Lauren Taub Cohen
Mindfulness Meditation Teacher
Educator, Writer, Photographer,
What's in a name you ask? Walla was the name I gave myself when pronouncing Lauren was beyond my capabilities as a one-year old. The joke was I began speaking French before English. Unfortunately, voila and merci beaucoup remain the extent of my French conversational skills. The word whimsical encapsulates that spirit of childlike spontaneity and creativity, which I am trying to rekindle.
Hence, the creation of my blog - Whimsical Walla!
I love hearing from readers and connecting with you!
A bit of bio... In the fall of 2006, I was put through what I initially thought was a punishing gauntlet. I had left my job at 60 Minutes for the classroom and became an assistant kindergarten teacher. My parents were going through a divorce as my husband and I were planning our wedding. One morning, I woke up and the lateral side of my left foot seemed to be jabbed by a pernicious pebble. However, there wasn't a pebble beneath my foot, and my imagination was not the culprit either. After visiting a doctor, it was confirmed that my left cuboid bone had mysteriously slipped out of place. In Traditional Chinese Medicine the feet are considered to reflect one's roots and foundation. My roots and sense of self had become entirely uprooted and my dislocated cuboid exposed me to this raw reality. In 1918, Henry Maudsley, a psychiatrist, wrote in the Journal of Mental Science, "The sorrow which has no vent in tears may make other organs weep." My organs were not weeping, but I began weeping when my ability to run, hike, dance and move was hindered by this inexplicable injury.
I spent a significant amount of time and money speaking with top orthopedic surgeons in NYC. They all suggested the same course of action - Bolt the cuboid bone back into place using steel bolts. Thankfully, during this time, I had begun to study insight meditation and yoga with Jill Satterfield (founder of Vajra Yoga). She introduced me to Tara Brach's book, Radical Acceptance, which helped me realize that perhaps the Cuboid Crisis (as I labeled it) was a portal through which I could begin to explore all the feelings and emotions I had locked out. So, I sought the help of a therapist while maintaining my insight meditation and yoga practice. It was a tumultuous 2.5 years but weeks before I got married my cuboid bone slipped back into place as mysteriously as it slipped out of place.
Rumi says, "The wound is the place where Light enters you." The Cuboid Crisis cracked me open and the light that entered caused me to grow in unforeseeable ways. I began to deepen my study of insight meditation and commit to a consistent meditation practice. As a result, I began exploring and untangling beliefs and habits that formed in my childhood while I was simultaneously embarking upon a second career in elementary education. I was also serendipitously introduced to Carol Dweck's work on mindsets. As a former loyalist to the fixed mindset philosophy, I can tell you it is possible to switch camps and embrace a growth mindset. Ultimately, these experiences helped cement the bedrock of my teaching philosophy and my company, MetaMinds.
My body continues to somaticize, and I try to approach these baffling manifestations as a friend in need. Rilke, in his book Letters to a Poet, wrote, "Perhaps all the dragons in our lives are princesses who are only waiting to see us act, just once, with beauty and courage. Perhaps everything that frightens us is, in its deepest essence, something helpless that wants our love.” In 2011, another unexplainable event occurred in my thyroid and, once again, the doctors were dumbfounded. A chief thoracic surgeon at a prominent hospital told me my thyroid needed to be removed and my voice could be impaired as a result. Thankfully he chose those exact words. When he told me my voice might be impaired a thundering, "No Way!" leaped out from behind the curtains and onto center stage. My condition wasn't life threatening so I knew what I had to do before agreeing to surgery. This time I found an SE (Somatic Experiencing) Practitioner and, after a bit of time, the issue resolved itself. Surgery was no longer warranted.
My meditation teachers, Jonathan Foust and Tara Brach, often repeat the phrase - "May this, too, awaken me." The fear of losing my voice made me realize I hadn't really used my voice. This startling insight spawned in me the desire to get out into the world and begin sharing my thoughts, poems and photos with all of you!