack Kornfield and Tara Brach. The Busch Scholarship was made in honor of a recent Craig patient who found Victor’s meditation class extremely helpful. The scholarship supports staff at Craig who wish to further their education.
“Mindfulness practice purposefully brings our attention to the here and now without judgment,” Victor adds.
So far, about 75 Craig graduates have gone through Victor’s eight-week class that now also welcomes family members. Craig graduates find it helps them focus better, stay calmer and manage their frustration while adapting to life after injury. Caretakers find it eases their stress. Mindfulness and meditation are tools people can turn to when life feels overwhelming.
Victor explains that practicing meditation helps people deal with current challenges and accept where they are at right now rather than wishing for their past or missing their future.
“Focusing on loss is tough. Mindfulness and meditation encourage people to let go of the wound and start where they are at, right now, to heal with loving kindness,” he concludes.