Hi, my name is Shakti Bell. As a teen, I was sick with Epstein Barr and mononucleosis. Despite missing much of high school, I was able to attend and graduate from UCSC. When I was twenty-seven years old and starting a blossoming career, I was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. It started with numbness and tingling in my feet and quickly progressed to foot-drop. My spasticity and pain levels have continued to increase as well as my fall risk. I now have a full-time caregiver.
The diagnosis led me to seek out self-healing modalities of yoga and internal martial arts and explore the healing modality of acupuncture. Around 2007, I had the opportunity to attend a yoga teacher training designed for people with disabilities. This was followed by more training that included yoga for arthritis, yoga for depression, yoga for healing, therapeutic yoga, and accessible yoga In 2017 I became a certified yoga therapist. What I learned from the challenges of my disability became an asset by informing my new profession helping others deal with physical, emotional, and cognitive challenges. I have taught classes for people with MS, as well as classes for people seeking help with mental health and for seniors at a nursing home.
Throughout all this, I have also deepened my spiritual practice with the zen and insight meditation communities. Regular meditation practice has been incredibly transformational in pain management. Pain is now no more than a thread in a rich tapestry of moment-to-moment experiences like warm, cold, sharp, and dull while trying to minimize branding these sensations as good or bad to be coveted or avoided. I find my meditation practice and study of the dharma to be a welcome refuge that helps to inform the rest of my day. I accompany this with a yoga practice that reinforces the mind/body connection.