A Spotlight on The Mindfulness Center
by Robin Fillmore
The Mindfulness Center (TMC) in Bethesda, Maryland may look like any other small, community yoga studio but as a family-run, nonprofit institution, led by neuroscientist Dr. Deborah Norris, they are bringing life-changing mindfulness-based health services to the D.C. area and nationwide. Founded in 2009, by Deborah Norris Ph.D. and her daughters, Jacqueline Norris and Jessie Taylor, Deborah was personally aware of the role of mind-body practices in healing from chronic illnesses. A research scientist, health specialist and Director of the Psychobiology of Healing Program at American University, Deborah is an energetic, vibrant picture of healthy living. But this wasn’t always the case.
In 1996, Deborah was diagnosed with severe fibromyalgia, which left her in chronic pain; doctors said there was no cure, and nothing could be done. They prescribed a wheelchair, and a job that could be done from home. As a research scientist, Deborah began investigating the underlying causes of her condition and gradually took up practices that would relieve her symptoms and ultimately reverse these causes.
A professional ballet dancer in her youth, she began exercising again to gradually increase her physical, mental and emotional well-being, including gentle yoga for the physical pain. She made nutritional changes to increase her energy, and began meditating to relieve stress and improve sleep. By incorporating these practices into her life, Deborah was able to reverse her condition and return to an active, healthy life free of pain.
After an accident in 1999, however, Deborah suffered a traumatic brain injury and once again found herself with degrading health; suffering from debilitating seizures, impaired vision and chronic headaches. Once again, she explored ways to heal herself using mind-body practices, and again was able to reverse the downward spiral of her health and now lives a vibrant life, free of seizures and pain.
This personal health journey is what led Deborah and her family to open TMC, with its mission: to facilitate the evolution of the standard of health care from one of managing disease to one of fostering health, and to be a model for a new health care paradigm based on mindfulness and empowering people to heal. “We fulfill this mission by bringing mindfulness to all dimensions of life, and empowering people to use evidence-based, best practices of self-care, thereby addressing health care disparities by making health care accessible to all,” notes Jessie.
Deborah ties together existing theories of brain science with her own exciting research on the science of mindfulness and how meditation alters our brains in her new book, In the Flow: Bridging the Science and Practice of Mindfulness. Drawing from her scientific background as well as her personal health journey, she presents new evidence-based theories with far-reaching implications for how and why we practice meditation, and the role of mindfulness practices in health care.
Renowned for her online mindfulness training programs, The Science of Mindful Awareness (SOMA) series, Deborah is an internationally recognized speaker and educator on mindfulness, yoga and integrative mind-body therapies. She is also certified in exercise physiology by the American College of Sports Medicine and holds a host of other certifications in yoga therapy, clinical hypnosis, Gestalt Psychotherapy and meditation.
Together with a team of health experts, scientists and educators, TMC is a model for a new paradigm for health care. The founders recognize that there are different paths to healing for different people and so TMC offers a full range of services and classes, and meets peoples’ needs at different levels of ability.
Services include acupuncture and other modalities of Chinese medicine, as well as physical therapy, chiropractic, medical massage and naturopathic medicine. Psychological services include mindfulness-based psychotherapy, private-guided meditation, hypnosis and more. Group classes, available at all levels of ability and experience, include yoga, meditation, tai chi, breathwork and Nia dance.
Educational programming highlights include international yoga and meditation retreats, Mindfulness in Education initiatives as well as the SOMA series of yoga and meditation training courses and teacher certifications, offered both on-site and online. These programs all uniquely focus on the most current research and evidence basis for the therapeutic benefits of mind-body practices, incorporating Deborah’s expertise and research in neuro- and health sciences.
TMC supports all members of the community through it’s charitable programs such as the Helping Hands Fund and Veteran Reintegration Fund, offering student scholarships, financial aid and discounted and free services to veterans and individuals with cancer or other chronic illnesses. As a 501c3 nonprofit organization, tax-deductible donations support these and other charitable and educational programs, fulfilling TMC’s mission to facilitate the evolution of the standard of health care, empowering people to heal and making health care accessible to all!
Location: 4963 Elm St., Ste. 100; Bethesda. For more information, visit TheMindfulnessCenter.org.