Shell Fischer, founder and guiding teacher of Mindful Shenandoah (www.mindfulvalley.com) offers more than 25 years of mindfulness practice and study.
As a full teacher with IMCW, her main focus is on metta (loving-kindness) practice. Her hope is to guide her students in nurturing even more kindness and compassion for themselves -- and for all the situations they find themselves in throughout their lives -- through the practice of meditation and mindfulness.
Prior to teaching, Shell wrote about mindfulness and yoga for national magazines. She’s a 1993 graduate of Naropa University (a Shambhala Buddhist-based university in Boulder, CO), and trained in the two-year Meditation Teacher Training Institute of Washington, D.C. with Tara Brach, Jonathan Foust, Hugh Byrne and Pat Coffey. She’s also a graduate of the Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction teacher-training program led by Jon Kabat-Zinn (founder of MBSR and the Stress Clinic at the University of Massachusetts Medical Center), and an educational partner with both Valley Health (a regional 8-hospital system) and the Foundation of the State Arboretum of Virginia.
A pervasive but often invisible source of suffering in our culture is self-aversion. We are a busy culture, and we move through our life feeling anxious and dissatisfied, but not fully conscious of how we neglect or judge our inner experience. We suffer from a lack of belonging: to our own bodies, to each other and to the earth. When we practice Buddhist meditation, we learn how to listen deeply and hold our life tenderly.
The open space of compassion allows us to realize that our thoughts and emotions are not who we are; they are waves in our ocean. This gives us the freedom to live more wisely and love more fully.
For over thirty-five years, I've been exploring the awakening of awareness with yoga, meditation, a clinical psychology practice and relationships in spiritual community (sangha). Since the untying of emotional knots is an essential part of "waking up," it is natural for me to weave these elements into my Buddhist practice and teaching. With formal practice, and a genuine engagement in sangha, we can cultivate the qualities of heart and awareness that allow for deep emotional healing and spiritual freedom.
Buddhism guides us in slowing down, quieting and paying attention in an honest and caring way. Through our mindfulness and compassion practices, we establish a sense of intimacy and belonging to our life. We discover that there is no Buddha "out there." Rather, we realize that our true refuge is the wakefulness, openness and love of our own natural awareness.
Trudy mitchell-gilkey is currently a lay (but aspiring) monastic, a licensed clinical social worker, a meditation teacher with the Insight Meditation Community of Washington, and a writer, drawing on nearly 20 years of private practice as a mindfulness based cognitive therapist and 15 years as a Vipassana (insight) meditation teacher. Trudy also holds a leadership position in the civil service, where she trains other clinicians to integrate mindfulness into their practice and remain faithful to evidence based practices in the treatment of mental health, substance related and co-occurring disorders.
In September of 2010, Trudy founded the MAAD Dharma Project: a 12-step adapted, deepening practice meditation program for persons suffering with mood, addiction, attachment and anxiety disorders from which her workshops are conducted and her spiritual booklet and memoir are emerging.
In 2012, Trudy completed the Spirit Rock Meditation Center’s Community Dharma Leader Program - IV, a two-year training embedded in the ancient lineage of Theravada designed to encourage creative, intuitive and innovative responses that enable the Buddha’s timeless teachings to be applied to modern, contemporary life and reveal a path through the complex difficulties of our world in a spiritual, social, political, cultural, interpersonal, and personal contexts. Over the past 15 years, mitchell-gilkey has committed over 500 nights to silent, residential refuge, and aspires to fully ordain in the coming years.
Trudy received her Bachelor of Science in Business Management from the University of South Carolina and a Master of Social Work from the Catholic University of America.