Kevin Sharpe is the director of the Center for Body-Mind Therapy in Augusta, Ga., a stress-management consultant, and a yoga therapist. In the Spring of 2010, his life turned upside down as he found himself stepping into the role of full-time caregiver for his father, who suddenly became critically and later terminally ill.
Despite having a complete set of “tools” at his fingertips for managing the intense stress of his new life as caregiver (He was a stress management consultant, after all.), Kevin didn’t use them.
The result was a tidal wave of crippling stress that impacted most every area of his life, including his health and the quality of care he was able to offer his father.
But it didn’t stop there. Kevin continued to try to ignore and then push through the stress, the exhaustion, the hurt. He managed to hobble through, with each passing day becoming more and more difficult, more and more painful. Then one particular night, after yet another intense “shift” of caregiving, he came face-to-face with a suffocating tightness and gripping pain in his chest. It literally took his breath away and brought him to his knees. With one hand pressing against his chest and the other holding onto the wall, trying to support his collapsing body, Kevin finally faced the reality that it was time for him to start to listen to all that was happening inside his body, inside his mind. It was finally time for him to take a dose of his own medicine and start to listen to and explore his inner landscape.
This was a painful, scary, and yet life-saving turning point for Kevin in his caregiving journey. It was this unyielding acceptance of life-as-it-is that paved the way to a transformation of his caregiving journey into one of real healing – for both himself and his father.
The healing and insight he received as a result of accepting his situation and then shifting into his own inner landscape have also revealed to Kevin a new vocation: one of supporting and educating other caregivers, clergy, as well as friends and families of caregivers so that they can experience the caregiving journey as a time of profound healing for both themselves as caregivers and the ones they’re caring for.
Kevin continues to create programs for his non-caregiver clients that allow them to turn their health around, live a more full life, even gain a professional or athletic edge without becoming enslaved by stress and, in turn, being robbed of their lives. Kevin has extensive training in mindfulness-based, yoga-therapeutic techniques. These, along with grounding Rogerian-based practices, form the foundation of his programs.
With over 25 years’ experience in meditation and meditation instruction, Kevin is also a trained Phoenix Rising yoga therapist, group facilitator, and a certified yoga instructor focusing on the meditative and therapeutic aspects of yoga. He also works with the Phoenix Rising Yoga Therapy Training Center in Bristol, Vt., to help train others to become Phoenix Rising yoga therapists and is the editor for International Journal of Phoenix Rising Yoga Therapy.
In addition to working with caregivers, he works closely with other populations and organizations including: elite-level athletes such as members of the US National and Olympic rowing teams, students, as well as various patient populations such as those recovering from substance abuse, cancer, and heart disease.
Kevin is the author of I Am Here: The Healing Journey of Caregiving. His next book – My Heart, My Wound: Listening With the Ear of the Heart Instead of the Ear of the Wound – is scheduled for a Winter, 2013 publication. Since his father’s passing, he has been a primary caregiver for his mother. He rounds out his professional schedule with talks, workshops, and trainings on the healing journey of caregiving.