Sunny Wright was a busy wife and mother, a highly educated PR pro married to a doctor. But her life was, in her words, a full catastrophe.
For 35 years, Wright lived as “society wanted her to live.” She was a high achiever in every aspect. Until it all came crashing down.
In 2009, Wright had a stress induced breakdown. She looked in the mirror and saw legions in her hairline. Wright had developed a rare form of the autoimmune deficiency disease shingles which came with deep depression and debilitating fatigue. She was so sick, she actually thought she may not survive.
Turns out being admitted to the hospital was the best thing that could have happened to her. Forced to stop and find some quiet within herself, Wright felt a calm that she hadn’t felt in years — maybe ever.
“I spent my life in the noise of society and I was very, very busy and suddenly when it got very quiet, my heart was telling me, you made yourself ill, you can make yourself better.”
Wright knew stress had brought on her condition. She picked up a book called Full Catastrophe Living by Jon Kabat-Zinn and began to learn how to live a mindful life.
“Mindfulness is being in this moment without judgement,” she explains. “It’s all about awareness. It’s a group of lessons where we learn to sit quietly and examine our thoughts.”
Not only did this exploration of mindfulness help Wright with her health, it changed everything about her life. “It’s been a miracle,” she says. “This is my purpose and my mission now. I can’t even recognize the person who I was six years ago.”
Wright wondered why she had not learned about mindfulness early on. She became convinced that if children were introduced to the concept, it would be life changing for them — just as it was for her.
Wright founded a non-profit organization based in Scottsdale, Arizona called Mindfulness First. The response has been incredible and one of America’s largest health care providers is now sponsoring the effort.
Wright and her team now go into schools to teach children what it is to live a mindful life: to help them develop coping skills, empathy, and focus.
“We’ve been overwhelmed in school districts. We have a waiting list of schools,” she says.
Currently they are working at a Phoenix area school, Crockett Elementary, where there is a high population of homeless and refugee children.
Each school they go in to, Wright says, the culture shift is tangible and the results are undeniable. She points to a drop in suspensions as one example.
“In every major university in America, mindfulness is being studied and the results are just conclusive at this point.” According to Wright, “It reduces bullying, violence, isolation, increases focus, grades and happiness.”
Mindfulness is actually a pretty simple concept. It is choosing to accept this very moment the way it is; not living in the past, not living in the future, but bringing it all into this moment.
Sunny Wright is determined to bring mindfulness to the masses with a focus on children who will lead the way in the future.
“I would like them to think about how we can change the world. We have this amazing capacity within our very own bodies. I believe if every child was taught this we would have world peace. There is tremendous empathy created through mindfulness.”
For more on Sunny Wright and Mindfulness First, visit www.mindfulnessfirst.org