Cohort Reflections


Meditation Mount

Sheila Norman

Community Education Administrator - Ventura County Fire Department

The driving force behind me applying to Ventura County Leadership Academy (VCLA) was to get out of my comfort zone and expand my personal effectiveness. However, this opportunity comes with anxiety and feelings of unworthiness– not knowing what to expect or what would be expected of me. Wanting to measure up and maximize the experience has exposed a personal/spiritual deficit in me. So, when I heard about Meditation Mount, I knew that would be the best immersion activity to prepare me for VCLA.

Meditation Mount, self-described as a “Sanctuary for the Soul,” has a mission to promote a more enlightened and compassionate world through the power of creative meditation. Set atop a mountain with spectacular views of the serene Ojai countryside, I felt a sense of calm upon arriving at the Welcome Center. This was quite a feat given that I had just come from a harried, traffic idled excursion from Simi Valley to get there. Fortunately, I was accompanied by my dear friend, Karen, who drove me, bravely taking on all the winding roads filled with hairpin turns what caused me to shut my eyes a multitude of times along the way.

Today we would participate in a “Sacred Sound Healing, Breathwork and Vocal Toning” mediational event led by Kelly Jean. As I lay on the floor on my borrowed yoga mat, learning the art of “trauma breathing” while being bathed in harmonious, haunting, rhythmic sounds, I learned to exhale negative thoughts and inhaled a sense of renewed wellbeing. Trauma breathwork is conscious and intentional breathing that releases trauma stored in the body. Intentional trauma breathwork helps with trauma processing and healing by bypassing the conscious mind, deactivating the sympathetic nervous system, and having a restorative effect on its practitioners. Just what I needed!

I have since incorporated such sound bathing and breathing into my bedtime ritual. Desperate for relief from chronic insomnia, I was met with a deep, restorative sleep for the first time in years. As I embark on this VCLA journey, I can now come to it with renewed vigor and clarity. Everything will be OK. Everything is already OK. Excitement and anticipation have taken the place of worry and anxiety. Focusing on compassion, love and kindness toward myself first - I know will deepen my capacity to shower the same on others. The ancient teaching states that “energy follows thought,” so through the power of a focused mind and a compassionate heart, I am poised for the work ahead. My experience at Meditation Mount taught me that I can use my imagination to visualize a good future which will no doubt generate the blessings I seek to receive and share.


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