Shell Fischer, Mindful Shenandoah Valley’s founder and guiding teacher, offers 25+ years of mindfulness practice and study. She leads mindfulness meditation workshops, classes, and daylong and residential retreats in VA, WV, and the greater D.C. area.
She’s a full Insight Meditation teacher and senior practitioner with the Insight Meditation Community of Washington, D.C. (IMCW), trained in the 2-year Meditation Teacher Training Institute of Washington, D.C. by IMCW’s founder and guiding teacher, Dr. Tara Brach – one of the nation’s leading Insight meditation teachers.
She’s also a Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) teacher trained by Dr. Jon-Kabat Zinn, founder of MBSR and the Stress Clinic at the University of Massachusetts Medical Center. She teaches MBSR as an educational partner with the Foundation of the State Arboretum of Virginia, and Valley Health, a regional 6-hospital system in the Northern Shenandoah Valley, as part of its Integrative Care Program.
In her mid-20s, Shell was originally trained in Buddhist studies at Naropa University, a Shambhala Buddhist-based contemplative university in Boulder, CO, long known as both the birthplace of mindfulness in higher education in the West and as the national leader in contemplative education. Along with studying Buddhism, Shell also earned a masters degree in creative writing at Naropa, studying with beat writers such as Allen Ginsburg and Ken Kesey.
Prior to teaching, Shell lived in New York City, where along with working on a novel she wrote about yoga and meditation for national magazines, including Tricycle Magazine, Yoga Journal, Yoga International, AARP, and more. While in NY, she also wrote a novel based on her childhood that won the Bronx First Chapter Award (a contest extended to writers all over New York City).
As a teacher, Shell’s main focus is on metta (loving-kindness) practice. Her hope is to guide her students in nurturing even more kindness and compassion for themselves, others, and for all the situations they find themselves in throughout their lives, through the practice of meditation and mindfulness.
In October 2015, Shell completed a year-long training with a group that included white senior teachers and board members of the Insight Meditation Community of Washington, D.C. called White Awake, designed to explore the suffering of racism. She is deeply committed to shedding a light on this issue, and fostering healing through the practice and teachings.
In 2009, after a decade of living in NYC, Shell and her husband of 20 years, Brent, an artist, moved to the Shenandoah Valley, and now live with their two cats in a little rented, wood-heated cottage on Cloverdale Farm – a 1400-acre farm in Winchester, VA. Many of the photographs on this site were taken by Shell.