Born and raised in New York City, my journey into spirituality and the mind body connection began (consciously at least!) about 5 years ago when a drastic and unexpected change in my personal life forced me to reevaluate everything. A college athlete and overall lover of fitness, I’ve worked at SoulCycle HQ for the past 4 years in Marketing where I was fortunate enough to supplement my “day job” with a 200-hour yoga teacher training. I’m now working towards my 300-hour RYT teacher certification while teaching weekly Vinyasa yoga classes at Yoga Vida in downtown Manhattan and Brooklyn and leading guided meditations at my office. I could not be more excited for the magical year to come as a member of the SMBI family and to meet all of you!
DeVanté (meaning of the wind in French) strives to live up to the meaning of the name his mother unknowingly gave him. He picks up lessons and skills learned from his life experiences (training in Kung Fu at the age of 14, attending classes at the Berkeley Psychic Institute, living in China for 4 years, learning multiple languages--to name a few) and brings them to every encounter he has with a person to help facilitate inner work and self awareness. For him, this task has taken on many different forms-developing an interview preparation course, advised students in brainstorming and writing college admissions essays, and even in teaching various film studies courses! The next form is beginning to take shape and with the help of SMBI, it will be both mystical and profound.
Hello! My name is Tatum Barnes. Raised in Brooklyn by a clinical psychologist and a rastaman, it comes as no surprise I find myself at SMBI, ready in mind, body, and spirit to embark on this journey.
I have always felt the calling to work with children, relentlessly pursuing opportunities to serve as a mentor, teacher and counselor. Since a spiritual awakening in 2012, I have been urged to practice yoga and reiki, and to study eschatology and shamanism.
As I step forward into my new role as a shamanic practitioner and healer, I am so thankful to join this cohort, and to craft a spiritual foundation for my future work as an initiator: initiating individuals into their power, initiating youth into maturity, and initiating our world into a new paradigm of neo-indigenous wisdom.
Originally from Upper Michigan, I’m happiest grounded in community, nature and working on any type of project that requires creatively connecting strengths and resources available around us and within us at any given time – our natural resources of mind, body and spirit. In my economic/community/workforce development career, I strive to help individuals, organizations and communities discover and apply their unique strengths to reach their highest potential. My life balance activities have included ice hockey officiating, volunteering with our two dogs in Pet Partners, and just about any outdoor activities and adventures.My husband Steve grew up in Colorado and the Pacific Northwest. We travel often to explore and for his career, and I’m grateful he’s added the mountains of the U.S. West and now the coastline and cork oaks of Portugal to my love of the Great Lakes.
Haile is a culture and communication enthusiast who is most zealous while engaged in work rooted within the African Diaspora. As a scholar, she has explored critical communication, storytelling, and media literacy education as tools of resistance and advancement. Professionally, Haile has worked as an independent marketing and outreach consultant, and with education-focused nonprofit organizations. Although she is often the student, Haile loves to serve as an educator and plans to develop holistic education programming dedicated to serving communities of color. Above all things, Haile believes that everyone should be comfortable in their own skin, free to express their truth, and have access to the resources needed to thrive. It is this impassioned principle that Haile aims to channel in all her work.
Sarah Beston is a yoga teacher and writer based in Los Angeles, California. After years in the corporate realm as a managing editor and program director, Sarah decided to honor her passion and take the career leap into wellness as a yoga teacher and holistic health coach. The transition has been life changing, and she hopes to inspire others to overcome self-imposed limitations, helping them to uncover their individual truths and become the best versions of themselves. Most days you can find Sarah playing with her dog Sadie on the porch, being in nature as much as possible, and daydreaming about her next international adventure.
Eadie CHEN, a ICF (International Coach Federation) trained coach, is a passionate explorer of thriving and the wholeness of human journey.
I used to be an award-winning financial journalist, a manager at an international consulting firm and a social entrepreneur. Life’s encounters and turns brought me onto a deep inner-searching journey which enabled me to enjoy life’s beauty I’ve never seen.
I’m still searching for a specific expression of my life’s purpose and to make the best use of myself to serve humanity. That’s why I’m here at SMBI. I look forward to knowing new friends here and getting inspirations from you.
I’m interested in spiritual development for the new generation and busy people, holistic decision making for business people, as well as spiritual parenting. I would also like to be a bridge to introduce body-mind-spirit wisdom to China in various forms.
I am from Block Island, Rhode Island, a tiny island of just 1,000 year-round residents separated from by mainland by 13 miles of ocean, accessible only by bi-plane and ferry. Part of my interest in Clinical Psychology stems from the strange relationship between life on the edge of nature and the elements on a small, isolated island and life at the ragged edges of addiction and alcoholism which Block Island and places like it is rampant with. I am a graduate of Brown University class of 2014 with a B.A. in Modern Culture and Media and a B.A. in Literary Arts. I identify with Buddhism but all kinds of spiritual practices speak to me. I am an avid meditator and hope to master insight training one day. I love the ocean and all things nature, city living is interesting to me but hard on my sensitivity. I am obsessed with Spiritual Psychology and stoked to be part of the SMBI Program!
I am a dancer, teacher, and channeler. My career and personal interests intersect at the body, specifically at the body’s capabilities to learn through movement, act as expressive agent, and heal itself in collaboration with the mind and spirit. My professional career is rooted in my first, source identity as an experimental/modern dancer in New York. I have been a teaching artist in over a dozen schools and am currently on faculty at a private school in Brooklyn developing creative movement curriculum for ages three to ten. After a series of transcendental spiritual experiences and synchronicities, I found myself working as a channel, or medium, for metaphysical, mystical information within the Akashic Records. This work as a spiritual advisor through the act of being a channel places me in connection with a divine, healing source of energy and in shared, intimate relation with people across the world.
“Let yourself be silently drawn by the strange pull of what you really love. It will not lead you astray.” —Rumi
Throughout my 16 years in higher education, my passion for learning has propelled me to where I am today – working with people who want to make change in their lives. It was my desire to partner with individuals who were struggling with change or interested in personal growth that drove me to pursue my undergraduate degree in psychology. Once I received my B.A. from Smith College, I enrolled in the year-long program at Coaches Training International. After my internship at Union Hospital Wellness Center, I joined a team of practitioners at Boston Acupuncture & Wellness and this is when I began to see the coaching approach as Positive Psychology in action.
I am honored to have been accepted into the SMBI Program and look forward to being in the company of likeminded professionals, scholars and future friends.
Jennifer began to understand the power of mindfulness after attending her first yoga class in 2008. As a former Division I volleyball player and coach, she always had some understanding of the capabilities of the mind and body when perfectly linked. However, her yoga practice began to transform and guide her both personally and professionally. After completing the necessary trainings and apprenticeships to become certified to teach both adult and children’s yoga, she was afforded the opportunity to teach the ancient practice to people of all ages throughout New York City.
She has been fortunate to teach children’s yoga since 2012. In 2017, she earned a Masters of Arts in Teaching degree in Elementary Education. She is currently a New York State certified teacher, teaching children’s yoga full-time at a Harlem charter school.
Marshall Dunn is the author of “Letters to Mitch – The Healing Power of Grief, Love & Truth” and life strategist and speaker. Marshall is a contributing writer for Huffington Post and has been featured in Elephant Journal, Tiny Buddha, Body & Soul, 2GB & 2UE radio, WHO Weekly, Yahoo News, NBC, Movember Radio and The Only&Only Podcast. The suicide loss of Marshall’s elder brother in 2002 became the catalyst for deep self-inquiry and personal awakening. That experience changed his life forever and allowed him to develop a unique blend of teachings. It’s these methods that Marshall now uses to help others awaken to their truth, expand their awareness, and live a life of freedom. A student first, teacher second – Marshall continues to further his education and was recently accepted into Columbia University to complete his Master’s degree in Clinical Psychology and Education with a concentration in Spirituality and Mind Body Practice.
Tianna Faye Soto
Tianna Faye Soto is a musician, performer, and certified yoga teacher originally from Raleigh, North Carolina. She finds solace in singing, yoga, traveling, and talking psychology with a cup of coffee in hand. Her passions have led her to work in schools, research labs, theaters, mental health organizations, and more. Her Puerto Rican, Chinese, and Jamaican roots have profoundly shaped her spiritual path and world view. She recently backpacked around China where she deepened her appreciation for her own culture as well as Eastern spiritual practices. Other travel experiences in Europe, Latin America, and Africa have invigorated her spirit and reinforced her desire to integrate psychology and spirituality. Tianna graduated from NC State University with degrees in Psychology and Spanish Language & Literature, and is excited to embrace life in NYC. She is thrilled to join the SMBI community and continue growing alongside vibrant, like-minded souls.
Dear all, I am very excited about this program and more so because of the amazing cultured classmates I am yet to interact with in our cohort. A little about me- I created a community program called Vision League with the main goal to engage young boys and girls in mindfulness practice, volunteer works, and also connect them to amazing professionals in the community. Our aim is to bridge a sustainable relationship with young spirits and their community through a leadership, strength-based and spiritual program. I feel that it is my life calling to educate young minds to discover their innate potential and pursue their dreams through community work & mindfulness.I also work as a Program Supervisor in a mental health housing agency in Nassau County. I was a first year student in the Social Enterprise Administration program with CUSSW, and deferred to complete the SMBI program. My overall goal is to gain a deeper insight into spiritual-based practice for youth in order to create a sustainable curriculum.
I always knew I wanted to help others in some way, I just didn’t know how, exactly. It was only about four years ago that my mother finally convinced me to try guided meditations. It was the important combination of this and a very difficult period of transition that transformed me forever. At a time when I felt most alone, I turned inward and realized my wholeness. Through obstacles with personal health, I’ve grown passionate about healing holistically from the inside out. Having also studied Psychology at Northeastern University, I was incredibly excited about the prospect of merging my scientific background with my personal passions for spirituality and wellness at SMBI. I look forward to the many opportunities to grow and be innovative, learn amongst like-minded individuals, and be a part of something much bigger than myself.
My name is Elise Girardin. I grew up in Australia and initially started a career as a professional dancer. I moved (for love) to the USA in my early twenties, and shifted careers within the theatre to acting, also working as a choreographer and occasionally directing. My husband and I (the guy I originally moved here for) had our first child, a baby boy, in 2013. I completed an undergraduate from The New School, a BA in Liberal Arts, focusing on Psychology and Literature. I have also commenced training as a dance movement therapist - I'm undertaking alternate route training, and am still a long way off yet from certification. Last year we had our second child, a little girl. In February of this year we moved from NYC to Vancouver Canada, and are loving the relentless beauty of the mountains.
Sasha Gold graduated with a degree in Psychology from Northeastern University. After starting down a career path in Marketing that sparked no passion and dealing with chronic pain that eventually led to spinal surgery, Sasha decided that she needed to make a multitude of changes in order to live a prosperous, happy life. Hitting rock bottom led to an awakening of her inner world, which had previously been concealed. Sasha decided to quit her job to travel the world as a mental health volunteer and shortly thereafter moved to the place she had always wanted to live: New York. Currently, she works as a Preschool teacher, which has served as a constant reminder to stay in the present moment. The combination of working with energy healers and life coaches as well as incorporating yoga, meditation and holistic approaches ultimately led to a divine connection that Sasha cherishes. She hopes to continue to grow and evolve within the SMBI program in order to reach her ultimate goals of self-actualization and impactful service of others.
I have always been passionate about living my life with as much awareness, understanding, and love as I can. I try to ride the delicate balance between intuition and rationality to expand my understanding of myself and the Universe. My interest in science is fueled by a fascination with the complex mechanisms that help us explain the human mind. This fascination has led me to develop a passion for psychological research and theory. As a psychology undergrad, I conducted research relating to mindfulness, including its cognitive and emotional benefits as well as its use in wilderness therapy programs. These experiences helped me discover my greatest passion in life to help bridge the gap between science and spirituality. I’m so excited to take my interests in research and spirituality to TC and learn from all the beautiful souls in the SMBI community.
My greatest inspiration is nature. I love the unexpected miracles and beauties of the world around us and my art is a reflection of that. Everything I do is linked to creativity, from my work as a Teaching Artist to the creative agency I co-founded, The Enlivened Collective. I find the greatest joy in making art, while helping others use art to manifest their ideas and imagination into reality. I currently lead the nonprofit here there and EVERYwhere, where we provide an expressive healing and vocational training platform for survivors of domestic violence, sexual assault and human trafficking. I am interested in integrating mind-body practices into the work I do with survivors as well as throughout the various other facets of my life. I am excited to continue my spiritual journey at SMBI and am grateful for this incredible opportunity.
Eager to connect and inquire, Edmye Hernandez enters the Spirituality Mind Body Institute curious to uncover the ways in which we can transcend and refine interdisciplinary instruction by embedding spiritual values and philosophical principles into our practice and collective approach.In truth, ̈Ms. Hernandez” seeks to further explore and amalgamate social justice advocacy, intuitive and contemplative practices within ecopsychology, multigenre writing, art-making, and integrative pedagogy as a means to transform and heal.
̈Be humble for you are made of earth. Be noble for you are made of stars.”
- Serbian Proverb
Hello! My name is Linda. I am thrilled to be part of the SMBI Summer Intensive Cohort 2017! My personal spirituality is a weaving together of friends, family and experiences. Each person and experience, a thread in the tapestry of my spiritual life, along with the true beauty of the Earth. I am first and foremost proud mom of two children, ages 9 and 8. I am also a certified full time elementary music educator in Texas. I teach K-4 Music and Movement in a Title 1 elementary school. I look forward to learning to utilize and implement music as an outlet to spirituality, as music is by nature, a spiritual force. This amazing opportunity combines the ideals and values that I am most passionate about: spirituality, psychology, and music. I am simply a suburban mom and educator who has a strong passion to teach, support, comfort, and guide the children of my community.
Sadie is a certified yoga teacher and practitioner of Neuro-Linguistic Programming. She holds a certification with Precision Nutrition and the National Academy of Sports Medicine. She is a functional movement expert and an injury prevention and rehabilitation specialist. She is highly sought after for personal training and has served as an Adjunct Professor of yoga and health for CUNY - John Jay College of Criminal Justice, since 2011.
Sadie has shared her love for yoga at local churches in Brooklyn and Manhattan, numerous non-profit organizations, NewYork-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Medical Center, Tiger Schulmann's Mixed Martial Arts, and Equinox. Her students and clients appreciate her fun yet therapeutic approach to yoga. Her teaching consistently receives rave reviews, which she credits to her motto: "consistency is the key to success."
Hello! I'm Melissa Humphries, a native New Yorker and fellow curious mind. My interests are vast, and I love making connections with people and ideas. For my undergraduate study, I followed a Transcendentalist-inspired path to Kenyon College. There, I earned a Baccalaureate Degree in Psychology concentrated in Neuroscience with two minors, one in Italian Language and the other in Cultural Anthropology.
I have spent four years in New York working as a direct support professional for adults and children who have special needs, and some of my hobbies include hiking, playing musical instruments, reading, cooking, and getting lost in Wikipedia.
I love engaging with other fervent, free thinkers and am immeasurably grateful and excited to grow with the SMBI community. Let’s see where our connections may take us!
In 2009, Medge left Cannes, France and followed her heart to look for her true calling. She wanted to give more meaning to her life and wanted to help people have better lives. She had to start all over, learn English as a second language, returned to school to achieve her dream of using Positive Psychology to transform people's journey. Daily struggles and challenges may lead people to see the world from a darker viewpoint and become discouraged. Using Positive Psychology techniques Medge helps them identify their interests, inner strengths, skills, weaknesses in order for them to live life in a more positive way.
Now, she lives in Philadelphia and works mostly with teenagers, guiding them through the transition to adulthood. She uses Spirituality and Psychology for a more meaningful life. She enjoys traveling, cooking, meeting new people. She is also a talented abstract artist.
My name is K. J.
I enjoy asking questions but it is the process of seeking out the answers to those questions that brings me the most satisfaction! Being inquisitive about everything around me eventually led to me being curious about everything within me and the process of seeking out these answers have been life changing and nothing short of BEAUTIFUL!
It is by divine design that I've arrived at the SMBI program at this very moment and I am beyond excited to discover new answers, ask more questions and absorb the many experiences that are guaranteed.
I've developed a passion for encouraging others to ask more questions about themselves and the world they aide in creating with hopes that they can reap the benefits of self awareness, clarity, and ultimately, mental freedom.
I’m a compulsive scribbler. My biggest fear is to forget a good idea. A snooping friend once noticed the following words I wrote on one of my yellow loose leaf pads. “Buddhism. Hip. Not-Traditional”. An apropos self-description perhaps but more so a clue into the ongoing stewings of my mind and soul. Authenticity re-struck me 2016. All the scribbling must have paid off. My calling to share light manifested in book and business ideas conceived in moments of clear consciousness. Then this program entered my orbit. The key to my spiritual and creative lock. So I doubled down on my dreams. I moved into a smaller apartment. I quit my job at Microsoft. I made lifestyle tradeoffs. I started writing. Cheers to dreams of enlightenment. Cheers to scribbling.
Michael Ian Kirsch
I received my life’s calling at a rock concert when I was 17. The collective effervescence I experienced through live music revealed to me the interconnectedness of all things. That night, I made the commitment to following the path of a musician.
