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Spirituality Mind Body Summer Institute
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
'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'
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.