Mind and body united
“I am a mother. I am an athlete. I am a counselor, a student, teacher, a coach, and a friend.” Like most of the participants with whom she works at Stanford, Sarah Meyer Tapia wears many hats. “Ultimately and very basically,” she asserts, “we are human. This is where we find our sameness, and where our diversity shines.”
As a BeWell Advisor and HIP Instructor of various mindfulness-related courses, Sarah’s work flows out of her own values of holistic well-being. Sarah grew up near the shores of Lake Tahoe, where she began running at the age of ten. “I was overwhelmed for one reason or another, so I ran to the beach a half-mile away and arrived breathless, happy, clean. I was keenly aware that something magical had just taken place. I’ve been running ever since.”
Sarah went on to compete in cross-country and track and field as an undergraduate at Azusa Pacific University, where she studied education. Following several years of teaching and counseling, Sarah resumed her academic career at Santa Clara University, graduating at the top of her class with an MA in Counseling and Health Psychology. At SCU, her professor, Dr. Shauna Shapiro (a widely published author and leading researcher in the field of mindfulness), offered Sarah opportunities to research and train in Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction. Sarah has taught this program at Stanford and in the surrounding community since 2008.
“I am so honored and grateful to call this my ‘job.’ Nearly every morning I sit with folks who share their health stories with honesty and poignancy. I help people put a voice to their deepest desires and intentions for a healthy life, and I am continually inspired, surprised, and educated by these individuals. I see the diverse population of Stanford University expressed in the breadth and depth of peoples’ practices. From lowering blood pressure by listening to classical music, to curbing stress-eating by painting murals, to discovering the joy of exercise through Ultimate Frisbee with the kids, there truly are myriad ways to be well. I am delighted to hear of and brainstorm the unconventional and innovative means within our community.”
Sarah also looks beyond the academic environment for knowledge and inspiration, saying her son Luke (age 4) has been her greatest teacher and coach to date. “I’ve become a better runner since giving birth to Luke, no doubt helped by the progressive strength-training I’ve gotten from pushing a jogging stroller!” Indeed, Sarah has run her fastest times in the 5k, 6-mile, 10k, and half-marathon distances in the last four years and has won Felton’s Race Through The Redwoods the last two years in a row.
But Luke’s presence has guided Sarah to far more than mere physical accomplishments: “I’ve become a more balanced and compassionate human being since he joined me.” Daily, Sarah witnesses the mindfulness Luke embodies. “It’s all about paying attention to our lives, moment by moment, in a very graceful way. Kids know instinctively how to do this; they live unapologetically in the now. We know this instinctively, too; we’ve simply forgotten.”
Sarah also credits a regular Bikram Yoga practice for enhancing both athletic performance and a calmer way of life. “It’s the stumble that invites the balance. To pay attention to each moment as it arrives, and to do so with gentleness, is fundamentally curative. When we see where we are and lose the stories about where we’ve been or where we may end up, we oen see we are OK — or maybe even better than OK: a transformative experience. It’s simple, and yet not at all easy, and so we practice. My intention in my work, and in my life as a whole, is to practice and share such qualities of presence, vitality, and grace.”