My musical journey brought me to India, where I spent 6 months studying the Sitar in an ashram with one of the country’s most well-known Maestros. Through intensely disciplined practice, I learned to channel the spirit of music through improvisation.
Presently, I compose, produce and perform music with an electronic/rock hybrid called In Flux. Our creative vision is to merge man and machine in the process of spontaneous creation. Our songs are vehicles for improvisation, fusing the organic impulses of human creativity with the synthetic impulses generated by artificial intelligence.
When I discovered SMBI, I intuitively recognized the program as the next step on my journey towards self-actualization. My dream is to help others tap into the sense of interconnectedness I experience through music, and realize their place in it.
Hello there! My name is Danielle Lacey, 24, and was born and raised in Westchester, New York. As an undergraduate, I attended school in Colorado at University of Denver where I majored in psychology with a concentration in cognitive neuroscience. Prior to studying psychology as an undergraduate, I had experience creating and conducting a positive psychology research intervention with youth residing in residential care. This opportunity provided me with a first hand understanding of the positive effects gratitude had on troubled youths overall life satisfaction which has motivated me to continue to explore new and more effective treatments for this population. In recent years, I have participated in positions to strengthen my credibility as a researcher, such as working as a cancer researcher coordinator at Columbia University Medical Center.
Sam is an educator, entrepreneur and creative soul who is incredibly passionate about furthering his own development and helping others tap into their inspiration and power. He is a yoga instructor, energy healer, digital marketing whiz and aspiring triathlete who most recently was a founding member of Breathe For Change, an organization which leads yoga and mindfulness workshops for educators across the country. Sam is an avid traveler and is endlessly curious. He loves to smile and laugh and wears his emotions on his sleeve. He is so excited to embark on this next chapter!
Born and studied till high school in China, attended university in Japan and acquired MBA in U.S.. I currently live in San Francisco but travel globally a lot for work. As the managing partner of an investment company with 4 billion U.S. dollar under management, I also oversee some funds related to realty, equity and other industries. With multicultural background and trans-field experience, I would say I have good stories to share.I encountered a fatal illness occurred in 2012 as a turning point which led me to a brand new realm - psychology. My yearning for better understanding about psychology and aiming at helping more people to have healing practice becomes the biggest motivator for me to take the opportunity to study in the professionalized SMBI program. Wish could get more approach to mindfulness.
I am an Egyptian/American/Swiss and a mother of two amazing kids, nature’s fiend, sunset watcher & truth seeker with a passion for yoga, meditation, music, travel, elephants, books & healthy cooking.
I am also an ex-Economist who previously worked in a bank and the UNDP in Egypt. But music, spirituality and healing were always my calling. I became fully aware of that after a trip to Anand Prakash Ashram in India in 2015.
As Mahatma Gandhi once said” The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others”. This saying holds true to me. I am hoping after completion of my degree to become a spiritual guider myself, and reach many spiritual seekers as I can, in order to help them on their journey and provide them with the necessary means to endure and persevere on this journey. As I constantly try to find meanings and solace in my different spiritual experiences, I hope through the knowledge I would gain from your program to be able to do the same for them. I very much look forward to meet each and every one of you.
Gladys holds a dual degree in B.A. Psychology and Economics from UC Berkeley. Since then, she started off her career from Continuum as a research strategist. she went into different cities to conduct ethnography research by capturing their life stories. Through understanding people's different mental models, values system and behaviors, she translated those insights to her clients and help them empathize with their consumers and design better experiences.
But along the journey, she is also persistent in mental health interventions and wellness enhancing techniques. She completed series of therapy workshops, fascinated by those seemingly comprehensible yet full-of-issues relationships. In the future, she wants to do something to enhance community’s wellness: to increase people's awareness about their emotional well-being; to improve both access and quality of psychotherapy; and to make treatment more personalized.
Growing up just outside New York City, Madeline has been interested in alternative medicine from a young age that began after her mother's death from cancer and the use of intrusive medical techniques. She received her BA from American University in the subjects of philosophy and studio art, and later became a massage therapist and level II Reiki practitioner. In the past four years, Madeline has traveled throughout South and Central America, working closely with artists and indigenous communities to explore different cultures and ancestral technologies, specifically of the Mhyusqa, Wiwa, and Kogi of Colombia, among others. Madeline has exhibited her artwork in the USA, Costa Rica, Colombia, and Japan. She is the co-founder of the Visionary Art exhibit "Seeds of the Anaconda" Colombia, 2016.
A growing literature reports the salutary effects of meditation on health. In particular, this remarkable body of work highlights the benefits of meditation on immune function, pain, stress-related disorders, and the brain. With a background in neuroscience and psychology, Sean is interested in how mindfulness training affects cognitive functioning and the architecture of the brain, in addition to its healing effects on the body and its potential for treating a broad scope of psychiatric disorders. Additional interests of Sean's include reducing the stigma of mental illness and identifying ways by which pathological anxiety and depression can be more effectively treated. Sean is currently involved in research at Columbia University Medical Center that is investigating neurocognitive predictors of treatment response to antidepressant agents as well as the efficacy of ketamine for treating treatment-resistant major depression. Sean is a member of the American Psychological Association, Cognitive Neuroscience Society, and the Association for Psychological Science. He received his undergraduate degree in psychology from Plymouth State University and his masters degree in neuroscience and education from Columbia University.
Hello! I’m originally from Mallorca, Spain. I came to study at Franklin and Marshall College in Lancaster, PA graduating last May with a degree in Psychology. This year I took time off to travel and apply for graduate schools.
Presently I would like to pursue a career in Clinical Psychology, but when I learned about this program I knew it would be my first choice over masters in Clinical Psychology or Mental Health.
I want this program to develop what I know about myself, other people, and life. I expect this program to be the foundation to how I approach issues that may affect me and how I will approach the challenges of mental health if I am to become a psychologist.
Jo'el Semevo Marius Adifon
My everyday normal is a bit different.
My life is filled with entities and energies, spirits and beings. In my world, miracles and magic are not fairy tales (unless actual faeries are involved XD); they’re as real as you and me.
In my West African family of intuitive mystics, I found the Other Worlds more tangible than the physicality around us. I spent years wrestling with my abilities, caught between honing them and fitting in.
Amidst my hiding and pretending not to know, Spirit broke through. I now spend my days helping clients as a Soul Catalyst, drawing from a blend of Spirit mediumship and intuitive healing. I've come to know this: no disease or condition lies beyond the reach of Divine Love.
I CAN'T WAIT to meet each of you and hear about your journeys.
I am a wellness junkie, healer and spiritual seeker based in Chicago, IL. My fascination with the mind-body connection began with a health scare that sent me running into the arms of the health and wellness advocates who would later become my spiritual role models. As I poured myself into the study of health and nutrition, I repeatedly came across the notion that true wellness is not limited to the physical body; rather, it is part of the interconnected whole. This perspective inspired me to grow my spiritual practice and ultimately led me to the study of various healing modalities, including Usui Reiki and the Bengston Energy Healing Method. I am constantly amazed by the power of these practices and their ability to bring us closer to the state of vibrant joy that I believe is our birthright. I am so grateful for SMBI and the opportunity to explore these subjects further while deepening my own spiritual bonds and enabling my greatest service to others.
Whenever a stranger would ask me what I did for a living, I used to respond, somewhat hesitantly, “I am a lawyer.” Over the last two decades, however, I experienced a series of family deaths that gradually, but profoundly, changed my worldview. Eventually I realized I was ready to leave the legal profession and seriously pursue answers to spiritual questions that had perplexed me from a young age. Two years ago, I started to wind down my law practice. I began practicing meditation in the Thich Nhat Hanh tradition and examining the Buddhist understanding of suffering, compassion, and happiness. Now when someone asks me what I do for a living, I answer more contentedly, “I study compassion.” I look forward to exploring the intersection of spirituality and psychology with my fellow SMBI students.
Dharana, my spiritual superhero name, means "focus" in Sanskrit. Four years ago, I escaped the competitive, NYC concrete jungle, by following my heart to Costa Rica. There, through my connection to Nature and the practice of yoga, my Higher Power was found. I've committed to this path and am now a 1000-hour Master Educator with the Nosara Yoga Institute. My Instagram is WonderYogi (yes, I can levitate) because I believe we all have divine superpowers waiting to be unleashed. My intention is to inspire and empower others to tap into those gifts, so we can create a more loving, harmonious world. Currently, I teach workshops on “Evolving Love”, utilizing self-inquiry, conscious communication, and partnered movement practices, including AcroYoga and Pranassage.
My name is Danielle Melnick and my greatest passion is sexual violence prevention. I do not believe in speaking for other people. Rather, I try creating avenues and providing platforms for others to speak for themselves and their experiences as survivors. I cannot articulate the experience of survivorship, but I can illuminate the power of what means to be a survivor through my integration of wellness, social justice, and the arts. Through this integration I find that we can be authentic humans who share our raw and beautiful selves. Through my experience, I find that there are three ways we can support survivors: open space within ourselves to listen and share stories with one another, actively build those around us up rather than being complacent with the fact that we're not tearing them down, and quite simply, love unapologetically.
Professionally, for the past four years, I’ve lectured in speech and rhetoric as well as in American culture and history at a graduate school for interpretation and translation in Seoul, South Korea. I also freelance in English editing/proofreading as well as in counseling/consultation in regards to language, rhetoric, and speech. Privately, having studied various forms of mystical or spiritual thought as well as shamanic modalities in South and North America, I’ve cultivated a strong interest in spiritual inquiry and healing, which has culminated in my application to this program.
At SMBI, I hope to learn more about the potential applications of spiritual paradigms and practices in the realm of clinical psychology: to eventually help people heal, expand their horizon of holistic understanding, and bring about a more peaceful planet. More particularly, I aim to investigate how autotherapy, active visualization, deep meditation, and subliminal or symbolic forms of perception and communication can help us navigate our condition as interdependent and interdimensional beings.
Lenina Mortimer is a certified dating and love coach and an award-winning journalist. Her mission is to speak with women about self-love, self-care and self-belief. As a Haitian-American woman dating in New York City with a background in neuroscience, journalism and marketing and communications, Lenina has developed the skills to coach ambitious women — helping them to understand their power in dating and in life. She is also the co-creator and executive producer of the Telly Award winning YouTube series, Women of Action with Lenina. The interview series, which features influential people in media, music and business, is meant to touch, move and inspire viewers into action. Lenina’s work has appeared in The Economist, The Daily Beast, Good Housekeeping magazine and The Legislative Gazette. She has a B.S. in Biology from Stony Brook University and a B.A. in Journalism from Brooklyn College.She received her certification from the internationally recognized program, the Coach Training Academy.
I studied Applied Economics for my undergraduate studies at Cornell and went on to work at Barclays for the last decade. I have always been on a spiritual path and fascinated by the search for truth and the mysteries of the universe. After undergoing a spiritual awakening 2 years ago, I dove all in on my spiritual path, attending lectures by Eckhart Tolle in Costa Rica, Deepak Chopra, Marianne Williamson, and Ama. I am excited to join the SMBI to learn, and explore more.
Reconciling couples. Advising parents. Assisting trauma victims. Running neurofeedback sessions. Educating communication students. Studying Lebanese families. Making short films. Biking through planes and peaks. Exploring all six continents. Discovering world music. Trying every coffee shop in the neighborhood. Wrestling with my nephews on the floor. Enjoying my parents’ antics. Sharing life with my wife, my best friend. Thanking God for all of the above.
Hi my name is Sonya Powell. I am very excited to be returning to Teachers College to be part of such an incredible groundbreaking program. In 1999, I graduated from Teachers College, Columbia with my Masters Degree in Social Organizational Psychology. Since then I have experienced many exciting and transformative events in my life; including having 3 wonderful children, working with and coaching top Fortune 100 executives, designing and developing a women’s skiwear line, starting a luxury home development company and most recently taking a year off from everything to travel around the world with my husband and children.
During our world pilgrimage, I took the opportunity to journal and write more than ever before. I felt as if I had been given a golden ticket to momentarily step off this crazy ride we call life and reexamine and understand my existence on a much deeper level. The more we traveled the more my writings began to reveal a new world to me, a deeper more powerful inner world. Now more then ever I feel a calling to help others step outside of the chaos of their daily lives and discover the world that awaits them within. I am very honored to join the SMBI cohort of 2016-17.
In 2013 I traveled to India to teach art and nature education to a marginalized caste of incredible humans. That trip radically changed my life and since then I've been committed to walking (and sometimes stumbling on) the path of light. I have what feels like an insatiable desire to learn; to deepen my understanding, to grow and evolve, to move through hardship and change with a sense of humor and a little bit of grace, and to ultimately honor the fleeting nature of all things. I now teach art and yoga in Maine, I’m a lover of animals and nature, poetry and art, delicious food and drink, and am always seeking heartfelt connection with others. I laugh often, write less than I should, get outside as much as possible, smile at strangers, and view the world through the lens of love. I am so excited to start this program with you all!
How did I get here? I like to call myself a recovering corporate CMO. Originally hailing from Eugene, Oregon – I graduated with a double major in Journalism and Psychology from the University of Oregon and went on to a long career in marketing beginning with Nike, LVMH, an ethical minded fashion company owned by Bono and his wife called Edun, and finally diving into start-up world most recently at Peloton Interactive. After helping to launch that business on a successful trajectory towards a billion dollar valuation and IPO - I asked myself that reoccurring question: “how did I get here?” And what happened to the ideals of that 18 year-old self? I quit my job to start working towards life 2.0. I’m really energized and excited to combine my professional talents and personal interests in this SMBI program. I’d like to explore this further over the next several years of study culminating in helping people grow and flourish both mentally and spiritually in the work place.
Andrea M. Rota
I am incredibly excited and honored to be a part of the SMBI Summer Intensive 2017! From a young age, I always knew it was my calling to help others. My supportive and empathetic nature combined with my ability to forge quick connections, led me to complete a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology, lead mentor programs within my company, and become a district leader for my Buddhist community. A recent difficult experience with Lyme Disease was my “Date with Destiny”, as it helped me to prioritize my goals and realize that life is too short to not pursue your passions and dreams. Having personally seen the profound benefits of psychotherapy and spirituality in my own life, I am eager to learn more about spiritual psychology, healing practices, and the mind-body connection. My goal is to design a new career helping others develop more joyful, healthier and balanced lives. As they say, “Do what you love and you’ll never work another day in your life.”
A wave of energy coated in stardust and dirt experiencing itself through a woman's body; I am. As a writer and hopeful healer, I never thought I could turn my love for self-actualization, consciousness studies and “living my truth” into a profession, but it is happening as you read this. Originally from Lowell, Massachusetts. At eighteen year old, New York became my second home. NYU Gallatin graduate, class of 2016. Published poet, experimental fiction and nonfiction writer. Psychonaut and avid oneironaut. Focused on positivity and following my intuition. Finding the miracle and mystery in everything. Dedicated to healing the root of trauma, not just the symptoms. Currently studying the use of alterations of consciousness and plant medicine as healing tools for our hurting society. So thrilled to be a part of SMBI, a program that realizes the power of an integrative worldview. Forever in gratitude.
Vilma has a B.A. degree in Psychology from Fordham University, and a Human Resources Certificate from Cornell University’s School of Industrial and Labor Relations. She is a Personal Development Coach certified by the Coaches Training Institute, and is an active member of the International Coach Federation.
Among areas of interest are Positive Psychology, spirituality and mindfulness in the work environment, and the program’s core value of “Inner, experiential development for meaningful outer implementation and change”. She looks forward to collaborating and engaging with the SMBI team and fellow students. Her journey of discovery, learning and experiencing life continues with the goal of collaborating, inspiring and empowering others.
From a young age I was interested in life beyond the material world. Growing up with a yoga teacher mother only encouraged this interest and introduced me to yoga and meditation early on. This shaped my curiosity about how spirituality, in a broad sense, can effect an individual's mental health and overall wellbeing. I decided to explore this deeper through my undergraduate studies of psychology and religion at the University of Vermont. To delve deeper into my personal understanding of spirituality, I lived and studied at the Satchidananda ashram where I received my 200-hour yoga teacher certification. Through my personal and professional yoga experience I have observed a strong connection between the mind and body. I am beyond excited and grateful to join the SMBI program to continue my understanding and exploration of this connection and its impact on spirituality and wellbeing.
I found my path through the realization of self-awareness. My unconsciously learned perception of reality began to transform, as glimpses of clarity emerged. These windows of truth collapsed into an extremely intense flow of higher consciousness, which shifted my life instantaneously. It was overwhelming, and took years for my mental concepts and belief systems to become aligned with my spiritual experiences. I trained in intensive energy work and holistic therapies for my own personal development. My career focus has been in education – graduating with degrees in Early Childhood Education, a B.A. in Psychology, and a Master’s of Science in Teaching. I have worked as an elementary teacher for the past five years. My life has sent me walking straight through mountains of pain; only to step out the other side into a world of depth and vivid colour. A deeper rooted purpose has arisen before me, which has led me to the SMBI program.
