After earning her SMBI degree, Suza has continued at Teachers College as doctoral student and she is the Coordinator of the SMBI Wellness Center. Her research interests include: spirituality as an opening to emotional mind-body self-awareness; the physiological and emotional affects of negative selftalk and rumination; spirituality as a foundation to healing, meaning and purpose. With several books to her name, Scalora has become a well-known figure in health-and-wellness and spirituality communities. But she wants to do more than simply preach to the choir.
“Most people feel there’s something deeper than what happens in your everyday life,” she says. “They want sustainable happiness, not just a new car or a new pair of shoes. But there’s a lot of skepticism about spirituality – so to bring this to a mass audience, you’ve got to be able to bring in the science.”
Charles Ethan Paccione received two master’s degrees from Columbia, one in narrative medicine and another in spirituality mind-body clinical and counseling psychology. Charles has always been interested in the embodied mind: the notion that our mind and body participate in a strong bidirectional communication that can modulate and improve our health.
Charles currently conducts contemplative-neuropsychology research in the department of pain management and research at Oslo University Hospital, where he is a consultant and developer of meditation-based therapy practices to treat chronic pain.
He performed contemplative neuroscience research at the Center for Investigating Healthy Minds at the University of Wisconsin-Madison where he researched how meditation expresses cognitive, emotional, and behavioral changes in toddlers, returning combat veterans, and Tibetan meditators. Charles also developed the Contemplative Therapy for Cancer Care program at Albert Einstein College of Medicine for cancer patients suffering from psychosomatic pains, anxiety, depression, and post-traumatic stress.
Zahra Komeylian has long felt that people could improve their mental well-being by getting in touch with their spiritual selves. Zahra, a 2013 graduate of Toronto’s York College who studied mood disorders and potential interventions such as mindfulness and meditation, sought a closer connection between her work in biopsychology and “the way that spirituality has resonated for me” – not simply her Islamic faith, but her broader interest in the power of positive emotions. The Summer Intensive program has more than met her expectations. Komeylian wrote her thesis on the question of whether there is an underlying universality to all forms of spirituality. Do the practices of different faiths and belief systems tap into something that is the same? Are there common benefits associated with these different practices, or different ones?
“It’s been so great working with Lisa – having a teacher who looks at you and sees all of your potential … at this point in my life, having had an academic role model who is so successful in her work, and who embodies the work she’s been doing, is really inspiring.”
Scott’s most recent accomplishment is the launch of 3rdi, the first game-like app designed to bring mobile mindfulness to teens and young adults.
Scott has been teaching communication skills for over 20 years. His clients include the National Institutes of Health, Mount Sinai, the Mayo Clinic,Merck, Celgene, NASA, EPA, and several universities: Harvard Medical School, UC Berkeley, UNC Chapel Hill, Cornell, Maryland, Ohio State, Minnesota, Duke. He has 30 years of broadcast experience and teaches media and communication strategy to many think tanks in the Washington DC area. He is a Senior Associate at theLeadership Academy (AILA) of the Center for Strategic and International Studies. Scott graduated with honors from the University of California, Davis and authored the book Speaking about Science published by Cambridge University Press. Scott was able to formalize his training even further as part of SMBI program.
“To me, spirituality means ‘inner power,’” says Tingting Hu. “It’s your faith in yourself and your ability to shape your own path.” She attended the prestigious Tsinghua University, known as “China’s M.I.T.” There she met two Americans with whom, in 2008, she co-founded Teach for China (TFC), which, like its U.S. counterpart, recruits young professionals and university students to teach in high-need schools.
“We need to prepare teachers to act as leaders who can get kids to see themselves as individuals.”
With regards to her discovery and completion of the SMBI Program, “The idea of combining spirituality and psychology and exploring it systematically, in a scientific way, was amazing to me.” Now, she plans to introduce another new idea into Chinese culture: spirituality. As Hu sets out on a new career path, her questions remain the same. “I’m still thinking asking leadership looks like,” she says. “Are mindfulness and leadership at odds? I don’t think so. I think it’s possible to be a mindful leader.”