I was finishing up my graduate work for my psychology program. I was working full time as an emotional support teacher and completing my internship as a psychotherapist. It was stressful, it was hard. I was helping others with their mental health, all while forgetting about my own. It took a toll on me and beat me up. I was tired, I never slept, my brain was always thinking and I was working 16 hour days. It got so bad that I started to hallucinate. Something had to change. I had to change. If I didn’t, I was not going to be able to help others. So I set out to help myself. I began practicing formal insight meditation with little consistency until I went on a week long retreat to Blue Cliff Monastery in Pine Bush, NY. Blue Cliff is beautiful in every way and was started by a Buddhist Monk, Thich Nhat Hanh. He is a lovely soul who has indirectly given me more than I could have ever repay him for.
At Blue Cliff Monastery I learned how to love myself, take care of myself, find compassion and love for others, and how to live a more meaningful life. I went back to school and began teaching my students awareness practices. I wanted to teach my students how to think about, manage, and understand their thoughts, feelings, and emotions so they could live a flourish life. I saw my students begin to grow and thrive. I saw happier and healthier children and I knew I was making positive change. It inspired me and continues to inspire me every day. I get to make positive change in the lives of others on a daily basis. They pay me for this. But to be honest, the growth in my students in worth more than any monetary figure.
Wanting to do more than just help my students grow, I began this journey of Insight Minds. My mission is still to bring a more mindful world to children and families by providing them tools to be aware of and understand their thoughts, feelings, emotions, and behaviors so they can live a flourishing life. I just hope to reach more children and families. For now I am enjoying each moment, trying to live fully present in the moment helping others smile. First I will smile. No Mud, No Lotus. Be well.
“Waking up this morning, I smile. Twenty-four brand new hours are before me. I vow to live fully in each moment and to look at all beings with eyes of compassion.” -Thich Nhat Hanh

Brian Aikens


#HealthyMindHappyHeart #MakeLifeMeaningful

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