Stephanie Simpson is a Life + Business Coach/Speaker, artist, and educator living in NYC. Using her background in dance, yoga, mindfulness/meditation, Reiki, and sport psychology, she guides people to achieve their greatest potential by connecting the mind, body, and spirit, working through their fears, and empowering them to overcome obstacles. She holds a BA in Interdisciplinary Studies from Emerson College, an MFA in Dance Performance/Choreography from Smith College, is a RYT-200 Certified Yoga Instructor, and is currently finishing her Reiki I and II certifications. Stephanie has presented, led workshops, and consulted for many businesses and schools all over the country. She is currently building the Dance and Musical Theatre program at Riverdale Country School. As a performer/choreographer, Stephanie has worked with theatres and dance companies on both the west and east coasts. In addition, she is a Co-Founder/Artistic Director of Reject Dance Theatre, a contemporary modern dance company based in Boston and NYC. www.stephanie-simpson.com
"I understand now that I’m not a mess but a deeply feeling person in a messy world. I explain that now, when someone asks me why I cry so often, I say, 'For the same reason I laugh so often- because I’m paying attention.’” -Glennon Doyle Melton. I’m distracted by the pain in the world about as often as I’m distracted by the beauty, and I seem to find beauty in everything. It has taken me 22 years to fully accept who I am, and my sensitivity as useful to this world that so desperately needs empathy and direction. It is my goal in life to eliminate the stigma behind mental illness, and to apply aspects of positive psychology and spirituality to the treatment of depression, to help those affected learn to accept and nurture their depression, discover purpose, and thrive. I studied psychology, sociology, and philosophy at St. John’s University, and this year, have dedicated over 1,700 hours of service to an elementary school in Brooklyn. I have a deep passion for service and learning, and a fascination for the way the oranges and yellows of a sunset illuminate the sky to make me feel like I am part of something greater than myself. I feel blessed to continue on my journey of becoming with each of you!
Tianna Faye Soto
Tianna Faye Soto is a musician, performer, and certified yoga teacher originally from Raleigh, North Carolina. She finds solace in singing, yoga, traveling, and talking psychology with a cup of coffee in hand. Her passions have led her to work in schools, research labs, theaters, mental health organizations, and more.
Her Puerto Rican, Chinese, and Jamaican roots have profoundly shaped her spiritual path and world view. She recently backpacked around China where she deepened her appreciation for her own culture as well as Eastern spiritual practices. Other travel experiences in Europe, Latin America, and Africa have invigorated her spirit and reinforced her desire to integrate psychology and spirituality.
Tianna graduated from NC State University with degrees in Psychology and Spanish Language & Literature, and is excited to embrace life in NYC. She is thrilled to join the SMBI community and continue growing alongside vibrant, like-minded souls.
I am originally from Montreal, Quebec. I have lived in Vancouver and Toronto, most recently moving to Piermont with my family, experiencing its stunning landscape. I have a background in the Arts, an MFA in Acting and I am a certified teacher. I taught in the public-school system in Toronto for seven years, integrating Yoga and Laban theory of movement in my Dance/Drama classes, as well as mindfulness practices in my teaching. I have additional qualifications in Special Education, also working with people with Aphasia and TBI, trained in Supportive Conversation for Adults with Aphasia (SCA™). I have been practicing Yoga since my teens, recently and joyfully became a 200 RYT. I believe that moving the body helps to ease and balance the mind, helping one be present and better able to overcome challenges. I also believe that the body is a map that is deeply interconnected with our spirit.
Katherine Survis grew up in the Midwest singing and dancing, writing stories and songs, cast in dramas on (and sometimes off) stage. She attended the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point, where she spent her final semester studying art and theatre in London. Upon graduating, Ms. Survis went on to study at the American Musical and Dramatic Academy in Manhattan. While pursuing roles, she worked with children and taught performing arts classes. She also became certified in Pilates and at one point owned her own studio. Through her work with private clients, she became increasingly aware of the mind-body connection. This inspired a journey of self-discovery and meditation. Katherine is honored to be a part of Columbia’s program where she can explore the depth of the psyche, the space where East meets West, mind meets body, science meets spirit.
My quest for existential answers and exploration of deeper layers beyond my physical body began as a young child. Then, as I grew up, it seemed as if the universe conspired time after time to give me many different personal and professional experiences .
While acquiring over 10 years of business expertise as an empathic, entrepreneurial, and empowering professional, I was finally able to explore deeper and integrate holistic wellness. First, as a much needed lifestyle to face in the world in a much balanced way and eventually to help anyone in need.
I have spent the last few years traveling to 39 countries soaking up the wisdom of various cultures and customs. Finding this program could not have come at a better time. I am incredibly honored and grateful to be a part of this journey.
I am no stranger to the spirit world coming from an African culture where the supernatural is weaved into the fabric of everyday life, but when I arrived the US for college, the elegant language of mathematics very quickly replaced childhood memories of being poked and pinched by disembodied spirits. I smoothly transitioned into the corporate world of carefully choreographed airport management techniques, high burn, high reward projects and rooftop happy hours as a digital consultant.
Four years later, a culmination of a time of near implosion, catapulted me down a path of self-discovery. By day, I was a chic consultant; by night, I moonlighted as an oneironaut and psychonaut. A deep yearning led me to the jungles of Peru where I met a great plant teacher and later to Thailand where I was introduced to Shamanic breathwork and subsequently trained as a facilitator.
As a hospice volunteer, I connected with death, as a breathworker I connected with my ancestors, plant consciousness and the earth.
My interests lie in understanding historical trauma and its legacy of dysfunction handed down through generations. It is my hope that I can contribute to the unraveling of this trauma via healing models that integrate spirituality, African healing principles, and Western psychology.
I am a huge believer and advocate of the power of meditation, mindfulness and positive thinking. As a teacher, I hope to incorporate the knowledge I learn from this program into my classroom as well as my everyday personal life. Becoming In touch with my spirituality and the practice of meditation has dramatically changed my life for the better. Once plagued with debilitating anxiety, through the practices taught to me by a life coach, I have slowly awakened my spirituality which has led me to find my own inner peace. My goal is to impact the children I meet, as well as adults, in a way that allows them to be happier, healthier, and more in touch spiritually. I would like to teach more of the importance of goodness rather than simply academic success. In my free time, you can find me with my dogs or outside with a book!
Hi, I am Caroline. Four years ago I was in a car accident that triggered a conscious awakening. It shattered everything I knew of the Self, deepened my interconnectedness to the world around me, relieved mental stress, worries, and depression, and opened my heart to boundless compassion and gratitude. From this conscious heart, I found it safe to be gentler, kind, and authentic. I have a graduate degree in Architectural History and am a certified Kundalini Yoga teacher. As an academic who struggled to believe in something bigger than myself, I now consider myself a deeply spiritual person. While I have found personal transformation to be critical to fully stepping into one's own value, dignity and power, I feel that the true purpose of our human experience can be found in relationships. It is through a safe and sacred space with another that we truly thrive, grow, create, connect and love. Such connection is needed on our planet now more than ever, and I am excited to be part of this year's SMBI cohort and the conversation that we are more than body and mind but also spirit. Research interests include: the transformational power of architectural space and comparing Eastern philosophy to traditional behaviorism science as a way to analyze inner knowing.
grateful to be a part of the SMBI program.
'academic' interests:consciousness studies / philosophy of mind; implications of relational holism for creativity and healing; articulating 'layer' or 'transmission' theories of cognition in the context of spiritual 'mastery'; neural correlates of self-transcendence; explanatory model / process articulation for deconstructing the 'autonoetic self'
past: born / raised colorado; undergrad in philadelphia; lived / worked post-grad in new york (6 yrs) and california (3 yrs)
My name is Yingmao Wei. My friends call me "Maomao." I am 23 years old. I was born in China and came to the U.S. at age 12 to attend a boarding school. I have a bachelor's degree in finance. At a very young age, I was exposed to the business world. I have traveled to almost 40 countries. I plan to use my business skills to shape a better world. Recently, I've been working with a Beijing-based investment firm with access to $1 billion in investment capital. As an assistant investment manager, I help its investment club members select prudent investments. For almost a decade, I took a leadership role in providing free education each year for hundreds of farm children and orphans from rural Chinese villages. I also participate in spirituality and charitable events collaborating with a well-known Chinese Taoist master. In addition, I am involved in homeless animal care.
Born and raised in Minnesota by way of Colorado, Steph is headed to NYC ready for the whirlwind of the wild metropolis. She has an infectious giggle and a smile that lights up the room. With a career in yoga and teacher trainings, Steph has honed the ability and love to speak with groups in her kind, humorous and loving way that inspires spirituality linked to movement. Working closely with LoveYourBrain, a yoga program for the Traumatic Brain Injury community, she is interested in learning more rehabilitation and healing techniques while also researching yoga's affects on the brain while at SMBI. Outside of all this woo-woo culture you might find her backcountry skiing, hiking with her dog or reading poetry.
Born in Taiwan but raised and nurtured by the bushes of Australia, I have always existed in the in between spaces. Curious and adventurous by nature, I've made homes in the south of France, in New York, in Los Angeles and in London and pursued a professional life that is equally varied. Life has made me a passionate student of psychology and spirituality from an early age and I’m so excited to embark on this journey with all of you.
Niveen is a mother of two beautiful daughters, energy healer, yoga teacher and practitioner, and a perpetual social entrepreneur. After a long career as a microfinance expert in the MENA region, Niveen followed her intended path as an “education-reformist” by setting up the first eco-friendly preschool and kindergarten in the MENA region, where mindfulness and yoga are taught and practiced starting at the age of 2!Niveen is passionate about her work with children, adolescents and parents in teaching mindfulness techniques. She is also a holistic counselor, Reiki Master, and Quantum Healing Hypnosis Practitioner. When Niveen is not looking for new “out of the box” ideas to effect change through her work, she travels the world seeking spiritual adventures, deepening her connection with cultures across continents, and riding her motorcycle and “peace van” to spread the message of peace…
Anamaría Amador-Miranda is a professional dancer and choreographer from Puerto Rico. She graduated with a BA in Psychology from the University of Puerto Rico and earned an MFA in Dance and Choreography from Tisch School of the Arts, New York University. Anamaríahas created numerous dances including choreographies for actors, visual art installations and works related to nature. Her choreographies had been shown at various main theaters in San Juan and she had traveled with her art to different countries. As an educator, she has worked with students from all ages and her teaching experience includes schools and university environments. For the past 20 years she has studied mind body practices in relation to dance and in her journey she intertwines art, psychology and education;developing research and promoting mind body relationship awareness with a broad audience of dance appreciators.
Iris Olivia Barber is a peace educator, yoga therapist and community activist. Born high in the rocky mountains of Colorado, Olivia’s work has been deeply influenced by the grace and humble power of the natural world. An avid adventurer, Olivia’s work has led her to schools and festivals around the globe to teach workshops on the Yoga of Social Justice and the Spirit and Science of Social Change. Olivia deeply believes that the key to building a peaceful future is to start by creating opportunities and environments for young people to become peaceful, self-aware and fully empowered. Her goal in the SMBI program is to design a framework for culturally relevant, spiritually based peace building and service learning curriculums for teachers and students of all ages. Find more information about her work at irisolivia.com
I am very excited and grateful to join the 2016-17 SMBI Summer Intensive cohort. Through this program I seek both a personal and professional pivot centered on realigning myself and my work with my soul’s purpose. As an 18 year veteran in urban education, I see a critical need to bring humanity back into public education. My intention is become a leader in thought and practice on transforming how we train teachers and educate children, by connecting traditional educational practices to mind, body, and spirituality.
On I lighter note, in my personal time I love to travel, especially to see live music. I love funk, straight-ahead jazz, old-school R&B, and REAL hip-hop, having had the opportunity to see some of my favorite musicians across the US, in Canada, and in Europe. I am also a spiritual seeker, having dabbled in mind, body, and spiritual practices over the past 20 years. I have a particular fascination with western astrology, which I have self-studied for the past four years.
I truly look forward to sharing my knowledge and experiences and learning with and from other members of the cohort over the course of the program.
“We are travelers on a cosmic journey, stardust swirling and dancing in the eddies and whirlpools of infinity. Life is eternal. We have stopped for a moment to encounter each other, to meet, to love, to share.This is a precious moment. It is a little parenthesis in eternity.” ―Paulo Coelho, The Alchemist
My journey today started many years ago. I have been continually amazed at how the universe has always brought me to multiple destinations that were right for me at the time. Looking back I recognize that in times when I try to chart my own course, the way forward wasn’t as clear; when I let go and allow the forces that be plot the course, I end up in the most perfect places such as here and now in the SMBI program!
We are the story of the many that have come before us. With that, I am glad to make SMBI part of my story and share with others. My name is Claudia Calero, and I am deeply grateful and humbled to be part of such an important program that has such a meaningful mission. Originally from Nicaragua, I received my Bachelors in Religious Studies from the University of South Carolina. Through my life journey thus far I have learned that once one is able to abandon the concept of the self, one can proceed to work from the heart and benefit all. Being in this program, I walk forward into this branch of study in order to unfold a calling. I want to continue putting love into motion, combining with this unique learning experience in order to manifest the brilliance in humanity. With gratitude I hope to build a greater world with my training for the possibility of the heaven on earth of tomorrow.
My passion lies in helping people find connection to themselves and the world around them. From a young age my analytical mind anddesire to understand human emotions initiated my exploration. This lead me to an Undergraduate Degree in Biology and Psychology and then onto developing a spiritual practice through yoga and intuitive energy work. I believe that understanding others begins with understanding ourselves. My life recently has led me to studying at the university of life through travel and crawling into bed with my fears. The moments in life when anxiety and uncertainty creep in often open the door to self discovery and unveiling life’s greatest gifts. My most valuable growth and positive life changes have happened during or after these moments of discomfort. I am beyond excited for this next chapter and the places we will go.
Mallika Chopra is a mom, media entrepreneur, public speaker and published author. Her most recent book,Living With Intent: My Somewhat Messy Journey to Purpose, Peace and Joy, was published in April 2015. Mallika is the founder ofIntent.com, a website and app focused on personal, social and global wellness. Her intent is to harness the power of social media to connect people from around the world to improve their own lives, their communities and the planet. Her books, "100 Promises To My Baby" and "100 Questions From My Child" have been translated and sold in dozens of countries worldwide. Her varied background includes launching the Heal The World Foundation in the 1990’s with Michael Jackson, being part of the initial team to re-launch MTV in India, and serving as a Health Ambassador for the Pepsi Refresh Everything Project in the US – an initiative that gave millions of dollars to individuals, non-profits and companies to for projects in their communities. Mallika is also the founder ofThe Chopra Well, a premiere YouTube channel, she launched with her brother, Gotham Chopra, and father, Deepak Chopra. Mallika has taught meditations to thousands of people. She enjoys speaking to audiences around the world, and has shared her passion about Intent at TedXSan Diego and TedXBerkeley, Ideacity, Business Innovation Factory, the Green Festivals, LOHAS, Prevention R3, Wisdom 2.0, Women’s Conferences around the United States, and the Parliament of World Religions. She is a popular speaker at companies, and has shared ideas on balance and purpose at Coca Cola, LinkedIn and Google. She travels internationally for workshops on meditation and balance, as well speaks regularly at the Chopra Center for Wellbeing. Mallika’s writing and work have been featured in many publications including Time.com, Self Magazine, Women’s Health, Prevention Magazine, OWN, Glamour, Oprah.com, Mind Body Green, the LA Times, and Huffington Post. She currently is featured in Time Magazine’s Special Issue on Mindfulness. Mallika has a Bachelor of Arts from Brown University, an MBA from Kellogg Business School, and is currently pursuing a Masters in Psychology with a mind body spirit concentration at Teachers College, Columbia University.
My name is Morgan-Taylor Copper and my spiritual journey has been excruciating, exhilarating, yet entirely worth it. In fact, I believe the purpose of my existence is to self-actualize here on Earth. Being accepted to the SMBI, to me, represents a confirmation that my dream is indeed about to come true.
For the past seven years I have worked for my parents' insurance company as a licensed agent. For those seven years I, too, have felt my soul slowly be extinguished by entitled clients, the minutiae, and simply not being understood or accepted by most. What I mean by the later is that in the South (side note: I am from Atlanta, GA) using the word 'Universe' as a synonym for 'God' typically is not well received.
That said, I am eager to immerse myself in a program that represents everything that I am .I am simply grateful to have the privilege to study alongside students and faculty that share my same thought bubbles, aspirations, and belief systems.
