Laela Aishin Leonard
Los Gatos, California, USA
Unified Mindfulness L2 Coach
IMTA Certified Mindfulness Teacher, Professional Level (CMT-P)
Somatic Experiencing® Practitioner (SEP)
Mindful Self-Compassion™ Trained Teacher (MSC-TT)
When we experience severe pain for extended periods of time, it’s not uncommon for our suffering to dominate every part of our being. From this place, the journey back to a full and productive life can seem insurmountable.
I deeply understand how difficult and nearly impossible this journey seems based on my own experience with severe pain. In 2009, while working in the internet technology industry of Silicon Valley, I began to develop pain. After many unsuccessful doctor visits, pain management medications, procedures and therapies, my pain spread into every joint in my body until I became bedridden and wheelchair-bound.
I had lost everything that I previously held dear: my career, self-worth, identity, husband, home, money and piles of collectibles I had treasured so dearly. For years, I struggled to move or even breathe without pain and my quality of life deteriorated to the point where suicide seemed to be the only escape from pain.
With my last hope, I turned to mindfulness as a last-ditch effort to save my life.
Unable to find teachers who have experienced severe chronic pain to guide me, my journey into mindfulness became one of forging a new path: I sought out monks to teach me traditional meditation techniques for a year at the Arizona International Buddhist Monastery; I accumulated over two years of intensive silent meditation retreats at Vipassana centers and Buddhist monasteries across North America; I became so intimate with my pain that it became my greatest teacher.
Through trial and error over many years, I slowly developed the mindfulness techniques that work for severe physical pain. Today, my mindfulness practice has transformed my own relationship with pain and stress-related illnesses so dramatically that I no longer use a wheelchair, and more importantly, I don’t suffer nearly as much with the pain I do still experience.
As I became interested in teaching mindfulness, I learned of Shinzen’s work. I was amazed how the specificity of Unified Mindfulness easily mapped onto the techniques I discovered over the years that enabled me to find freedom living with chronic pain and stress-related illnesses.
My greatest joy is helping other individuals struggling with stress, trauma or pain find their way to reduced suffering through teaching the techniques I have learned during my own journey.
We all posses the power to return from dead ends of pain and suffering. Sometimes we just need some help from someone who has already been down the road and knows the way out. If you’re interested in seeing if working together can help you live the life you were born for, please check out my website and contact me.