Fordham University Counseling and Psychological Services, Supervising Psychologist
Pilgrimage and study in India, Thailand and Nepal, 2006, 2011, 2014, 2018
Ashtanga Yoga Training. Manju Jois, Chicago
Hatha Yoga Certification, NY Yoga
The Four Noble Truths start with the truth of suffering, and I’d say my path truly emerged in the face of my own suffering. I was a seeker of deeper and profound experience in my early life, looking to connect with something larger and an unseen reality, which brought me to equally powerful as well as dark places. I majored in Buddhist philosophy and science in college, and it was in a place of deep suffering that I was able to apply the tools of the 8-fold path that I had been studying, particularly starting with guideposts for ethics and lifestyle. I also was introduced to yoga asana at that time, and this was my entry into a meditation practice – working with the body and physical energy allowed my nervous system to settle enough to start a seated meditation practice. In order to nurture what I had started experientially learning, I continued in a yoga asana teacher training, went to India for an ashtanga immersive then Nepal for a “Lam-Rim” Gradual path retreat and formally took refuge with Lama Zopa Rinpoche. The roots of my journey are personal, which for me is the most profound offering that integrative practitioners give. I have had many mentors and guides along the way, including my early mentor Dr. Joe Loizzo who is one of the pioneering integrative practitioners bringing Tibetan Buddhism and Western psychotherapies together. Inspired by the work Dr. Loizzo was doing, I pursued an MSEd then Phd in Counseling Psychology so that I could bring this integration to others. The Counseling Psychology approach aligns well with Buddhist psychology in that it is rooted in strengths-based view of each individual. This is the fundamental nexus of my work on myself personally as well as my work with others; the core view that we all have the healing potential and freedom within, we just need tools, knowledge and support along the way to uncover it. I have brought yoga and meditation into hospital settings, including research at Weill Cornell Medical College and Montefiore Hospital, yoga for provider stress reduction at NYU-Bellevue Program for Survivors of Torture, co-founded and directed the Contemplative Psychotherapy Certificate Program at Nalanda Institute, and have dedicated my personal and professional life to this path of integrative and contemplative therapies.
I value the uniqueness of each individual and have a deep respect and curiosity about where people are coming from. It can be healthy to disagree and see things from different angles, and I hope to foster a sense of safety to be and discover ones truth. I value exploring the general principles of contemplative traditions in the context of each individual’s life. Many of my values are informed by and align with the yamas and niyamas of Patanjali’s Ashtanga yoga as well as Buddhist ethics; non-harming, truthfulness, integrity, contentment and effort, receptivity and openness. Sometimes discerning the right action based on these principles and practices can be really challenging in our lives. And sometimes an action on first appearance may seem harmful, but the motive and the overall impact is beneficial, so having someone to work through it with is essential to getting the clarity.
Every session varies based on the unique relationship I build with clients. Typically we weave contemplative principles and psychology through the discussion of clients' concerns. Other times I guide clients through various meditation practices based on clients’ presenting concerns, and process the experience as well as troubleshoot any concerns that arise. With some clients when we are in a charged state or something profound is happening in their experience, we can drop into a meditative exploration of it, but curious about it, receptive, gain greater insight, move through it and make sense of it together. Often I provide recommendations for specific meditations or teachings, or readings to explore between sessions and discuss it during session. As a relationally-oriented therapist, I often also use present experience between clients and myself to address relational issues outside of therapy, so the therapy in this sense has mindfulness.
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