With a passion for helping girls understand the connection between their minds, bodies, and spirits, Maggie DiPasquale created the Modern Mentor Program to help foster a generation of happy, healthy young ladies. As a wellness resource for girls, she implements her program in schools and groups across the tristate area. Maggie is the author of From Stressed Out to Zenned Out and her work has been featured on Boston’s 103.3 Amp Radio, Teen Vogue, Yoga Journal, and Millennial Talk with Chelsea Krost. She’s also a 200 hour yoga teacher studying under Amy Pastore. Maggie graduated from Boston College and if she’s not mentoring, you can find her dancing! www.maggiedipasquale.com
Miracles occur naturally as expressions of (self) love." After reading this quote by Marianne Williamson and shifting it slightly to empower the self, Erin decided to leave her comfort zone marketing job, cozy Chicago apartment and supportive family and friends to backpack The Middle East and India for 11 months. She lived in many different Ashrams and spiritual centers studying yoga, meditation and holistic medicine. Erin is a Functional Medicine Health Coach and social media influencer creating more positive virtual spaces. When she isn't living the nomadic lifestyle, Erin leads young adult programs to Europe and Israel educating youth on WWII and The Zionist movement. Erin is also training tour guides and religious educators on how to teach spirituality and Peace through a "human" lens to promote Oneness. Erin runs her own practice where she works with stressed out adults and teens teaching self empowerment and care through meditation, yoga, and holistic eating to generate unapologetic self acceptance. Erin is a Certified 200 hour Yoga Teacher and meditation educator holding workshops throughout the Midwest. Her overall goal it to lead workshops internationally and to teach self-love practices in the American school system. Feel free to follow her on Instagram @bullshitfreebabe or on her virtual love site www.erinracheldoppelt.com
Hi, I'm Olivia and as many of you know, I go by the name "Glow". I'm passionate about spirituality, psychology, and social justice, and the intersection between the three. I'm a life coach and energy healer, working with individuals and groups around these topics. At SMBI I'm looking forward to meeting people who share similar interests so we can learn from each other and see how we can collaborate.
My professional work and SMBI coursework fall into the following categories:
1) Healing work with individual clients (life coaching and energy healing). I currently study under Ron Young in NYC via SMBI, as well as Anna-Lisa Adelberg and Raina DeLear in the Bay Area via Luminous Awareness Institute, and became Reiki 3 trained with Joanna Crespo. My life coach certification is from Coaches Training Institute.
If you'd like a free sample healing session, get in touch!
2) Facilitating workshops around the intersection of spirituality, psych, and social justice. Topics include meditation, chi gong, studies of the energy body, holistic healing on body/emotional/thought/social levels, interpersonal relating, circling, creating safe spaces, group coaching, and other self-growth and group healing practices. I'm currently forming curricula around these topics and facilitating workshops at the LEO Wellness Center as well as via health and wellness programs at organizations and independently.
If you want to facilitate a workshop with me, lets see what we can try out :)
3) Working with kids. I feel called to work with kids in a healing / magical capacity and haven't yet in that way, though I've done camp counseling, tutoring, and babysitting. At SMBI I'll be helping create and teach curricula at schools relating to mindfulness and spirituality.
If you know of healers who work with kids, or of other mindfulness/spirituality practices facilitated for children, I would love to connect with them!
If you're interested in any of the above please contact me: my email is firstname.lastname@example.org. I would love to share ideas and see where they can take us. You can see more about my work and interests via my social media presence (links below). I do a lot of writing on topics around spirituality and psychology which you can see on my blog.
The astronomer Maria Mitchell once said, “We especially need imagination in science. It is not all mathematics, nor all logic, but it is somewhat beauty and poetry.”
I am passionate about studying the influences of cognition, spirituality, and religion on the development of behavior and psychological, emotional, and physical health.
I plan to cultivate my scientific interests while espousing the beauty in science that Mitchell speaks of.
I currently work at NYU Medical Center's Department of Neurology, administering cognitive tests for an Alzheimer's Disease Research study.
Fun fact - one of my favorite books that introduced me to spirituality is Many Lives, Many Masters by Dr. Brian Weiss.
I can’t wait to continue on my journey with all of you this summer!
Soon after I discovered the healing benefits of meditation for depression and anxiety, I decided that I want to help people discover lasting change through brain plasticity, prayer and visualization. My belief is that each of us is connected to God through parts of our brain. I added many different methods to my life to get to the level of calmness and assurance that I have reached and I intend to research the best way to share my knowledge with others. My healing methods are featured on my YouTube channel, Love, Life, Meaning TV. The four sections are: Meditation Instruction, Guided Meditation, Creative Visualization and Mental Conditioning. My YouTube channel is: lovelifemeaningtv.
I am 35 years old and have lived at 33 different addresses. This nomadic way of living has inspired me to explore how we shape and reshape our identities, and how we interact with the world in response to our experiences, especially as it relates to any resulting embodied trauma.
I started studying the mind-body connection 20 years ago with my first college research paper, and I now teach yoga and meditation. I am in awe of the human capacity to change and am fascinated by the relatively new field of neuroplasticity. I also value the very significant role that faith and spirit play in this "inner journey for outer change".
I am hopeful that our current model of healing (not just of the self, but of communities as well) can begin to honor and cultivate a more integrated approach to wellness. As such, I am excited to continue this conversation as a part of the upcoming cohort and look forward to connecting and collaborating and growing into this change together.
I was recently asked to write a biographical statement in two sentences: one about a passion and the other about a belief. This is what flew out of me:
I live with a passion for knowing the essence of something… and the seed of what longs to become.
I believe in curiosity as an approach to everything.
When I saw these sentences in black and white I knew they were not only true for me but my truth. The chapters of my life that had seemed disjointed…interior designer to hypnotherapist to director of admissions to wife and step-mom…became connected. I understood that curiosity and seeking what is at the heart - no matter the context - are the threads that sew my story together. They are the threads that bind me. They are also the threads that set me free...
If you feel lost, disappointed, hesitant, or weak, return to yourself, to who you are, here and now and when you get there, you will discover yourself, like a lotus flower infull bloom, even in a muddy pond, beautiful and strong. -Dr. Masaru Emoto
For the past seven years, Jennifer has worked as a holistic health counselor and teacher. Born and raised in California, she has resided in New York City for seventeen years. Her personal experiences in this lifetime and extensive trainings in healing work have allowed her to build a practice of clients from all over the US and abroad. Flower essence therapy, energy healing and curanderismo are the center of her work. She looks forward to her coursework and the new relationships that she will make at SMBI. Jennifer holds a M.A. from New York University in Humanities and Social Thought and has worked as a writer, editor and in the arts. She resides in Brooklyn, NY with her husband and two children.
After spending time in Israel and exploring my Jewish heritage during college, I decided become an observant Jew. I was raised in a secular home so the transition has been challenging at times, but overall incredibly wonderful. I've spent the past four years immersed in Judaism from an academic, social and religious perspective. Part of this process has been the evolution of my commitment to feminism as well. I hope to explore the intersection of mystical Jewish teachings, psychology and gender. In addition to and as part of my spiritual path, I am a writer, painter, nature-lover, soul-sister, teacher, and continual student.
Intention: Thrive, not survive
I’ve longed for an opportunity to grow and to experience learning in a community of diverse yet like-minded cohorts. I’m ready to see myself through the mirror of fellow students and teachers, and go outside my comfort zone—embracing my authentic self and the divine power that will allow me to realize my true potential in this lifetime.
My life’s calling is to work with my intuition, and to trust and cultivate completely new ideas and thinking born from consciousness beyond the seeming limits of mind and intellect. It’s time to pursue my highest vision of life, as part of a diverse community of like-minded souls seeing the same. Each day, I hope they will hold up the cosmic mirror so that I can work on myself—empowering me to grow, evolve, and ultimately step forward on the path toward realizing my truest potential.
For the past 25 years, I’ve owned a solutions-based, people-centered agency providing strategic brand, marketing, and creative design services called The Moderns (themoderns.com). We have developed a right- and left-brain-balanced, Solutionist Alchemy® method that helps people in the corporate and non-profit worlds to open up to their deeper truths and consciousness.
I have studied combined Tantric and Vedantic teachings for 15 years. Those teachings include the therapeutic system developed by Shyamji Bhatnagar and Dahlinaji Hoje, with whom I studied at the SRI Center for InnerTuning® (chakrainstitute.com) and spent six weeks in Mysore, India. I’ve been blessed with the opportunity to study with other profound healers/teachers as well.
In 2001, I was honored with an invitation to join Dr. Robert Coles (Professor of Psychiatry and Medical Humanities and James Agee Professor of Social Ethics) as a visiting teaching fellow at Harvard University, whose course was based on Dr. Eric Ericson’s work. Additionally, I have been a visiting professor at Oklahoma State University, University of Oregon, and Savanna College of Art and Design.
Future Vision: Imagine the Next Institute
I’ve realized I have an extraordinary opportunity to participate in creating an entirely new, holistic paradigm that elevates people, protects the planet, and expands our consciousness. My vision is to create a space that supports integrated right- and left-brained consciousness and gives creative beings the time they need to nurture and manifest their solutions in the world. That space is the Imagine the Next Institute (imaginethenext.tumblr.com). Imagine the Next Institute will bring together multidisciplinary teams to view problems holistically and create game-changing, people-centered solutions.
In 2011 I was sitting on a bench in Central Park in NYC with my boyfriend falling in love; just at the time I started to practice with yoga asana and to engage in raw food cleansing. I felt an inner love like I had never before been uncovered and wondered why I or anyone else could not feel this sense of wholeness and love independent of any outside circumstance or romantic relationship; I also awakened to the potential for living healthier and happier lives through changing our diets, minds, and routines. Since then my spiritual journey has been about uncovering the love within, and re-conceptualizing how I view myself and others through learning to relate to myself differently and undoing and my fears and illusion. The more I engage in yoga, a plant-based diet, mindfulness practices, and learning a new way to think and be, the world and life become a precious place to live, the beauty of humanity, of Nature, and of the love within our own beings becomes apparent and potent; the most pure and potent beating of our own and collective hearts becomes the baseline for our happiness and wholeness.
Attending SMBI will offer the opportunity to understand spiritual healing, and the connection between the mind, body, and spirit as it is supported and illuminated by empirical research to ultimately serve others; this intersection will also help us as a culture to understand and begin to define the intersection of spirituality and science. In turn, this intersection will help to illuminate the depths and preciousness of our humanity, and our capacity to develop love, compassion and wisdom to awaken to the eternal love that resides within our hearts and minds, and how to integrate and merge these two within the container of our bodies, minds, and hearts. The support of science will only help to demystify some of the healing modalities that exist today and will help us to live more fulfilled and meaningful lives, individually, culturally, and globally. In addition to pursuing these studies, I am a mentor for self-love, 200 RYT from The Bhakti Center in New York City, and certified in Reiki.
Hi, all! I have arrived at this program through a transformative journey of Self-discovery and personal healing. After graduating from Middlebury College with a degree in English and Environmental Studies, I set off on a backpacking adventure throughout India and New Zealand. While there I worked on organic farms, conducted research in the social enterprise sector, lived out of a car, and practiced exploring without expectations. Ultimately, I ended up returning stateside due to a debilitating illness. My experience, which involved prolonged periods of bed rest and paralysis, served as a profound curriculum for awakening. It also gifted me the time and desire to consume teachings on contemplative practices, nutrition, living spirit, and psychology. Now I am eager to continue investigating the relationship between ancient wisdom and modern science. My other interests include biking, kayaking, folk music, brewing coffee, and photography.
My name is Simone Krame and I am a fun-loving, free spirit with a passion for traveling, meditating, lifting weights, hiking with my boyfriend and dog, and spending time with family and friends. I believe that Spirituality is not a state of mind or attitude; it’s a way of life in which one recognizes that the mind, body, and soul are one. I began my career at Canyon Ranch, a premier Health & Wellness Resort in Tucson, AZ where I held various positions ranging from Operations Manager of Health, Healing & Spiritual Wellness to Director of Guest Experience. After three wonderful years, I decided I wanted to take my passion for spirituality & health one step further by working with people in a one-on-one capacity and started Conscious Living & Lifestyle, a concierge lifestyle coaching business built on the principle of using spirituality as the foundation for change. The SMBI program has been instrumental in both my personal and professional development and I am looking forward to continuing this journey during my second year!
Qubie Tang is a graduate of The University of Hong Kong and works as a Social Worker in Hong Kong now. She is thrilled to discover Spirituality, this burgeoning field which brings in new psychotherapies for the existing clinical interventions. Instead of waiting for some effective spiritual interventions to fill the service gap and improve the client’s mental wellness in her profession, she wants a more active participation by enrolling in SMBI herself. Fascinated by Chinese traditional wisdom, she will devote herself into integration between Spirituality and Chinese culture, an indigenized psychotherapy.
Amy Li Xue Bai
Ten years ago, when I was 33 years old, I decided to change the job title I use when introducing myself to "life-long learner". I had gotten so tired of being asked “What do you do?”, which usually just means how do you make a living or make money, and which is to me is a boring question. When I would respond, "I am a learner !”, it aroused people's curiosity right away! They would keep asking what I was learning, and I would keep sharing what I learned. It seemed I had become a "cool person" of some sort, not someone who just thinks about how to make more money or how to achieve more success.
Over the ten years that have followed, I have systematically studied a wide range of meditation and therapy practices, including energy and breathing work, Reiki healing, and various forms of art therapy, including dance, theater, and painting. I also have practiced Satir family therapy among many other models. Eventually I chose to become a life and business coach, and in recent years I attained my Professional Certified Coach credential issued by the International Coaching Federation. I felt that through my pursuit of coaching and training I could integrate and apply all of the practices I had learned, and that is what I have tried to do.
Learning is my main work. But in addition to our professional careers, my husband and I founded and co-own and run three restaurants in Beijing -- Vietnamese and Thai -- which are quite popular and make us very proud!
Emily Valente Lootens Chermont
I’m a native Carioca from a small town in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. I moved to Seattle, WA at a young age and later attended the University of Washington where I studied Developmental Psychology and Comparative Religion. At the time, it felt like I was pursuing two completely separate interests and I was very happy to learn about the SMBI program where they could so naturally be explored together. After graduating from undergraduate, I had the opportunity to travel abroad and embark on what would become a year-long spiritual journey of self-discovery. I spent the first 4 months studying Tibetan Buddhism and meditative practices at Kopan Monastery in Kathmandu, Nepal. This experience is the main foundation behind my interest in the practice of mindfulness and how it can be used to enhance learning and resilience. I then continued my travels through the Everest region of the Himalayans, visiting monasteries and retreat caves, received my 200 RYS yoga teacher certification in Northern India, attended a series of lectures given by H.H. Dalai Lama at his home in the Tibetan refugee colony of Dharamsala, visited the Sikh Golden Temple in Amritsar, and attended Christmas mass at the church of the Nativity in Bethlehem where I worshipped alongside thousands of people from every corner of the world. I feel incredibly lucky to have found such a unique program such as this and am very excited to meet you all!
Lisa Palmero McGrath
A recently-naturalized American citizen of Filipino descent, I was born and raised in Saudi Arabia (it was home for 27 years). I attended a Connecticut boarding school as a high schooler and now work at one as the director of multicultural affairs and an English teacher. I'm married to my high school prom date, and we love to travel and spend time with family. This will be my first time staying in New York City for more than a weekend, and while attending Columbia Teachers College, I'd like to check out the music festival in Central Park and connect with friends.
Hello! My name is Farnoosh – born in Tehran, raised in Montreal and lived in Dallas ever since middle school. After getting my bachelor in Crime and Justice Studies, I attended CUNY law school, and a little after graduating, decided to shift gears and enter the field of education as an inner-city Math teacher. I’m an avid writer, and I also enjoy reading, yoga, singing, blogging, meditating and cooking plant-based Middle-Eastern stews.
For most of my journey, I’ve lived unconsciously – as a hostage to my own conditioned mind. In the words of brain scientist, Dr. Jill Bolte Taylor: “The cells in my left hemisphere had been capable of dominating the cells in my right hemisphere… The judging and analytical character in my left mind dominated my personality.” And that is, because, I was never taught otherwise. It wasn’t until I shifted my perception inward and experienced a shift in consciousness - that I discovered through the fields of spirituality and science – the existence of a deeper reality that is shaping my outer world.
I believe a whole new world awaits us - one in which we are no longer reactive victims trapped in time, but empowered beings living consciously in the present moment. I’m grateful for this pioneering program, as it will provide the opportunity to explore deeper into these matters - and allow for a merge between my personal and professional journeys!
I have a bachelor’s degree in Psychology from a University in Mexico and a post baccalaureate in Special Education from Brigham Young University in Utah. Helping others find peace and healing in their lives has been my passion but life has taken me to work in the field of education most of my life.
I started working as day care teacher at a very young age. In 2003, my husband and I founded a private elementary school in Mexico. Working as a principal has given me the opportunity to use some of my abilities to create an environment where children, parents, and teachers feel as part of a community where we all have opportunities to grow. I always take advantage of any opportunity to give the teachers and students enriching experiences where they can grow in a personal and spiritual way. Yoga, meditation and art are part of the curriculum of our school.
I also find joy exploring nature, traveling, and creating art. I look forward with great enthusiasm to connect with people that share many of my interests in the SMBI.
Hi! My name is Ash, short for Ashritha, and I am a dancer, scholar, and artist. I began training in the ancient Indian dance art form of Bharatanatyam during my childhood, and continue to pursue my passion for dance alongside my academic and professional life. Through dance, I developed an awareness of my inner spirituality. With my practice of meditation and mindfulness, I explored spirituality in greater depth to reach a heightened sense of self-awareness. I look forward to deepening this inner growth in the SMBI program, in order to implement change in the world around me.
After earning my Bachelor of Arts in Psychology in 2015, I went on to work at a behavioral health center. Here, I co-facilitated group therapy sessions for individuals managing chronic mental illness (e.g. schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, borderline personality disorder) and substance abuse recovery. Alongside traditional therapeutic techniques, I taught meditation and mindfulness strategies to assess its impact on this clientele.
As a result of my passion for dance, spirituality, meditation, and my work at the behavioral health center, I embarked on this journey to immerse fully with spirituality and mind body medicine at Teachers College. My future goal is to earn a Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology, in order to one day see meditation and mindfulness strategies become a traditional and widespread practice for individuals, especially in the lowest socioeconomic status, managing chronic mental illness and substance abuse.
I am so thankful and humbled to be a part of the 2016-2017 SMBI Cohort!
I am honored to join this passionate group of individuals for SMBI Summer Intensive 2016! I truly believe that when we nurture an honest, open sense of understanding, we learn the most spectacular truths from all we meet. I foster a long-standing fascination with world religions, mysticism, and all things esoteric, and an absolute adoration for healing and meditation crystals. In 2014, I graduated Magna Cum Laude from the University of Arkansas with a degree in Creative Writing. I’ve also had the unparalleled privilege to backpack Western Europe and parts of South America. Having spent the last two years engaged in the curious minds of my 3 year old students, I’ve discovered that in all ages, places, and times, love runs rampant. We share a beautiful, unspoken connection with the Earth and each other. My ultimate goal is to help others find and cherish this bond. Looking forward to the enriching journey ahead!
Hi my name is Maggie! As a young child, my parents offered me the option of continuing Catholic religion classes, or studying spirituality. As a seven year old, desperate to never have to attend another religious class, I chose spirituality, not knowing that this decision would have a profound influence on the rest of my life. I was taught and continue to study Raja and Hatha Yoga. Reflecting on the journey that has brought me to SMBI, I would have never imagined the impact of such a simple, spontaneous decision. Through my study, I have recognized that there is more to man than the physical, mental and emotional. There is a higher consciousness, or Spirit, that is often ignored. It is through this Spirit that we are all connected. I am so excited to continue my spiritual journey through SMBI and to have the opportunity to grow and learn with all of you!
Kaarina Cleverley Roberto
Stemming from a multicultural upbringing I have always been fascinated by human universals, cultural distinctions, individual expressions, and personal narratives. I have explored these aspects of the human experience personally, academically and professionally- as a visual anthropologist, documentary filmmaker, spiritual seeker, mother, wife, friend, daughter, sister, and fellow human being.
After a nomadic upbringing, I finally became rooted - in LA- yet then again uprooted, ultimately landing recently in New York. Discovering SMBI felt fortuitous and a culmination of all that has preceded this moment. I'm so very honored to be part of this program and cohort and greatly look forward to deepening, expanding, and connecting...!
Hello Everyone! I’m Anna, born in Poland, living in New York since 2007.
Always a Truth Seeker, over time I have developed a deep interest in clinical psychology and the wisdom of Buddhism. Currently I volunteer as a facilitator of mood disorder support groups at MDSG center in New York. I find MDSG to be a wonderful place for people to connect on an intimate level, without shying away from more complex personal issues, resulting in psychological and spiritual growth and overall well-being enhancement. Recently I traveled to Colombia to explore the teachings of indigenous peoples of la Sierra Nevada who call for necessary global environmental changes. Looking forward to connecting with like-minded students at SMBI and advancing my knowledge of psychology and spirituality on interpersonal, community and global levels.
I credit mid-life awakening, not crisis, to the desire to pursue a Master's degree in Psychology in which the confluence of spirituality and science is celebrated. I am calling this phase of life Act II, Scene I, but I must confess that even though the plot of the play has been laid out, only the first few lines have been written. If any of you have watched Shear Madness, America's longest-running off-Broadway whodunit comedy, you will understand that this journey is anything but certain and the final result is just as clouded in mystery. I only hope it is filled with just as much comedy as the play itself.
Unlike in Shear Madness, it is the "seriousness" of events that triggered a shift in the direction of my life. As we all know, some of these events will end up joyfully while others will leave a trail of suffering and pain behind. The question I am trying to answer is how do I balance, and even justify, the personal quest to remove the darkness that separates me from the Light and to answer my calling, when doing so will inevitably cause pain to others who are connected to me?
My personal awareness has convinced me that the answer lies somewhere in the compassionate service of others or Karuna, a beautiful word that Buddha used to describe loving-kindness. I believe that if we can be the catalyst and witness to removal of darkness from others' lives, especially those who are far less fortunate than many, then we will experience a similar lifting of the veil between us and our Inner Self, our Creator, our Soul. So, that's the plot of my play - Act II, Scene I has begun unfolding. I am excited for how the rest of the play may unfold. I only hope and pray that it doesn't leave any casualties behind in its wake. While we all know that this life itself is a massive illusory play, it's hard to separate philosophy from reality at times.
Can't wait to share my life with you all for the next several months! May all our lives be filled with Karuna!
Eli Scheier was born a guardian. A guardian of man, creature, earth and spirit. He has cultivated a community of 300 people in the Black Rock City desert and a flock of 300 sheep across the Israeli desert. Out of these deserts grew a man of resilience and strength. His passion for tending to the needs of a community are vastly developed. After a successful career on Wall Street, Eli awakened one day to questions of purpose, meaning and fulfillment. He followed his calling to Bali and India, Vidia Gurkal Ashram, Anand Pakash Ashram, Toshita Meditation Insitute, where he learned about the power of truth, stillness and non-attachment through Yoga and Meditation. Upon returning to his home state of New York, Eli was introduced to organic farming where his practice of meditation and stewardship flourished Eli's deep connection with Gaia has rooted him firmly in his presence. His laugh and wisdom will never cease to charm and inspire. Eli looks forward to spending time with you in a community setting based on meditation, understanding and spiritual nourishment.
Hi All, I’m Beth. I live in India, with Amma, (commonly known as “the hugging Saint”) and have for the past three years. I met Her six years ago, and She is pretty much my whole life at this point. I am a bit obsessed. To be perfectly honest, I am not sure I know how to hold a proper conversation about anything else… I ask your forgiveness in advance. I also studied Chinese medicine and practice Acupressure, and am hoping to set up a small practice during the time we are in New York for school. I am not sure what else to say beyond that. I look forward to meeting you all!
Carly graduated from SUNY New Paltz with a degree in Psychology and Disaster Studies. She has a passion for integrating holisitc health and well-being into both her own life and the lives of others. Currently Carly assists in research at NYU Langone Hospital examining the effects of contemplative techniques during the recovery period of various injuries and chronic diseases. Additionally, she works as an educator at the Queens County Farm Museum where she combines her deep love for nature and working with children.
I am fascinated with organically flowing between spirituality, art, and science. There is a way in which those three fields deeply reach into what it means to exist, what it means to be human, and to have this earthly experience.
I have always felt that we are more powerful than we are taught to believe and one of the most gratifying things one can do is become aware of and live from the state of their limitless potential. At this point in my life it’s pretty accurate to say that spiritual growth is my highest priority and I feel that my individual soul-searching needs to be shifted to the next, collective level.
Nearly 20 years ago I heard the call to be a midwife. I wholeheartedly pursued my passion regardless of adversity along the way and it has proven to be a most rewarding and enlightening path. I realize my purpose as a midwife is to be a guide during the transition to motherhood, and to empower women and families through the process. I have had the honor of witnessing true transformation and the power of spirit. In addition to midwifery, I am trained in Arvigo Therapy of Mayan Abdominal Massage, and Holistic Pelvic Care™ bringing knowledge of complementary modalities such as herbal medicine, homeopathy, and nutrition to my work. Again I am hearing the call, this time to enrich my knowledge of psychology, spirituality, and healing which brings me to SMBI.
I live with my amazing husband and 2 passionate and creative sons in Hamden, CT. I enjoy going to little league games, climbing competitions, hiking, biking, camping, and generally anything in nature. I love working and playing with flowers, plants and herbs.
I look forward meeting, learning and working beside you all. Sharing a common vision of evolution, healing and enlightenment is truly be a dream come true.
Hello fellow, inquisitive researcher! I cannot help but wonder what broughtyourfascination my way. What is your story? Mine has been a constant seeking of answers to the "why's" in our world. My first big why was: "Why is there suffering in Vietnam? Or the world?" That question ultimately led me to the University of Hawai'i at Manoa where I earned a BA in History with a focus on Indigenous, Southeast Asian, South Asian, and Middle Eastern cultures. Also being a person in education, I found myself asking my second big why: "Why is the education system failing us?" That brought me to Teachers College where I studied in the Philosophy and Education Program, earning my first MA. My third big why: "Why am I here?" has brought me to a place that requires my application, actualization of what I have sought. I have begun a new chapter into the inquiries of not only "why" but also "how": "How do I...?" And so, it is here in the SMBI Program that I have begun to learn the how's of others and consequently piece together the how's of myself. I hope to continue to apply what I learn and find in my education to the larger education as fulfilling my part in humanity's evolution.
Mary Oliver asks the question, “Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?” in her poem “The Summer Day”. I always come back to these words. My name is Saranya and I am a Second Grade teacher in Boston, MA. Working in low-income schools as a teacher, I have seen the intense effects of stress on children and teachers. I am excited to embark on this adventure bringing together psychology and spirituality. I think it is necessary to focus on the emotional well-being and the whole child in education and that is what draws me to this program. I want to live my one wild and precious life by focusing on something that is meaningful to me.
Pervis Taylor, III
Pervis Taylor, III is an award-winning celebrity life/identity coach, inspirational speaker, contributor and author. Pervis is a graduate of the University of Miami, where he received a Bachelor of Business Administration degree in Marketing.
After graduation, Pervis launched his career in New York City, working in the entertainment industry. He spent his early career working and interning for iconic brands such as Def Jam Recordings and the National Association of Recording Arts and Sciences, also known as the Grammy’s. From there, Pervis was discovered by a talent manager who signed him to the prestigious modeling/talent agency Wilhelmina Models, where he pursued a career as a print model and actor.
After appearing in commercials, feature films and print ads, Pervis discovered his true passion for inspiring others to reach their most maximized life.
He has written two international-selling, inspirational books, Pervis Principles Volumes 1 & 2 and is co-author of the relationship book, Single Man, Married Man, which won The Award Judge Organization New Book Award for best relationship book.
When Pervis is not writing, he spends much of his time life coaching and equipping his clients for greatness. His clients range from celebrities to young adults. His young adult clients, especially young men of color, are near and dear to his heart. Pervis has been called an Emotional Health Specialist, as he aims to help young men to discover their identity through developing healthy masculinity and emotional intelligence.
He also encourages the masses daily with his #BEGREAT morning inspirational messages via social media.
He has worked with various organizations, such as New York City Department of Education, Red Hook Initiative, YWCA, DC Trust, and Young Men’s Initiative and more.
As a speaker, Pervis has delivered several keynote speeches at graduations, non-profits and national conferences. As an expert life coach, he has contributed to a strong list of publications that include Black Enterprise, Vibe, and Beliefnet, to name a few.
Recently Black Enterprise Magazine named Pervis a “BE Modern Man” for his contribution to excellence in his field of life coaching. In addition to Black Enterprise, Pervis and his work has been featured on Fox, The Today Show, Daily Mail UK, Essence Magazine, The Root, and The Network Journal.
Currently, Pervis is finishing a new book and working with new clients and organizations. Pervis resides in Brooklyn, New York.
Hi everyone, I’m grateful to be in this program!
Life is beautiful, and I can’t wait to see where this journey takes us. A little about my past… After receiving a master’s degree in economics in the UK, I immersed myself in a field I am passionate about – education. Through working in five boarding schools in South East Asia and the Middle East, I became aware of the immense impact that inner work – such as meditation and mindfulness – can have on one’s overall quality of life. This is now what most inspires me.
Prior to arriving at Columbia, I decided to defer, and spent 18 months searching for and studying with spiritual teachers and schools across India, Bali, Thailand and Mexico. This was a period of exploration where I delved into a variety of lineages that were completely different from anything I had come across before. It included healing work, energy work, 10-day meditation retreats, and meditation teacher trainings. This culminated in a 49-day periodof silence, from which I sought to gain a greater understanding of myself and of the inner workings of my egoic mind.
Last fall, I started at Columbia, in the developmental psychology program. I arrived from my travels, grateful to study inner work from the perspective of western psychology. During this past year, I was elected to the student senate, hosted wellness workshops, and organized a weekly meditation group with friends and fellow seekers. I’ve since transferred from the developmental psychology program into the SMBI program.
I believe that the more that people look inside and engage in inner work, the more that love and joy can flow, effortlessly, into our lives.
My hope is to bring this work, as well as the wonders of spirituality, into mainstream avenues. SMBI is a great place to do this, and I couldn’t be more excited.
I am a married mother of three. My family escaped oppression from the former Yugoslavia in 1972 when I was two years old.
A Speech & Language Therapist, Certified Applied Behavior Analysis Provider, Certified Autism Specialist, EFT trained practitioner.
Spiritual & Health Practice:
Reiki 1 & 2, practice Transcendental Meditation, attend spiritual & energy healing group coaching, practice Yin Yoga.
Some favorite things:
Swimming or just jumping into an ocean or sea. Touring old Castles. Walking in the woods or sitting by a river. Drinking dark roast Fair Trade coffee. Reading books that are about magic or Fictional stories of witches and vampires such as All Souls Trilogy by Deborah Harkness. Watching countless hours of HGTV.
Entenmann's chocolate chip iced cake, Bavaria lemon beer when in the Balkans, Psychic and tarot card readings. Obsessed with Game of Thrones Series.
Mitch is a 25 year old Australian (born and raised) currently living in Seattle, USA.
By day – he is a tech geek working as Global Product Marketing Manager on Surface at Microsoft.
By afternoon - he is a Hip Hop DJ, meditation junkie, fashion bandit, running addict & pasta enthusiast.
By night – he gluttonizes in his passion for changing the face of mental health and empowering others to overcome suffering.
Mitch's ultimate goal is to leverage his creative marketing expertise, technology background and psychology knowledge to help reimagine the healing power of the mind.
Find him on Instagram @where_is_wallis or LinkedIn.
It has been obvious to me throughout my life that connecting to the world on a universal energy level has both guided and enlightened me. I have felt the most peaceful and pure when I have been open to accepting my passions as indicators of the way in which I should direct my path. For as long as I can remember, I have felt that my path is that of a healer.
It is with humble gratitude that I have been given the opportunity to be a part of the SMBI community. Throughout my life, I have looked to connect with those who are willing to roll up their sleeves, grab a large cup of coffee and have open conversations about the universe at large. I look forward to sharing many caffeinated conversations with all of you!
Incorporating spirituality into musical performance and engaging students are important to me. As Director at the JALC Middle School Jazz Academy, Bronx, I implement mindfulness as a major part of our learning day. We have a morning meditation, peer coaching and mindful dismissal. As I teach, I learn a lot by watching and listening to shared reflections of students on a weekly basis. As a Jazz Ambassador for the US statedepartment, I conducted and participated in a variety of interactive educational seminars and performances. My mindful mantra, “When we teach, we learn twice,” reminds me to be a learning student as I experiencevarious cultural exchanges. My journey has now led me to SMBI. My goal is to integrate spirituality and music in counseling adolescence and adults. I am so excited to be a part of the SMBI family to share and learn with everyone.
I am soon to graduate with a Bachelor of Science inPsychology and begin this Master’s program. I moved to North America four years ago from Pakistan to pursue my undergraduate degree at Queen’s University in Canada. Moving so far away from home in my late teens was both scary and exciting and quite arguably the best decision I made. I consider myself to be extremely fortunate to have had the opportunity to grow and learn in an environment that was kind and accepting, allowing me to come into my own. As I embark on this new journey, I hope to bring along with me a deep sense of gratitude along with a sense of responsibility to make the most of what God has blessed me with. I seek to combine my passion for my faith and spirituality with my passion in the science of psychology and be able to show what a positive impact it can have on us individually as well as collectively. I really look forward to moving to NYC, and to meeting all of you!
Shoshana has held a life-long interest in the intersection of spirituality, health and psychology. With a BA in psychology from UNC Chapel Hill and an MSW from New York University, Shoshana practiced as a mind-body psychotherapist at the Continuum Center for Health and Healing. There, she also researched complementary modalities and helped develop integrative medicine programming. Having found yoga and meditation to be powerful tools for personal development, Shoshana completed yoga teacher training at Laughing Lotus Yoga Center. A graduate of the Institute for Integrative Nutrition, she brings holistic wellness perspectives into her teaching and daily life. Shoshana now lives in Vermont, raising three beautiful children and teaching yoga part-time. Shoshana would like to explore multi-modal therapeutic interventions, spiritual determinants of health care decisions, and strategies to support women’s transitions into and throughout motherhood.
I, Maddie Callis, hail from Columbia, Missouri and will be forever grateful for the hardworking values and practicality instilled in me from birth. My path to arrive at the Spirituality Mind Body Institute has taken me through Memphis, Tennessee, Buenos Aires, Argentina, a first stint in New York City, and most recently, Rio de Janeiro Brazil. An indirect route, but without thejourney, I would never have found my passion to investigate how to invoke conscious decision making in leadership roles. I enjoy traveling, especially in Latin America, eating delicious food, speaking Romance languages, reading, writing, rituals, and sharing my yoga practice. I look forward to meeting everyone and getting to know you all.
I’m a transgender man, a seeker, sometimes silly, mischievous and often quiet. I work both as a research assistant on Native-led community research initiatives concerning Indigenous identity development and traditional knowledges, and as a psychotherapist within trans and Indigenous communities in Toronto, Canada. Recently, I completed a MEd in Counseling Psychology at the University of Toronto, where I was fortunate to receive counseling training that incorporated Indigenous philosophies. My work in transgender andIndigenous communities focusses on strengths-based approaches to healing, and on fostering clients’ belief in their own wisdom. As I join Columbia's Spirituality, Mind, Body Intensive this summer, I am hopeful about the paradigmatic shifts this program, and other like it, will foster within the Western psychological system, such that other ways of knowing are increasingly honored, partnerships with diverse communities are formed, and much needed holistic healing is more deeply incorporated into Western practice.
Jeanine Cerundolo is a workshop facilitator, yoga instructor, writer, and personal development coach. She dedicates herself to the arenas of personal transformation, healing modalities, and community building. Jeanine supports others in "following their bliss," as she believes that much lasting change begins from the inside out. After graduating from Tufts University, Jeanine worked as Site Coordinator withLIFT-Boston where she partnered college student volunteers with low-income clients at the CambridgeMultiService Center. She then worked in alternativeeducation at Eagle Rock School in Colorado, serving “at-risk” youth in an engaging and mentorship-focused classroom setting. Most recently, Jeanine has co-facilitated 20 -week "women's circles" around cultivating passion and purpose, and has designed and deliveredcurriculum to unite and inspire mission-driven entrepreneurs during powerful weekend summits. Jeanine's passions also include creative expression(poetry & dance!), and meditation.
Hello, my name is Deborah Eagan and I am excited tobegin this new journey with you. Five years ago, I was lucky enough to join a newly created non-profit organization whose mission is to work with low income high school students to help them connect to their full potential and to make a plan for their future. We support our students through character building workshops, job prep programs, college prep programs, community service programs and one on one coaching.Working with this group has changed my life in significant ways. I know there is so much I can learn from the SMBI program. I’m excited to grow in a newdirection and to develop a vision to bring back to the students I work with to help them develop a deeper connection to their best self and their future.
Sarah Gonzalez is a Master’s student in the Spirit Mind Body Institute. She is completing her studies in Clinical Psychology while specializing in Spirituality and Child & Family in the Clinical and Counseling Psychology department at Teachers College, Columbia University.
Currently, she serves as the Parent-Partner Coordinator at Morgan Stanley's Child Hospital- New York Presbyterian and Columbia Medical Center in the Pediatric Psychiatric Clinic where she acts as a liaison between families and clinicians and facilitates Psycho-educational groups on mindfulness and positive psychology. Previously, she’s worked at the Omega Institute, 92Y, and NBC Universal. She is a current Research Assistant in Dr. Lisa Miller's Spirituality Lab and is a frequent speaker at the Fashion Institute of Technology on "Personal Growth, Perseverance, and Inner Callings”. Her interests include spiritual awakenings, positive psychology, and child development. She is multilingual in English, Spanish, Italian, and Galician.
Hello! My name is Angelica and I am thrilled to be an integral part of the Spirituality Mind Body network at Columbia! My journey into understanding the mind-body link began at a very early age, and was originally instilled in me while in utero by my intuitive and free-spiritedmother. It has been said that I am aptly named, as I experienced a spontaneous healing miracle. For the past 6 years I have been pursuing careers as both a Licensed Master Aesthetician, and more recently, a Licensed K-12 Health Teacher. My aesthetics career satisfies my creativity, and being a health teacher has awarded me the opportunity to mentor several adolescents and support the development of finding their innermost self. In teaching Health Education, especially at the high school level, one cannot delve very far into the issues and topics of health without addressing mental health and the emotional and spiritual landscape. It has become my goal to learn counseling techniques to foster and facilitate others to seek a life of meaning and balance at an early age, and to inspire others to live in a higher state of consciousness for a more purposeful, enlightened world. Through the practices of stilling the mind, meditation, and visualization, I have learned to trust and live by the intuitive information that springs forth from these practices. The more I listen to the thoughts and feelings that surface within, the more authentic my life becomes. Beautiful scenery and music is what recharges and nourishes my soul. Pursuing the Clinical Psychology and Counseling Spirituality Mind-Body Masters Degree at Columbia is without a doubt, a time for evolution, growth, introspection, and community. I very much look forward to the time, space, and opportunities this program provides to forge meaningful connection with individuals of like-mind, heart, and spirit! Namaste!
My name is Christa Griggs, and I am so happy to be ‘home’. For many years, I have worked in business consulting. However, I knew that there was something more I wanted to do with my life – to find a profession that is an extension of my personal values and truth. The SMBI’s program is a major leap in this direction, so I couldn’t be happier or more excited to be part ofsomething so visionary and pioneering. My personaland professional goals include integrating spirituality into healthcare to not only support and also drive the healing process across body, mind and spirit through business & technology enablement. In the meantime, I am continuing to walk down my own personal healing path. I can’t wait to see what a group of like-minded individuals can do collectivel
Hello everyone! My name is Stephanie and I am from Westchester, New York. I am a recent graduate from Fairfield University with a B.A. in Psychology and a minor in English. Growing up, I’ve always found my passions to be spiritual. I sought refuge in books and in the piano, and until this day those continue to be the most important form of therapy to me. This only grew as I pursued my education at Fairfield University. During my years of undergrad I dedicated a lot of my time volunteering at Head Start, which is a programthat focuses on providing education and care to underprivileged children. Through this program I discovered my love for psychology, and grew very passionate about becoming involved in this field ofstudy. After graduating from Fairfield University, I spent the past two years studying at and taking classes from Harvard University. During this time I took severalcourses focusing on therapy and unique forms of it,such as art and music therapy. I also went on to study the psychology of creativity, which is very involved in spirituality. I am looking forward to integrating the world of psychology with the world of spirituality.I am thrilled to be involved with such a diverse group of scholars! The field of psychology is constantly growing, and being a part of the Teachers College at Columbia is certainly the right place to be to watch this expansion. I look forward to being a part of this change with myfellow classmates. See you all in New York!
Who am I ? Palestinian Canadian living in Dubai. What do I do? Chemical Engineer working at GE Oil &Gas as Drilling Commercial Manager. Previously, Brand Manager at Procter & Gamble. Why am I here? To understand how the mind works, what are the underlying reasons behind our fears and insecurities and how we can address them, while connecting with our body and spirituality. And? To share my leanings with others and help relieve their emotional suffering. What do I love to do? To dance, travel, hike, read,spend time with family, continuously learn and improve and have new experiences (another reason I am here)What are my traits? Curious, loyal, dedicated, fair, respectful Why am I really here? To learn how to live wholeheartedly, how to practice mindfulness and to find my life passion!
My name is Chaim, it means life.
As a student of both psychology and spirituality I have learned that human nature is a combination of brain and mind. We are both the subject and the object. As a seeker I have learned that the quest holds what is being sought. We are both the questioner and the replier. As a father I have learned that the child is the student and the teacher. We are both the listener and the speaker. As a husband I have learned that friendship frees the self. We are both the lover and the beloved. As a person I have learned, well… that I am still learning from life. It is a teacher, a student, a child, a lover, a seeker, and a friend. Most of all, it is what it is.
Julia is a feminine coach, celebrating and empowering feminine essence in women. She is a founder of HappyFeminine programs, JourneyDance Guide and certified teacher of Art of Feminine Presence practices. Combining movement, awareness and leadership practices, she empowers women courageously step into their feminine essence and to become authentic leaders of own life.
Julia has been working on coaching individuals in personal leadership development on a daily basis, integrating spiritual growth into their lives and creating long-term results.
At the same time, she is a world traveler for 10 years, visiting and volunteering in countries around the world. Creating communities of powerful authentic leaders around the world.
New Yorker living mostly in San Diego. Lifelong believer and practitioner of healing and spirituality. Playwright, journalist and tech geek wannabe. Creating and studying interdisciplinary collaborations focused on how we approach large life issues in all areas but particularly focused on aging and end-of-life. Fascinated with how to share triggering information in engaging, effective and innovative ways. Love putting together those who know what to say with those who know how, where, when and why to say it. Spirituality at Columbia? Arequired reading list of books no one has to require me to read? A program, faculty and cohort of like minded individuals looking to explore and expand our innermuscles and outer reach? A gift and a dream come true. Practicing, only somewhat successfully, being here now, while simultaneously, waiting and wanting to be there now.
Hello everyone, I'm Rishi from Long Island, New York! I'm absolutely thrilled to join this dynamic and multifaceted cohort! A little about myself: Upon completion of my bachelor's degree at Stony Brook University, I set out abroad to attend medical school, with the goal of incorporating an integrative and holistic approach to healthcare. After completing the basic science portion of my medical education, I wanted to further explore the spiritual and psychosomatic component of healing, from a medical perspective. Consequently, I decided to take time off prior to commencing my final clinical years of medical school to embark on this journey of spirituality, and mind body practices. I hope to focus on evidence based research pertaining to the benefits, and applications, of yoga and mindfulness in a clinical setting. I sincerely hope we can all collaborate and share via my website (www.mindbodymed.org), all the amazing things we will learn over the next year through this unique opportunity at the Spirituality Mind Body Institute of Teachers College, Columbia University!
Scott Morgan has been teaching communication skillsfor over 20 years. His clients include the NationalInstitutes 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 (2006). He is an ordained minister in Divine Metaphysics and recently launched 3rdi, the first game-like app designed to bring mobile mindfulness to teens and young adults.
I feel very fortunate to have California’s quiet deserts, vast mountains, and radiant oceans as my teachers. My love for Mother Nature heartened me to study environmental sciences at California State University, Fullerton. With this discipline, I sought to heal our “Pale Blue Dot.” During that time, I viewed life outwardly. Problems that cause suffering like pollution from industrious overabundance really rattled me up! Oneglorious evening I was isolated atop an island promontory where I felt very grounded and clear-minded. Over my right shoulder to the west, our mighty sun was dancing gracefully on top of the Pacific Ocean. However, over my left shoulder was something more awing—it was the island. There was so much beauty looking in to the island. That moment, my outward point of reference shifted inwardly. That moment, my Soul awakened, it was my moment of “kensho,” and soI began to follow my intuitive heart. Mindfulness and spiritual practices provide me with the boundless curiosity to want to compassionately learn about all sentient beings, my Self, and the Cosmos. I am now on my rightful path that involves human healing through self-understanding and interconnectedness. I have so much faith that my journey will be faced with unexpected challenges and opportunities for growth within and without. I am grateful for everything and should like to always be present. Thank you for reading. Shanti.
Charles Ethan Paccione
Charles Ethan Paccione 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. He performed contemplative neuroscience research at the Center for Investigating Healthy Minds at the University of Wisconsin-Madison with Dr. Richard Davidson and Dr. Lisa Flook where he researched how meditation expresses cognitive, emotional, and behavioral changes in toddlers, returning combat veterans, and Tibetan meditators. Charles 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. In April of 2013 he gave a TEDx Talk titled Mindful Medicine about his research and work with patients. He has on multiple panels and published several articles in various neuroscience journals, medical journals, and popular science magazines. Charles holds a Bachelor of Arts from Sarah Lawrence College and a Masters of Science from Columbia University’s Narrative Medicine Program at the College of Physicians and Surgeons. Charles is currently receiving a second Masters Degree in the Spirituality Mind- Body Clinical Psychology Program at Columbia University ́s Teachers College and working as a researcher in neuropsychology at the National Advisory Unit (NAU) for Neuropathic Pain and an integrative mind-body therapy consultant at the Pain Management and Research Clinic at Oslo University Hospital. Charles currently resides in both New York and Oslo, Norway.
There is this quote from Alan Alda that says, You have to leave the city of your comfort and go into the wilderness of your intuition; what you'll discover will be wonderful, what you will discover is yourself. It largely sums up both my personal and professional life thusfar. Born in Germany, spent time growing up in Croatia, Germany, and France and moved to Los Angeles, California when I was 19 years old where I have been a nanny, student, project manager, and company director. Challenges and obstacles over the past 2 years havebeen immense blessings without which I would have not come to experience the spiritual aspects of life, of the universe, and of humanity. It has also opened my eyes to the invaluable benefits of presence and mindfulness practices, acceptance, humility and compassion. It has changed my point of view on what I want to do in life and led me to this program. I am grateful for this next step in my journey and look forward to meeting each of you!
I currently live in Toronto, Canada and completed my schooling at The University of Western Ontario. My fascination with the mind led me to a BSc in Psychology and a MSc in Neuroscience, with a focus on imaging.Throughout school I found myself exploring the brain through research by day, and furthering the inquisition of my own consciousness through yoga, meditation, and Buddhist psychology, by night. This program is a unique opportunity to combine science and spirituality to more fully capture the mind, and I couldn't be more thrilled to be a part of it. My current interests include exploring the potential role of psychedelics as a tool to expand consciousness and to access spirituality. A recent resurgence of psychedelic research has revealed promising effects of psychedelic -assisted therapy in the treatment of PTSD, addictions, and anxiety in end-of-life care. Another related vein of interest is the topic of death itself. Death is an incredibly difficult and uncomfortable reality that we in the west tend to avoid discussing. Connectionwith spirituality can help to open our minds and conversations in order to reach a level of societalacceptance and preparedness surrounding death and dying. My ultimate goal is to research and develop the potential applications of entheogens in medicine and psychotherapy.
Alexander E. de Reeder
Around 2012 I began my initiation to spirit. Through knowledge and understanding, I started to apply principles of cosmic law that granted me wisdom along my path. I started to see the microcosmic and macrocosmic connections between individuals and theworld around us, illuminating truths that became less obfuscated the more I grow. The current human condition greatly concerns me. As many of us collaborate, I hope to impact consciousness with you, towards true freedom mentally, emotionally and spiritually. Healing and shifting consciousness is my personal objective while here. Before I incarnated here, I made an allegiance to earth, humanity and animals, not to a nation, kingdom, or controller’s personal interests. This allegiance was to help guide humanity towards harmony, to understand true nature and evolve, as well as influence higher conscious values like freedom, individuality and responsibility. These values get distorted with ideals like jingoism, nationalism, egoism and other self-destructive ideologies that are toxic to True Will and self. That being said, I look forward to contributing to The Great Work with you all, as well as learning from each of you.
I'm a proud southern California girl, born and raised. As a trained biologist with a passion for all things cancer biology related, this career course has taken me across the globe and blessed me with a number of amazing opportunities for growth, and allowed me tomeet inspiring people. I also have a volunteer history in public health and palliative care as well as teaching experience in yoga and other energetic healing modalities. Through my interests over the past decade, I’ve come to recognize the need and demand to increase focus on patient care, health and healing through a holistic scope. I look forward to not only enhancing my own personal spiritual practice, but I’m excited at the prospect of bringing these ideals to the masses alongside my fellow colleagues and classmates in this year’s class.
I am a graduate of Cornell University. I’ve been a labor leader, a teacher, an entrepreneur and a real estate developer among other things. I am currently CEO of LaborWorks Software, Inc. I am also managing partner of a real estate firm that develops and builds mixed-use projects by transforming suburban commercial districts into livable suburban villages through the permitting process thereby creating a more coherent and integrated sense of community in stakeholders. I am at Columbia to enhance my own ability to articulate and advance the notion that spirit and health, both physical and psychological are inextricably tied together. My hope is that I might develop an ability to validate and substantiate some of my ideas as they relate to thespirit and validate the notion that the power of Love is not only redemptive but it can be the salve that heals the conditions that make our bodies susceptible to psychiatric and physical illnesses.
Imani Nia Rutledge
I recently came into my calling to do mind-body healing work, through my own personal healing and wellness journey. I received a Masters in Public Health from Drexel University, but after a short time of working in the field, I came to realize that it was time to make a shift. I had completed some training in Reiki, Integrative Energy Therapy®, mindfulness and other mind-body holistic therapies, but wanted to gain a deeper understanding of the connection between spirituality and mental health. My prayers were answered when I found this program at just the right time! It’s my desire to learn how I can create spiritually centered programs to support women who are seeking healing through mental and physical traumas and diss-ease. I live with the purpose of being a vessel of Light for the Love of the Creator to flow through, and it is It is my passion to use my gifts, to heal our planet and co-create a better world for us all. I am playful free spirit who enjoys music, taking pictures of flowers, watching the animals play, dancing, singing, blogging and spending time in Nature! I have awakened to a new passion for life and I look forward to growing on this journey with you all and this program!
My Name is David Schuh. I am originally from Cincinnati, Ohio. After graduating from Vassar College with a degree in economics, I decided to move to Kagyu Thubten Choling (KTC), a Tibetan Buddhist monastery in Wappingers Falls, NY. I spent the majority of the following 6 years living at KTC andimmersing myself in the practice of meditation and the study of Buddhist philosophy. During this time, I spent over 15 months in isolated intensive retreats, studying and practicing a variety of different forms of meditation. While living at KTC I became increasingly interested in the dialogue between eastern spirituality and western psychology. I am interested in further developing my knowledge and experience and learning how to integrate it with psychology in ways that will worktowards the greater health and well-being of our modern world. I'm grateful and excited to have the opportunity toparticipate in the SMBI program and look forward toseeing where it will lead
My name is Ian Sholl and I graduated from Fordham University in the Spring of 2015 with a B.S. in Psychology. I grew up in San Diego, California with my parents and two older sisters. Sports have always been the center of my life, and recently I have begun toexplore the mindful and spiritual aspects of surfing, running, and cycling. My yoga practice has perpetuated a passion for the integration of psychology, spirituality, and athletic endeavors. I especially love hot Vinyasa yoga because of the emphasis the practice places onminding your breath and alignment while maintaining a dynamic flow. I think that being mindful of our breath is one of the most powerful and underrated things thatwe can do to control our emotions and overall mindset. I am undecided about my future career plans, but I am interested in receiving my PhD in Clinical Psychology and conducting research and psychotherapy. Four things you should know that I like: I like to read (favorite book: Meditations by Marcus Aurelius) I like to travel (favorite city: Barcelona, Spain) I like food (favorite food: Thai food) I like to ride bikes.
Although my name is Mark, my morning coffee buddies affectionately nicknamed me “Question Mark”. I come to SMBI with an open heart, looking inside to find new meaning for the next phase of my life. I was raised in the suburbs of San Francisco, and I am a graduate of the University of California – Santa Barbara with a degree in Political Science. My career has been in corporate real estate, both as an executive at Bank of America, and as principal of my own firm. By contrast, I have been trained in Spiritual Direction at Stillpoint – Ghost Ranch in Santa Fe, New Mexico, and I am an Associate of a Benedictine monastery. A current interest is spirit in video storytelling as it relates to the power of digital media, a way to connect from the heart, that we are one. I am also passionate about architecture, and I’m a minimalist.
When studying for my B.A. in music, I found my focus took a shift from wanting to work as a full time musician, to discovering a state of emotional and physical freedom that has superseded my love for writing and playing music. This acted as a catalyst for me into the world of spirituality, awakening me to foreign lifestyles that I otherwise would have never explored. As somebody who has directly experienced the healing powers of Ayurveda, Yoga and Buddhist philosophy, Icannot wait to further explore the effect an integrative healing approach can have on a persons well-being. Also, having recently been traveling across North India, Bhutan and Nepal, I believe it is time to alert the west of its spiritual deprivation, and help others to live in unity with themselves and the world around them.
Yali Szulanski is a writer, speaker, teacher, and creative guide whose passion is to uncover strength and healing within herself and others. She created The "I Am" Project in 2012 to provide students with tools and techniques to relieve stress and tend to themselves in productive and healthy ways. She combines her studies in psychology, energy healing (Reiki), physical fitness instruction (Boxing, Diving, Zumba®, and Yoga), andcreative therapies in a way that allows students toaccess their innate strength. She shares techniques that support recovery and long-term healing. She currently has active programs in New York and Philadelphia, and has taught in classrooms Haiti, Singapore, Israel, and Paris in hopes of reaching communities everywhere. Yali also speaks to students about her personal journey of recovery from personal struggle and her current work to offer insight and motivation.
Hi Everyone! My name is Alexandra Torres, but I like to go by Alex. I am 22 years old and just graduated from Florida State University with a B.S. in Psychology and a minor in Sociology of Health and Aging. I could not be more excited and blessed to be a part of the SMBI cohort this summer! For the past 4 or 5 years, I have been actively practicing yoga and deep meditation, which I found helpful in my educational area of Psychology and eventually lead me to this program. I have always loved the mind body connection as I wasan athlete for 7 years and became well aware of howthe mind can not only enhance but also limit your physical well-being. And with that, I found my passion for helping others overcome the amazing obstacle that is the mind. I look forward to working with others who have similar interests and growing both mentally and spiritually from my time here at Teachers College.
Luke is an aspiring member of the Gaudiya lineage of Vaishnavas stemming from Sri Krishna Chaitanya, within the Brahma-Madhva Sampradaya (disciplic-succession). He currently resides in an ashram at the Hare Krishna Temple of Chicago. Growing up in a Catholic family in the suburbs of St. Paul, Minnesota, he was introduced to Eastern spirituality at a young age. His journey led him toNorthwestern University to pursue a B.A. in Comparative Literary Studies. Since 2011 he has been immersed in the practice of bhakti-yoga, as taught in India’s ancient scriptures, especially the Bhagavad-gita and Srimad Bhagavatam. Realizing the need for deep emotional healing in progressive spiritual practice, Luke hopes his research with the SMBI will help him develop a devotion-oriented model for emotional care based on the teachings of the Bhagavad-gita and insights from contemporary research in psychological phenomenon.
Our youngest child left home for school and then the dog died; the nest was empty and my career as a full-time, stay-at-home mom had ended. What in the world was I going to do to fill my days? It wasn’t too hard to figure out. I started practicing yoga, and became a yoga teacher. Yoga introduced me to meditation, and after several years I became a qualified Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction teacher. I am interested in the intersection between yoga, meditation and mental health, and went on to get a degree in mental health counseling. I also like to hike, swim, cook, and travel – especially in the company of family and friends. I look forward to being part of the SMBI community, and to continuing to explore how yoga and meditation can help therapy patients reduce anxiety and depression.
The wave does not need to die to become water. She already is water. For the past three years, I've worked in nonprofit, alternative art organizations around New York City. Through this work, I've become immersed in the possibilities for creative outreach across the world. Restless, I ask myself, how can I contribute and participate? A system that integrates the arts, health, and community practice does not exist today. The future our generations are tasked with bringing forth begins with the individual and moves toward the collective; by expanding and deepening the ways in which we relate to ourselves, others, and our social environments, progress becomes more than a word or a promise, it is experience. My interests span bioenergetics to the spatial politics of agriculture, artificial intelligence to sustainable development -- can we design the dream of a common language?
I’m a British/American independent creative producer, constellating people, projects and passions. I have been assistant to both quiet and prominent fine artists, photographers, film directors; and producer on feature documentary films, around the world– mainly in London, NYC, India and Africa. I directed my first short last year about my father’s extraordinary journey of physical, psychic and spiritual transformation from architect to artist, by way of a major stroke. It was both his journey, through surviving brain damage and growing into his new self, as well my own consequential, evolving experience of the Mind-Body-Spirit relationship that has lead me to my studies at the extraordinary SMBI, which crystalizes the vast terrain of my inner and outer studies. I am currently developing a guide to the spectrum of ancient and cutting edge psycho-spiritual practices worldwide, as well as film projects surrounding the mystery and awe of being human, with a particular interest in how Virtual Reality can be used therapeutically and technically to explore reality itself.
My heart is with the work of facilitating a space for people to explore what feels authentic to them in their body and in their spirit. This is the ongoing work of a lifetime, but finding ways to foster sustainable and healthy relationship to self is vital for us all. I am a strong believer in the power of co-creation and uplifting one another. Through relationship to others we can begin to recognize and claim our power within ourselves, learning to honor our gifts and greatness along the way. What could be of greater importance than cultivation of deeper connection with self, others and the world? When we learn to find peace and acceptance within your physical bodies, minds, and souls, life begins to unfold in a beautiful and meaningful way. There is an infinite sea of potentiality that exists beyond our limited perceptions of ourselves and what we believe ourselves to be. When we bring awareness to that place within us that is limitless, our whole world changes.
Leigh Winters is a New York native and recent graduate of Wake Forest University. At Wake Forest, Leigh became involved in research involving the mind-bodyconnection and was eager to learn more. In fact, interest in yoga and meditation inspired her thesis in the University's Honors Sociology program: “Fashioning a Gendered, Trendy Identity: The Casualization of Fashion and Growth of Athleisure in the United States,” which investigated the growing casualization of American fashion by economically analyzing the female “athleisure” activewear trend. Having had the opportunity to live on three different continents growing up, Leigh loves to travel and has a contagious, adventurous spirit. Her other passions include learning about art and fashion, voraciously reading non-fiction, and trying her hand at something new!
For the past 15 years I held an academic position in Psychology in Beirut. Up until approximately a year ago, my professional career was devoted to basic experimental research in the cognitive sciences, teaching and creating or revamping Psychology programs in the region. However a succession of professional and personal experiences have led me down a new career path. Today my focus is on understanding the brain-basis of spiritual development and to use clinical approaches and wisdom traditions to support the spiritual development of children and youth. For me, children and youth are especially unique leaders in societal transformation-especially within the Lebanese context. The following poem expresses somehopeful feelings about the relationship between adults and youth living in chronic societal conflict: and then I had this dream that the cursed ancestralclock would stop –the clock springs would pop. the repetition of stale rancid history would stop. And I looked at her, eyes of lakes and heart of light, and gave her this broken clock. Passed on from mother to her little frock. And we held hands, her and me- daughter and mother,soul friend and eternal glorious lover. We knew--her before me—that we, together, were free-as free as we were born to be. Now in synchrony- mother and daughter, daughter andleader, leader and visionary, deliverer and bird offreedom. The clocks are all broken. The timekeeper’s gone mad. Now is now and we are here, together, to figure out the rest.
Samantha graduated from the SMBI Master's Program in 2015, and wrote her integrative project on the intersection of poetry and spirituality. Prior to graduate school, Samantha's background was in theater and Waldorf early childhood education. She is currently pursuing an MSW at the NYU Silver School of Social Work, and is expected to graduate in 2017. Going forward, she hopes to bridge the worlds of spirituality, psychology, education and social work.
Born in the year of the dragon and hailing from Berkeley, CA, I came to the East Coast for college. My undergraduate studies were at Smith College and then Hunter College in NYC, where I received a BFA. After much bicoastal travel and adventure, I have settled back in Brooklyn near amazing family and friends. I work as a freelance editor and spend time on writing and art projects (I am developing some children’s books, which deal with the tricky and magical business of growing up). I also study yoga and other healing practices and am currently in a 200-hour yoga teacher training at a center that emphasizes breath-based, therapeutic yoga.
I'm thrilled to be joining such an incredible community of people this summer and so very excited to make new relationships, explore new pieces of my own experience and learn from educators who are so passionate about Spirit Mind Body connection.
After living in Chicago for most of our lives, my husband and I spent a few crazy years in Los Angeles then finally to Fort Collins Colorado where we've I've been living the dream for almost 10 years. We have three young boys, 2 crazy dogs and one lazy cat. I have my own Energy Healing and Intuitive Guidance practice which has taught me more about the resilience of the human spirit than I ever thought possible. I am passionate about art, theater, dance. I love to write and garden and yoga. My absolutely favorite thing in the whole world is taking a walk in the mountains. It has all the healing properties of a great massage, therapy session and yoga class combined. For some people it's the ocean. For me it is the mountains.
I am beyond thrilled to have the opportunity to live and learn in New York City for three weeks. I am looking forward to every second of this experience!!
Hi Everyone! I grew up just north of New York, in the village of Dobbs Ferry, on the Hudson River. After graduating from Wesleyan University in 2011, I tested a call to ministry with the Episcopal Service Corps at the University of Louisville, where I worked as a student chaplain. There, while counseling students, I developed an interest in the occupational stress and spiritual well-being of clergy members. My mentors worked nearly 50-hour weeks, yet had little to no time for self-reflection or to vent their own psychological and spiritual anxieties. By the end of my service year, I realized my professional interests were not about solving theological problems, but psychological ones. I wanted to help those who helped others—a priest’s priest. I am now interested in pursuing a career in clinical or counseling psychology, researching treatments to reduce occupational stress and spiritual insecurity in the ministerial profession. I hope to begin doctoral studies in the near future, and that through my future work in the field of psychology, mindfulness, and spirituality, I can promote positive spiritual change and mitigate the apparent divide between psychology and religion.
Aside from my academic and professional interests, the word that best describes me is “nerd.” I love all things Sondheim-related (Sweeney Todd, Into the Woods, Company) and I enjoy spending time singing-along to opera, watching Game of Thrones, and exploring museums in New York, especially in the summer. I am thrilled to have the opportunity to engage with other students, similarly interested in the intersection of psychology and spirituality. I can’t wait to meet all of you in person this June, and share in this incredible experience!
Hello there, my name is Natalie and I am a life-long student of life. My passion lies in the study of psychology, eastern and western practices for wellness and processes of healing and transformation. I am devoted to helping people improve the quality of their lives through my continuous understanding in these fields. I am deeply grateful for the experiences that have helped me discover my spiritual essence and our interconnectedness. My current work involves working with individuals with eating disorders from a mindfulness and self-compassionate based approach. I also have the joy of planting the seeds of mindfulness with children in schools. I am excited to continue in this movement of service and learning as an aspiring practitioner. In my spare time I enjoy being with nature, music and writing poetry from the heart like this:
What if you saw in every other eye
the desire to be loved?
What if you saw in every other eye
the desire to be accepted?
What if you saw in every other eye
the desire to be as they are in this world?
Everyone you meet has a story
unfolding into the next unfolding moment.
An inner wanderer on a journey in this
Have you mastered the language of your heart?
Tell me the thousand languages it speaks,
and how it murmurs heart beat after heartbeat.
This divine vessel capable of wild manifestations,
this life force pulsating from within.
Tell me do you feel it?
The physical and non-physical world are weaving into union
at all times.
This great mystery
like a yarn spiraling from within and all around me.
Giuliana Cortese is a warm and energetic spirit. A Washington DC native, she graduated from Georgetown University last spring with a degree in Women’s and Gender Studies and a minor in Social and Political Thought. She held internships at Human Rights Watch, Humane Society International as well as on Capitol Hill. However, she felt most alive while teaching English to refugee families, participating in an Indian dance group and writing her thesis on the limits of personality testing and the immeasurability of the human spirit.
Giuliana almost went to law school, but took a break instead. She is currently working at an Indian restaurant, building a blog and writing stories. She is an active yogi, enjoys hiking adventures and has recently taken up qigong. Giuliana is beyond excited to participate in this graduate program as the next step in her journey.
My name is Lauren Crowley, I am twenty-two years old and currently living in Berkeley, California. I spent most my life in California and Texas but moved frequently growing up. I am excited for my next move to New York City and for the next chapter of my life. At UC Berkeley I studied sociology which I thoroughly enjoyed. I’ve always been very interested in psychology but didn’t end up pursuing it as an undergraduate because the classes being offered were a little too on the neuroscience and cognition side for me. So I’m very excited for this program, as it focuses on the spiritual side of the psyche.
Many of my interests are things that bring me closer to the spiritual side of life. Astrology is one of my greatest passions and I hope to weave it into my education. Beyond astrology, my pleasure reading includes anything about religion, mythology, extraterrestrials, magick, and psychic development. I like to write and spend time in nature when I need to recenter myself. My less spiritual interests include reality television, eating, dyeing my hair, and hanging out with my friends. I hope to be in a profession one day where I can teach people or counsel them on spirituality, relationships, and sexuality.
Hello! My name is Meriah and I recently graduated from the University of California, San Diego with a B.S. in Cognitive Neuroscience. I grew up in southern California with a loving and eccentric psychic mother who inspired my quest to develop greater life meaning through spiritual practice. Along with mindfulness meditation, I center myself by practicing yoga and pilates, hiking, and meeting new people. With a lifelong passion for the fusion of neuroscience and spirituality, I am excited to further my spiritual and intellectual growth at TC. I dream of the days where I am obtaining my PhD in Clinical Psychology, doing my own research, and beginning to make a meaningful difference in the lives of others.
After graduating, I embarked on a six-month adventure to Thailand, where I lived in the heart of Bangkok teaching English to third and fourth graders. I went there to enhance my understanding of meditation and spirituality by living amongst a strongly Buddhist culture. Further developing my own spirituality in the midst of a huge developing city posed many challenges—yet soon transformed into synchronistic opportunities that revealed a deeper spiritual path to me. My experiences have shown me that we are truly interconnected to each other and the world in seemingly mystical ways that science is still catching up with. I am grateful to be entering into this field at a time where science and spirituality are at the forefront of a transformation. I still have so much to learn and I look forward to all that is to come in my journey as I pursue my passion with other like-minded inspiring individuals.
In 2013, Matt serendipitously read a book that set a hero's journey in motion. Fearlessly, he left behind a personal training business, holistic health club, family and friends behind in the U.K, as he made his dream of living in NYC a reality. From East Coast to West Coast, from the Pacific highway and the Na Pali Coastline to the Yukatan Rainforest and the fault lines in Iceland; from Kauai to Johannesburg, and every sea, mountain, cave and centoté in between. A serial pilgrim, and a love for people that exudes from every pore; Matt finds solace in the waves and the mountains, with a pen in his hand, and flourishes when healing and mentoring others. Now after graduating Matt plies his trade as a mentor, offering advice to others on how to become the fearless warrior within.
It’s fitting that I’m writing this on Mother’s Day, my favorite day of the year; a day that I get to celebrate my good fortune of being the mother of three amazing children. My name is Jan Fielder and I am incredibly fortunate to have had the opportunity to be a stay at home mom for the past 23 years! My children have been my greatest source of joy and have taught me life’s most important lessons. What a journey it has been and continues to be. I am a Life and Wellness Coach. I work with individuals and families who want to mange their stress and anxiety without medication by incorporating mindfulness and spiritual practices into their lives. It is my vision that one day spiritual healing will be an acceptable alternative therapy for those suffering from mental illness. It is my passion to help people find inner peace so they can be their best self and face each day with hope. I was drawn to this program because of the struggles my family endured while attempting to get appropriate help for my son who struggled with emotional problems. After years of traditional therapy including alarming amounts of medication with little or no relief, I finally realized that there was nothing a pill or talk therapy could do for my son. I realized that the healing had to come from within. By incorporating mindfulness practices into his life, my son has been able to find peace and healing. His story, our family story has inspired me to give hope and healing to those who may be suffering as we did for so many years.
More about me…I love to hike and cross country ski. I’m committed to overcoming my fear of mountain biking this summer!! I feel most at peace in the mountains. I believe that truth is power, that we are all here for a special purpose and that each person we meet is our teacher and student. I can’t wait to meet all of you!!
Growing up in a family of eight, there were often many times of complete chaos, confusion, and drama to say the least. At a young age, I discovered a way to effectively cope and deal with the happenings that go along with being a part of a large family. I found relaxation techniques, painting, art, and music have helped me through some of the most major and difficult moments in my life. Through my college career and studies as a psychology student, I found the connection between psychology and my love for art and music and began incorporating and piecing together ways in which the three corresponded. After hearing what is now my favorite song, “Ghostwriter” by RJD2, for the first time I began to realize that music and art are not so black and white. People project what they feel, and what they think onto whatever it is they are looking at or listening to. This amazing technique of using art and music as therapeutic measures, I find to be extremely interesting and effective in the psychology world. Incorporating spirituality into this mix could only strengthen the process and the connection people can feel to music, art, and relaxation techniques.
Being so entwined with the psychology world, I am literally watching the field grow and expand on a daily basis. I see areas for innovation, change, and development and I want to be apart of that. I am eager to begin my studies at Teachers College, to change and improve people’s lives by introducing them to the methods they may have never explored before. It is true that music and art are not so black and white, neither are therapeutic techniques; incorporating different methods could be the answer for many, and that is where I want to come in and make a difference.
Lauren Foley, originally from Rhode Island, is a first-year master’s student, specializing in General Psychology and concentrating in Spirituality Mind Body in the department of Counseling and Clinical Psychology at Teachers College, Columbia University. She received a BA in Political Science from Villanova University in 2011. Her interests are in holistic wellness through the integration of mind, body, and spirit, including such practices as yoga and meditation as well as nutrition.
In addition, Lauren enjoys traveling and the heightened awareness that results from experiencing other cultures, their cuisine, and their way of life. Working as a tour guide, Lauren spent one year in Barcelona, leading American students throughout Europe. She also spent five months living with a family in Salamanca, Spain learning Spanish and taking courses at the University of Salamanca. She now inhabits New York City’s Upper West Side and is looking forward to furthering her knowledge and understanding of spirituality and psychology at TC Columbia’s Spirituality Mind Body Institute this upcoming summer.
My participation in the SMBI marks a beautiful intersection of my two largest passions: educational justice and yoga. For the past 10 years I have worked in the educational sector as a middle school teacher in the south Bronx and provider of after school programs in under served communities throughout NYC. In 2010 I took a transformative trip with my mother to Peru where I was introduced to yoga and mindfulness. My hope is to provide yoga and mindfulness programs in underserved communities. To me, yoga is a social revolution that has potential to be positively impactful.
Personally, my life has been an adventure marked with blessings and challenges that have shaped who I am to my core. My childhood was marked by challenging relationships and self doubt which ultimately fueled my passion for social justice and community service. The pain I experienced motivated me to dedicate my life to help others. Yoga provided me with a gateway to my true self. Yoga has helped me see value in who I am, my experiences, and the connection to all those around me. Imagine, if the power of yoga was shared in a way that would promote social justice? I believe the impact would be astounding. I am so excited and looking forward to this next step in my journey.
Hi. My name is Jennifer Gatto. I was born and raised in Boston. I am the eldest of four girls and have a deep appreciation for my Italian roots. My escapades thus far have included studying international affairs as an undergraduate and working at an international development research center at Tufts University before making my way to NYC about 8 years ago. Since then I have been working at UNICEF, the UN agency that works on children’s issues, in various roles from emergencies to change management and most recently in the Office of the Executive Director. What drives me the most is my belief that every life matters and that dignity is a human right. I have always been fascinated with other cultures, languages, learning about the world. I am a soft-spoken introvert, gentle and very intuitive. I love hearing people’s life stories, guiding and advising others, and I am a really good listener. I am doing my best to live to a happy, healthy and spiritual life and I hope to be able to inspire others to do the same in way that is right for them. I am really looking forward to joining the program, learning and continuing on my own spiritual path and participating in this new community.
What I dig: hanging with my husband Leo, women’s health and wellness, travel and exploration, alternative medicine and healing modalities, yoga and meditation, creative reuse and thrifting all things design, cooking, eating, enjoying meals with the ones I love, Brazilian music
Wish list: to become a speaker, activist, and guide for soulful living, well-being warrior, and expert on the mind-body-spirit connection.
Tingting Hu is the co-founder of Teach For China, a Chinese non-profit organization that seeks to eliminate educational inequity in China by bringing inspired educators and leaders to under-resourced communities. She initially started her journey with Teach For China in 2008, when she supported the founder and CEO to initiate policy research and observational trips to the Chinese countryside. She also played a role in garnering the organization's initial funding. Since then, Tingting has led the establishment and maintenance of the relationship with the local government and laid the foundation for TFC’s short-and long-term impact on students and the education system more broadly. Before Teach For China, Tingting worked as a Mandarin teacher at the Inter-University Program at Tsinghua University in Beijing, China.
Tingting is interested in and currently exploring mindfulness theory and practice and the interconnectedness of the body, mind and spirit. She'd like to connect with individuals with similar interests.
I was born in Japan and raised in Toronto, Canada. In 2013, I completed my B.Sc. in Biology and Psychology, with a focus on the treatment of mood disorders. In addition to my various experiences in clinical research, I recently became more engaged in clinical practice at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) in Toronto. I’ve been blessed with the opportunity of working with individuals undergoing Dialectical Behaviour Therapy (DBT), which relies heavily on mindfulness practices in the treatment of Borderline Personality Disorder. This experience has opened my eyes to the invaluable benefits of mindfulness practices and self-acceptance; and heightened my eagerness to explore the applications of spiritual practices in therapy. I enjoy learning about the world around me, and more importantly, I am happy that I’ve discovered my passion for clinical psychology.
I’m a big foodie. I love to cook from inspiration rather than a recipe, experiment with healthy alternatives, and practice food photography. Some of the other things I enjoy are biking, hiking, walking in the rain, and reading. I'm very much excited to move to NYC, and looking forward to meeting you all!
I was 59 when I took this selfie. Together on June 26 we will celebrate my 60th dance around the sun! I am writing to you from my small home in hilly Vermont. I spent my childhood on Long Island dreaming of living in New England, that sound of that alone softened me. Today on my walk I silently celebrated the arrival of spring while noticing the trillium, the trout lilies, and the Jack-in-the-Pulpit. A hefty chunk of my day has been tapping away developing an Individualized Educational Plan for one of my students. For the past fourteen years I have been a Special Educator in a public school. I have served my time. As I begin the journey with you I will be continuing a path I started on in 2003. Mindful Education.
I have had several lessons in impermanence over the past few years, and with the lessons I have decided that it’s time for me to let go of a job that was dragging me. I believe in learning communities and that is what brought me to the program at Columbia, engaging with you as I plan and develop a mindfulness program to bring to schools. This will not be my first jump into the water I have been a student of mindful education for several years, and it all began with offering yoga to students in 2003. I look forward to meeting y’all on the 23rd of June, until then may you find ease in each day.
Hello! My name is Erika M. Nelson. I’m thrilled about being part of this exciting program and looking forward to getting to know everyone!
I currently teach German Studies and Humanities at Union College in Schenectady, NY but I also live in Dallas, TX (when I’m not teaching) where I continue to pursue my interests in dance, spirituality, and massage and bodywork. I have spent much of my life navigating between different worlds, so it seems only natural that I have spent much of my life exploring the Orpheus myth. The mythological figure of Orpheus was after all a great mediator, able to bridge both upper and lower worlds and travel safely to the underworld and back, thanks to the power of his poetry and song. The challenge lay in bringing others with him! My previous graduate work was marked by two significant, yet separate educational tracks, consisting of a progressively modern, yet traditional education in German Studies, literature, myth, and 20th century poetry on the one hand and a self-initiated extensive exploration into the spiritual worlds and wisdom traditions of shamanism, religions, healing arts, dance, dream, movement, energy, spa, and sound on the other. For years, I was lost, trying to figure out where my place was in one of the worlds, but then I came to embrace and cherish my unique path as one that mediates these worlds. My hope is to help others realize this earlier in their lives, so that they might shine in their own unique way.
May our circles of play crossover, creating a space to share in moments of breathing and awareness of the other?
The me of me is drawn to the you of you, in joy of compassionate listening to the we. What I offer is artplay, life pieces of tangible objects and contemplation puzzled together, paintings and installations created to nurture spiritual insight in action. I can share this in an actively quiet way, or be a listener.
Also, while walking with you in imagination I am smiling already because infinite examples of nature’s generative spirit can teach us, as it has guided wisdom seekers of old.
I am grateful to be in the company of scholars and fellow students alike in our united but unique paths, to learn from all our experiences together in our cohort of lights. Such a power and a tender seed growth in this transformative us!
Maria Ryan is a born and raised New Yorker. She graduated Dartmouth with a degree in Psychology and Literature and then completed Harvard’s Post Baccalaureate Pre-Medical program. However, overpowered by a deep and soulful longing to be creative, she chose not to apply to medical school. Instead (to her mother’s dismay), she spent the next 15 years working (slaving) in the film industry where she was a (much-abused but dedicated) high level assistant to prominent (egomaniacal but wildly talented) film producers and directors. Maria has many fun (star-studded) and interesting (have you ever had seven hours to get your boss into Russia without a visa?) tales of Hollywood shenanigans, and has honed a remarkable (useless in other arenas) professional skillset (including making impossible dinner reservations, finding hot- not warm, mind you, but hot- cappuccinos on remote Thai islands, and booking private planes in Cannes at 5am). She is now thrilled (and her mother is even more thrilled) to be turning her attention back to her original pursuit of working in health, healing and spirituality.
Maria is a life-long passionate student, reader and seeker of spiritual truth. She is really interested in the efficacy of meditation and mindfulness, and in the science of happiness. She is endlessly fascinated by the potential for healing and personal growth. And she is very excited to meet all of you and begin this program together.
For over 25 years Susan Reardon has worked as a consultant and entrepreneur in the Wellness Industry guiding individuals into living more comfortably within their own bodyminds, empowering them with critical tools to navigate their inner and outer worlds in a balanced way. Susan is receiving her M.A. Degree in Clinical Psychology from Columbia University concentrating in Spirituality and Mind Body Practices (May 2016) and also holds an M.A. degree in Physical Education/Exercise Physiology from Adelphi University. In addition, she is a certified Yoga Therapy Practitioner and Spiritual/Energy Healer.
Upon being confronted with her own physical and life challenges, Susan searched deep within herself both emotionally and physically to find her own answers not only to the question, “Why do I feel this way?” but “Who Am I?” and “How do I experience peace in my life?” Susan utilized her body as an entryway to her own psycho-emotional innerlandscapeandspirituality.Today, she is passionate about teaching others the process of spiritual development both theoretically and experientially. Currently she is a Spiritual Mentor in private practice and a Teaching Assistant at Columbia University for Dr. Judith Miller in the course “Spiritual Development Across the Lifespan” which has further fueled her interest in academia and the pursuit of an adjunct professorship within higher education. Her research interests include understanding the special needs of survivors of complex childhood trauma who are looking to take a Hero’s/Heroine’s Journey.
When I started out as a nurse, I found many things very unappealing. Bleeding, for starters, always made me feel a little light-headed. Vomiting made me queasy especially if it occurred soon after I ate; an empty stomach made it a little easier to endure. Needles never brought with them a sense of ease. The smells, sounds, sights of a hospital were not very pleasing. There were days that I wondered why I dreamt of being a nurse since I was in second grade. There was one thing I knew I loved about working with patients and that was helping them with their thoughts. Do you remember the video game Pac-Man? Well, I would coach my oncology patients to visualize the chemotherapy as Pac-Man and the Pac-dots that Pac-Man was eating were their cancer cells. AHHHH! They could do that. That gave them some power over something they felt they had very little power over: their disease. They were soothed!
In 1983 a patient came into my life that would forever change me. She was given a prognosis of 2 months. Alicyn was 33 years old and had a 2 year old son. Despite what the doctors told her, her intention was to raise her child and her intention turned out to be more powerful than the disease. Alicyn lived eighteen years. Since the time she died, I have been on a journey that is still crystallizing as I write this. I studied the mind, body and spirit connection for many years concentrating mostly on the Law of Attraction and have applied the principles in my own life. I became a certified life coach two years ago so that I could help others align with their inner well-being. My focus is to deepen my understanding of the mind, body and spirit connection. I believe that the students and professors will be my co-creators in this journey and I look forward to what will be discovered on the way!
Suza Scalora, M.A., is a first-year doctoral student in the Clinical Psychology Program at Columbia University, Teachers College focusing on the role of spirituality and consciousness in well being and flourishing. She received her M.A. in Psychology in Education with a concentration in spirituality mind-body from Columbia University, Teachers College. Suza is interested in developing evidence-based psycho-spiritual interventions to alleivate pervasive negative self-talk and rumination. Her current research interests include intergenerational self-talk and the patterns and dimensions of love. She is the Coordinator of the Spirituality Mind Body Institute Wellness Center at Columbia University, Teachers College.
I never thought I could experience significant paradigm shift in my outlook about life and the world in a very short amount of time. Having graduated with degrees in Accounting and Political Science, I was convinced that my place is in the financial industry. After all, I could never imagine the world without hard data, numbers and excel spreadsheets. I derived comfort in working with well established concepts, defined parameter, and black and white results. However, I slowly realized that lack of “human” and “heart” aspect of finance as well as cut – throat environment of the investment banking industry can be detrimental to one’s mental, emotional and therefore physical well being. I existed on a daily basis without experiencing certain emotions such as excitement, compassion and love, those feelings which made me human. It was time to push the pause button and do some soul searching. It was time for self-reflection and introspection. It surely was time for a detour to the unknown and undefined.
For the first time, I listened to my heart and discovered my soul’s desire which synchronistically led me to this lovely SMBI cohort program. I’m looking forwards to be a part of this one of a kind cohort where I will have a chance to think outside the box of well defined parameters and concepts and share a journey with like minded people.
This program starts a new chapter for me. I have been searching for what the next phase of my life would be for quite some time and when I read about this Master’s Program last winter, I knew I had found my next step. I first came to New York City 17 years ago after graduating from Harvard with a BA in Psychology. I came to the city with the naivete of a small town girl from NH. But, with the grit and exuberance of a young person, I embraced city living.
I pursued a career in finance for much of my 20s, with a front row seat to the incredible volatility of the Internet craze, along with the utter heartbreak of September 11 2001. Despite that heartbreak, 2001 was a transformative year for me. I got married, left Wall Street and attended Parson’s School of Interior Design. My primary occupation for the past 10 years has been raising my children, Caia and Quinn. I also served on a non-profit Board, a responsibility that was rewarding both personally and professionally. My job description as a parent is to raise happy, conscious citizens of the world. I have found a wonderful intersection between parenting and mindfulness, and it is this intersection that allows me to be present with my family in the midst of this busy life in New York City.
Friends, I begin by sharing how grateful I am to be a part of the Spirituality Mind Body Summer Intensive. It is no coincidence that we have come together in pursuit of common dreams and goals. Each one of us has an interest or a personal practice in the mind body spiritual connection and understand its importance and potential in our lives and the lives of others, and I look forward to the possibilities that will spring from this collective consciousness. From a young age I was highly spiritual, insightful, connected to my inner world and curious about what lay beyond it. I grew up on a horse farm in Tennessee, but left home at nearly 16 years old to model internationally. During many years of traveling, I developed awareness about people, environment, the world on a grander scale and that I had an important part to play in it. Ultimately, this was a spiritual journey that led me to NYC in pursuit of my BA in Psychology. During my studies, I was disheartened at the lack of Wholesomeness in the field of Psychology. The Mind Body Spirit connection was left out of the understanding and treatment of people. Afterwards, I returned to India to spend the past year studying Tantra in hopes of understanding the applications of yoga and meditation as a healing art. The Master’s Program at Teachers College is the first step on my academic path to unite my interests in Psychology and Mind Body Spirituality. Here I hope to gain the necessary tools to be able to apply and build on what I have learned to my current work as a Yoga Teacher and future work in Psychotherapy. I wish to continue my studies in a doctoral program and become a Mind Body Spiritual Psychologist to help others live a wholesome and happy life. Love, Vanessa